Review of "Empire" on Fox

January 7, 2015 12:04 PM

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Primetime TV has had many variations on the genre, widely defined, of soap opera: oil-biz operas, law operas, cop operas, glee-club operas. With Fox’s Empire (debuting Jan. 7), from director Lee Daniels, it now has a hip-hopera. And while the busy first hour scarcely has time to set a premise and lay down a beat, it promises all the glitter and heightened emotion its genre mashup implies, if it can keep its pathos from sliding into parody.

Empire‘s base story is older than soaps: rapper-turned-recording mogul Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) is diagnosed with ALS, forcing him to consider which of his three sons will inherit his business, Empire Entertainment. “We King Lear now?” asks middle child Jamal (Jussie Smollett), proving that he...

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