Rating 3/5 – A lot of reviewers have been bad mouthing and dismissing this show. I don’t know if it’s it because of the nostalgia of the original movie or if it they genuinely just don’t like it. I suspect that in most cases it’s a combination of both. Now that I’ve given it a solid five episodes it time to decide if this show is a hit or a miss. So far I’d say it’s in the middle with the needle pointing more towards hit than miss. As I pointed out in my review of the pilot, this show had an uphill battle from the beginning. How do you do a show of a movie that is not only beloved but considered a classic by any entity that measures movies? Lethal Weapon is not only well remembered despite Mel Gibson meltdown a few years back, it’s one of those movie that continues to enjoy repeated watching, including by age groups not even born when it first came out. Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t reach Scarface level yet, but it comes damn near close. So how is it doing? Let’s discuss.
Riggs and Murtaugh; the Next Generation
I’ve been watching Damien Wayans since he was doing HBO stand-up and teaming with his brother Keenen Ivory Wayans on Living Color. I like his sitcom and have seen him develop into a pretty actor as the years passed. He taking on the role Danny Glover made iconic and I think he’s doing a pretty good job. He’s not trying to channel Danny Glover and the show did not make the mistake of doing a beat-for-beat rehash of any of the movies so Damien Wayans has the chance to give the role his own spin.
However the hard on in this mix is Martin Riggs because it’s both iconic and made Mel Gibson a super star. (Danny Glover was already a very well known actor before Lethal Weapon and Mad Max was and is an extremely cult movie.) I was not aware of Clayne Crawford as I’ve never watch NCIS and couldn’t tell you what other shows or movies he’s done without clicking on my IMDB app to find them. Like Damien Wayans, Crawford takes the essentials of what makes Martin Riggs work without trying to do an imitation of the way Mel Gibson did it back in 1987. The set-up is pretty much the same. Riggs lost his wife and is in perpetual contemplation of suicide because of it which leads to him being extremely reckless in how he handles going after criminals. In many cases the criminals are over the top but Riggs seems to gravitate towards those kinds of situations. That’s pretty much how the movie went until 3 and 4.
The difference with the TV show is that they bond between Riggs and Murtaugh is developing slowly rather than in the nearly 2-hour run time of the movie. Where Murtaugh in the movie was always ready to retire, Murtaugh in the show has had a heart operation and is concerned with simply coming home to his family. Like the movie Murtaugh complains about Riggs but always has his back.
The Chemestry between Wayans and Crawford works, so far. They are light years apart, Riggs is dealing with lose while Murtaugh enjoys a pretty successful career as a detective, a supportive family and generally a good life. It sounds like a formula that might or might not work, and in the case of the new series it works pretty good. That’s high praise considering we are talking about a Fox TV series.
When I reviewed the MacGyver remake I pointed out that things seem to happen too fast as if the writers were rushing every show. Both this show and MacGyver have similar action set pieces even if one show is more international in scope. Lethal doesn’t feel rushed. It has the typical pacing of 45 minute television show but each episode leaves a little room for more character development even if surround by really over the top action. The duo have jumped from trucks, escaped exploding buildings, jumped from high office windows into swimming pools and get into gun fights where they are completely out gunned. Again the villains do tend to feel like the show runners shopped at “Last Action Heroes R’ Us” but this is what you expect from Lethal Weapon and this is what the show delivers. The action is a lot of fun but somewhat forgettable. Then again when running a Pop Culture blog where you tend to watch a lot of TV shows I can’t say if that is a bad thing.
I am not sure if I’m sold on Jordana Brewster as Dr. Maureen Cahil yet. I should point out that I felt pretty much the same way about Mary Ellen Trainor who played the psychiatrist in the last movie. Of course if you have a cop like Riggs he’d be seeing a shrink but neither Brewster nor Trainor seem to add anything with any real weight to the story. Keesha Sharp plays Murtaugh’s wife with Dante Brown and Chandler Kinney as the teenage children. The family has chemestry and if believable which adds to the charm of the show. I do wish they’d find a way of Riggs to get over the wife a bit, but I have to remember that we are talking about a 13 to 22 episode series as opposed to a single feature length movie. One good thing is that the children aren’t whiny and annoying, so there’s that. As with every police procedural you have to have a quirky medical examiner and Johnathan Fernandez fills that roll nicely. One standout is ichelle Mitchenor as Det. Sonya Bailey who is given more to do than most side-characters in these things, not to mention she’s extraordinarily gorgeous. Over all Lethal Weapon has a functional supporting cast though they don’t bring with them a diverse range of personality that might lend to other stories if the show survives cancellation season.
No, the show does not suck. In fact it’s the complete opposite. It’s not must-see-TV but it is a how you can turn to when you want something fun to watch. The two leads carry the show nicely and the stories are pretty much what you come to expect from a Lethal Weapon TV show. I stand by by the 3/5 rating untill something happens to either bring that up or down. As it stand now it will be a show I’ll watch but it hasn’t reached the point where I feel I have to review every week. If that changes either way I’ll post about.