Lethal Weapon: Season 1

| September 19, 2017

I’ve become as enamored as anyone else with this trend of turning a movie or movie series into a television series.  Fargo is terrific, Hannibal is amazing, West World isn’t really my cup of tea but it’s obviously very popular.  When I heard they were turning Lethal Weapon into a series, like many my first response was: why?  What could possibly be gained by taking an 80s buddy cop movie classic with questionable sequels and try to stretch it into 22 episodes per season?  Still, those movies are really fun, and any chance to get more out of that universe has a certain appeal speaking as someone who really enjoys all four films.  Well, maybe not the 3rd one.

The series sees Damon Wayans (Blankman) slipping comfortably into the Detective Murtaugh role.  He’s not quite as old as the movie version of the character, not thinking about retirement or constantly yelling out being too old for anything.  This Murtaugh is a bit younger with two high school aged kids and a new and unexpected baby.  He’s just turned 50 years old and finds himself returning to work after suffering a heart attack in the months before the series begins.  His first day back to work, he’s informed that he’ll be teaming up with LAPD’s newest detective: Martin Riggs (Clayne Crawford), who has just moved from Texas after his wife and unborn child were killed in a car accident.  Like Gibson in the film, Riggs starts off as unhinged and possibly suicidal while dragging the more straight laced Murtaugh along for the ride.

The show is fun and a respectful interpretation of the original films, but it’s not so compelling that I can stomach to watch so many episodes per year.  The examples of ever film to tv adaptations I mentioned have 10 or 12 episode seasons and everything feels much more purposeful as it drives the story forward and lets these characters we know and love find new life.  There’s very little new or interesting about this new version of Lethal Weapon even with its entertaining qualities.  It feels like maybe Warner Bros. had a pilot for a generic buddy cop procedural that wasn’t quite working so they threw Riggs and Murtaugh’s names on the two leads and hoped it would stick.

Maybe if I stuck with it, I would find the show too good to pass up, but it’s hard enough for me to get into a brand new show when there’re so many established shows that I’ve yet to get to.  On top of that, I almost never watch cop procedurals for very long because they inevitably fall into familiar and boring tropes.  The episodic nature of Lethal Weapon is exactly why I didn’t stay with CSI or Castle or a host of other similar shows for very long: the writers fall into a formula that is not unique or interesting.

If you like cop shows and mindless action, or are a fan of the Lethal Weapon movies, then you’ll probably find a lot to like here.  Just hold out hope that when they inevitably introduce the Joe Pesci character they’ve somehow managed to crack the code and make him anything but horrifically annoying.

Season one is available now on DVD and Blu-ray with Season 2 premiering September 26 on FOX.

About the Author:

Joe Sanders Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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