Lethal Weapon

Director McG puts his stamp onto a small screen buddy series, and creates just enough diversion.

It’s with some apprehension I viewed the newest US drama to hit our screens -it comes to us via flashy director McG, whose music video career led to a big screen version of Charlie’s Angels.

McG again adapts a previous Hollywood for the small screen version of Lethal Weapon, helming the first 2 episodes.

Martin Riggs, originally played by Mel Gibson, is now portrayed by Clayne Crawford, while Damon Wayans is the new Roger Murtagh, originally Danny Glover.

It’s an obvious recipe for episodic TV: crime procedural, buddy story, action, and humour. The biggest challenge is in living up to the film’s legacy and pulling it off with a network budget.

Riggs is now a reckless Texan and ex-Navy SEAL, happily-married with a baby on the way -but a car accident tragically wipes out any semblance of family, nicely setting him up as a man with little to live for.

Murtagh has just turned 50 and recovered from a minor stroke, living a respectable family life when Capt. Avery (Kevin Rahm) partners him up with the incoming Riggs, for reasons that are entirely forgettable. Hey, all that matters is they are joined at the hip, right?

Their startling meeting takes place during a bank heist, possibly at a Hollywood backlot, in which the unhinged Riggs demonstrates he has a death wish. Murtagh isn’t looking forward to babysitting this adrenalin junkie, but we are off and running with two polar opposites.

From there things progress to a popcorn car chase, various hostage scenes, weapons fired, and a family dinner in which Riggs shows a chink in his armour.

The casting of the two leads is imperative here, and Crawford is sensibly not out to emulate Mel Gibson. He manages to add his own cray-cray to the role. Damon Wayans may lack Glover’s gravitas but he is very comfy with the script’s humour. Without stunts on a Lethal Weapon scale, this will indeed need to draw upon their chemistry.

Female characters are given little to distinguish themselves with in the pilot. Jordana Brewster plays a psychologist who will probably be assigned Unresolved Sexual Tension sooner rather than later while Keesha Sharp plays Murtagh’s wife Trish, ready for oral sex in her opening scene (good luck with that in an early evening time slot). Kevin Rahm strikes me as a little on the youthful side to work as the duo’s boss Capt. Avery.

As a cop / buddy vehicle this nevertheless pulls it off with some success, thanks largely to its 2 leads. But therein lays it’s biggest challenge.

It’s a delicate dance between living up to a movie franchise, week in, week out, whilst managing to also make it your own.

Good luck with that.

Lethal Weapon airs 8pm Sunday on Nine.

4 Responses

  1. I would say it may lose the patience of some viewers especially on Channel 9, it is commercial American pulp fiction entertainment and escapism after all. Scripts do not really matter as they are comic book characters in improbable roles waiting for the perfunctory stunt to come along. Overall the comparisons with Gibson’s movie should be ignored as this ‘Lethal Weapon’ is limited by the producers obviously wanting a long multi-season production with a small screen budget.

  2. But isn’t Lethal weapon a bddy cop show first and an action movie second. That’s Black’s signature, isn’t it ? He always comes back to that type of duo. Whether it’s this, kis kiss bang bang or the good guys (might be the wrong titile).

    This is the best transposition of a movie of that type that i have seen. They are other very good adaptations, The exorcist was surprisingly good and 12 monkeys went in such a different direction and is so good.

    And i think that if not for the chemistry between both of the two main actors, this would not work at all. I would have been bummed because i’ve adored crawford and his hair (uh, butt, uh, hands, uh eyes :p) for so long……

    Black participated in the story of the pilot, i don’t kow how much involvement he had in it but it was, for my part, enough.

    i also think that if the girl at the police station is quite forgettable, i…

  3. I did not illegally download this show…. I am up to episode 13 and it just gets better and better I thought after the awesome Pilot it may not live up to the explosive action, I was thinking it would be an expensive show that would slowly see its budget cut back, but s**t keeps blowing up the action keeps flowing. possibly the best action drama series ever!! I keep rewatching it, I just love it.

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