In 1987, Richard Donner’s “Lethal Weapon” forever changed the action-comedy genre. The film starred Mel Gibson as suicidal police detective Martin Riggs and Danny Glover as his “too old for this shit” partner Roger Murtaugh. It wasn’t long before the movie became an action classic, spawning three sequels.
Now, nearly thirty years after the original movie, we get FOX’s “Lethal Weapon” series starring Clayne Crawford and Damon Wayans as Riggs and Murtaugh. And against my better judgment, I decided to give it a shot.
Often times, remakes don’t work because the filmmakers take the subject matter too seriously. That’s not the case with the premiere episode of “Lethal Weapon.” The pilot has so many moments of humor, that it reminded me more of “Lethal Weapon 3” and “”Lethal Weapon 4” rather than the 1987 original.
Clearly the show wants to focus on the Riggs/Murtaugh relationship right away, instead of letting it grow naturally like it did in the movies. I don’t have a problem with that, and by the end of the episode I believed these two were partners. However, getting to that point was not easy.
“Lethal Weapon” does little to distinguish itself from any of the other TV cop shows, which means viewers should prepare themselves for a season of safe-for-broadcast TV action. In other words: expect a lot of car chases in upcoming episodes, because that’s probably the most they can do with their budget.
The one good thing “Lethal Weapon” has going for it is the cast. Clayne Crawford as Martin Riggs brings a completely different kind of manic energy to the character. This guy look crazier than Mel Gibson ever has, but he’s also exactly the kind of guy you want to watch your back.
Damon Wayans brings a more deliberate comedic presence to his rendition of Murtaugh than Danny Glover did. Unlike Glover, this version of Murtaugh is in on most of the jokes, and unlike the movies, his grumpiness comes not from being old, but because his recent heart surgery has changed the way he looks at things.
The best moments of the premiere episode came when Riggs and Murtaugh weren’t doing cop things. My favorite moments of the episode were the dinner table scene; when Riggs met the newest Murtaugh; and when Riggs shows up with a bottle of booze.
In the end, unless you’re a huge fan of cop shows, or a lifelong fan of the Lethal Wepon franchise, I’m afraid “Lethal Weapon” will have little to offer you outside its main cast. But even the combined efforts of Crawford and Wayans may not be enough to keep this show around for long.
“Lethal Weapon” final score: 7
“Lethal Weapon” airs Wednesdays at 8pm on FOX.