A small screen adaptation of Lethal Weapon was a new series that seemed to be a concept doomed to failure. How could anyone hope to capture that Danny Glover/Mel Gibson chemistry? Taking the buddy picture down to a more intimate level certainly felt like a misstep. However, after watching the pilot it is clear that Wayans and Crawford are the new Riggs and Murtaugh.
Things have changed in show creator Matthew Miller‘s vision of the duo. Riggs is not quite so “over the top” as the big screen version of the man. Murtaugh has just had open heart surgery and is not one step from retirement.
Lethal Weapon this time around stays a tad closer to the drama and the comedy, which is still there, is more low key. Miller is not afraid to slap the audience in the face with the death of Martin’s pregnant wife either.
Fans of the film franchise that pleased millions know of Rigg’s past already, Miller choses to show the death in slow motion. Not all of it, there is no overabundance of gore here, but we see the crash and the sight of it sucks the wind right out of the viewer.
That decision puts us right with Riggs from the very start. Crawford’s Riggs is different from Gibson’s angry “near-the-edge” character. This former Texas cop and Navy SEAL accepts his death wish with an almost beatific resignation.
Wayans plays Murtaugh differently as well. His older cop shares much with Glover’s creation but the heart condition changes the game. He also carries a bigger gun.
The main difference is that Wayans’ character empathizes with Riggs from the get go. He understands the enormous grief and is not quite so uncomfortable showing his feelings of sympathy.
Lethal Weapon is still all about the buddy aspect though. The two actors fit together perfectly and make the television version work beautifully. The pilot has enough gun play to impress and just enough comedy to disarm.
Hopefully this formula will not change as the series progresses.
The pizza delivery at the bank robbery was the perfect way to introduce Riggs. The car chase proved to be equally impressive with its rendition of the two men as a team. Ending up in the Grand Prix was a touch of genius.
One complaint would be the bit where Riggs hangs on to the suspects car with one hand while punching out the driver. What was he holding on to? This could be forgiven if the show’s premise is more dramedy and less about the crime and action.
Jordana Brewster was almost wasted in her role as the psychiatrist who wants to treat Riggs for his death wish issue. However, in terms of casting, Murtaugh’s family is spot on.
The pilot does seem to be in a rush to deliver though. The bank exploding seconds into the storyline felt a tad contrived but the reaction of Riggs was funny. (It is almost like he forgot there was a bomb in there.)
FOX looks to have a good one here. Enough violence to please the action junkies and a touch of tragedy tinged with some deft comedic moments.
What else could you ask for?
Lethal Weapon airs Wednesdays on FOX. Tune in and catch what could be the most perfect pairing on television.