Move over Gibson and Glover, Riggs and Murtaugh have been dominated by Crawford and Wayans. After blasting out of the starting gate with a brilliant pilot Lethal Weapon has followed up with an excellent second episode.
Guns, gas and explosions dominated “Surf N Turf” but the show was not all about an action packed car chase, shootouts or even the many nicknames given to the new team.
(Surf and Turf, Starsky and Hutch, Crockett and Tubs…)
It was about backstory, dammit, and that is one reasons that this version of Lethal Weapon works so well. The decision to make Martin’s deceased wife an unspoken character in the show is a good one. It gives Riggs a bit more depth.
The writers and McG (A man that could do clever action films in his sleep.) have come together to create a show with the perfect combination of humor, tragedy and ’80’s style action.
Riggs, with the poignant memories of his dead pregnant wife, is slightly crazy with grief, but he is also adept at humor and quick repartee. Big screen Riggs was loud and Crawford’s is less in your face and quieter.
He is also funnier and more caring. Another difference is that his interaction with Dr. Cahill are not the misogynistic sneer featured in the films.
This may have more to do with the changed nature of Cahill. She is a strong figure in this scenario. Not a bumbling, ineffectual educated idiot as depicted in the films. In essence this version of the psychiatrist is not a comic relief figure.
Wayans, as mentioned before, is also different. Much less the “stick in the mud” and more a guy concerned for his heart. As the senior partner he tries to bring some sanity to the proceedings but Murtaugh in this setting is more than ready to rise to Riggs’ challenges.
The stunts are impressive. In the second episode of Lethal Weapon Riggs dives off the top of a building with a woman in his arms. The impetus of the leaping jump carries the two of them across a road and through the window of another building.
Is this even remotely realistic? Of course not, but it is very impressive and looks fantastic. Besides, who cares if this could really be done or not, this is an action TV show, not a documentary.
Once again, the chemistry between Wayans and Crawford is brilliant. These two could still entertain if they were playing shoe salesmen. It is this, along with the writing and the storyline that keeps the show moving.
It has a brilliant combination of comedy and action. The show also sneaks those “lump in the throat” moments in with ease. These poignant moments are the frosting on this cake and they make Lethal Weapon more than just the recreation of a favorite 1980’s “buddy” cop film.
In this episode, Riggs sells his family home in Texas and it sends him into a brief downward spiral. Roger is upset that his new partner misses his baby back ribs.
Both detectives are in trouble for the cost associated with their last bust. (A splendid comic scene where the two men irritate their boss Avery with an attack of smart arse.) They are then sent to investigate a noise complaint that turns into a case of murder, smuggled weapons and a damsel in distress.
An ATF agent; Bennett Hirsch, arrives to find the gun. He turns out to be a villain who is smuggling the government weapons to the highest bidder.
The partners chase down the bad guys, blow up a fireworks warehouse and save the endangered witness. They also bond over the experience and go back to the biker bar where Riggs is beaten up at the start of the episode.
Lethal Weapon is close to perfection as escapist entertainment. It is a type of bromance that features plots that feel huge and sentiments that are touching.
More importantly, the series feels like a film. The action, the sets, stunts, and production quality screams movie.
And it is brilliant.
Kudos to the cast and mad props to guest star Kristoffer Polaha (last seen as Caleb Brown on ABC’s Castle) who gave good bad guy in the limited time he had onscreen.
Lethal Weapon airs Wednesdays on FOX. Catch this brilliant new series.
*Warning* You may feel the need to pop some corn, open a beer and kick back in the recliner for this almost filmic treat.
- Clayne Crawford – Martin Riggs
- Damon Wayans – Roger Murtaugh
- Jordana Brewster – Maureen Cahill
- Keisha Sharp – Trish Murtaugh
Guest starring Kristoffer Polaha as Bennett Hirsch