Lethal Weapon: Fashion Police – Join Me (Review)

 1lw-107a_9pt-dm_0168_f_hires1

Lethal Weapon just keeps getting better. “Fashion Police” sees the guys becoming tighter as partners and falling into a rhythm.  In this episode Miranda, Riggs’ dead wife comes back to haunt his dreams.  The message she conveys in each one is the same, “Join me.”

And Riggs still wants to.

“Fashion Police” had just the right amount of tragedy with Martin trying to fight off the urge to join his dead wife. There was plenty of action and a hint of romance in the air for Riggs.

Speaking of action, the flying through the air attached to a covered truck felt very Beverly Hills Cop, but it did not detract from the storyline at all.  The two detectives stumble onto a DEA operation while they investigate a murder.

A man is shot and then has his legs broken to allow the body to fit in gym bag, sort of like Blindspot without the tattoos. Riggs notices that a couple are avoiding the crime scene. He and Roger speak with them and later discover a false wall in their place of business.

Behind the plasterboard wall, they find millions of dollars.  While Captain Avery is impressed, DEA Agent Karen Palmer is not. The Korean couple’s son is responsible for the money and Palmer is using the man to catch Caldera, the man the son works for.

Riggs and Palmer strike sparks after Martin saves her life. Palmer reluctantly allows the two cops to join her investigation. Later, the two  share a stakeout and when Riggs is not eating spray cheese, he dreams of Miranda.

Palmer seems to have a lot in common with Martin.  She too acts on impulse. When Riggs goes to plant a bug on Bambi Mortenstern, Karen joins him and pretends to be his wife.

Away from the money laundering case, Roger is baby sitting his littlest child while Trish and the older kids are away. His scheduled card  game does not happen and he ends up joining the Bambi stakeout.

Dr. Cahill and Riggs talk through his dreams and the fact that Miranda calls for him to join her. Martin tells the doc that it is hard not to go.

1lw_s1-107-7-at_0062_f_hires1
Dr. Cahill

While the trio investigate Caldera, Martin has Cruz throw a scare into Bambi.  She arranges a meeting with Caldera and Riggs stows away in the trunk of her car. At the meet, Caldera realizes something, or someone, is in the trunk.

He forces Martin out.  Roger and Karen track the car down but when they get there Riggs is gone. Caldera has taken the detective and left the bug.

Caldera has hung Martin upside down. When he pulls a gun, Bambi starts to panic. She begins a short diatribe in protest and Caldera kills her.

He tortures Riggs by putting his head in a barrell of water. As the treatment goes on, Martin sees Miranda again. She asks him to join her and at one point Riggs tells Caldera to kill him.

When Caldera threatens Roger’s family, Martin manages to escape. He chokes the gangster and Caldera runs out of the building. Riggs chases after him. Caldera pulls a gun on him and once again Martin tells the man to kill him.

Karen and Roger arrive and the DEA agent knocks Caldera flying with her car and  runs over Martin in the process.

Lethal Weapon is settling into a nice pattern here. In this episode alone the series gives a  number of nods to the big screen Riggs. The “mutt” that adopts the cop and Martin’s, and apparently Roger’s,  love for The Three Stooges, and the affection that Martin has for Murtaugh’s family.

There is a careful blending of humor, pathos and tears in this  series. This is something that the films never managed to pull off in terms of Martin’s dead wife.  There are two moments in this episode  alone that will guarantee that there is not one dry eye in the house.

Cahill and Martin have a closer relationship in this verse of Lethal Weapon. The doctor cares about Riggs and he responds to her in a way the big screen version of Martin never could.

It would be nice to see Karen Palmer turn out to be a regular fixture on the show.  Sort of like the small screen version of Lorna Cole who lights up Riggs’ life in the films.  The chemistry is there and while this may be a one off, Palmer seems to be an equal that Martin could warm to.

This version of Lethal Weapon is knocking it out of the park. Damon Wayans and Clayne Crawford are the perfect double act. This buddy film hidden in a TV series is just brilliant. There are enough car chases to keep any action addict happy and Crawford fills Riggs’ cowboys with ease.

Lethal Weapon airs Wednesdays on FOX. Tune in and see if this small screen version of Riggs and Murtaugh  can compete with the film duo. We think they do and that they are surpassing  the originals with ease.

Cast:

Guest starring Hilarie Burton as Karen Palmer, Megan Stevenson as Bambi Mortenstern and Alejandro Edda as Lewis Caldera.

Lethal Weapon: There Goes the Neighborhood – Moving On (Review)

1lethalweapon-ep104-2_sc17-rm_0665_f_hires1

Lethal Weapon “There Goes the Neighborhood” ditches Riggs’ flashbacks to his dead pregnant wife and shows him apparently moving on. The episode focusses more on the partnership and Murtaugh’s son. Roger’s attempt to introduce his son to the old neighborhood has consequences for all concerned.

Show creator Matthew Miller has opted to fast forward Martin Riggs’ grieving and let him settle into the day to day machinations of police work.  The move shoves the character out of the empathy zone and moves him firmly into eccentric mode. 

Clearly the television show does not want to waste time building any more on the short-term misery of Riggs’ character.  (It has really only lasted three episodes.)  “There Goes the Neighborhood” also echoes a plot from the films. The one where a friend of Roger’s son is killed. In the movie Murtaugh has not seen the dead teen for years. In this episode Roger has contact with the kid  who is saved, but only just.

Roger  has lost his wonky blue hat but he has also lost any vestige of common sense. Rather than thanking Riggs for picking Roger Jr. up and getting him out of a dodgy neighborhood, he hits Martin for interfering.

Murtaugh and Riggs are ordered to attend  a counseling session with Dr. Cahill. As the three talk, Roger claims that Martin is, “Crazy as a sack of cats.” The only problem with this is that Riggs is quite normal in this episode.

Washing his clothes at the beach does not constitute crazy but, as mentioned above, slightly eccentric. Riggs has calmed right down and as such this takes the show right out of Lethal Weapon territory.

1lethalweapon-ep104-2_sc49-rm_1592_f_hires1

The overall plot theme was family and keeping in touch with “where you came from.” At the end of the episode, Riggs is truly  welcomed into Roger’s family by virtue of the barbershop scene.  A nice touch but possibly a bit too soon.

Lethal Weapon (the film) was always about Riggs’ gradual insinuation into the Murtaugh clan. Martin is the fun uncle, as Roger says, and everyone but the patriarchal head adopts him almost instantly.

The relationship and the grieving process of Riggs is moving on too quickly. So too is the “crazy” despite Roger’s claim of his partner’s continued “insanity.”

The storyline, a valet company run by an old high school coach setting up car owners for break-ins, was a solid one. It gave the audience an upsetting death (a teen girl trapped in a house invaded by burglars), one short car chase and an amusing scene where Riggs and Murtaugh have to tackle a naked “Black Hulk.”

However, the overall feeling of the episode was “off.” The two men lacked their normal chemistry. Murtaugh lost his familiar bluster and Riggs exhibited none of his usual characteristics. There was also the scene where Murtaugh tells Martin that he has no one to love but himself.

Really?

Would Roger actually take this approach? He, like the writers of this episode, has apparently forgotten Martin’s  recently deceased wife. Riggs lets this slide. He also ignores being punched in the face by his partner.

Without the issue of Martin’s grief and all that it entails Dr. Cahill may not be needed as a series regular at all. (Which may not suit Jordana Brewster  since she plays the deceased wife of Michael Ealy in Secrets and Lies, a role that cannot last beyond one season.)

Lethal Weapon “There Goes the Neighborhood” was, easily, the weakest in the first season so far.  Too much was lost as the series attempted to move on too quickly.  Miller needs to take a step back and reassert the winning formula he started.

The series airs Wednesdays on FOX.

Cast:

Guest starring  DeRon Horton as Marcus and Shashawnee Hall as Coach Marshawn Wiley 

Lethal Weapon: Best Buds – There is Here (Review)

 1lw-103a_43-dm_0585_f_hires1

Lethal Weapon continues to amuse and also takes a moment to show Riggs’ deep seated grief. So far every episode allows the audience to get that painful lump in the throat as Martin struggles to deal with the death of his wife. This is quite an accomplishment as the show is good fun over all with a lot of laughs throughout.

Director Steve Boyum (former stuntman/stunt coordinator who worked on Lethal Weapon 2) does a brilliant job on this episode.  Everything clicked perfectly, there was only one small mistake. The phone, on Roger’s and Trish’s date.  Murtaugh walks off and the cell phone is still on his napkin on the table. When the camera moves back to Trish, the phone has magically disappeared. 

It is a forgivable mistake. This episode of Lethal Weapon felt so good that it dimmed the halcyon days of the big screen original. Show creator Matthew Miller  deciding to make Miranda, Rigg’s dead wife, have a voice in the series was the right move to make. 

The constant reappearance of her in flashbacks serves to remind the viewer of just how keen and recent Martin’s loss is.  It allows us to really connect with this wisecracking and depressed cop.

“Best Buds” is all about the legalized marijuana market leading to an armed car robbery staged by the cartels who are losing a fortune in profits.  Ted Levine, fresh off of Ray Donovan (where he played Little Bill Primm) is Ned Brower, an old mentor of Murtaugh’s who has fallen on hard times.

Ned’s wife has died and he is working as an armored truck driver picking up the pot proceeds from legal businesses. His vehicle  is hit by a garbage truck and is then driven off by the robbers.

There was a lot more humor in this episode. All the better to offset Rigg’s pathos and the more serious nature of Brower’s situation.  At the crime scene the two detectives engage in what can only be described as an Abbott and Costello type  routine.

Martin shows up and Roger tells him off for being there.  They then get into an argument about where “there” is. “There is here,” says Riggs. It is a very funny scene and these types of moments make this small screen buddy story  cook on all burners.

The partners investigate Lonnie and Donnie the two big wigs who want their money back. A pot party is going on at their palatial mansion and Martin partakes.

In fact Riggs partakes at the start of the episode. He is smoking some weed when he shoots out the television. (There was a dating advert on the telly.)

Clayne Crawford has made Riggs his own. This grief stricken cop suffers though his melancholia differently that the big screen original.  It is much easier to see how Murtaugh and his family can relate to and “adopt” this guy. In the films Martin was too over the top with his actions.

It is not all about the bonding of these two cops though.  Before the end of  “Best Buds” there are two decapitations, a pretty decent car (armored truck) chase and a brief shootout.  Riggs shows that he is a damned good cop and that he really cares for his in-laws.

There is also a connection between Martin and the police shrink. Jordana Brewster continues to make her psychiatrist a real character who is smart and insightful. It is not difficult to see why Riggs begins to open up to this woman.

Roger and his wife are brilliant together and both Sharp and Wayans have a chemistry that works on all levels.

Lethal Weapon continues to be the best escapist television on offer on a Wednesday night. FOX have struck gold with this series and unless something drastic happens this one is a winner.

The series airs Wednesdays on FOX. Tune in for action, drama and a few laughs.

Cast:

 

Guest starring Ted Levine as Ned Brower

Lethal Weapon: A Pilot that Pleases (Review)

1lw-pilot_23-rf_3690_f_hires1

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.

Cast: