One has to wonder why things that were already good in the first place, have to be remade, rebooted or whatever else kind of term you want to put on it. Television seems to all of a sudden have a disturbing fascination with creating new shows that are either based on older ones, or Hollywood blockbuster movies. And the track record isn’t very good. Let’s see: Minority Report, cancelled after 1 season. Rush Hour, cancelled after 1 season. Training Day, cancelled after 1 season. Blade, cancelled after….well, you get the idea. Why, oh why do they continue to try? Almost every time fans of the original property don’t accept a new version of their beloved franchise. You see how I did that? I very carefully changed my tune slightly by adding the word almost. Because there are exceptions to the rule. When I first heard that they were going to make a tv version of Lethal Weapon I was horrified. That film, and it’s sequels rank amongst my alltime favorite action movies. I was already condemning the series before I even saw it, thinking this was just going to be another stupid remake attempt prone to become yet another epic fail. But…..I was wrong.
Lethal Weapon the tv series is keeping a lot of the story elements from the original movie intact, while at the same time adding a few new ones. Detective Martin Riggs has become pretty much a loose canon after the death of his wife and his unborn child in a car accident. Riggs grabs the bottle whenever he can, and while on the job he pretty much doesn’t care whether he lives or dies. One day he get’s a new partner one Roger Murtaugh, who is almost the complete opposite of him. Roger has a loving family, that is very supportive of him, and is just a by the book cop. He just came back to the force after having had an open heart surgery. At first the partnership is going terrible, which should not really come as a big surprise. Eventually though, the two cops are gaining a mutual respect for each other, and slowly develop a friendship. Although that friendship definitely has quite a few ups and downs. The first season sees the two handle a lot of different cases throughout it’s 18 episode run. Most of the stories are selfcontained, although there are a couple of developments that carry over from episode to episode.
Well, as I said above, I was quite wrong about this one. When the first few clips of the series started showing on YouTube my curiosity got the better of me. My initial skeptical response, soon began to evaporate. It actually looked quite good. And even better, the series began to gather some very positive feedback as well. At present the series has been renewed for a second season of 22 episodes, that has just started airing. So why does this series work, while so many other shows based on existing properties failed? One of the main reasons for this I think is that the series doesn’t try to be an exact copycat. In no way are the actors involved trying to duplicate what Mel Gibson and Danny Glover tried to do. The Riggs from the television series, played by actor Clayne Crawford, is at it’s heart the same character. But Clayne is no Mel Gibson, and it seems both the creators of the series and Crawford himself know that fact. He plays Riggs, but brings his own style to him and it works, well most of the time. At some points in the series Crawford overacts just a little bit, but luckily not to the point where it starts to become annoying.
The other part of the duo, Roger Murtaugh, is played by Damon Wayans. As with Riggs, the tv version of Murtaugh is also a somewhat different character. He is a little bit more quiet and doesn’t always get as worked up over things as Danny Glover did in the movie version. But for a buddy cop show like this to work, there needs to be chemistry between the two leads. And on that front the show definitely succeeds. We get lots of comedic banter between Riggs and Murtaugh, and that creates some of the best moments in the series. And that is another things the creators seemed to realise. The original movies worked because of the great and memorable characters, and their interaction with each other. And that is also the heart of this show. In between the comedy and action, there are enough moments to further develop the characters with quite a number of heartfelt scenes. Most of the supporting cast also add their own weight to the table.
Worthy of note is Jordana Brewster, who most people should recognise from the Fast and the Furious franchise. She plays the psychiatrist Maureen Cahill, who is assigned to Riggs to help him deal with his inner demons. Some of the sessions between them are very entertaining and give a welcome reprieve from the action. So let’s talk about the action. This being a tv series, it of course doesn’t have as big a budget as a Hollywood blockbuster. Still, they did manage to include quite a number of spectacular stunts, car chases and gun battles that will give all you adrenaline junkies out there enough bang for your bucks. With 18 episodes in this first season are all of them of the same quality? No, but then again I don’t think that anyone can name a tv series that does have this. But honestly I also haven’t seen a single episode where I got bored or that was just horrible in some way.
So, with almost everything that is based on something people are going to compare. That might not be entirely fair, but it’s common practice. Is this series as good as the original movies? No, it is not. But those were very big shoes to fill in the first place. What we do have here, is a very fun series that gives a great homage to the classic movies. Fans of the franchise will find enough things in it to make them smile, unless you are an absolute die hard fan that isn’t open for seeing different actors portray the beloved original characters. Lethal Weapon the tv series has been an enjoyable ride so far, and I hope the second season is going to maintain this level of quality. I for one would love to see this series go on for at least a couple of more seasons. I’m going to leave you with a trailer of the show, that was released just before the first episode started airing. It wil give you a nice impression of the series.
I give Lethal Weapon Season 1 a 8 out of 10 score.