Popular movies rebooted as TV shows have been a mixed bag. For every Hannibal or Bates Motel, there’s a Rush Hour and Limitless (I kind of liked Rush Hour but I never saw Limitless). One of the most recent TV reboots this past season was that of the Lethal Weapon franchise. The thing about reboots is that it is sometimes difficult to gain traction since fans of the original are so invested in the original characters and the story.
I will admit that I had these reservations before watching this but I was also curious to see this new reinterpretation. The biggest difference between the movie franchise and the TV reboot had to be the rating. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise since that all 4 movies in the franchise were rated R and this, being on a network, could only go as far as TV-14 so there can’t be as much salty language or violence among other things. Despite this, there was still plenty of enjoyment to be had.
This season served as an origin story of sorts, pairing detectives Roger Murtaugh (Damon Wayans) and Martin Riggs (Clayne Crawford) for the first time. Each episode’s focus alternated on either character with both sometimes weaving together. The show did not take too many liberties when it came to Murtaugh and Riggs’ origin stories which was probably a good thing.
Murtaugh was just recovering from a heart attack so his wife Trish (Keesha Sharp) wanted him to take it easy but we all know that it was never going to happen with Riggs coming along. Murtaugh was getting older (we first saw him on his 50th birthday) so he was thinking more about leaving a future for his family.
His kids Riana (Chandler Kinney) and Roger Jr. (Dante Brown) were still young and had some growing up to do so Murtaugh took it upon himself to teach them the right way to live. There were many comedic moments that came from this, primarily due to the generational gap between him, and to a lesser extent Trish, and the kids. Things definitely weren’t the way they used to be for him and often confused and baffled him. Seeing him try and fail was often funny as well.
With teeangers came the usual teenager problems like dating, friendships, jobs, and such but all that was still fun to watch because it always felt real and relatable. Murtaugh and Trish had their own problems as well. She was worried about him and didn’t want to lose him so she just wanted him to come back home to her every night. He had spent a lot of time away on the job and she wanted him to spend time with the kids while they were still young.
Riggs was a different story. After losing his wife Miranda (Floriana Lima) in a freak accident, which may not have been an accident, he was a broken man who moved to L.A. for a fresh start. Despite his fresh start, he was still hung up on Miranda’s death. He still loved her very much and desperately wanted to get back to her. Riggs had pretty much lost the will to live, putting himself through a series of dangerous situation in order to get back to her. He did this because he was unable to gather enough courage to do it himself.
Over time, these feelings weaved in and out while Riggs was trying to move on with his life thanks to the help of a department therapist named Dr. Maureen Cahill (Jordanna Brewster). Riggs appeared to show progress, especially after developing a relationship with a DEA agent named Karen Palmer (Hilarie Burton), but his recovery was never going to be easy. It was always one step forward, two steps back with him.
When he appeared to be finally moving on, the Mexican drug cartel and their leader Tito Flores (Danny Mora) showed up and shed some new light on Miranda’s accident, revealing that her accident wasn’t an accident after all. The season was mostly a procedural but the cartel subplot still lingered in the background and came out on occasion, playing a part in some of the cases of the week with it finally coming to fruition in the season finale but it doesn’t look to end any time soon.
The action was great, it was exciting and also came fast and furious. It was prevalent mostly during the first half of the season and then took more of a backseat during the second half to make room for more personal stories. The action was fun to watch but started to get repetitive so the personal stories were more compelling. The show was trying to find itself early on and eventually found the right balance between story and action.
It succeeded at finding that balance around halfway through the season and was then further elevated by all the performances, not only from Wayans and Crawford but by the cast as a whole. Wayans and Crawford were the best part of the show so far. Instead of simply doing impressions of Danny Glover and Mel Gibson, they put their own spin on Murtaugh and Riggs. Their chemistry made them dynamite together which often made up for when the case of the week wasn’t the strongest.
While some episodes were stronger than others, the best episodes were the ones that involved all the main characters, beit the Murtaugh or Riggs centered episodes or those focused on the secondary characters like their captain Brooks Avery (Kevin Rahm) or Cahill. They let us take a break from Murtaugh and Riggs and gave them a chance to shine and also help to develop them further.
The acting was excellent across the board with Wayans and Crawford being the standouts. Wayans was likable and showed considerable range, finding the right balance between funny and serious when caring for his family and Riggs. Crawford was likable and engaging while also showing considerable range, going dark with Riggs’ inner demons and also being funny, showing his wilder side. The supporting cast was also excellent. This series was elevated by Wayans and Crawford’s chemistry but the whole cast had amazing chemistry which made everybody fun to watch.
Overall, this was a great first season that managed to find its own identity, featuring some great action and compelling characters while finding a great balance between the two. It was led by the performances of Damon Wayans and Clayne Crawford. Whenever an episode wasn’t at its best, their chemistry was always there to make up for it and still make it watchable. I can’t wait to see where they go next.
Categories: TV Reviews