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Lethal Weapon: “Pilot” Review

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FOX gives us a pilot that’s obviously not as lethal as the film, but still has some kicks in its arsenal.

This is a review for the pilot episode of Lethal Weapon, so it’s mostly spoiler free.

Lethal Weapon. You hear that title, you can instantly picture who the characters are, the actors that played them, and the situations they got into. The original 1987 film and its sequels are well imprinted into our pop culture loving memory banks. And it’s not hard to see why. The original film may not have created the “Buddy Cop” subgenre, but it pretty much established it. The film series gave us memorable characters and boosted its actors to mega stardom.

However, we’re obviously not here to sing that film’s praises, even though I could easily do that since I, like so many others, love the original film. Hell, I love all four of the Richard Donner directed films. Yes, all. Some more than others, but all. So when news broke out that FOX was going to become the home network to a new, revamped TV version of the series, I, like many others, was a little peeved at the idea. Lethal Weapon 4 literally closed the book on the series. Most of us didn’t want another sequel to follow it, so why the hell did these FOX execs think we’d want to see a TV remake of it? Especially nowadays when remakes are so commonplace and original ideas get sidelined. Despite the outrage, the series moved forward and a pilot was produced. From that pilot later came a trailer, which I thought was terrible. It just came off as generic. Like, very generic. However, I am a fair and curious man. I knew that despite my initial reaction to the announcement of the TV series, I was going to check it out. I even promised my man, Scott Menzel I’d write a review for the pilot, which is why I am here. So enough of the introductions, let’s get this review rollin’.

First, because this is the pilot we’re talking about here, and the producers wrote out a nice synopsis for it, here is what they have to say for the series…

Grief-stricken after the loss of his young wife and unborn child, ex-Navy SEAL-turned-detective MARTIN RIGGS (Clayne Crawford, “Rectify”) moves to California to “start over” at the LAPD. He’s paired up with ROGER MURTAUGH (Emmy Award nominee Damon Wayans, “My Wife and Kids,”), who’s just coming back to the job after a near-fatal heart attack. Riggs’ penchant for diving headfirst into the line of fire immediately clashes with Murtaugh’s prudent, by-the-book technique. It’s clear from the moment they meet, this partnership could be lethal. But by the time their first investigation ends, Riggs realizes he may have found something worth living for – a partner and friend like Murtaugh. And even Murtaugh figures this arrangement might just work out after all. If only Riggs doesn’t get them killed first in the all-new “Pilot” series premiere episode of LETHAL WEAPON

So there ya go. Now, how is the show? Okay, trust me, I say this with all the sincerity I have… If you can take off your nostalgia goggles, forget your preconceived notion that this is going to suck and you are going to hate it, accept this as its own entity… you could possibly enjoy this pilot. I personally enjoyed it. As far as pilots go, this was a fun ride with a lot of well placed humor, with two enjoyable leads. Am I instantly invested into the show? No. However, the pilot did a good job at laying out the foundation of how these characters will interact with each other. There is great potential on the relationship of this new take on Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh.

This new series is partially being brought to us by McG, and he directs this pilot as w- Oh. Oh, no, I lost you, didn’t I? Come back, relax. Yes, it’s a McG production, but believe it or not, there are times when this episode has restraint. One might say he’s trying to bring back his failed TV show Fastline, but I promise you, this pilot is way less flashy than that. Yes, it’s got plenty of in-your-face action and loud moments, but it also has some rather chill moments as well. The dramatic scenes are handled well enough without the show feeling too heavy handed. The action is quite over the top, and sometimes, a little too much so. For Example, the bank robbing scene is a little too frantic and overly extreme in its tone. It lacked the suspense a scene like that should have. It was also overkill to put Riggs in that kind of situation just to demonstrate to us that he’s not afraid to die after losing his wife in a car accident. However, the car chase on the grand prix was really fun, as well as the episode’s final shootout against some drug dealers and a sniper. This pilot showed us that there’s plenty of thrills to be had in the upcoming season.

Now the show, according to how this episode was presented, is without a doubt another police procedural. Yep, another one on network TV (sigh). This pilot presents a case with Riggs and Murtaugh investigating the suicide of a former war veteran. Evidence suggests it may have been murder. Needless to say, the case is solved by the end of the episode. Obviously, I would have prefered they’d set up some kind of an arc to attempt to hook me into this show, but they didn’t. Well, unless you count the blowjob subplot – not kidding – between Murtaugh and his wife in which she promises to give him his belated birthday gift, but never gets around to it. Will she, won’t she? It’s network TV, so probably not. The only ongoing prospect we’ll probably see is how Riggs and Murtaugh’s partnership grows. It’s basically the movie all over again.

LETHAL WEAPON: L-R: Clayne Crawford and Damon Wayans in LETHAL WEAPON coming soon to FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Richard Foreman/FOX

Regarding that partnership and this new take on these classic characters, as I said before, there is some potential there, and that has a lot to do with the performances of Damon Wayans as Roger Murtaugh and Clayne Crawford as Martin Riggs. Once again, take off your nostalgia goggles, and try to appreciate what these two actors are trying to do. I myself have always been a Damon Wayans fan. He’s one of my favorite comedians, and his absence from TV and films was felt by me. His take on Murtaugh is all right in my opinion. I mean, it’s Damn Wayans basically reprising his My Wife and Kids role, but I mean, if you’re a fan of Damon, I don’t see why you wouldn’t like him. He believable enough as an easy-going cop, and Wayans adds a little bit of swagger to the character. Crawford is completely new to me. With the exception of him playing a small time criminal in a subplot of the eighth season of 24, I have no knowledge on him as an actor. Honestly, I like his take on Martin Riggs. He has the natural gift for gab. It looks like Crawford is having a blast playing the role as well. What’s quite impressive about his portrayal is his ability to be outgoing on the surface, but hinting at the pain his character is feeling inside. Obviously, he masking that pain but playing it cool all the time, but I do love that fact that he makes is no secret to Murtaugh that he’s perfectly okay with dying. These two actors have some damn enjoyable chemistry together. Obviously, they’re in the cliché early stages of their partnership where they don’t exactly like each other all that well, but they have that spark of bromance all over them.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about any of the supporting characters in this pilot. The captain is cliché and uninteresting. Jordana Brewster (Fast & Furious films) plays Maureen, the police department’s psychiatrist. She is a dull character in this pilot who you can easily forget by the end of the episode. Hopefully she’ll be more involved in future episodes. Murtaugh’s wife, Trish, played by the sexy Keesha Sharp, is probably the only supporting character that stood out, simply because she’s in more than a couple of scenes, and she’s quite charming as the supportive wife role. Not a complex part but Sharp makes the best of it.

So it’s pretty clear Riggs and Murtaugh are the show’s main priority as far as characters go. Watching them solve cases and get into some action filled shenanigans is probably going to be all this show has to offer. However, the two have a really fun dynamic, so that may not be such a bad thing if you’re willing to spend an hour a week with the two. The show can be a fun alternative to the 8 pm timeslot on Wednesday nights and a great lead in to Empire. I personally can’t take stock in this show yet. I have to see more before I can decide if it’s a show I want to tune into. I liked this pilot enough to recommend you check it out, but it’ll be up to you if you want to see more TV adventures on Riggs and Murtaugh.

Written by
Big Gabe was raised and lives in Pico Rivera, CA. Although born with moebius syndrone, a rare congenital neurological disorder which affects Gabe's ability to form full facial expressions and causes a speech impediment, he does not allow that to stop him from expressing his love and passion for film, music, comics, and all forms of pop culture. Big Gabe's YouTube channel is called Stuffed Burrito Entertainment, where he makes weekly comic book haul videos and occasional movie reviews. His favorite movie genre is Action, has named Terminator 2: Judgement Day his all time favorite film, and often calls Big Trouble in Little China one of the greatest films ever made.

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