It can be hard for some of us to remember that not everybody watching “Lethal Weapon” on FOX was alive during — or aware of — the hit movie franchise of the ’80s and early ’90s. And while the show is one of our new favorites on the primetime fall lineup, it’s worth stating that the show is not your ordinary police procedural.
We’ve previously touched on the elements that make the show so great. And it feels like those big-screen sensibilities — and the Murtaugh/Riggs bromance — helps put the show in a category all its own. But if we’re going to refer to the show as a procedural, then we need to take a beat and acknowledge the lack of procedure presented throughout each episode.
Everyone in the show plays things by the book, except for Martin Riggs (Clayne Crawford). That is in his character’s DNA and follows suit from the original Richard Donner movies. A few things we know about Riggs: He’s a destructive wildcard who’s dealing with some very dark mental issues. But he also really cares.
Instead of focusing on the ramifications that’d be presented to any legal team assigned to the guilty’s case after their arrest, “Lethal Weapon” focuses more on what really matters — the importance of good triumphing over evil, and the power of inclusion, friendship and family. And without Martin Riggs’ tragedy, we wouldn’t be rooting for his triumph… And his partnership with Roger Murtaugh (Damon Wayans) wouldn’t have the same impact.
“NCIS” and “Law & Order” this most certainly is not. If the show was to shift its formula, Murtaugh & Riggs would be screwed. Murtaugh may follow the rules, but with every building Riggs breaks into, or directive he decides to ignore, whatever evidence they’d have collected would most definitely be inadmissible in a court of law. But hey, that’s real world talk.
When you think about it, “Lethal Weapon” falls firmly into FOX’s brand of entertainment. Much like the short-lived “Almost Human” and the still-kicking “Sleepy Hollow,” the primetime hit gives us just enough to please our taste for legal processes and protocol details before delivering the show’s real source of entertainment: Some cinematic feels with a good dose of big-budget action.
Because, really, if you wanted a realistic cop procedural, you’d be watching reruns of “Blue Bloods” on Netflix right now. “Lethal Weapon” is about escapism and pesky rules, for all intents and purposes, live outside of the show’s bubble. Honestly, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Lethal Weapon” airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.