In broadcast TV’s era of remakes and reboots, FOX has proven themselves mad geniuses of the game. Yes, we just said that and it’s a statement that makes us step back for a second and ask: “What?” But it’s true. And while their “Exorcist” series continues to push the demonic story into deeper compelling territories, the big winner for the network, by far this fall, has been “Lethal Weapon.”
Again, we have to ask: “What?”
From the get-go, the buddy cop series had us hesitant. What was to stop the network from simply presenting a police procedural to primetime audiences while stamping it with such a recognizable name? Nothing, we guess, but thankfully they put some elbow grease into the series and the finished product has been something equally heartfelt as it is action-packed.
The partnership of Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh — and the brotherly bond that develops — is the foundation that helped the movie franchise work. And while Mel Gibson and Danny Glover made their careers from the Richard Donner-directed movies, there were doubts that Clayne Crawford and Damon Wayans could fill their shoes. In case you have yet to jump on the bandwagon for the McG-produced show, let us be the first to tell you — they not only fill the iconic shoes, the actors successfully (and delightfully) make Riggs and Murtaugh their own.
What’s most interesting about “Lethal Weapon” — and how it is a television success — is that the show’s formula, however familiar it may feel, is one that has been attempted previously on the small-screen.
But, how many of you out there remember “Fastlane?” The 2002 series had a similar formula and premise — and it was even Executive Produced by McG. However, the time wasn’t necessarily right for a buddy cop series to prevail. It seems, though, that in 2016, the game has changed.
We seem to have moved past the phase of antiheroes leading the TV landscape — sorry Tony Soprano and Walter White — and it’s possible we’re about to hit the superhero saturation point, what with the slate of DC shows on FOX and The CW, and Netflix’s string of Marvel hits. Yet, with the Riggs and Murtaugh relationship, “Lethal Weapon” succeeds at putting a fun (and human) hero lens on law enforcement officers.
With Riggs’ mental stability consistently in question, the series also tackles grief and depression in a manner that is mostly unfamiliar to primetime network dramas such as this. Match his out-of-the-box style of getting the job done with Murtaugh’s conservative, yet accepting nature, and the matchup is a win-win combination in both style and substance.
On the surface, “Lethal Weapon” is a police procedural that provides a worthy amount of explosions, car chases and laughs week in and week out. But at its core, the show also works as a platform to explore the bromance between Riggs and Murtaugh, the struggles both of these men continue to face in the ever-changing crime-fighting world of Los Angeles, California.
And in the midst of all the chaos, they succeed at filling a void for each other that gives their lives meaning. While Riggs may be seeking therapy to help him cope with his suicidal tendencies — sparked by the loss of his wife and unborn child — it seems the real form of therapy he is receiving is a two-way street. Honestly, Roger Murtaugh may be the best friend he’s ever had.
“Lethal Weapon” airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.