Fox’s Lethal Weapon strikes the right balance between action, sentiment, and comedy making the pilot a tremendous first step in the right direction for this series. Now, this may seem shocking to some as this is the fifth iteration of the Mel Gibson/ Danny Glover movie franchise and one would think the public would grow tired of this narrative by now. How many more of these buddy cop shows could the public actually like?
The difference between this franchise and other cop shows is the chemistry between the lead actors. Damon Wayans and Clayne Crawford are what make this show work. Sometimes the success of a television series comes down to casting, and they couldn’t have done a better job than the two that were chosen.
Crawford plays Martin Riggs, the grief-stricken/suicidal cop who is dealing with the loss of his wife. Wayans is cast as Roger Murtaugh who is just returning to work after a heart attack during the birth of his third child.
Now there are some parts of this show that won’t be surprising. Riggs likes to take chances he hopes will lead to his death while Murtaugh wants to live long into his retirement. Of course, this generates conflict between the two. What was enjoyable about the pilot is that they explored how those two became partners and found a common ground. This was a twist that made the pilot stand alone from the previous four films.
My biggest concern going in was could each actor make these two roles (Riggs and Murtaugh) uniquely their own. If Wayans was going to resort to doing a Danny Glover imitation or Crawford was going to try and play the role similar to Mel Gibson, then this series was going to be dead on arrival. It appears both have chosen a different approach. Wayans instead of trying to be Danny Glover has injected some humor into the role of Murtaugh that doesn’t overwhelm and is very consistent with his character and the narrative of the pilot. Crawford is playing Riggs as more of a nuanced character who might be crazy but is dealing with a lot of pain stemming from a personal tragedy.
While the pilot has plenty of chases and explosions in it, the real story is that Wayans and Crawford bring enough to this series to make audiences want to come back for more and Fox has to be elated by that.