TV Review - Lethal Weapon (2016)

An experiment that CBS tried last season, FOX tries this season. Actually, FOX tried this experiment a year or so ago too, but apparently it feels in the mood to do it again. The experiment is to take a blockbuster movie involving cops or detectives and turn that cop movie into a TV series. FOX adapted Minority Report (2002), which was directed by Steven Spielberg, into a series last September. It got cancelled only airing ten episodes. CBS adapted Rush Hour (1998), which was directed by Brett Ratner, into a series in March. It too got cancelled after seven episodes had aired. Now, FOX is adapting Lethal Weapon (1987), which was directed by Richard Donner and written by Shane Black. The question is if this is the adaptation that will go the distance.

Clayne Crawford (24 and Rectify) stars as Martin Riggs, a suicidal cop who became suicidal after losing his pregnant wife in a car crash. However, even before that, he was pretty reckless or else just an adrenaline-junky. His behavior in confrontations with criminals doesn't seem to be any different before his wife died than it is after his wife's passing. The difference is supposedly he wouldn't care if he got killed and probably wants it. Yet, practically, there is no real change for him.

Damon Wayans (In Living Color and My Wife and Kids) also stars as Roger Murtaugh, a 50-year-old detective who recently had a heart attack and needed heart surgery, which left a huge scar on his chest, but he returns to work to the LAPD.

For some reason, Roger is partnered with Martin who is originally from Texas. Their first assignment together is a bank robbery. Instead of following protocol, Martin just walks into the bank and proceeds to take on the masked gunmen all by himself, even with hostages in the room. With every subsequent assignment or investigation, Martin continues reckless behavior that results in death and destruction.

Two years ago, a comedy starring Damon Wayans, Jr. and Jake Johnson, called Let's Be Cops (2014) was released and totally bombed at the box office. One can argue that it was just a bad movie. Others argue that the timing was bad. Let's Be Cops was released in the wake of the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, against the police department, birthing the Black Lives Matter movement.

For me, this TV series is also ill-timed. Even though one could say that there will never be a good time because the Black Lives Matter movement is now an on-going thing, this week in particular saw protests and even riots in Charlotte, North Carolina, following the police killing of Keith L. Scott. It also comes in the wake of the police killing of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Both are another in a series of examples highlighted over the past four years of unarmed black men getting shot and killed, often due to reckless behavior at the hands of cops.

To then have a TV show where a white cop does reckless things, which results in death and destruction, be celebrated is off and wrong. It's just not the right tone for a TV series. Roger is supposed to be the balance, but by the end of the first episode Roger is made to be more like Martin than the other way round, resulting in a high body count in the final action scene. Wayans however gives a good performance and is his usual funny and charming self, but I just can't go with a cop show with a reckless cop at its center.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-14-DLSV.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Wednesdays at 8PM on FOX.


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