Monday, October 10, 2016

Lethal Weapon on Fox - To Watch or Not to Watch

The following is my opinion...The review gets updated from time to time...

The original Lethal Weapon film was released 29 years ago and it was a monumental success for Warner Bros. The film series would have three additional installments over the course of eleven years and all four films would be gigantic moneymakers. What took them so long to launch a series?

Back in 1987 no one would have dreamt that three decades later a broadcast network would launch the title into a weekly episodic series, but here we are with a Lethal Weapon series sans the gun in the promo material and in the logo itself. The Lethal Weapon was always supposed to be the character of Martin Riggs, but can Martin Riggs maintain Lethal Weapon status week in - week out. Even the sheer brilliance of Mel Gibson couldn't do this outside of the eight hours of screen time that came with the filmed versions over an eleven year period of time. Having written that, Clayne Crawford (the current Martin Riggs) is a fine actor; and at times, an incredibly consequential actor (Rectify).

Now if you think I am about to be critical regarding a lack of creativity on the part of the television industry you would be incorrect. Choosing a highly recognizable brand and title doesn't prove a lack of creativity. Lethal Weapon was a prime project to have segued onto the small screen.

I have now watched ten episodes of this series and they have gone from an interesting pilot to a downright silly and wildly uneven series. Everything and I mean everything is over the top and absolutely ridiculous. Nothing is believable in this reboot of the classic film series. Having written that, the show is at times, good, fun and mindless entertainment; and quite frankly, there is a need for that in the television landscape. Most everything else is dark and darker. Entertain us please.

The team crafted an entertaining and at times, beautifully touching pilot. Admittedly, no episode since the pilot has equaled the superb pilot, but sometimes they get it right and sometimes they don't. Some of the editing has failed us, particularly episode six, but again, this show is entertaining.

The pilot offered fully fleshed out characters, lots of quick and clever dialogue and a poignancy about life, death, family and friendship. The series has attempted this delivery and again there are times they deliver successfully.

Damon Wayans (Roger Murtaugh) is a funny guy, but no one would accuse him of showing a great deal of range and/or depth as an actor. His family moments almost make the show worth the view, since there are some heartfelt family interludes that are touching and dignified in a true family fashion.

The achy heart and soul of this series would have to go to Clayne Crawford playing Martin Riggs. It's stunning to think this is the first big break he has gotten after doing a large assortment of episodic guest spots, independent films and a lead role in the series Rectify. He's attractive without being Mel Gibson 1987 gorgeous and he is a good actor capable of being likable and relatable. Watch Rectify on Sundance and see him play a character completely different than his Martin Riggs. Crawford is the show. Without Crawford, there literally is no show. Having written that, it is Riggs who may very well be the undoing of the show.

Riggs plays a former Navy Seal in the series and the powers that be seemingly think they are paying tribute to our men and women in the Armed Services. The episode featuring Michael Raymond James as a "troubled" former Navy Seal made me want to take a freight train down at the station and I don't care where it goes - to quote the famed classic rock song, Can't You See by the South Carolina men of The Marshall Tucker Band (coincidentally used in the pilot episode).  Riggs' issues have little to do with his time as a Navy Seal (how many Navy Seals are now featured in television?) and all to do with the death of his wife and child. By the way, let's see how fast they get Riggs dating. The love of his life and the missing of his girl will no doubt go away before the season is out. In episode seven, there were three potential candidates for Riggs' future love life and we aren't even halfway through their first season 18 episode order. First, we had a woman offering a drink which was just a tipping point to let us know Riggs is attractive to women. Then we have Hilarie Burton as the DEA agent asking him out and of course, Dr. Cahill digs the Riggs. I assure you they don't get out of this season without Riggs forgetting his beloved wife.  Hijinks will surely follow. By the way, some consultant needs to inform the writers that Navy Seals aren't soldiers, but Riggs keeps calling himself a soldier. Call Craig Sawyer!!!!

This is superficial Hollywood at its worst. Here is a line from episode #10 Homebodies: "I'm a Navy Seal. I can do whatever I want." My father served in the Navy for 20 years and he wouldn't have said anything even remotely close to this nonsense. This show makes military veterans look crazy and foolish and everyone involved in this series should feel shame. I went from liking this show to near loathing it, but I'm still watching it since I keep hoping they'll hire a writer that knows how to write for Riggs and Murtaugh.

There is nothing humorous about mental illness and yet this show seems to find great humor in the mental illness of Martin Riggs. Also, this Martin Riggs would never have been a Navy Seal. The cream of the crop enter this small group of people and an unhinged member could literally destroy any deployment. For an accurate look at Navy Seals in Hollywood entertainment, rent Zero Dark Thirty. The Oscar nominated film starring Jessica Chastain is one of the best films of the last 20 years.  

Lethal Weapon is a big, expensive series. The first four episodes played out like feature films and the cinematography is exceptionally beautiful.

This show is so crazy over the top already that when you look at upcoming press materials indicating even crazier crazy moments it won't take long for Lethal Weapon to jump the proverbial television shark. You literally can't keep this type of crazy going for long. Anyone with an I.Q. over 80 will soon realize this show isn't for them. I fear this series will get picked up for a second season on FOX, but maybe we will get lucky and Warner Bros. will say this show is too expensive to produce, because we know no one will say it's too stupid to put on the air.   

Copyright The Flaming Nose 2016

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