Take Me to the Pilots '16: Fox's 'Lethal Weapon'

LETHAL WEAPON-FOX Still 1-Damon Wayans and Clayne Crawford-H 2016
Richard Foreman/FOX

[I'll remind you at the top of every single one of these: These entries are not reviews. They're gut reactions to not-for-air pilots that could change in big and small ways between now and September or October or midseason. Full reviews will come then. They'll be longer. And more carefully considered. The opinions may even change. Who knows?]

Show: Lethal Weapon (Fox)
The Pitch: "What if instead of taking recognizable intellectual property and arbitrarily grafting procedural crime-fighting onto it, we do some IP in which the crime-fighting is baked into the DNA?" "That sounds just crazy enough to work!"
Quick Response: If you pretend that rather than remaking the blockbuster Lethal Weapon franchise, Fox is actually just remaking its own short-lived 2002 action drama Fastlane (minus the Tiffani Thiessen character, who was the best part of Fastlane), maybe your expectations will be more properly aligned. This is much more the quippy, stunt-heavy Lethal Weapon of the third and fourth movies, particularly when it comes to Clayne Crawford's Riggs, who is eccentrically manic instead of seriously emotionally damaged in an occasionally funny way, which was how Mel Gibson initially played it. That's not Crawford's fault, though the character keeps repeating his desire to get shot and I never believed it, and the Rectify veteran is a respectable reason to watch this new Lethal Weapon, contributing a rakish charm that'll either be capitalized on here or will set him up well for his next role. At 55, Damon Wayans is, of course, significantly older than Danny Glover was at the start of the film franchise, but he comes across as significantly younger, so not only does he never express that he's too old for this [stuff] he also doesn't seem too old for this [stuff], which keeps the core dynamic from feeling like anything more than boilerplate bickering partners and, thankfully, that isn't overplayed. It's better than CBS' doomed Rush Hour, is what I'm saying. Most of the Fastlane-ishness comes from pilot director (and Fastlane co-creator) McG, who has never struggled to deliver well-polished flash to pilots. The L.A. locations are beautifully photographed and even when I didn't care at all about the pilot's plot, which was all the time, I liked how McG would, for example, stage the discovery of a body in the Hollywood Hills so that shots could be situated with the skyline or Griffith Observatory as backdrops. I wrote "Pretty" in my notes a couple times. A showcase scene built around the Grand Prix Los Angeles is ludicrous, but decently realized, therefore McG at his best. None of the pilot's other action beats are as memorable, nor are any of the supporting characters.
Desire to Watch Again: Moderate. It looks like Lethal Weapon will just be a weekly dose of bickering cops and it'll struggle with different directors to repeat the pilot's production values. The best thing to remember is that a legit Lethal Weapon TV series would have to be on FX or Showtime or something and this is the Fox version. It's not awful, but it doesn't have much edge.

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