Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Fall TV 2016: Lethal Weapon

I'm burned out on TV adaptations of feature films, and I haven't even watched any. Rush Hour, Frequency, Megaforce...Wait, there hasn't been a Megaforce TV show? Why not? I'd watch that.

(Fargo is great, but I don't count that because it just feels like a different entity than the movie. More importantly, it doesn't fit my narrative.)

Imagine my surprise when I watched Lethal Weapon and enjoyed it. I was kind of surprised I watched it, period. It's far from a classic, and when historians write epic tomes detailing The Golden Golden GOLDEN Age of Television, there will not be chapters devoted to autuerist analyses of the series. If that's not qualification enough for my praise, let me make another confession: I didn't notice who directed the first episode, but I saw esteemed helmsman McG credited with the second. If I saw that episode of Lethal Weapon in a theater and paid 15 bucks for it, I'd probably roll my eyes and think, "Another dumb McG action movie!" Then of course I'd investigate why the hell I paid 15 bucks for an hourlong presentation with 17 minutes of commercials.

On the telly, though, Lethal Weapon is that escapist fun entertainment that actually does what it sets out to do. Oh, there is a healthy dose of angst to go along with its car chases and buddy comedy, but stick around--it's never too long before something outright fun comes along to prevent you from dwelling on the heavy stuff.  Mind you, that is not at all a jab; I appreciate the effort to include some depth into the routine, but I also enjoy the execution of the formula.

As Riggs, Clayne Crawford (if that IS his real name)  brings an appropriate amount of swagger and likability to the unhinged (but with a good excuse) PTSD-suffering maverick. Likability is a big deal when you're trying to make people  forget Mel Gibson, and I mean that on several levels. As family man and perpetually exasperated partner Murtaugh, Damon Wayans reminds us how talented he is. He made me laugh out loud about a minute into his first scene.

This isn't the kind of show you need to watch closely nor watch every week, which is perhaps both a virtue and a detriment in this day and age. I also wonder if the spectacular effects and stunts in the pilot (and in the second episode to a lesser extent) will be sustained on a weekly basis. For now, though, consider this an appreciation of a simple buddy cop show that doesn't surprise at all except in the most important way: by being good at what it does.

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