29th Sep2017

‘Lethal Weapon: The Complete First Season’ Blu-ray Review

by Phil Wheat


Based on the movies of the same name, Lethal Weapon: The Series show follows veteran LAPD Detective Roger Murtaugh (Damon Wayans) as he returns to his job after a heart attack to find that he’s been partnered with ex-Navy SEAL Martin Riggs (Clayne Crawford), who has just transferred from El Paso, Texas after the death of his wife. Although Murtaugh tries his best to maintain a low stress level his new, slightly unhinged partner seems to have other ideas…Things become even more more complicated when Riggs develops feelings for police department psychologist (Jordana Brewster), who he has been ordered to undertake mandatory sessions with!

Debuting on US television with an 18 episodes first season would seem to suggest that this TV-friendly version of the action film franchise didn’t meet with much success upon broadcast – but nothing further could be from the truth. This television iteration instead seemingly found a vocal, and more importantly, loyal audience when it initially aired.

Of course there are those that will compare the show to the films and that is, honestly, unfair. The original film had a very succinct story to tell, whereas the series is just that, a series. One that needs to tell weekly stories whilst at the same time having an overall arc that recalls the plot(s) of the film whilst offering its own spin. There are bound to be changes when formatting a four-film series for the TV screen (and I’m not talking about a 4:3 ratio!). And nowhere is that more apparent than in our two leads.

Damon Wayans is no Danny Glover and Clayne Crawford is definitely no Mel Gibson. But that’s OK. A few episodes in and both the actors and the audience are into a flow and this duo of Riggs and Murtaugh have their own chemistry, their own rapport and by the end of the first season there’s certainly no way you can complain about either actor or their performances. They become a new Riggs and Murtaugh, a funnier, more emotional and more “current” pairing. Gone is the overly macho psychosis of Gibson’s Riggs and in comes a just as disturbed, a just as manic version of Riggs. Only Crawford’s Riggs also has a more caring, more emotional side – something we didn’t see in the films till the later entries – when the franchise turned from quite serious, some might say dark, buddy-cop action comedy into a more successful, much more lighter buddy cop comedy. What is more jarring is Wayans’ Murtaugh. Wayans, whilst admittedly getting on in years compared to his role in that other great buddy cop film, The Last Boyscout, still feels too young to play a detective with years of experience AND a dicky-ticker! Of course that’s all on me. You can’t deny that Wayans brings a greater humour and emotional depth – thanks to the characters deep ties to his wife and kids in the show – than the “I’m too old for this” spouting joke Glover became as the films went on.

Lethal Weapon: The Series of course HAS to craft its own take on the familiar tale. But that doesn’t mean it igmnores what has come before. There are numerous nods to the films strewn throughout the first season – from plot points to characters and situations. Hell, we even get the series’ version of Leo Getz! But what this Lethal Weapon also does is round out its cast – we see more of Riggs interactions with the rest of the police force, including Jordana Brewster’s police psychologist. There’s a greater reliance on Murtaugh’s family and home life – something that brings out the humanity in Crawford’s Riggs and adds a much more emotional resonance. Our detective duo go from being two cops solving crimes to two family men (yes, Riggs becomes part of the bigger Murtaugh family much moreso in the show) whose actions have consequences; and that’s even when Riggs thinks little of them!

The over-arcing story of Lethal Weapon‘s first season, the death of Riggs wife and who is responsible, is well-scattered throughout the 18 episodes; some focusing more on it, whilst others allowing Crawford to touch on the loss of Riggs wife emotionally without it truly being the centre of a particular episodes story. But when the storyline does come to a head, this Lethal Weapon proves it can get as action-packed, as exciting, and as dark as the movies ever did.

Seeing unfamiliar faces playing beloved characters can be jarring – it certainly is in the early episodes of Lethal Weapon – but stick with the show and you’ll be rewarded with one of the truly great movie-to-TV adaptaions of recent memory.

Lethal Weapon: The Complete First Season is available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Download now from Warner Home Video. Extras include and extended pilot, “Reloading Lethat Weapon” featurette, deleted scenes and a gag reel.


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