LETHAL WEAPON follows its great debut with a better, more relaxed, trope filled “Surf N Turf.” They had to lay a certain amount of ground work last week, they showed us a cop show with heart. This week, we get a better glimpse at how funny Lethal Weapon can be.
Daman Wayans is the tonal weapon of the show. Clayne Crawford’s Riggs carries all the drama they can squeeze out of a guy going through the stages of grief. It can’t be easy to show different shades on emotional pain week to week. This week we see him start a bar fight, just to get his ass kicked. That’s one route. On the other hand, he gets a mandate from Trish to make sure Roger makes it home to her every night. She makes the appeal to his sense of duty banking on her reflection of Riggs’ own deceased love, a great wife. Riggs is the tricky device, you never know when he’s going to explode.
This gives Wayans plenty of room to swing for the fences with Murtaugh. When it comes to comedy, Wayans is a nothing less than genius. There’s a scene at the end of “Surf N Turf” where he recounts the heroic take down Riggs and Roger Mayfield Murtaugh just accomplished and he’s searching for the right words to capture the deeds. The right words are just as difficult to describe his comedy. Still, Wayans has strengths, and one of them is family comedy. Murtaugh is blessed with a beautiful wife, who spends her days getting falsely accused people out of jail. Everyone who works with Murtaugh is afraid of her.
Trish also has a link to Roger’s heart monitor. Again, these scenes are hilarious. Trish will be at her desk, working to set some poor innocent free, then get an alert with Roger’s heartrate climbing like the national debt. Keesha Sharp strikes an excellent balance here. Yes, she’s beautiful, but she also projects maturity and wisdom. When she walks in on Murtaugh playing to his cop crowd, she feels like the most intelligent person in the room. Her constant monitoring of Roger doesn’t come off as invasive, but loving. That’s a hell of a trick. Add to this, they have a trio of beautiful children to pull at and torment Roger. Murtaugh is a man with everything to lose, and everything to fight for. It’s a great counter to the black hole Riggs lives in and a constant reminder of the place he was headed.
This is a cop show, but it’s light on the procedural aspect. In fact, it seems like everywhere another cop show might put in some clever detecting, Lethal Weapon opts for destruction of property. Crime and the criminal get the minimum amount of screen time. This week is about a dirty ATF agent hunting down a young woman who had the audacity to fall in love with him. There is only so much time on a network show, they have to make surgical decisions. Murtaugh and family eat up a certain amount of time, Riggs and his therapy get a few scenes of there own. The crime and minimum requisite sleuthing occur with a few minutes of action, chases, and destruction. We only really get a scene or two with the criminal, because they give more time to the victim. They’ll take their lumps about the weekly damsel’s, but that’s the risk with this sort of show. I wouldn’t mind seeing a TV version of Leo Getz.
They introduced a new detective to Murtaugh’s circle of friends that counters the damsel trope. Murtaugh describes Sonya Baily as his protégé. She’s hot as we would expect from the people at Fox, but she’s also a serious cop. She’s youthful enough to help Roger when falls and can’t get up. I’m sure in future episodes, these other team members will add to the overall show dynamics. All of these elements are in good hands. Brooks, the angry captain, refers to Riggs and Murtaugh as Crockett and Tubbs. It takes massive confidence to invoke Miami Vice, but McG makes a solid case. The pilot is filled with perfect shots of the Los Angeles dusk and “Surf N Turf” opens with a bikini/beach shot that belonged right in the Miami Vice opening. The visual tone matches the character tone. When Riggs and Murtaugh blow up the baddie warehouse, Brooks can see the fireworks from his office downtown and asks if anyone knows where his disastrous duo are.
The one choice I question is the 8PM time slot. I keep thinking they could tell edgier stories at 10PM. Maybe they wanted to make Lethal Weapon more accessible and it is. This show is fun and entertaining. When it comes to dark drama, cable and streaming platforms have a huge advantage. Fox doesn’t seem to care much for that 10PM blood bath. Lethal Weapon is off to a great start, next Wednesday can’t get here soon enough.
Season 1, Episode 2 (S01E02)
Lethal Weapon airs Wednesdays at 8PM on Fox
Eric lives in a world where the television is great, the smiles are warm, the pizza is hot, the puppies are playful, and the zombies are slow and meander while he reloads.
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Eric Rodriguez | Contributor