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Fall TV First Impression: Lethal Weapon

TV LINE – The broadcast networks have nearly 20 shows debuting this fall, including Michael Weatherly’s NCIS follow-up, Kiefer Sutherland’s term as POTUS and the story of MLB’s first female player. To help you prep for it all, TVLine is offering First Impressions of the not-for-review pilots.

 

Next up on our list….

 

THE SHOW | Fox’s Lethal Weapon (Wednesdays at 8/7c, premiere date TBA)

 

THE COMPETITION | CBS’ Survivor, NBC’s Blindspot, The CW’s Arrow and ABC’s The Goldbergs/Speechless (new)

 

THE CAST | Damon Wayans, Sr. (My Wife and Kids), Clayne Crawford (Rectify), Keesha Sharp (The People v. O.J. Simpson), Kevin Rahm (Mad Men), Jordana Brewster (Dallas) and Johnathan Fernandez (Good Medicine)

 

THE SET-UP | Grim Reaper-taunting Martin Riggs (Crawford) transfers to the LAPD, where he is partnered with Roger Murtaugh (Wayans), a family man who in the wake of a recent heart attack just might be getting too old for this… situation. Kinda like the movie, you know?

 

THE FIRST IMPRESSION | As a child of the ’80s, I had reservations about cuing this pilot up. Believe me. But damn… this small-screen reboot is fun.

 


Lethal Weapon is not inexpensive — directed by McG (Charlie’s Angels), its thrilling centerpiece chase scene alone likely cost more than most other pilots as a whole — so there may be a bit of “Wow!” factor inflating this early take. But beyond that, the casting really clicks, in large part because Crawford is, not surprisingly, twice as good as he probably needs to be, bringing as much pathos to Riggs’ tragic backstory as he does liveliness to the buddy cop banter or action scenes. Wayans meanwhile avoids TV’s “uptight do-right” stereotype, instead portraying a Murtaugh who isn’t totally averse to some derring-do, as long as he gets home to his defense attorney wife and three kids in one piece. A late scene between Murtaugh, his newborn daughter and Riggs hints at the variety of notes the series will get to play.

 

As Roger’s Mrs., Sharp lights up the screen but hopefully will be rounded out by the occasional courtroom (versus bedroom/dining room) scene. Coming off of Mad Men, Rahm fills the thankless role of the stuffed-shirt LAPD boss managing the Riggs/Murtaugh partnership, while Brewster (who by the way also has Secrets and Lies Season 2 also airing this fall) plays the cop shop’s in-house shrink and Fernandez is your quirky-ish M.E.

 

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE | Lethal Weapon will need its name recognition to pack some serious firepower, going up as it is against no less than two other action-dramas as well as the resilient Survivor. Will the same “Empire halo effect” that helped keep Rosewood‘s heart beating give it the competitive nudge it needs?

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