Each fall, most of the broadcast and cable networks debut a ton of new shows in the span of a few months, making it difficult to sort out which ones to make time for and which to skip. So we’re starting the WIRED Pilot Program, where we highlight what you should continue watching, and what you can just let sit on your DVR until it automatically deletes. Today’s entry: Lethal Weapon
The Show: Lethal Weapon (Wednesdays, Fox)
The Premise: Martin Riggs (Clayne Crawford), an ex-Navy SEAL with a death wish, gets partnered with Roger Murtaugh (Damon Wayans), a veteran detective who just wants to stay safe for his family. The unlikely pair learns to get along and fight crime in Los Angeles, all while playing by their own rules. Oh yeah, and it’s a remake of the film series starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover.
The Pilot Program Take: The show opens with Riggs chasing a criminal through the El Paso desert while on the phone with his pregnant wife, driving herself to the hospital to give birth. Due to his impending fatherhood, he stops abruptly and decides to snipe the speeding truck from a distance. Before the audience has a chance to think about why this idea hasn’t registered somewhere during the preceding nine months, Lethal Weapon borrows the most tired and least tasteful trope du jour—Riggs’ wife and unborn child are T-boned by a semi. This is all before the first commercial break.
Aside from that opening, this remake no one was clamoring for assumes its source material functions as a shortcut to character building. The only way to understand Riggs at all is by transposing everything viewers previously learned from Gibson’s earlier portrayal. Yes, he has a tragic past. Yes, he lives in an RV. Yes, he talks openly about suicide. The problem is Crawford doesn’t have the kinetic mania of Gibson, so all we really see is a slick-talking, fearless, giddy cop who sometimes contemplates ending it all.
The same is true with Wayan’s Murtaugh. Just back to the force after almost dying, his wife (Keesha Sharp), a successful defense attorney, spends barely half a breath trying to convince him to retire. Danny Glover played a worn-out cop begrudgingly dragged back into action who forged an unlikely friendship with his new partner. In this pilot, that transformation happens on fast-forward. After barely meeting a man who almost gets him killed on their first day together, Murtaugh has Riggs over for dinner and then lets him hold his newborn baby. Later, the supposedly nervous family man jumps a truck through a warehouse window to shoot down five heavily armed drug dealers. The show spends absolutely no time convincing us that he’s too old for this shit at all.
The Verdict: This show is undeniably bad, but calling it Lethal Weapon and trying to cast it as a reboot also makes it offensive. There is no sacred intellectual property in 2016, and Shane Black’s original film is not The Godfather, but Riggs and Murtaugh deserve better. The pilot dips its toes into PTSD, grief, suicide, and the cartels. It also has a few car chases, a handful of shootouts, a bank robbery, and more than a couple references to oral sex. It’s a bloated mess, and not even an entertaining one.
TL;DR: Don’t watch.