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The idea for a "Lethal Weapon" TV show has been rumored around Hollywood for many years with Fox finally taking the plunge into the show in 2016. Showrunner Matt Miller attempts to maintain the sense of style and buddy humor which was present in the original scripts produced for the movies by Shane Black.
The rebooted "Lethal Weapon" takes a similar direction to the movies, which saw a pair of very different cops embark on a partnership which has the potential to kill them both. Roger Murtaugh is an aging cop with the LAPD who is struggling to return to work following a cardiac arrest which occurred when his wife was giving birth to his daughter six months earlier. Murtaugh returns to work with a single aim, to remain calm and stress-free as his retirement from the force approaches.
The pilot episode begins with Murtaugh and a collection of cops waiting for a negotiator to arrive and talk to a group of bank robbers who are holding the staff and customers hostage. The arrival of another cop brings the hostage situation to a close when Martin Riggs simply walks into the bank and takes a gun from a bank robber before killing the others. As Riggs walks out of the bank it explodes leaving Murtaugh and the other officers amazed at what they are seeing.
The two cops are thrown together with Riggs providing a short biography of his life to Murtaugh explaining he is a former Navy SEAL who has lost his way in life after the murder of his wife and unborn daughter. Following the loss of his wife and daughter, Riggs has moved out of his native Texas and taken a job in Los Angeles to try and get to the bottom of the crime. Riggs is now depressed and reliant on alcohol throughout most of the day but has a high arrest rate despite his reckless nature.
During the first episode, a major set-piece includes a Grand Prix race which Riggs and Murtaugh chase a suspect into with their cars causing a series of accidents as the race progresses. The story continues into the second episode of season one which sees Riggs and Murtagh chasing down a suspected arms dealer who is bringing military grade weapons into Los Angeles.
As the season progresses, Riggs shows little regard for the feelings or life of his partner who is simply trying to ride out the last few months before his retirement. Riggs is determined to find those responsible for the death of his wife and child which provides him with his reason to live. Murtaugh's wife is consistently trying to get the two men to become friends and find a balance between their personalities which would allow both men to live a happier, more productive life.
The original creator of the "Lethal Weapon" franchise, Shane Black returned to the franchise to help showrunner, Matt Miller develops the script for the return of Riggs and Murtaugh. Black had become one of the most sought after writers and directors in the world from the 1980s onwards when he shot to fame as the writer of "Lethal Weapon" and for his contributions to blockbuster movies including "Predator." Black began directing movies with the 2005 feature, "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" and was the director of the successful, "Iron Man 3."
The original stars of "Lethal Weapon" were not considered for the new series for a variety of reasons and were replaced by Doman Wayans and Clayne Crawford. Wayans take on Murtaugh is softer and more lighthearted than that of his predecessor in the role, Danny Glover. Wayans is often seen as a comedic actor with his work on "In Living Color" and "Major Payne" bringing him to the attention of the public.
Clayne Crawford takes the role of Martin Riggs which brings him into his first network TV show after finding a small amount of fame in the Sundance TV show, "Rectify." Prior to his role in the drama, Crawford had a number of small roles in a range of independent and major movies, including "A Love Song for Bobby Long" and "Swim Fan."
"Lethal Weapon" was ordered by Fox as a full 18-episode season in 2016 which showed the confidence the network had in the reboot of the show. In the past, rumors had stated the show would follow a prequel storyline but Matt Miller and Shane Black came to the conclusion a retelling of the original story would be the best option. Damon Wayans was the first actor cast as his name carried the most amount of weight with Fox executives. The first two episodes of the show were directed by the popular movie director, McG with Matt Miller taking directing duties on the finale of each season. The show is broadcast by Fox in the U.S. with streaming offered by Hulu. "Lethal Weapon" has been broadcast by a number of international broadcasters including the ITV network in the U.K> and Channel Nine in Australia.
The show has received a mixed reception from critics and viewers with many professional critics stating their belief the lack of reinvention of the franchise had let down fans of the original and current show. On Rotten Tomatoes, the average review gives "Lethal Weapon" an average rating of 65 percent for season one with the performances of Wayans and Crawford seen as the saving grace of the series. Crawford reported behavior on set resulted in his character being replaced by a new partner for Roger Murtaugh in season three. The show was a success in terms of viewers with season one averaging more than eight million viewers per episode upon its first broadcast.
"Lethal Weapon" creator Shane Black had wanted to kill off the character of Martin Riggs at the end of the "Lethal Weapon 2" movie. Black considered the script his finest work and managed to achieve the act when Clayne Crawford's version of Riggs left the series at the end of season two. In the pilot episode of "Lethal Weapon," the character of Martin Riggs wife is seen waving at her husband before being murdered in front of the original Murtaugh house from the "Lethal Weapon" movies.