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TV Series Review

Good cop, bad cop? How 'bout good cop, crazy cop?

It's not that Martin Riggs is completely daffy, of course. It's hard to be an effective police officer if you also believe that you're the rightful king of Freedonia or that aliens are stalking your every move (Fox Mulder excepted, of course). It's just that ever since his wife died, Riggs has had a lingering compulsion to join her. Not the sort of man who should have access to guns, perhaps, much less carry one around as part of his job.

But Riggs doesn't want to pull the trigger himself. No, he'd much rather get someone else to do it for him. He figures the more danger he gets himself into, the more likely he'll go out in a blaze of glory. The more wisecracks he can voice at inopportune times—the more he can get under a criminal's skin, in other words—the more inclined said criminal might be to put Riggs out of both of their miseries.

And if they don't do the deed, well, maybe Riggs' partner will.

With Friends Like These …

Partner Roger Murtaugh, frankly, doesn't need the aggravation. Unlike Riggs, he's got a life. He's got a family. He's got high blood pressure, for cryin' out loud. The last thing Murtaugh needs is a partner whose idea of a good day's work is dashing into a spray of bullets, walking up to an 8-foot-6 drug lord, poking him in the chest and calling him "Tiny."

But for all Riggs' faults, Murtaugh can see the guy is a good detective. His methods may be generally called "unorthodox" (or, less charitably, "all kinds of insane"), but in their short time together, the two of them have already hauled killers, creeps and kingpins to justice. Plus, Murtaugh might be the closest thing to family that Riggs has. Riggs may be a loose cannon in Murtaugh's world, but maybe Murtaugh can be a stabilizing influence in Riggs'.

And if not … well, given Riggs' penchant for quippy one-liners, at least Murtaugh will likely die laughing.

Inconclusive Match

Buddy-cop comedy capers and suicidal tendencies would seem to be fairly disparate elements to mix. Suicide is not a laughing matter, no matter how many one-liners lurk around the edges. But that didn't stop the original Lethal Weapon movie, released in 1987, from becoming a big hit and sending star Mel Gibson into the Hollywood stratosphere.

The original movie and its three sequels were all rated R. Fox's television remake doesn't have the blood or language of its cinematic forebears. Indeed, the show feels much of a kind with today's other action-oriented broadcast cop shows remakes: Hawaii Five-0, for instance, or MacGyver, or CBS's cancelled Rush Hour.

But that's not to say that Lethal Weapon is clean TV. Language can be a bit rough. People are killed and unearthed just about every episode. It's not uncommon to see scantily clad men and women cross the television camera. And Riggs has a tendency to dream about his dearly departed beloved—often taking a shower and asking him to join her. (Nothing critical is shown, but these reveries do involve lots of skin and are, by their nature, suggestive and sensual.)

And then there's Riggs' penchant for breaking the law in his addled quest to protect it. Sure, I get that his recklessness is both part of the show's setup and its subsequent attraction (it's become one of 2016's highest-rated new dramas, whatever that's worth these days). But Lethal Weapon's central conceit has a downside: It suggests that laws can and should be broken if the payoff is big enough. That's a problematic stance at any time, and particularly now, when much of the public is demanding more accountability from police, not less.

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