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Please accept our apologies for delaying so long in bringing you another Leonard Nimoy tribute.  The loss of him has really sunk in du...

Monday, October 10, 2016

Lethal Weapon on Fox is a Must Watch

The original Lethal Weapon film was released 29 years ago and it was a monumental success for Warner Bros. The film series would have three additional installments over the course of eleven years and all four films would be gigantic moneymakers. What took them so long to launch a series?

Back in 1987 no one would have dreamt that three decades later a broadcast network would launch the title into a weekly episodic series, but here we are with a Lethal Weapon series sans the gun in the promo material and in the logo itself.

Now if you think I am about to be critical regarding a lack of creativity on the part of the television industry you would be incorrect. Choosing a highly recognizable brand and title doesn't prove a lack of creativity. Lethal Weapon was a prime project to have segued onto the small screen.

I am basing my perspective off of the first three episodes of season one and Fox couldn't have gotten luckier. This take on the characters of Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh is downright perfect; and when was the last time I said that about anything outside of a PBS Masterpiece series. I am all in on Lethal Weapon. I now rarely even like anything, let alone love anything, but this series is rocking it. It's wildly entertaining and it's four stars, five stars, how many stars take you to the top of the heap!

Lethal Weapon doesn't attempt to imitate or recreate the buddy cop drama/comedy and it doesn't have some of the harsher aspects of what Shane Black's original scripts delivered.  The Fox drama gifts us with quality writing with fully fleshed out characters, lots of quick and clever dialogue which shockingly is even believable; and a poignancy about life, death, family and friendship that made me realize when developers attempt to do something worthwhile they can achieve a goal. It was the first time in a long time I missed my old gig of working at a network, although I missed it for a second!

For years, dating back to 1969's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (which is referenced in an episode) the buddy film/series led to tremendous success, but for a reason I am unable to explain it has disappeared from our viewing inventory.  I recently sat through The Nice Guys starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling and I almost got depressed viewing it. Like the Lethal Weapon films from an earlier time, the film was written by Shane Black; and the darkness accompanied by nothing but unfunny dialogue may have proved why the buddy concept sank. No, actually it doesn't. Just because Shane Black is currently unable to write a digestible narrative doesn't explain the demise of the buddy project. This Lethal Weapon will hopefully prove so successful it will bring it all back. Having written that, I doubt it. No television series will ever become the overall water cooler project the way television and film impacted our society in prior generations. There is too much to watch and everything is now a niche.

The writers of Lethal Weapon want to hammer the buddy concept into our head and there are a few references to other iconic buddy partners as well. Think Starsky and Hutch. We even get Crawford doing a hood jump and he's quite skilled at it. This series is male friendly and one would think men would want to see this series. Men have deserted television in recent years and maybe this series will bring them back.  I suspect nothing may bring them back, since even the NFL's ratings are beginning to run out the clock.  

Damon Wayans plays Murtaugh and he's a delight. He isn't necessarily an actor of great range or depth, but he doesn't need to be for this role. He has the chops to pull off the comedy (which he does superbly), the dramedy and the action. Wayans has long been an appealing performer and he hasn't aged over the years.

The real achy heart and soul here goes to one of the most gifted actors of the last decade and a half. Clayne Crawford has it all and it's stunning to think this is the first big break he has gotten after doing a large assortment of episodic guest spots, independent films and a lead role in the series Rectify. I love this guy. He's attractive without being Mel Gibson 1987 gorgeous and he is an outstanding actor capable of being likable and relatable no matter what he seems to be doing or saying in this series. Crawford is a full body mass of charisma and  he possesses a great deal of talent. Watch Rectify on Sundance and see him a play a character completely different than his Martin Riggs.

Crawford isn't playing the character as the suicidal guy, but as a man with a broken heart who doesn't want to kill himself, but he may want to die. He is far more emotionally subdued here than the original character and his performance is heart wrenching, but he's also funny. As I said, I love this guy.

The supporting cast does everything it can to add heft to the project and they all succeed. Keesha Sharp as Murtaugh's smart and compassionate wife is perfectly cast. Kevin Rahm as their supervisor at LAPD headquarters is sharp and funny; and Jordana Brewster is believable as the therapist who clearly doesn't think Riggs is crazy. A particular standout is Johnathan Fernandez as the Medical Examiner named Scorcese.

The producers will bring Leo Getz (originally played by Joe Pesci) and Lorna Cole (originally played by Renee Russo) into the series after the established relationships between Riggs and Murtaugh have time to sink in with viewers. Pesci originally appeared in Lethal Weapon 2 and Russo debuted in Lethal Weapon 3. 

Lethal Weapon is a big, expensive series. Each of the episodes plays out like a feature film and the cinematography is exceptionally beautiful. What an accomplishment in the technical arts. The series provides a cinematic experience with top drawer stunt work and special effects seen rarely on television.

I would have thought Warner Bros would have wanted this series on HBO, but Fox has it. Hopefully, between the two media giants they will make this work. For network series programming in 2016, this one is an A+.

Lethal Weapon airs on Fox on Wednesdays at 8/7c.

Copyright The Flaming Nose 2016

Thursday, August 11, 2016

More TV Happy Birthdays: 7/28 & 7/29

Continuing our Happy Birthday Catching Up --

7/28 TV Happy Birthdays:  RIP First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, singer/actor Rudy VallĂ©e, politician Hugo Chavez, director Andrew McLaglen, runner/advocate Terry Fox.

Cartoonist Jim Davis-71, actress Linda Kelsey-70, actress Sally Struthers-69, actress Georgia Engel-68, actor/prod Michael Hitchcock-58, singer/actress/prod Rachel Sweet-54, actress Lori Loughlin-52, comedian/actor Jimmy Pardo-50, actress Elizabeth Berkley-44, actor Billy Brown-35, actor Spencer Boardman-24.

7/29 TV Happy Birthdays:  RIP actor William Powell, actor/lawyer Melvin Belli, director Budd Boetticher, writer Don Ingalls, actor Richard Egan, actor Lloyd Bochner, actor Robert Horton, actor/wrestling manager Lou Albano,  journalist Peter Jennings,

Comedian Professor Irwin Corey-102, actor Robert Fuller-83, actor David Warner-75, actress Leslie Easterbrook-67, actor Mike Starr-66, documentary producer Ken Burns-63, designer/host Tim Gunn-63, actress Alexandra Paul-53, actor/inventor Dean Haglund-51, actor Timothy Omundson-47, actor Wil Wheaton-44, actor Stephen Dorff-43, actor Josh Radnor-42, actress Allison Mack-34, host Lauren Brooke-34, actress Tania Gunadi-33, actor Munro Chambers-26, actor Matt Prokop-26.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

More Happy Birthdays Catch-up! 7/26 & 7/27

And we continue catching up with our TV Happy Birthdays!

7/26 TV Birthdays:  RIP actress Vivian
Vance, director Stanley Kubrick, actress Marjorie Lord, director Blake Edwards, actor Jason Robards, actor James Best.

Actor Robert Colbert-85, singer Mick Jagger-73, actress Helen Mirren-71, actress Linda Harrison-71, actress Susan George-66, skater Dorothy Hamill-60, actress Nana Visitor-59, actor Kevin Spacey-57, actress Sandra Bullock-52, actor Jeremy Piven-51, actor Jason Statham-49, actress Olivia Williams-48, host Chris Harrison-45, actress Kate Beckinsale-43, actress Grace Gealey-32, actress Monica Raymund-30, actress Miriam McDonald-29, actor Michael Campion-14.

7/27 TV Birthdays: RIP actor Keenan Wynn, critic Vincent Canby, actor Don Galloway.

 Actor/impressionist Will Jordan-89, actor Jerry Van Dyke-85, actor John Pleshette-74, singer Bobbie Gentry-72, skater Peggy Fleming-68, actress/director Betty Thomas-68, singer Maureen McGovern-67, actor Simon Jones-66, actress Roxanne Hart-64, comedienne/writer Carol Leifer-60, comedian/actor Bill Engvall-59, actor Julian McMahon-48, actor Nilolaj Coster-Waldau-46, comedian/actress Maya Rudolph-44, actor Seamus Dever-40, actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers-39, actress Taylor Schilling-32, reality star Joslyn Fox-30, actress Charlotte Arnold-27.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Catching up on some Happy Birthdays!

What with the two political conventions and the general laziness of summertime we've fallen WAY behind in our daily TV Happy Birthdays.  We apologize and herewith offer a whirlwind collection that simply can't be squeezed into 140 Twitter characters, no matter how hard we try.

So from where we left off:

7/24 TV Happy Birthdays:  RIP author Robert "I, Claudius" Graves, aviator Amelia Earhart, actor/author Chief Dan George & novelist Zelda Fitzgerald.

Actress/comedienne Ruth Buzzi-80, actor Dan Hedaya-76, actor Chris Sarandon-74, comedian Gallagher-70, actor/comedian Michael Richards-67, actress Lynda Carter-65, actor Kadeem Hardison-51, actress/singer Kristin Chenoweth-48, actress Laura Leighton-48, singer/actress Jennifer Lopez-47, actor Eric Szmanda-41, actor Christian Keyes-41, actor Danny Dyer-39, actress Rose Byrne-37, actress Summer Glau-35, actress Elizabeth Moss-34, actress Anna Paquin-34, actress Megan Park-30, actress Emily Rickards-25, actor Lucas Adams-23, actor Logan Grove-18, actress/host Bindi Irwin-18

7/25 TV Birthdays: RIP actress Estelle Getty, actor Jack Gilford, actor/director Jerry Paris, actor Brad Renfro.

Actress Babara Harris-81, model/actress Iman-61, actress/director Ileana Douglas-51, actor Matt LeBlanc-49, actress Wendy Raquel Robinson-49, host Jason Dundas-34, actor James Lafferty-31, actress Shantel VanSanten-31, actor Michael Welch-29, actor Preston Bailey-16, actor PierceGagnon-11.