From Sleepy Hollow to Minority Report, Fox has been trying for years to launch a successful police procedural based on preexisting properties. The former initially found success until it was driven into the ground by poor narrative choices and even poorer treatment of its stars, while the latter was rightfully canceled after one scattered season. On Wednesday, Fox will try again when it launches its remake of the 1987 buddy cop film Lethal Weapon.
At the outset, the series' biggest challenge will be recapturing the chemistry between Mel Gibson's Martin Riggs and Danny Glover's Roger Murtaugh, but its longevity and success will ultimately depend upon on whether or not the series can distinguish itself as a viable property separate from the iconic film franchise, something that is at the forefront of stars Clayne Crawford (Riggs) and Damon Wayans, Sr.'s (Murtaugh) minds.
"Redoing something is terrifying as an actor. You like to do things that are original and you like to try to put your own spin on it," Crawford tells TVGuide.com. "What they did was so incredible, and it didn't leave a lot of meat on the bone. So what we had to do — because of the respect we had for the other projects — [was] separate ourselves as much as possible and try to bring only what we can bring. I can only bring what Clayne Crawford has inside of him, and Damon Wayans can only do the same. And that's what we tried to do."
One thing Lethal Weapon will be putting its own spin on in an attempt to make a name for itself is the film's most famous contributions to popular culture: Murtaugh's "too old for this sh*t" catchphrase.
"I think that it's kind of corny coming from me because it looks like I'm trying to repeat [what Glover did]," explains Wayans. "My assignment is to help you forget about Danny Glover. I think the death [of the show] is when people are going, 'Danny did it better.' So for me, anything that's going to bring people back to [the movie], I'd rather avoid."
The good news for Wayans and Crawford is that, unlike the film — which clocked in at just under two hours — the series has the opportunity to establish their characters and their character's backstories, while also slowly building the foundation of friendship that will ultimately ground the action.
That means spending more time on important moments in Riggs and Murtaugh's lives, like the death of the former's wife, which hung like a shadow over the character in the film and drove him toward suicidal actions, but was never actually witnessed.
"We wanted the audience to not have to catch up to that, and [to] find a guy that was already sort of down and broken," says executive producer Matt Miller. "We wanted to see the moment where he broke and actually have [the audience] experience that kind of visceral impact of the collision with him, so that you had a moment in the pilot before his world sort of changed, and then be able to live that with him. And then going forward, as we'll flash back to that moment, as we'll flash back to the relationship that Riggs had with Miranda, [you'll] be able to sort of understand it a little bit deeper."
And that's the key thing Crawford hope fans take away from Lethal Weapon.
"[This] is a character piece, it's not just things going boom."
Lethal Weapon premieres Wednesday, September 21 at 8/7c on Fox.