It wasn't too long ago that the pop culture talking point was that we were in a "new golden era" of television. One in which writers, directors, and actors were able to take risks, utilizing the unique format of serialized storytelling to do things they simply couldn't do in films — and giving audiences the kind of rich, nuanced drama that movie studios didn't seem interested in anymore.
And now it looks like there's going to be a Lethal Weapon TV show. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox won out in a bidding war for the project, which focuses on a mentally unhinged cop named Martin Riggs (a role originated by Mel Gibson), who is partnered up with a veteran LAPD detective (played by Danny Glover in the films, where he was generally cranky and too old for this shit). Matt Miller (Chuck) will be writing the show, which Fox picked up in a "put pilot" deal — essentially agreeing to put the project on the air before anything has been shot.
It's just yet another example of the entertainment industry — desperate to use the awareness of any pre-existing property as a competitive edge — adapting movies for the small screen. Just this year we've seen Minority Report, Limitless, and 12 Monkeys, and everything from The A-Team to Uncle Buck is in development. (And hey, don't forget about the Watchmen series Zack Snyder has been chatting about with HBO, or Phil Lord and Chris Miller's take on the podcast Serial.)
Does that mean these shows will inevitably be bad? Of course not. Game of Thrones has proven that adaptation can work in stunning fashion, and no matter how beloved the source material a television show by its very nature demands that writers and showrunners rethink and expand upon plot, settings, and character dynamics. The beauty of something like Lethal Weapon is that it's so broad; the series doesn't need to stick to a faithful recreation of Riggs and Murtaugh taking down Mr. Joshua. It can simply be a weekly procedural with a lead character hellbent on self-destruction (and if there's one things that networks have learned over the past decade, it's that audiences love a self-destructive lead character). But it all feels a little stale, doesn't it? The parade of things we've already seen before? In fact, it reminds me how movies started to feel about 15 years ago: desperate and clingy, choosing to take safe bet after safe bet until shows like The Sopranos and The Wire taught audiences that movie theaters may not be the best place to look for serious-minded entertainment anymore.
Anyway, we could go into a long, drawn-out discussion of why TV executives are turning more and more frequently to established film franchises for their ideas, or a scolding screed about Hollywood’s ever-present tendency to autocannibalize. Or we could just post the video of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’s Lethal Weapon 5, which is probably the only Lethal Weapon adaptation TV actually needs, and let you get on with your Friday.