Ah, the remake — it’s always the subject of debate and “What were they thinking?” questions when TV brings another scaled-down version of a big-screen favourite into primetime. And this fall, much of that discussion will be focused on Fox’s revival of Lethal Weapon as a TV drama.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/9/2016 (1831 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Opinion

Ah, the remake — it’s always the subject of debate and "What were they thinking?" questions when TV brings another scaled-down version of a big-screen favourite into primetime. And this fall, much of that discussion will be focused on Fox’s revival of Lethal Weapon as a TV drama.

The betting here is that it won’t be a lengthy debate, and that viewers’ attention will soon turn to the new Wednesday titles that are actually worthwhile conversation-starters.

Lethal Weapon

Fox/Citytv — Sept. 21, 7 p.m.

</p><p>Damon Wayans, left, and Clayne Crawford in 'Lethal Weapon.'</p>

Damon Wayans, left, and Clayne Crawford in 'Lethal Weapon.'

Starring: Damon Wayans, Clayne Crawford, Kevin Rahm, Jordana Brewster and Keesha Sharp

Premise: A re-imagining of the successful 1980s-’90s movie franchise, this time starring Wayans as ready-for-retirement veteran Roger Murtaugh and Crawford and emotionally scarred and self-destructive newcomer Martin Riggs.

Lowdown: One always has to wonder what motivates a TV producer to opt for a remake or a revival rather than an original series concept — a desire to put a well-timed new spin on a great concept, or simply a lack of imagination? Sadly, this clumsy effort seems to fall squarely into the latter category, adding nothing to the legacy of the popular Mel Gibson/Danny Glover feature films. The series pilot is filled with ham-handed explanations and heavy-footed action sequences that will leave most viewers much more irritated than entertained.

Bottom line: Did I hear somebody say, "lethal injection?"

 

Speechless

ABC — Sept. 21, 7:30 p.m.

Adam Taylor / ABC</p><p>(From left): John Ross Bowie, Minnie Driver, Mason Cook, Kyla Kenedy, Micah Fowler and Dina Spybey-Waters star in Speechless.</p></p>

Adam Taylor / ABC

(From left): John Ross Bowie, Minnie Driver, Mason Cook, Kyla Kenedy, Micah Fowler and Dina Spybey-Waters star in Speechless.

Starring: Minnie Driver, John Ross Bowie, Mason Cook, Micah Fowler, Kyla Kenedy and Cedric Yarbrough

Premise: A thoughtful family comedy about a hard-working mom who’ll do anything — including, sometimes, trying too hard and alienating her family from friends and neighbours — to defend the interests of her husband and kids, particularly her son who has a disability.

Lowdown: There are many ways this show could have headed in the wrong direction, winding up preachy or so sombre that it suffocated its comedic impulses, but writer/producer Scott Silveri (Friends) finds just the right tone in a series première that deftly handles the DiMeo family’s struggles and son JJ’s (Fowler) cerebral palsy challenges. Driver is both sympathetic and funny in a role that requires a delicate tonal balance.

Bottom line: Interesting that a comedy called Speechless could be a show that inspires serious conversation.

Designated Survivor

ABC/CTV — Sept. 21, 9 p.m.

Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Natascha McElhone, Adan Canto, Maggie Q and Kal Penn

Premise: A mild-mannered politician in a low-level cabinet position suddenly finds himself thrust into the role of U.S. president after an attack on the Capitol during the State of the Union address wipes out almost every elected official in Washington.

Lowdown: Like Sutherland’s best-known TV effort, 24, this new drama demands a full suspension of viewers’ disbelief as it explores a rather outrageous premise. If the actor’s intent was to find a character as far removed from Jack Bauer’s shoot-first-torture-second-maybe-ask-questions-later attitude as possible, he’s made a good choice in wishy-washy Washingtonian Tom Kirkman. Once he’s promoted to POTUS, however, his country — and this show’s viewers — are going to need to see a whole lot more.

Bottom line: The only way this presidential designate survives is if he starts acting a lot more like Jack Bauer.

Frequency

CW — Oct. 5, 8 p.m.

Bettina Strauss / The CW</p><p>Peyton List plays an NYPD detective who reconnects with her dead father in Frequency.</p></p>

Bettina Strauss / The CW

Peyton List plays an NYPD detective who reconnects with her dead father in Frequency.

Starring: Peyton List, Riley Smith, Mekhi Phifer, Daniel Bonjour and Lenny Jacobson

Premise: A hard-working NYPD detective who has spent years trying to escape the shadow of her father’s crooked-cop reputation finds a reason to believe her dad may have been framed, after a long-forgotten ham radio in the family’s cluttered garage suddenly crackles to life and connects her with the voice of her father, who’s been dead for 20 years.

Lowdown: It seems like a pretty out-there premise, but Frequency actually makes it both believable and compelling, thanks to some clever time-jumping plot connections and strong performances by List and Smith as the decades-divided father/daughter combination. The series première is very entertaining, but it’s also one of those hours that leave many questions about where the narrative goes next.

Bottom line: Don’t touch that dial. Definitely worth a tune-in, at least long enough to see how the first few episodes unfold.

 

Returning shows:

Blindspot (Sept. 14, NBC/CTV)

Survivor (Sept. 21, CBS/Global)

The Goldbergs (Sept. 21, ABC)

Empire (Sept. 21, Fox)

Law & Order: SVU (Sept. 21, NBC)

Modern Family (Sept. 21, ABC/Citytv)

black-ish (Sept. 21, ABC/Citytv)

Chicago P.D. (Sept. 21, NBC)

Criminal Minds (Sept. 28, CBS/CTV)

Code Black (Sept. 28, CBS)

Dragons’ Den (Oct. 5, CBC)

The Romeo Section (Oct. 5, CBC)

The Arrow (Oct. 5, CW)

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @BradOswald

Brad Oswald

Brad Oswald
Perspectives editor

After three decades spent writing stories, columns and opinion pieces about television, comedy and other pop-culture topics in the paper’s entertainment section, Brad Oswald shifted his focus to the deep-thoughts portion of the Free Press’s daily operation.

   Read full biography