Not satisfied to make a mockery of your favorite comic book characters, the CW takes a deep dive into one of the greatest action television shows to come out of the nineties with ‘Walker,’ a reboot of the Chuck Norris vehicle ‘Walker, Texas Ranger.’ This is my review of the pilot.
Texas Ranger Cordell Walker (Jared Padalecki) returns to Austin, Texas after an eleven-month undercover case he took following the death of his wife Emily (Genevieve Padalecki). He comes home to find his two kids in a mess. His son August (Kale Culley) is trying to overperform while his bratty daughter Stella (Violet Brinson) is rebelling. His new boss and former partner Captain Larry James (Coby Bell) assigns him a new partner Micki Ramirez (Lindsey Morgan). The two of them get a case of a cop who was attacked after a routine traffic stop. Meanwhile, Walker’s brother Liam (Keegan Allen), father Bonham (Mitch Pileggi), and mother Abeline (Molly Hagan) are trying to get him to stay around more often to reconnect with his family and his home.
Okay, where to begin? First of all, the pilot is probably one of the worst pilots I have seen in my whole life. Brushing away the fact that this is a remake of one of the most iconic television shows of all time, the pilot is boring. There is absolutely no hook, just a bunch of cliches that are strung together to make the plot limp along until it ends. This should not surprise anyone. It is written by Anna Fricke, best known for writing young adult soap operas like Dawson’s Creek and Everwood. And that is what this was, a soap opera about a random Texas Ranger. I do not blame the actors, but I do feel sorry for them. They all tried to take the material so seriously, but I pondered how they kept a straight face.
That does not even begin to explain the intersectionality that poisons the pilot from the start. We have to hit those social justice points or it is not a CW show. Yep, we got Walker’s female partner yelling at him about toxic masculinity. We got random diversity speeches. We got to hear the immigration talk. This made it impossible to take any of the characters seriously. His new partner just whines about her family. His daughter whines about being his kid. His parents offer no words of wisdom for helping, just utter the repeat lines about how he “missed his homecoming” or whatever. Also, the show made it clear he is still mourning his dead wife, but they are already trying to set him up with some random barmaid played by Odette Annable. With all this, the story got lost in the soap opera drama.
As my pal Lou Aguilar so eloquently notes, “It doesn’t matter, though, because the new Walker spends half the pilot mourning his wife’s death, drinking, brooding — a modern entertainment requisite — and worrying about his troubled teen daughter instead of kicking ass. That’ll bring back the boys, I mused.”
Sure, the real Walker, Texas Ranger relied on a little bit of campiness, but it always put the story ahead of its messaging. It touched on topics, sometimes dark, but instead of shoving their meaning down your throats, they created an actual plot combined with Martial Arts action to get it across to the audience. It worked every time and that is why Chuck Norris is a legend. He always carried himself with such confidence, bringing on masculinity, toughness, and was a force of nature. This helps you connect with him as the protagonist, his circle of friends, and even with antagonists.
Not so with poor Jared. He throws on a fake accent, lumbers along, but only manages a charming smile. He has no gravitas or toughness. Sure, he can swing it in a plucky CW drama and if this show did not try to grift off a famous action show, he might have pulled it off. Unfortunately, they wrote it as ‘Walker,’ adding it to a list of failed entertainment industry recycled projects.
I expand more on this in my latest StudioJake webisode:
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my reviews of HBO’s Perry Mason and the second season of The Mandalorian. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.