Handsome tall-man fans rejoice! After an excruciating two whole months of being off the air, Jared Padalecki is back on your television screens! But this time he’s not hunting down demons, vampires and werewolves alongside Jensen Ackles. Oh no! The boy once known as Sam Winchester has returned to The CW a man. And that man is none other than the American legend, Walker: Texas Ranger.
Padalecki, of course, has primarily been known for the last decade-and-a-half as the younger brother of the dynamic monster-fighting duo on the CW series Supernatural. Now he stars in what is one of the more bizarre reboots of recent memory.
What’s the Situation Here?
Walker premiered on The CW last Thursday, January 21st and was The CW’s most watched series premiere in the last five years. That’s quite the feather in the station’s cap, and hopefully salves the righteous burns they’re getting as the series premiere has generally been
panned roasted by critics.
IMDb gives it a 6.2 out of 10. Not to be outdone, the good folks over at Rotten Tomatoes hail it as an accomplishment worthy of 31% approval, and RogerEbert.com states “CW Reboots Walker but Forgets to Give Him a Personality.”
In lieu of a simple review, here is my synopsis of the pilot. You may catch my own personal views peppered in amongst the exposition.
In the Pilot episode, we’re introduced to Cordell Walker, Texas Ranger as he comes home to his loving wife Emily (played by Jared’s irl wife, Genevieve Padalecki). She’s off to do some kind of… stuff. I don’t know, they didn’t really make it clear. She was going off to find somebody about something, and it was most assuredly going to be sketchy at best. I’m not sure if she was in law enforcement or a journalist, or what. I should probably mention at this point that I was halfway through a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc when I started watching.
Anyway, Emily tries to gas Cordell up as he’s about to walk into a game-night with his own children and parents. Walker behaves as if he’s never encountered these people before in his life. So, here we are at the beginning of a story about a man who is inexplicably incapable of relating to his blood relatives whom, we can only assume, he has lived with all his life. His entire relationship with his own family is, for some reason, codependent on his wife’s ability to, I don’t know, coach him through it.
The Board Game Is Really The Star Of The Show, Emotionally
Emily leaves and Walker goes in to play games with his family. In the next scene we learn that this man, who works at a level of Law Enforcement with statewide jurisdiction, is entirely inept at basic-ass, 70s style board games. Meanwhile, his children and septuagenarian parents are having no trouble understanding the rules and are appropriately berating him for his incompetence. Walker’s phone rings, so he leaves the game to take the call. This is clearly to his relief as he has proven to have the mental capacity of a cantaloupe with regards to whatever Shoots and Ladders knockoff the family was playing.
Naturally, the phone call is from Emily who is, surprise surprise, being pursued by unknown nefarious rogues. While she’s on the phone with Walker, Emily falls down and… I don’t know, I guess dies?
Cut to black!
Then, the super appears on the screen; 10 months later. That’s right. We just skipped over nearly a year of character development.
We don’t know where Walker’s been. He’s been off doing… Ranger shit, I guess? Anyway, his children and friends are gathering at his parents’ home, awaiting the return of their
absentee father conquering hero.
But Walker is nowhere to be found. He has stood them up. How typical the writers may have well plastered across the screen in bold font. They decide to call the police to find him. But where could Walker be? He must be somewhere with meaning, somewhere familiar, somewhere special.
And indeed he is! Walker is getting piss-drunk in the bed of his pickup, next to a gazebo in a public park, where he’s hallucinating his deceased wife dancing around in a summer dress. That’s it. He’s not in these dreams, it’s just his wife, frolicking around by herself like some kind of lunatic while he sits there like a creep taking pulls off a fifth of rye.
The Twist Of The Century
But soon the blue lights of a cop car light up the darkness. Enter the number one reason to watch this program, State Trooper Micki Ramirez (played by The 100’s Lindsey Morgan). Trooper Ramirez agrees to give Walker a ride home, telling him he can get his truck in the morning. She says it’s her last good deed as a State Trooper, as she is changing jobs in the morning.
From here it gets pretty formulaic. Of course we have a lot of tired development about how Walker and his daughter have a stressed relationship, and how he leans on his dad for advice.
Then comes the twist that you saw coming two paragraphs ago! Walker’s new trainee partner is none other than rookie Texas Ranger Micki Ramirez!!! And guess what! They have to solve a crime!
And they do! Thirty minutes later they’ve busted the drug ring at a Texas statuary.
So, here’s the skinny…
There is no kung fu. Remember why Walker, Texas Ranger was so cool? Because it was a guy who looked and talked like somebody’s white-ass uncle from Nebraska, but he was doing kung fu.
The action scenes do that thing where they zoom in real close to arms and knees and we hear a bunch of punching sound effects. You can’t really tell what’s happening until the bad guy is on the ground. For my money, that’s 10 points from Gryffindor for the reboot not even getting close to the martial arts prowess established by the original.
So, to start off, we’re sitting at 90%
I love Jared Padalecki, I really do. I think he’s great, and I’d love to get hammered with him sometime. But there is no character to Walker. It’s just Jared Padalecki saying the lines from the script. He was on Supernatural for fourteen seasons, so he’s pretty well set for life. 10 points back for Jared Padalecki being Jared Padalecki and also being a baller for showing up and collecting that paycheck. However, I’m taking another 30 points away for Walker being a disreputable, drunkard with the depth of a pie pan.
Clearly the show is setting up a “crime of the week” formula, most of which will build up to solving the “crime of the season” and it will all ultimately connect to solving the “crime of the series” which is Emily’s death. I’m taking away 50 points for simply falling into the same old CW formula, but awarding back 15 points because The CW knows what they are, and they’re just doing their thing.
The writing is ultimately forgettable, at least in the pilot. Minus 20 points. But then again, this is a pilot, so I’m willing to be more forgiving. 10 points back.
This seems to be the kind of show that people will really get into for the sake of “hate watching.” And I think that’s a baller move on The CW’s part. I’ll throw another 7 points at them for that.
Finally, will I watch again next week? Hell yes! You know why? Because Lindsey Morgan is gorgeous and a good actress. She somehow does a decent job with the garbage dialogue that she’s been given to work with. 20 more points to Gryffindor!
So that leave The CW’s Walker reboot in Ben Kliewer’s TV Purgatory.
52% Not that great, not that bad. It’s… okay.
If you like to stare at beautiful people, well, it’s The CW, so you’re in the right place. Padalecki and Morgan are, appropriately, the central focal point of the series, and because I just genuinely like them both as actors, it will keep me coming back for at least a couple more episodes.
But please, CW, resist the urge to cheapen the show with any sniff of a romantic sub-plot between Walker and Ramirez. You could keep this show limping along for a while, but if you dip into that barrel, you’re dead in the water.
Also, if Chuck Norris doesn’t make some sort of cameo in the first season, somebody really screwed up.
Walker airs Thursdays at 8pm on The CW, and is available to stream the next day.