Thursday, January 21, 2021

Walker (Pilot), on the CW

The original Walker, Texas Ranger largely took place around Dallas, but the reboot relocates to Austin, where the Texas Rangers are indeed headquartered. The shift appears to be cultural as well as geographic, at least judging from the pilot episode of creator Anna Fricke’s [just plain] Walker, which premieres tonight on the CW.

Ranger Cordell Walker has had a rough patch of tragedy and bad timing. Shortly after his wife Emily’s murder, he left on a prolonged undercover assignment, targeting the Mexican drug cartels. Walker finally returns home in the pilot, but he is so tortured with guilt that he could not protect Emily and disturbed by the yet-to-be revealed horrors he witnessed, it is hard for him to be present for his rebellious teen daughter Stella and idol-worshipping son Liam.

His salt-of-the-earth rancher parents and gay prosecutor brother did their best to cover for him, but Stella makes no attempt to hide her resentment. Naturally, Walker functions better when he is back in the Ranger saddle, but his new partner, Mexican-American Micki Ramirez insists they operate “by the book.”

The new
Walker goes out of its way to check-off representation boxes, which probably makes sense for its CW demo, but it neglects the fundamental cop show business in the process. The pilot, directed by documentary and TV veteran Jessica Yu (Misconception), is long on angst, but short on action. There is only really one fight scene, plus a little roughing up a suspect (goaded into swinging first). Meanwhile, we see plenty of Walker brooding and ruminating.

As Walker, Jared Padalecki is definitely tall, but so far, Lindsey Morgan shows a lot more action cred and screen presence as Ramirez. The Walker teens are just boring cliches, but it is nice to see Mitch Pileggi (Assistant Director Skinner from
The X-Files, who also guested on the original Walker) bringing some grit to the show as Walker’s dad, Bonham.

We’ll probably never know why a mysterious casino chip was found in the late Emily Walker’s possession, because life is too short to keep watching such an unremarkable series. The original
Walker is widely available in reruns today, so someone must be watching it, but the reboot ill-advisedly downplays the elements that made its predecessor a success. Not recommended, the pilot episode of Walker premieres tonight (1/21) on the CW.