Monday, January 18, 2016

A Modern Classic: Walker, Texas Ranger (1993)

After a string of popular but critically panned movies, martial arts ace Chuck Norris landed his first series in 1993.

Walker, Texas Ranger, it's said, was inspired in part by one of Norris' films, "Lone Wolf McQuade", in which he acted opposite another martial arts icon, David Carradine (ex-Kung Fu). Vietnam veteran Cordell Walker (Norris) was a sergeant in the Texas Rangers. To be honest with you, until I did some research, I didn't know he had a rank. Anyway, Walker was aided in his investigations by James Trivette (Clarence Gilyard, ex-Matlock, The Duck Factory), and gained advice from his paternal uncle, Ray Firewalker (Floyd "Red Crow" Westerman, who left the show either after the first season or during season 2), so named, presumably, after another of Norris' movies.

In turn, Walker answered to, courted, and eventually married assistant DA Alexandra Cahill (Sheree J. Wilson), who seemed to be more worried about Walker solving a case than Walker himself was. Retired Ranger C. D., now a restaurant owner (Noble Willingham, "Good Morning, Vietnam"), rounded out the ensemble up until the end of season 7.

After 8 seasons, 9 if you count the three-episode pilot season in the spring of 1993, Walker lives on in reruns, airing currently on Grit and TV Land (check listings), usually in blocks of 2 or more episodes, a practice that began when the reruns aired on USA Network.

Most of you are familiar with this theme, sung by Norris himself, "The Eyes of a Ranger", which was put into use halfway through season 2 for the rest of the run.

Prior to "Eyes", the show used a more generic instrumental theme and intro. Also, Noble Willingham was actually the second actor to play C. D.. Gailard Sartain (ex-Hee Haw) essayed the part in one of the pilots. Didn't know about that, either.

Rating: A-.

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