There was a new Cowboy in Dallas, and he wasn’t throwing touchdown passes. But Walker was almost gone before he could really get started. After just four episodes the show’s production company suffered financial collapse, and the show was rescued at the last minute by CBS Productions, who would continue to run the show for its nearly decade-long run. For nine years Norris brought us the ultimate Texas Ranger in a formula cops and robbers show. The show often became a parody of itself, but maintained a solid viewer ship throughout. Hell, Norris even sings the theme song. Truthfully, what started as a one man show (it was originally called Chuck Norris Is Walker, Texas Ranger became a good working ensemble that probably kept the train going for so long. Walker (Norris) is a tough guy Texas Ranger. He is partnered with Sydney Cooke (Peebles) and Jimmy Trivetti (Gilyard) who’s an ex-jock with a brain. Walker had a love interest and eventual wife in the local assistant district attorney Alex Cahill (later Walker). Together they fight the evils that come to the high plains of Texas armed with their fists, six-shooters, and Stetsons. After starting with the final season, CBS is finally halfway through the series back from the beginning.
Norris almost deadpans his entire performance. Let’s face it, the man is no accomplished thespian. Still, Norris fans are quite passionate about their guy. There’s a popular tee shirt design that lauds their hero in epic fashion. One of my favorite is : “McGyver can build a plane out of gum and paper clips but Chuck Norris can kill him and take the plane.” Another brags: “Some people wear Superman pajamas. Superman wears Chuck Norris Pajamas”. And there’s the humorous: “Chuck Norris knows what Willis is talkin’ about”. Fans of Norris were never disappointed in what they got here. The requisite martial arts and tough guy talk are present pretty much in every episode. Season five is no exception. You should also note if you’re using an episode guide: this is really season 6, as the first two were combined in the first season release. The series had its share of heartstring episodes, most notably the two part story, Lucas. Here Walker helps a young boy with AIDS find his mother and go on to become an AIDS awareness icon. There’s another old west tale of Hayes Cooper in Last Of A Breed. Walker entertains some kids with another tale of his legendary forefather. It’s another two part episode and takes place in the old west. If you just want some good old Walker butt kicking, you won’t have to wander far. Walker kicks butt to protect some orphan kids in Small Blessings. In Warriors, Walker goes up against a group attempting to build genetically altered “super soldiers”. The season ends on a powerful cliffhanger. In The Wedding, Alex is shot and clinging to life while Walker sets out to find the shooter. That brings to mind one more of those Norrisisms: “Chuck Norris’s chief export is pain”. Ouch!
As with most 1990’s television series, Walker is presented in a standard 1.33:1 full screen format. The standard four episodes per disc leave little room for excellence in video quality. You’ll see plenty of compression artifact, particularly on blacker scenes. Colors are pretty much right on, if not brilliant. The Texas vistas at times remind me of many a cowboy film. You can count on the show looking at least as good as it did when it was broadcast.
Not much to be found in this minimalist Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track. The dialog is clear, and so are the gunshots. What else do you need from a Chuck Norris show? Everything is clean, just not extremely dynamic. Pans are used well at times, but mostly the mains are identical.
Let’s face it. You watch this show for the action. While the supporting cast is decent, you’re not in it for the acting. Still, I have to give Norris some credit for attempting to do some positive things with the show. I think it can tend to get preachy, but for some reason it bothers me less in Walker. You know the man’s sincere, mostly because he’s just not that good an actor. I’ll stop now before Norris decides to pay a social call. After all: “There are no disabled people. Just people who have met Chuck Norris”. And “I can feel that Cherokee kicking in.”