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 viewership 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) had become 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.
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. There’s a popular T-shirt design that lauds their hero in epic fashion. One of my favorites 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”.
With all of the show’s episodes on DVD, CBS has been putting together DVD versions of two-part episodes and releasing them as television movies. The fifth such release is War Zone. It comes to us from the middle of season 3.
Logan Reno (Bohen) was once Walker’s partner and a legend in the Texas Rangers. His father and grandfather were Rangers. His grandfather was part of the crew that brought down Bonnie & Clyde back in the day. His daughter carries on the tradition of a State Trooper. Now he’s one of the governor’s bodyguards thanks to a recommendation from Walker. But he misses the action. He longs to be back out in the field. It’s that desire that ends up getting him killed. Now Walker must look after his troubled son and find the violent criminal crew that killed his friend.
This episode actually follows a lot of the Norris film plots. Usually someone would kill a member of his family or a close friend, and Norris would go looking for payback. It’s Norris in his deepest comfort zone, to be sure.
The episode/film stars Wilford Brimley as the owner of the security firm that provided the guards to the places that get hit. Susan Diol stars as Dana, his daughter who wants in on the case. All of the other regulars are here.
Walker was a staple on television for almost ten years without ever really changing that much. Norris isn’t the most compelling actor around, and he delivered his lines most of the time like he was reading them. Still, he developed a charismatic charm that enabled him and the series to endure. The show never wants for action. So it’s shoot first and ask questions later as we watch another Walker combination episode/movie. “Lock n’ load.”