‘Walker’ Review: Jared Padalecki starrer leaves a lot to be desired

A Potpourri of Vestiges Review

By Murtaza Ali Khan

Walker, the new series by the CW Television Network (available in India on Voot Select), has the typical American vibe. We have a workaholic cop father for whom his duty is everything; all other things come second. Naturally it comes at a price. His children are suffering because he is not there for them when they need him the most. The fact that he is a widower doesn't help. Wonder how many times we have come across a similar plot in films and series. Now, the thing with Walker is that it's supposed to be a reboot of a 1993 series ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’. It was inspired by the film Lone Wolf McQuade, with both this series and that film starring Chuck Norris as a member of the Texas Ranger Division. The series ran for eight full seasons.

For a minute, let's try and get back to the ‘90s and try and understand what the original show was all about. To quote American critic Joe Queenan, “With plotlines that were old when George Burns was young, music that appears to be a lethal fusion of the Batman and Mannix scores, acting that makes William Shatner seem like Marlon Brando, and dialogue that could stop The Dukes of Hazzard dead in its tracks, Walker, Texas Ranger is a throwback to an earlier and more innocent time when programmers assumed that everyone watching TV was dumb… it seems that they just mount a camera on a tripod and tell Chuck Norris to start kicking people's faces in for a solid hour, which he seems more than willing to do.” Well, that’s how crude and loud the original series was. In comparison what the new series offer to far more refined and has a hero who can almost be called genteel when compared to Chuck Norris’ Walker.

Essayed by Jared Padalecki, Texas Ranger Cordell Walker now comes across as more of a charmer than an enforcer. The pilot episode, written by Anna Fricke and directed by Jessica Yu, made available to the critics is quick to set the premise before setting things in motion. We are introduced to Walker, a widower and father of two with his own moral code, who returns to his home to Austin, Texas after being undercover for two years. He soon learns that there’s harder work to be done at home. As he attempts to reconnect with his creative and thoughtful son and his headstrong and rebellious, troublemaker teenage daughter, he finds that he needs to navigate clashes with his family comprising his brother who stepped in during his absence, his perceptive mother and his traditional rancher father Bonham. To make things worse, Walker also learns that his former colleague is now his boss. But, to his respite, he finds unexpected common ground with his new partner who happens to be one of the first women in Texas Rangers’ history. All the while he also grows increasingly suspicious about the circumstances surrounding his wife’s death.

Basically, in other words, Cordell Walker is in a mess and it is only going to get worse from here on. What’s really interesting is that we are fed with so much of information in just about 40 minutes. Now, a pilot is supposed to setup the things for the upcoming episodes and so the show creators cannot be criticized for their intent. But even though their intent is right what’s missing here is organic storytelling. There is just no room for things to grow on their own as far as the pilot episode is concerned. It’s as if the makers are doing us a favor by shoving things down our throat. This style of storytelling may have worked at one point in time but the audiences nowadays have different tastes. They don’t like makers to rush on with the things. In fact, they like their series to take their own time to setup. Here one is reminded of the throbbing that the final season of Game of Thrones got. The makers of Walker definitely missed a trick by choosing to make a 40 minute pilot. They really would have been better off with a 60 minute pilot as it would have allowed them to tell things at a more comfortable pace. One hopes the future episodes improve upon it.
Jared Padalecki is a charming actor with remarkable screen presence. As Walker he looks a little out of place to begin with but soon settles well into his character. Padalecki is well supported by Lindsey Morgan who is playing the part of Micki Ramirez, Walker's new partner in the Texas Rangers. The rest of the cast is also solid. Given the run-of-the-mill content on offer, the success of the show is going to heavily depend on Padalecki’s shoulders. If the audiences find a liking for his Walker like they did for his Sam Winchester in Supernatural for a good decade-and-a-half then the CW show is here to stay. But, as of now, it all looks a little tricky.

A version of this article was first published in The Daily Guardian.

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