HomeTelevision'Walker' Series Premiere Review: The Chuck Norris Series is Way Better

‘Walker’ Series Premiere Review: The Chuck Norris Series is Way Better

Photo Credit: Rebecca Brenneman/The CW

If you were interested in watching Walker, The CW Network’s reboot of the long-running Chuck Norris action/crime drama Walker, Texas Ranger, I’d advise you to save your time and go watch the Chuck Norris original instead. (Okay, maybe don’t).

See, Walker attempts to follow the blueprint laid forth by such reboots as Hawaii Five-0 and Magnum P.I. (amongst many others before): littering the reboot with a bunch of good-looking, young actors and at least one familiar face in the “old codger” role while shooting in a pristine location and delivering a lukewarm (at best) premise, palpable only to those looking for the comfort of the familiar.

Yet, the keyword in all of this is “attempts.” Walker does pack the cast with good-looking actors, including Jared Padalecki of Supernatural fame in the lead role with X-Files alum Mitch Pileggi as that “familiar face,” and it does glam the hell out of Austin, Texas. However, it does little in the way of providing comfort in the familiar, or presenting a product that’s enjoyable or even logical at times.

It’s almost bewildering to say, but the long-running Chuck Norris action crime drama this series was based on is actually exponentially better than the CW reboot. And no, this is not said in some sort of post-modern, “it’s so horrible it’s amazing” way that this writer and many of his generation would’ve spoken during their early 00’s college days or that inspired Conan O’Brien to have a “Walker Lever.” No, simply put, Walker, Texas Ranger starring Chuck Norris is a superior show than Walker starring Jared Padalecki.


The Chuck Norris series knew exactly what it was. It was a Chuck Norris series. It was Chuck Norris in a cowboy hat, shooting bad guys, kicking bad guys in the face, and there were a whole bunch of lame jokes that would appeal to older audiences that would tune in every week to watch. Sure, it got way too dramatic and serious at times and tried to make statements, but at the end of the day, this show was about Chuck Norris roundhouse kicking a dude in the teeth to save the day. Period, end of story. Was it good? Of course not.

In the 2021 reboot, Jared Padalecki’s version of Texas Ranger Cordell Walker is not a karate-wielding badass. This is perfectly fine as it’d be kind of ridiculous to see Padalecki roundhousing a guy in the mouth. However, the way the series positions the former Supernatural star’s version of Walker is almost as ridiculous. Without any backstory or introduction, we’re plopped into a scene unfolding between Walker and his wife (played by Padalecki’s actual wife). The scene is so rushed that before we can even process it, the wife is murdered in a field … by someone and for reasons which are only vaguely touched upon. Before we can even process that situation, we cut to “11 months later” at a house where a bunch of people that have barely been introduced (or have not been introduced at all for that matter), are angrily waiting for Walker to arrive.

Instead of coming home, Walker is drinking in a park, thinking of his dead wife. He’s stopped by a cop (Lindsey Morgan, The 100) – who does not give him a ticket, but politely offers him a ride home and is amazingly nice to him. Until the next day when she’s introduced as Walker’s new partner in the Texas Rangers and from that point on is constantly furious at Walker with almost no reason or provocation.

Fury towards Walker is the throughline for every single character throughout the episode. The audience is shown little-to-no reason why everyone should be mad at Walker. As a result, nearly every character’s dialogue is an explanation of why they’re so furious with Walker. This allows us to make zero emotional connection with any character because they are just filling in the blanks of the story.

The blanks being filled in only make things worse for the show. We discover that all this anger comes from Walker abandoning his family after his wife’s death by taking a nearly year-long undercover assignment. This revelation is so detrimental to the development of the series. How is the audience supposed to get behind the “hero” of the series when he does something that’s pretty awful? Add to the fact that Walker doesn’t seem contrite about the abandonment (until his mom guilts him at the end) and nearly all of his dialogue is either extremely terse or insensitive, it’s hard to actually like him and want to see him save the day (spoilers–he doesn’t do that, his partner does).

Lost in the mix of this anger towards Walker about the abandonment is a secondary plot where he supposedly has a penchant for breaking/bending the rules to get the job done. Once again, the show tells but does not show any of this. The premiere makes the audience work way too hard to accept things happening in the world of the series as fact. Audiences don’t need to have their hand held to understand characters or plot, but leaving so much offscreen and explained away with matter-of-fact dialogue is not the way to do it.

Finally, the choice of Jared Padalecki in the title role is not a good fit. Padalecki is a good actor and frankly, there’s a better show out there for him. However, the way this character is written as a man of few words (and big action), this feels like it would’ve better been suited for someone like Josh Holloway of LOST fame, who has a history of being a rough and ready man of few words. Padalecki is really good with dialogue and what he’s given to work with in this premiere is scant, both in terms of words and meaning.

In short, Walker is not even on the level of its source material. It does not know what it wants to be nor does it give its characters much purpose or direction. What should’ve been a layup–putting a new coat of paint on a popular older series–was bungled big time. And who knew it’d be that difficult to improve a show where Chuck Norris sings the damn theme song.

Walker airs Thursday nights on The CW Network and is Streaming on The CW app.

Bill Bodkin
Bill Bodkinhttps://thepopbreak.com
Bill Bodkin is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break, and most importantly a husband, and father. Ol' Graybeard writes way too much about wrestling, jam bands, Asbury Park music, HBO shows, and can often be seen under his season DJ alias, DJ Father Christmas. He is the co-host of the Socially Distanced Podcast (w/Al Mannarino) which drops weekly on Apple, Google, Anchor & Spotify. He is the co-host of the monthly podcasts -- Anchored in Asbury, TV Break and Bill vs. The MCU.

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