Wild West Wednesday: The premiere of CBS’ “Walker, Texas Ranger”

"Walker Texas Ranger" (CBS Television)

With such a silent rage, Chuck Norris has always had an eye for an eye in beating up the bad guys thanks to movies like Lone Wolf McQuade.  The 1983 film continued to cemented Norris’ reputation as both The Lone Ranger and John Wayne of martial arts – especially with the classic fight scene between Norris’ titular character and David Carradine’s kung-fu gunrunner.  A decade later, that lone wolf was reborn as Walker, Texas Ranger.

Premiered as a two-hour movie on April 21, 1993, the series followed Cordell Walker, a renegade who not only believes in the “One Riot, One Ranger” motto, but he lives by the code of the West.  With the help of his new partner James Trivettte (Clarence Gilyard,Jr.), his mentor/ex-partner C.D. Parker (Gailard Sartain in the pilot; Noble Willingham became his successor in the series) and assistant district attorney Alex Cahill (Sheree J. Wilson), Walker is on a roundhouse kick-butt mission to bring law and order in the state of Texas.

Walker, Texas Ranger found his home on Saturdays: spending eight successful seasons as the show to watch that night.  A throwback to classic Westerns like The Lone RangerGunsmokeHave Gun-Will Travel, Trackdown and Wanted: Dead or Alive, Walker, Texas Ranger was a Top 30 show for several years throughout its 1993-2001 run.  Despite the critics, the show has appealed to men, women and children of all ages with episodes filled with action, drama, humor, faith, hope, and good old-fashioned justice.  

In other words: both Chuck Norris and Cordell Walker became all-American heroes.

Walker, Texas Ranger spawned the short-lived 1999 spin-off Sons of Thunder, which didn’t get picked up beyond its six-episode run due to budget concerns – despite the fact the show earned good ratings.  WTR also spawned the 2005 reunion movie Trial By Fire, where it ended on a cliffhanger with the life of Alex Cahill-Walker hanging in the balance.  Because of Trial by Fire‘s modest ratings, plans for to make Walker into a series of made-for-TV movies were shelved.

In 2021, Walker was back in the saddle thanks to the CW and Jared Padalecki in a reboot with Padalecki as star and executive producer.  The premise: Ranger Cordell Walker is a widowed father of two who returns to Texas after an undercover operation – only to find that there is plenty of work to be done.  Struggling to reconnect with his family, Cordell Walker is a man who lives by his own code, as he and his new partner Micki (Lindsey Morgan) seeks to serve justice in Texas.  Walker‘s premiere became the highest-rated debut in the CW’s history over the last five years, which led to the show being renewed for a second season.

For many, though, there can only be one Walker, Texas Ranger, and that is Chuck Norris.

In the eyes of a Ranger

The unsuspecting stranger

Had better know the truth of wrong from right

‘Cause the eyes of a Ranger are upon you

Any wrong you do, he’s gonna see 

When you’re in Texas, look behind you

‘Cause that’s where the Ranger’s gonna be

Video courtesy: CBS-TV

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