Paramount // 2000 // 1080 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // November 9th, 2005
The Chairman: You've been a worthy opponent, Walker. I respect that. The true measure of a man is in the enemies he makes.
Chuck Norris kicks ass at sixty. Seriously, he was sixty years old when Walker, Texas Ranger shot its last season in 2000. Out of all the shows about ninja cowboy cops, this one was the best!
Every episode opens with a criminal committing a hideous act against someone. The good episodes include a harmless victim -- a baby, a kid, a little old lady, a puppy, or anyone not educated in martial arts. Cordell "Cord" Walker gets involved with the case. Some other agency, such as the FBI, CIA, or the Dallas Police Department, gives up trying to bring the criminals to justice. Walker and his team take over. Walker gets into a climactic fight at some point, and we have to have a slow-motion kick or punch punctuated by a thunder clap to represent his "power" move before he takes someone down. Walker saves the day. He stoically imparts some random wisdom, or just stares blankly while people applaud his efforts. Roll credits.
You gotta love a show that has a formula so simple they even know what kind of cars everyone will drive. The "bad guys" drive Fords. "Good guys" who die drive Chevys, and "good guys" who live drive a Dodge. Walker, Texas Ranger spoke a language of cars to impart its message. Cars, and kicks to the throat.
The series revolved around a unique star. Chuck Norris retired as an undefeated Middleweight Champion in martial arts circles when he was thirty-four years old, in 1974. He opened martial arts schools across the country, and began to teach celebrities how to stay fit and fight. He mentored luminaries such as Priscilla Presley, the Osmonds, and Steve McQueen in personal training sessions. McQueen told him he could always act if he needed work. Chuck seemed to take his advice to heart, and began to train. Norris took elocution lessons from Jonathan Harris of Lost in Space fame. Harris jammed several fingers in Norris's mouth, and told him he needed to open up if he was going to act with anything more than his feet. Norris has said he's the only man that could do that and get away with it.
Norris starred in a lot of silly action potboilers accented with his fighting scenes. Good Guys Wear Black, The Delta Force, and Missing in Action remain the notables among many such films. His screen career extended all the way up to 1992 with Sidekicks. In April of 1993, he debuted his television show, Walker, Texas Ranger. The series seemed to spring out of the same mindset as his 1986 film Lone Wolf McQuade. Norris stars in the show as a legendary Texas Ranger, commanding a company of fellow Rangers in and around Dallas.
The Texas Rangers emerged in 1823, when Stephen F. Austin appointed several men to "range" or protect the frontier. The organization is still an active part of the law enforcement community in Texas with 116 active Rangers still out in various parts of Texas. They wear boots, white hats, and carry pistols in the tradition of their heritage. A quick perusal of the employed Rangers currently working in the state will reveal that all who bear the actual title of "Ranger" are men. Women are relegated to "research assistant" or "forensics specialist."
Never mind the lesson in the history of Texas law enforcement, because the world of Walker, Texas Ranger is real as the realm of the Tooth Fairy. It's a place where: a sixty year old action star can still kick ass well past his prime as a Ranger in a black hat (?), a woman (Nia Peeples, Bruised) works beside him out in the field, a wife (Sheree J. Wilson, Hellbound) calls her husband by his last name, an ex-football player (Clarence Gilyard Jr., CHiPs)became a Ranger, and the slick cop with a huge heart (Judson Mills, Gods and Monsters) rides along with them all. The show is simple, good-natured fun, and follows the time-honored tradition of cop shows from back in their glory days of the '70s. Of course Walker, Texas Ranger has a lot more kicks to the head than Charlie's Angels or Kojack ever did, but it has the same goofy charm that made those shows so addictive.
Keep your eyes peeled for some amazing cameos in this set of episodes. Frank Stallone (Hudson Hawk, and brother to Sly) shows up to help Walker take down the Mob in one show. Wrestling icon Hulk Hogan comes from out of the blue for a guest spot. Singer and Psychic Hotline founder Dionne Warwick and Ernest Borgnine (The Dirty Dozen) show up randomly in the season as well. And best of all? Michael Ironside (Scanners) gets a four episode arc as the ultimate Texas Ranger nemesis, the Chairman. If you want the best of Walker, Texas Ranger all you need is Disc Two of the set, which features the Chairman's entire arc.
In a puzzling move, Paramount released the last year of the show first. Fans assure me this is a smart move, since the series was at its best in its final years. It's in full, goofy, Kung Fu Texas Ranger mode, and full of surreal plots to keep you riveted to the screen. There aren't any extras at all, which is a bit of a shame. The transfers are full screen, and always have a wash of grain. Compression artifacts pop up in the dark scenes, of which there are few. Walker, Texas Ranger was never broadcast in high definition, so the source material isn't in the greatest shape. The sound mix is the broadcast stereo mix as well. Seems like not much attention was given to this release, and it was timed to coincide with a new Walker, Texas Ranger television movie. Marketing probably won out over quality.
How much do you need to know about the series? It really is a terrible show, but that doesn't stop it from being a blast to watch. Chuck Norris has all the emotion of a baking potato, and has one all-purpose facial expression for every emotion. Yet somehow this works to give the character a mysterious quality; even a heroic one. Walker, Texas Ranger is one of those TV shows that should never work, but somehow is completely riveting and a whole lot of fun to watch. Walker, Texas Ranger: The Last Season is perfect for anyone who wants to escape to a world where we know the bad guys by the car they drive, and we know they're getting a Texas boot to the throat before it's all over. And that at sixty, good guys still wear a black hat and kick ass.
Guilty of being a silly good time. Walker, Texas Ranger is free to take anyone in to custody he wishes.
Review content copyright © 2005 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 1080 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site
* Episode Guide: All Seasons
* Chuck Norris Official Site
* Texas Ranger Site