By: Cam Sully
Plot: Former Vietnam soldier and Native American spiritual warrior, Cordell Walker (Chuck Norris, Return of the Dragon), becomes a member of the Texas Ranger Division. In his unit are partner Trivette (Clarence Williams, Die Hard), ADA and love interest Alex (Sheree J. Wilson, Dallas), veteran Ranger Parker (Noble Willingham, Chinatown) and rookie Rangers Cooke (Nia Peebles, Deep Star Six) and Gage (Judson Mills, Mighty Joe Young).
Often mocked back in the day by Conan O’Brien and similarly outlandish as the likes of T.J. Hooker and Renegade, this show is the definitive drinking game. The three-episode first season proved successful enough to last eight more years. While it made Norris better well-known to TV viewers, it couldn’t escape its infamous nature.
Seasons 1 and 2 allow the show to go for a harmless Miami Vice style buddy show while having unexpectedly morbid crime segments at times. From there on, it’s all downhill as the show starts inserting more random Native American hallucinations, over-the-top martial arts and nonsensical crime scenes that don’t make a lick of sense due to half complete but mostly meandering concepts.
From Seasons 3 to 9, the show is one awesome shit sandwich after another with cheesy one-liners, poorly inserted music and bad slow-motion editing that takes one out of an otherwise hit-or-miss fight scene. It doesn’t help that each episode varies so much in the editing, directing and writing departments that it never truly finds a consistent tone. Instead it keeps trying to go serious while critics have previously passed it off as campy when that’s obviously not the intention here.
Chuck was always a hit-and-miss actor much like Jean-Claude Van Damme and similar Cannon superstars but he doesn’t suffer here so much as be the mascot of the team. My favorite episodes include the Haley Joel Osment “Walker told me I have AIDs” two-parter as well as the multiple episodes with the likes of Mako, Andrew Divoff, Marshall R. Teague, Sam J. Jones, Michael Ironside, Danny Trejo and Tobin Bell, either hamming it up or treating this show like it’s a serious acting gig. Various sports and fighting icons like Mark Cuban, Hulk Hogan and Don “The Dragon” Wilson serve to make this trashy show all the more amusing at times, in addition to other stunt casting (no pun intended).
By Season 7, the show especially cares little about what logic sticks and what still doesn’t work by shortening episodes with whatever filler it has between even more sudden slow-mo fighting but this only makes the “laughs” all that more awesome. I was especially fond of the episodes in which Chuck fights the likes of James Remar or Gary Busey only to roundhouse kick their unconvincing stunt double!
⭐️1/2 out of 5 Stars
Consensus: A germane “awesomely bad” show if you’re out of bad shows that star Heather Locklear or David Hasselhoff to watch!