Walker, Texas Ranger: Season 4
It has been said that ‘When Chuck Norris does a pushup, he isn’t lifting himself up, he’s pushing the Earth down.’ Just a few minutes online and you will come up with a plethora of so called Chuck Norris ‘facts’. The point is he is seen by all as a force to be reckoned with. In films he carved out a niche for himself in the highly competitive action flick roles such as his Delta Force films. On television there is only one series for the die hard Norris fan, ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’. Paramount, as part of their commitment to releasing their incredible vault of television shows to DVD is now up to season four of this popular, almost classic, series. Over its nine year season run there were a lot of changes to the format but this season, in the middle of the run, is considered to be one of the best. It also reflected the times. This was the year the Bill Clinton won his second term as President, the economy was good and computer technology was taking hold of the world. Walker was in the direct line of the Texas Rangers of the old west but with a modern twist. It was also one of the most eclectic of all the action adventure series on television. The bad guys could range from mobsters to drug dealers, spies and even evil spirits. Yes, there are evil spirits to fight but none can overcome Walker. After all Norris doesn’t fight, he just plays with his foes until he’s bored.
Cordell Walker played by none other than Norris is a Texas Ranger based in Dallas but it seems that he takes the ‘range’ part of his title very seriously and his territory is most of the vast state of Texas. Although the Rangers are a modern, state wide law enforcement agency they still maintain a strong sense of their old west origins and Walker is right there in his trademark denim jeans and jacket adorned with his authoritative star. He doesn’t need a glock or any other modern gun, his six-shooter is always ready on his hip. It is not as if he needs that gun too often since he is a master of martial arts and usually defeats his opponents with a roundhouse lighten fast kick in the face. For all the violence that he is capable of delivering Walker is first and foremost a very spiritual man. In the early seasons a lot was made of his Native American heritage and the connection that brings between him and nature. Just a note, in later season this was cut back a lot when Norris became a born again Christian.
It has been said that no man is an island unto himself and that holds true even for a man as formidable as Walker. He has a small group of trusted friends and co-workers that help out and provide the writers with someone for Walker to rescue each week. His partner and best friend is fellow ranger Jimmy Trivette (Clarence Gilyard). He gained his college education by playing football but his pro career as a Texas Cowboy was cut short by an injury, apparently not serious enough to keep him from joining the Rangers. While Walker comes across as more comfortable communicating with smoke signals Jimmy is adept at the use of computers and is even known to frequently rely on such modern contrivances as the cell phone. There is a natural need to prosecute the criminals that Walker captures, at least those he manages to bring in alive. For that there is Alex Cahill (Sheree J. Wilson). She is the Assistant District Attorney for Tarrant County and is sworn to bring the bad guys to justice. There is also a growing mutual attraction between her and Walker but don’t look for any intimacy during the early stages of their relationship shown here. Walker also has a trusted mentor and advisor, C.D. Parker (Noble Willingham), a retired Texas Ranger who is now the proprietor of CD’s Bar and Grill. He dispenses after work drinks, food and sage advice. Parker was also an old school Ranger who worked with and helped train Walker. There is a serious down side to being a member of Walker’s inner circle. Several times each season they are prone to being kidnapped, held hostage or wounded. This seems to especially hold true for Alex. Always the bad guys discover that it is really bad to mess with the woman in Walker’s life, real bad.
The stories in this season are not the typical ones for an adventure show. There were a few that were based on the supernatural. In the first episode of the season Walker must help the reincarnation of a Buddhist monk. In another story a few episodes later Walker is contacted by the spirit of a dead Native boy who guides the Ranger to catching his killer. Walker doesn’t need big breasts like the ‘Medium’ or ‘Ghost Whisper’ to speak to the dead; he has a pair of big fists. To be fair most of the episodes are concerned with living criminals. Walker is always fighting for truth and justice no matter what the odds. For example when a group of police officers turn vigilant killing criminals set free on a technicality Walker is called in. It becomes personal when a friend of his is accused of rape and before Walker can prove he is innocent the man is killed. Walker also has to might corporate corruption as in the episode where a new feed is tested on a Cherokee reservation turns out to contain a virus. Walker discovers that they company is more interested in their research than the health of he Native Americans. If evil companies aren’t enough there is an element of espionage when a steal helicopter is stolen by a drug cartel. Alex gets more than her usual quota of bad times in this season. Her father, Gordon (Rod Taylor) is the defense attorney representing a crime lord that Alex and Walker worked hard to arrest. Gordon was not exactly a Hallmark father. He is an alcoholic who deserted his family years ago. In another episode Alex is held hostage by a group of white supremacist and has to be rescued by Walker. Alex also goes up against a defense attorney who happens to be her ex. In this one a murder victim turns up in her bed and she is sent to prison.
This season contains a double episode called ‘Sons of Thunder’ which was used to spin off a short lived series by the same name. There are some fun episodes including a flight of fancy Christmas special. In this one set in the old west ranger Hayes Cooper, naturally played by Norris. He has to learn the true meaning of Christmas. One guess as to how this is accomplished. Sure this is a formula show like many others but there are more variations in the stories to make things always interesting. This is classic television and a great season to boot. Paramount has been releasing some of the best TV season sets around and this is a must have for any collection.