Pilot Script Review of Walker
In its never-ending quest to reboot everything, The CW may have reached a new low. Charmed, Dynasty and Roswell were not enough: now they're giving a modern twist to Walker, Texas Ranger, a show that was already out of tune in the 90s. Over the course of its initial run from 1993 to 2001, My So Called Life came to life (briefly), NYPD Blue transformed the way police procedurals were made, X-Files, Friends, ER, Buffy and so many others emerged and changed the face of TV. Why the CW felt this was the show that deserved a reboot is a question with just one answer: Jared Padalecki.
Simply put, the show (which has already been picked up to series) is a way to extend Jared Padalecki’s stay at The CW. Counting his years on the network's predecessor, The WB, Padalecki has called the CW home for the past two decades with roles on Gilmore Girls and Supernatural, an institution which is finally ending this spring after 15 years. Texas is also home for Padalecki, as he is a native and still lives there when he's not in Vancouver shooting Supernatural. He had been looking for an opportunity to stay in his home state for his next series and sparked to the idea of revisiting Walker, Texas Ranger. He enjoys a very close relationship with the network’s president Mark Pedowitz, who's made clear that the door was wide open for Supernatural's creative team and talent to return anytime. Meanwhile, CBS Television Studios has been on a reboot spree in recent years, so a new Walker, Texas Ranger was bound to happen sooner or later anyway. This version was briefly considered for CBS, but Padalecki's involvement made it a The CW project. For reasons I describe below, I think that was a mistake.
WRITTEN BY: Anna Fricke
DRAFT DATE: 01/10/2020
PAGE COUNT: 59 pages
SCRIPT SYNOPSIS: We open on a Texas hill at night, CORDELL WALKER (late 30s) ambles on horseback. A semi-truck passes him with four squad cars trailing behind it, sirens blaring. The driver dives out and jumps into the ravine. Without hesitation, Walker turns backward and kicks his horse into a gallop. He finds the guy through the darkness and... lassoes him. It turns out he already knows the guy. Later that night, he calls his wife EMILY. After some flirty banter, he hears a scream. Then gunfire. Then a horrible silence. His face falls. We jump to two years later at a banquet where CAPTAIN LARRY JAMES (40s) is celebrating Walker's achievements and his rerturn home. His parents, BONHAM and ABELINE WALKER (both in their late 50s), are there alongside his younger brother LIAM (20s) and his children, STELLA (15) and ARLO (13). There's just one person missing: Walker himself. He didn't bother coming to his own party. Some are pissed, others are unsurprised.
Meanwhile, our hero is at a vista point, flipping a coin. We're transported into a flashback where his younger self and his younger wife are dancing in that very spot. She's admiring her new engagement ring. Back in the present, with his bottle and sadness, he's approached by a police officer, SERGEANT RAMIREZ (30s). She's not happy that he's drinking in a public space. She asks for his license and decides to drive him home. She explains it's her last night as a highway patrol officer. She's been promoted. The morning after, he's back at work and discovers she's his new partner. She goes by MICKI.
COMMENTS: Like Hawaii Five-O, MacGyver and Magnum PI before it, Walker is not a sequel but instead a straight-up reboot, with a new incarnation of its title character. That's the way CBS likes to do these things, and without judging the quality of said shows, clearly it's worked for them so far. But on The CW? Yes, Walker has Jared Padalecki front and center, and he is one of the most recognizable faces of the network, but in virtually every other respect this show feel like a misfire for the CW.
To be fair, the producers aren't exactly walking on sacred ground here: as iconic as Chuck Norris was as the lead in the original Walker, Texas Ranger, it's not hard to picture Padalecki in the role. He's tall, fit, he has gorgeous hair and he can wear a cowboy hat like a champ. Like Walker himself, he's a family man and a Texas native; plus his wife, Genevieve Cortese, is an accomplished equestrian, suggesting he too may have spent some time on horseback.
While the pilot script has some action-packed scenes and an investigation of the week where Walker and his new partner take down a cartel on their first day, Walker is first and foremost a family drama. There are a lot of scenes with his mother and father, his younger brother Liam, his teenage daughter and younger son, and of course his deceased wife, whom he sees as a ghost and talks to from time to time. In this way, Walker resembles The CW's other straight-to-series order Superman & Lois. (read my pilot script review) They're both set in small towns and they're both very much family fare.
Walker's partner Micki, portrayed by Lindsey Morgan (The 100), was born and raised in San Antonio. Focused and perceptive, her family has been in Texas since before it was Texas. She’s been in the Army and on the police force and knows first-hand what it’s like to be singled out and discriminated against because of her gender. She's now one of the first women in Texas Ranger history and a genuine bad ass. Still, as you might expect, the two partners end up working much like every crime show duo in recent memory: he breaks the rules, she follows them.
Walker's family dynamics are also fairly predictable. The daughter is rebellious, doing stupid things to try to get her father's attention, while the son is in awe of his father, and wants to be like him when he grows up. So while this is certainly a new, somewhat younger-skewing Walker, Texas Ranger, there's nothing groundbreaking about it.
Well, almost nothing. Did we mention that Jared Padalecki will sing in the show? Seems like it's Walker's thing. Don't worry, he doesn't perform the original show's earworm of a theme song — just some Elvis and Dolly Parton. (The demo will love that.)
FINAL RECOMMENDATION: Sometimes your first instincts are your best instincts. Originally developed for CBS, even with the casting of Jared Padalecki in the lead role, Walker feels like mismtach for The CW's young audience. While the producers have made efforts to modernize the show, this pilot script doesn't go nearly as far as it should in updating the story and its characters. While I'm recommending the CW pass on Walker, it's already been ordered to series, so let's hope for the best. (Or even better, a late-stage switch to CBS where it would be better positioned for success.)
OVERALL PROJECT SCORE:
[ ] CONSIDER
[ ] RECOMMEND
BEST FIT: Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays... on CBS.