The (Short & Bumpy) Dusty Texas Road So Far
Four episodes into Walker and I think the fourth episode, "Don't Fence Me In", was the best one yet.
But this isn’t going to be a glowing review.
There are several things I like about Walker:
- Very strong cast
There really isn’t a dud in the bunch. So far, I think every actor is doing a very decent job and a couple of them are outstanding; namely Lindsey Morgan as Walker’s partner Micki Ramirez. She is a natural!
I don’t doubt for a second that this petite woman is a Ranger! In the fourth episode, I was glad that she had more time to shine when she and Walker had to apprehend a crooked, murderous Sheriff. I could see the stress on her face when the Sheriff they were pursuing pulled a gun on her and pointed it at her head. She believably radioed Walker in the truck behind them with panic in her voice and when the danger was averted she was visibly shaken. I thought that was a great scene for her. I want to see SO MUCH MORE of her. I also love her boyfriend, Trey Barnett, played by Jeff Pierre. Of course, both of those characters are very likeable, so maybe that’s why they are my favorites.
Walker’s Captain, Larry James, played by Coby Bell, is another standout for me. He is 100% believable in the role as someone who clearly feels the stress of his position. He’s kind of charmingly annoyed all the time. Also, Walker’s mother Abeline Walker played by Molly Hagan is completely and totally at home in her role.
- Taking on current issues
I am especially happy about Walker’s focus on immigration and undocumented people. I like the way they are portraying the issues of Stella’s friend’s undocumented family. I like how Walker, Mr. White Guy, didn’t even think about the implications of police attention on an undocumented family. That rang very true for me as a very important issue that so many Americans are fortunate enough to never have to consider. On that issue, the show fosters empathy and I truly love that.
- Texas BBQ and Austin
Watching Walker makes me desperately want both again. Every week.
- Walker’s interactions with his children
I like the angst and the struggle. It is believable to me. I thought Walker texting Stella while they were both in the kitchen in one of the first episodes, when he was trying to get through to her, was particularly realistic and sweet. I wish there was more focus on this, but more on that below…
- Normal gays!
I love that Walker’s brother Liam and his partner Bret are just another couple. Thank you CW/Jared Padalecki/all decision makers involved in that! It’s fun to watch them (in the too-few scenes we’ve gotten to enjoy so far) co-parent Walker’s teenage children better than Walker has thus far. Pre-show publicity said that Walker’s brother was “gay and conservative”. I have yet to really see the “conservative” appear.
- Gen Padalecki
She is outshining her husband in the believable acting department in the role of Emily. I could do without the gazy, romantic memory parts (Emily glowing in the sun, hair blowing), but in flashbacks, her character is someone I find myself wanting to know more about. She’s impressing me.
- Jared is gorgeous
Single-layer Jared is a revelation. While I am trying to deal with my feelings about the Walker character (keep reading), I am having no trouble watching him whether I’m enjoying what he’s doing with the character or not. I do love getting to see him back on my TV every week, even if my feelings about Walker vs. Sam Winchester could not be more different.
There are some things I do not like about Walker:
Wow, what is up with the music??? Almost everyone I’ve talked to about Walker says they can’t stand the constant music under EVERY scene like some kind of weird Hallmark movie. This was better in episode four. It was still there, but it was somewhat more subdued. I have a few friends who stopped watching and won’t give it another try because of the music. There is NO NEED for music in every scene! It’s distracting and diminishes the power of music showing up where it SHOULD be. This applies only to the instrumental background music. The more bluesy/rock stuff that really punctuates the final scenes in most episodes is pretty great.
Don’t hate me, but Jared’s Walker is not working for me so far. I appreciate that he’s not Sam. I do. I appreciate that he’s not supposed to be likeable right now. I predict that may change as things progress; I saw a bit of change in his more relaxed interactions with Micki in episode four as they work to trust each other more. That seems to be key in all aspects of Walker’s life – gaining or regaining the trust of those he works with and cares about.
But several choices that Jared has made early on are not hitting the right tone with me. First off; mumbling. This was slightly better by episode four but the speech pattern he’s chosen for Walker only guarantees that I miss half of what is being said. One of my friends watches it with the closed captioning on. Not a bad idea.
Also, Jared is capable of the most gorgeous, subtle acting and I feel he is over-acting here. His reaction shots are exaggerated. His anguish overwrought. The original Walker was NOT subtle (and not great) and the acting on it was poor at best. Jared is a million times better than that and I hope that future scripts allow more subtlety plus I hope that he relaxes into the role as he goes. I trust he will.
Finally, I know this is a bit unfair to say, but I miss Sam so damn much. I do pretty well separating the two in my head, but because I preferred Jared’s treatment of Sam as an actor, I keep watching Walker and thinking about how good he COULD be because Sam was that good.
- Technical issues
My friends who are horse people (I somehow have a bunch of them! Lucky me!) can barely watch some scenes thanks to things that are never done in real life, like jumping in a Western saddle. About the horse that was meant to be a priceless thoroughbred, one of my horse friends said, “If that’s a thoroughbred, my cat is a lion.” I am especially surprised that on a show set in Texas where Walker’s family has a RANCH that the horse details are not more correct.
I don’t have the horse knowledge to know better, but I DO have knowledge about old-fashioned film photography (I got my degree in it) and THAT drove me nuts in episode four! You cannot grab a print out of a tray of developer and run outside with it and have it look great laying on the table later in the day! You cannot take a “selfie” with a 35mm film camera as Walker and August did with Emily’s camera at the end of episode four…you AT LEAST need Jared’s wingspan for it to work, and even then…they had it about 8 inches from their face. Nope. I know these are small things, but they mess with my enjoyment. At least August’s film-developing friend got the name of the developing chemical right.
There are also other things that just make no sense. One example: Walker’s father invites Micki to the bunkhouse for a steak and some alcohol because he’s out there eating alone, choosing not to eat with Hoyt and the rest of the family. Micki accepts his invitation even though she COULD be arresting Hoyt (who STOLE HER NEW TRUCK!) and has, thus far, been very insistent on doing the right thing as a new Ranger. Somehow, Walker’s father has a second steak for her out there in the bunkhouse? Or did he cut his own steak in half to share with her? And she’s happy to drink while on the job. Just weird things like that do not make “real life” sense - and that’s only one example. Sometimes I think the compressed nature of the episodes leads to these annoyances on my part. (See point 4)
- It gives me Brad and Eugenie episode PTSD
I was no fan of the Supernatural episodes written by Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming for several reasons: they always seemed to have a cast of thousands, too much going on, and were WAY too scattered. They seemed to bring in Brad & Eugenie when they had a bunch of loose ends to tie up and TONS to explain to the audience. Every episode of Walker is like this so far.
Again, episode four was a bit better, so I have hope, but with such a large cast, they spend roughly ten minutes or less per episode on each storyline - Walker’s parents and their issues including his mom’s past, Walker and Emily, Walker undercover, Walker and his children, the case of the week (which is so cursory it’s almost laughable sometimes), Liam and boyfriend, Micki and boyfriend, old friend/girlfriend/Emily’s friend at the bar…and if that weren’t enough, random other people coming in like Hoyt…THERE’S NO TIME FOR MORE PEOPLE even if that person is going to be half-naked and covered in glitter! No single story gets the attention it deserves. Personally, I would love it if one week focused mostly on a case, the next mostly on ONE ASPECT of Walker’s family, and so on. I will keep watching to see how they deal with a ton of storylines going on at once. I find myself wishing for much more in-depth explorations of ONE aspect of the many things going on in each episode.
- Why “Walker” at all?
I find myself wishing that this were an original show because it IS an original show! I do not understand why they tied it to the old Walker, Texas Ranger at all. Even in name-only. They have been very clear in interviews that this is VERY different from the original, and I’m extremely glad about that. But I find myself wishing that it had divorced itself completely from that first Chuck Norris endeavor. Jared could still have played a Texas Ranger. Just with a different name. At least most of those watching this will probably have no relationship to the original. Many of the fans of the original that I knew are older relatives who are no longer with us. It kind of seemed akin to rebooting Matlock or Murder, She Wrote. Kind of an odd choice to me, so I choose to ignore the fact that it’s considered a reboot.
I will keep watching. I love Jared. I’m so proud of him taking this on so soon after wrapping Supernatural. With the unprecedented level of promotion the CW poured into this (did all of you see that clip on Twitter of the rooftop billboard at the gas station near Dallas?! ), it’s clear there is a lot at stake including an expensive U.S.-based production. I am so glad that the show is being well-received, has been renewed for a second season already, and that Jared can now, hopefully, feel he has the time to explore and develop the character more. I cannot imagine the pressure to not only lead the cast, but executive produce and live up to the hopes of the bosses at the CW.
While my love for the character of Walker may not be there (yet), Jared is impressing the hell out of me these days. I feel like he took what he learned over 15 years (and before) and is using it to re-create the good work environment that most guest stars raved about on Supernatural. I want Jared (and Jensen) to end up ruling the industry with empathy and kindness and exceptional working environments! It makes me stupidly happy too that after all the years of travel and all that time away from home, that Jared is getting to live and work at home AND have more say in the direction of his show. I am happy for his family. I am happy for Austin. I am happy for his costars.
Bottom line is, in spite of my misgivings, I trust Jared, so I’ll take this (horseback) ride and see where it leads.
Screencaps of Walker Episodes 2 and 3 courtesy of @Raloria at LJ.
We're 4 episodes into Walker! Have your first impressions changed in the past month? Share below!
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