The premiere of “Walker,” billed by The CW as a reimagining of the 1993-2001 CBS Chuck Norris-starring crime drama “Walker, Texas Ranger,” begins streaming Friday on CWTV.com and The CW app.
The new version features “Supernatural” star Jared Padalecki as widower Cordell Walker, the same name as Norris’ character. But the character name and being a member of the elite law enforcement agency are the only connections between the new and original series.
“Our `Walker’ is not simply a story of law enforcement,” Padalecki, who is also an executive producer, said in a video conference with reporters last week. “Our’s is more a story of human experience.”
Showrunner Anne Fricke describes “Walker” as being “about the life of this character and the family and friends around him.”
The similar but altered title is an attempt “to keep the familiarity” from the original and “to indicate we’re doing our own thing,” said Fricke, who had been a producer on the 2002-06 The WB drama “Everwood”; the 2006-08 ABC romantic comedy-drama “Men in Trees”; a writer for the 1998-2003 The WB teen drama “Dawson’s Creek”; and a co-creator of the North American version of the supernatural horror comedy-drama “Being Human,” which aired on Syfy from 2011-14.
The family element is the biggest difference between the series.
“This Walker is about family,” Padalecki said.
A major aspect of the new version, which premiered Thursday on The CW and will air at 8 p.m. Thursdays with each new episode available to stream the day after it is broadcast, are Walker’s efforts to reconnect with his creative and thoughtful son August (Kale Culley) and somewhat rebellious teenaged daughter Stella (Violet Brinson) upon his return home to Austin after being undercover for nearly a year.
The cast also includes Molly Hagen as Walker’s mother Abeline and Mitch Pileggi as his father Bonham, Keegan Allen as Walker’s prosecutor brother Liam who served as a father figure to his brother’s children during his absence, as his parents, Coby Bell as his former partner who has become his Ranger captain and Lindsey Morgan as his new partner.
Padalecki’s wife Genevieve appears in flashbacks as Walker’s late wife.
Padalecki’s reaction to the U.S. detaining young children whose parents attempted to enter the U.S. without legal permission helped shape the series.
“I read a story about a law enforcement agent who couldn’t bring themselves simply put to put a 3-year-old in the cage and take them away from their parents,” Padalecki said.
“They said something to the effect of I have a 3-year-old, I couldn’t bring myself to do that. That empathy and that emotion struck me as caught between the inevitable rock and a hard place where you’re bound by duty, but you still have moral code and you see people as human beings, not as perpetrators or heroes.
“We started talking about how interesting it would be to see that story told, where somebody who is a proud government worker for law enforcement still kind of thinks to themselves there might be a better way.”