An unofficial Chuck Norris fact: With apologies to Al Gore, global warming does not cause hurricanes. They are caused by the wind generated by Chuck Norris' flurry of roundhouse kicks to the head. Which is why this seven-disc set will blow you away. After Norris's movie career stalled, Walker: Texas Ranger
revived his career and catapulted him to international icon status of Hasselhoff proportions. He has since been transformed into an affectionate punchline for the likes of Conan O'Brien and the purveyors of the Official Chuck Norris facts website ("Those aren't credits that roll after Walker: Texas Ranger
. It is actually a list of fatalities that occurred during the making of the episode."). Co-created by future Oscar-winner Paul Haggis (Crash
), Walker: Texas Ranger
is a tailor-made vehicle for Norris, whose eponymous character dispenses somewhat suspect justice. "You screwed up," one particularly nasty miscreant tells Walker. "You forgot to read us our rights. Walker obliges, but not before kicking him into submission, "You have the right to remain silent." Walker's methods may perturb Asst. D.A. Alex Cahill (Sheree J. Wilson), but they sure come in handy when she is menaced, Cape Fear
-style, by the recently freed corrupt sheriff she sent to jail ("Borderline") or kidnapped by a cult leader ("In the Name of God").
There are three crucial elements for a great Walker episode: A particularly vile villain (drug dealers, rapists, baby-stealing politicians), coolly delivered Chuck-isms ("When I want your opinion, I'll beat it out of you," reprised from the great Code of Silence), and, to quote Jimmy Trivette (Clarence Gilyard), Walker's new, more by-the-book partner, the "squinty-eyed make-my-day stuff" that Walker punishingly dispenses near the 40-minute mark of nearly every episode. When you've got Chuck Norris, you don't need A-list guest stars, but Walker's first season does feature some familiar faces, including the future Spider-Man Tobey Maguire ("The Prodigal Son"), Stuart Whitman ("The Reunion"), and a post-Wonder Years Danica "Winnie" McKellar ("Stolen Lullaby"). Norris may not be Oscar or Emmy material, but watching Walker unfailingly lay out the bad guys and making the guilty pay is the essence of comfort television. As Trivette says, "I hate to admit; the man is good." In short: don't mess with Texas! --Donald Liebenson