Walker Texas Ranger: The Sixth Season
Directed by Michael Preece et al
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 1002 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround English
MSRP: $ 54.99
Release Date: January 13, 2009
Review Date: January 11, 2009
Chuck Norris continues to kick lots of bad guy butt in the sixth season of his hit television series Walker Texas Ranger. Of course, what else would you expect him to do in any series about the modern day Texas Rangers? Without strong writing or a vibrant supporting cast, most of the episodes usually reach their climaxes with various brawls where Norris’ celebrated karate moves can be demonstrated (in quickly clichéd slow motion and rapidly repetitive shots of the same punches and kicks), shootouts which no Texas-set crime drama could do without, or high speed chases through the streets of Dallas, the ones here frequently ending in incendiary splendor. Despite the mayhem, the viewer can always count on a happy ending with the episodes on this show, part of its predictable but inarguably action-filled and somewhat pleasurable premise.
Norris does indeed return as Cordell Walker, tough but occasionally tender-hearted Texas Ranger operating out of Dallas. Assisting him is partner Jimmy Trivette (Clarence Gilyard), retired ranger C.D. Parker (Noble Willingham), and fiancé (and assistant district attorney) Alex Cahill (Sheree J. Wilson). The cases run the gamut from traditional crime dramas fighting drug pushers, mob bosses, and Satanists to more humane ones involving innocent people being drawn into crime schemes. There are quite a few poignant stories involving Walker’s fondness for kids in trouble (and a favorite lynchpin of the series where sentimental music can invade the soundtrack), and there is even another opportunity to let Norris once again play a bounty hunter in the Old West as C.D. relates another tale of Hayes Cooper, this time hunting for a bandit gang intent on robbing a wagon train of Mormons, stealing their money and taking their women for themselves. This particular episode, “Paradise Trail,” allows each cast member to play a post-Civil War role quite different from his regular role on the show.
Because Norris is such a limited actor, the producers (of which he is one) have surrounded him with similar second tier acting talent for the supporting players. They all make earnest attempts at adding some nuance into their performances, but Walker Texas Ranger is not a series known for its strong central cast nor for brilliance in writing (the villains are ludicrously obvious and always the worst pistol shots possible). The most natural actor on the show is given more to do this season, Jimmy Wlcek playing karate instructor turned private detective Trent Malloy. And though the show was never big on guest stars, a few famous faces do pass through Texas this season. Among them are Mike Connors, Randall “Tex“ Cobb, Michael Beck, Valerie Perrine, Lee Majors, Gary Busey, Deion Sanders, James Remar, Philip Casnoff, Larry Manetti, Michael Parks, Gwen Verdon, Lane Smith, John Schneider, and Stephan McHattie.
Here are the twenty-three episodes of season six spread over five discs:
1 - The Wedding (Part 2) (conclusion of last season's cliffhanger)
2 - Trackdown
3 - Royal Heist
4 - War Cry
5 - Code of the West
6 - The Children of Halloween
7 - Survival
8 - Second Chance
9 - Paradise Trail
10 - Eyes of a Ranger
11- On the Border
12 - Lost Boys
13 - Special Witness
14 - The Principal
15 - Team Cherokee (Part 1)
16 - Team Cherokee (Part 2)
17 - Livegirls.Now
18 - No Way Out (an out of character clip show for the series)
19 - Brothers in Arms (my favorite episode of the season)
20 - Mind Games
21 - Power Angels
22 - Jacob’s Ladder
23 - In Harm’s Way (Part 1) (the usual calamitous season-ending cliffhanger)
The program’s original 1.33:1 television aspect ratio is delivered faithfully in these transfers. Image quality is an erratic affair with some scenes beautifully sharp, richly hued, and featuring light to moderate grain. Others seem washed out, soft (deliberately done in some close-ups of the star), and with somewhat faded color. Without anamorphic enhancement, moiré patterns and some jaggies are an occasional distraction, but overall the image is acceptable. Each episode is divided into 6 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround track is, if nothing else, very loud. With the constant chases, gunfights, and brawls, the soundtrack is very active though the surrounds are used for music while sound effects and dialog seem to occupy the center channel. Of course, the extreme volume and impact of the sound effects punches and kicks is overdone to the point of absurdity, but those looking for a noisy, action-filled soundtrack will undoubtedly love it.
Apart from previews of Mannix, Cannon, Jake and the Fatman, and MacGyver, there are no bonus features in this set.
The sixth season of Walker Texas Ranger is no better or worse than previous seasons, a formulaic action series with plenty of brawls and bullets connected to simplistic plots and featuring one dimensional characters who are either very good or very bad. Fans of the series will no doubt be delighted to add another box to their collections.