Tuesday, October 18, 2005


So far in the 2005 TV season, we've had great success with the Crossover of the Week in that they've all been legitimate links to other TV shows. In those first two weeks, these official crossovers have veen on NBC - 'Law & Order' with 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit', and 'Crossing Jordan' with 'Las Vegas'. The Peacock network even had a runner-up in the return of Chris Noth as 'Law & Order' detective Mike Logan on 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent' for half the season. (Logan may be a runner-up, but don't call him "Miss Congeniality"!)

So this week we head over to CBS for another official crossover, although this time it's more of a case of sequelitis. Martial arts action star Chuck Norris returned to his role of Texas Ranger Cordell Walker in a TV movie "Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial By Fire". (Personally I would have used the sub-title of "Trial By Fury" just to tweak the 'Law & Order' franchise's one failure, but then I can be cruel.)

I was never a fan of the series (I only saw three episodes!), but I was glad to see that this TV flick upheld one ofthe main principles of the Toobworld philosophy: that Life goes on for TV characters even after their TV series have left the Sked.

In the series finale, Walker married his D.A. sweetheart Alex Cahill; and with this movie we saw they now had a small daughter. (It made me wonder how old is Cordell Walker supposed to be? I think Norris is playing him much younger than his own 65 years of age; but it works because Norris is a very youthful senior citizen.)

And it looks like Alex was no longer an assistant D.A., but the chief District Attorney now - although I may be wrong about that. Ranger James Trivette was only back long enough for a send-off as he was heading to the FBI facility at Quantico to become an instructor. (And true to the mantra of "Life Goes On", we learned that in the intervening years, Trivette had gone to work in New York as well. I wonder if he ever ran into Conrad McMaster of Atlanta during his travels......)

I may have missed any mention of him, but I get the feeling that Noble Willingham's character of C.D. Parker may have passed away. Again, this would be another Toobworld example where Life - or the lack thereof, - goes on after a show goes off.

There was a new flavor added to the 'Walker' mix of kung fu and good ol' boys - the introduction of Janine Turner playing a forensics specialist for the Texas Rangers. Dusting for prints carried as much weight in this movie as did kicking some butt.

It's easy enough to see why they covered this facet of law enforcement - in the same season that saw Cordell Walker ride off into the sunset, CBS debuted the little procedural that could - 'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation'. 'CSI' took on the Goliath of NBC's 'ER' and won, which begat a franchise of two spin-offs and several similar shows like 'Without A Trace', 'Cold Case', 'Numb3rs' (God, I hate typing that!), and now 'Criminal Minds'.

So it's pozz'ble, it's pozz'ble (as Mushrat would say) that 'Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial By Fire' was also serving as a pilot for Walker's return to the airwaves, but with a new focus. With Janine Turner "leading the away team" - which could include the guys from the 'Sons of Thunder' spin-off, it would be sort of a 'CSI: Texas Rangers' kind of show.
That way, Chuck Norris could lighten his load by supervising the new team rather than always being in the eye of the storm as the Hai Karate Hombre.

Hey, he may look youthful, but a few too many of those high kicks and Walker will be needing a walker! They'd have to revive 'Cutter To Houston' so he could get a new hip before he could start shooting from the hip again.

(As a personal side-note to Mr. Norris: please don't hurt me.)

And such a new spin on this spin-off would make the show easily accessible for crossovers with the various 'CSI' shows as well as other crime dramas coming out of the Jerry Bruckheimer empire. (The Bruckhempire?)

Just sayin', is all......



Brent McKee said...

Noble Willingham's character died two or three years before the series ended, for an interesting reason. Willingham tried running for Congress in Texas, so of course he couldn't be on the show. I don't think he made it past the primaries but they wrote him off permanently. The nature of his death was even part of the series finale - let's just say it looked natural.

Incidentally, the pilot for Walker had C.D. played by an actor who deserves Toobworld status of some sort, Mr. Gailard Sartain, although he seems to have done more movies than TV which comes as a surprise to me.

Toby said...

Thanks for all that info, Brent. I knew about Mr. Sartain from my copy of that great book the Prime Time Directory. (I'm up in Connecticut right now so I don't have access to the Toobworld Central library for the correct name).

As for the recastaway from Sartain to Willingham, 'Quantum Leap' provides the easiest splainin for what happened. But where's the sport in that, as they used to say on 'Monty Python'. I'll have to come up with something more interesting someday......

Thanks again for reading and checking in.