Monday, January 27, 2014

Walker, Texas Ranger


Walker, Don't Run

By Jon Gallagher

If an episode of ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ has ever changed your life, you might be a redneck.” – Jeff Foxworthy

I never got the Jeff Foxworthy joke, mainly because I had never seen an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger starring Chuck Norris (who may come beat me up if I don’t say something nice about him, so somewhere in here, I’ll try). It was a TV show from the 90s and because I was completing my bachelor’s during the first part of the 90s, then teaching high school in the last half, I just never got around to watching a lot of TV during that decade.

The other day, I came home to a TV that I’d accidentally left on and an episode of Walker was on. I couldn’t find the remote right away, so I just left it on.

Now I understand the joke. Now I understand why I never bothered to try and find an episode of it to watch. There are not enough words in the English language to describe how bad this show was. Not only was it poorly acted (faces drawn on popsicle sticks could have done better), it was even more poorly written.

This particular episode had Walker and his crew trying to find a school bus full of kids along with his girlfriend or wife (or whatever she was) that had been kidnapped by a villain who was too bad of an actor to be a villain on the old Batman TV series. The bad guy buried the bus underground and Walker had to find them before they ran out of air. The villain sends them a videotape as proof of life.

In the videotape, despite them being buried underground, there is both lightning and thunder which leads Walker to figure out that the storm is right on top of the victims when the tape was made. I’m not sure how that lightning managed to get through the ground to show up on tape, but that’s not the most ridiculous thing we’ll see in this show.

Walker’s girlfriend gives him a clue as to what time the tape was made. This allows him to figure out where the tape was made because obviously the storm that produced the lightning and thunder wasn’t mobile. It had found a spot that it liked and decided to camp out right there. It must not have taken Walker long to get the tape, play it, make a deduction, find the storm and drive to the spot where the bus was buried because the storm was still waiting for them when they got there! Is that amazing police work or what?!!

But we’re not done yet!

Not only was that storm waiting for them, it was now producing (gasp!) tornadoes. On the horizon, there is a funnel cloud on the ground, just waiting. As soon as the funnel notices someone trying to rescue a bunch of kids, it heads straight for them.

It’s obvious at this point that no one who was on the writing, directing, editing, or production of this show has ever been near a tornado. Since the show is supposedly set in Texas, I would think that they might have had a little experience with tornadoes, but obviously not. A little bit of research might have prevented them from becoming a joke.

First of all, those of us in Illinois know that storm systems move. They may be slow, but they move.  They don’t hang around waiting to attack someone.

Second, when caught in a tornado, the best thing to do is head for a low spot. If you have a basement available, that’s the recommended spot. When the cops find the buried school bus, they rush to get the kids OUT of the bus and into an OPEN area. In other words, instead of getting in the bus themselves where everyone will be safe, they raced to get everyone into the path of the tornado! This may have been the stupidest two minutes of television I’ve ever seen.

After they get the kids (and an overweight bus driver) out, they head for a drainage culvert where they hide from the storm as it tries to suck them out and send them somewhere over the rainbow. If somebody – anybody – actors, crew members, vending machine filler-uppers – would have thought about this for just a second and a half, they might have realized that being safe underground was a much better place to be than out in the open.

But then they couldn’t have done the really stupid scene where the funnel headed straight for Chuck Norris and his buddy. Like anyone who has never been in a tornado, the writers assumed that the funnel was a real, physical thing with real sides. When you see a funnel on the ground, what you are seeing is a debris field or dust that is being swirled by the cyclonic winds. Those who haven’t been in a tornado tend to treat it like a car or van that just happens to drive by and that you can reach out and touch. I honestly thought for a moment that Chuck was going to hop out and karate chop the tornado into submission.

Alas, he did not, the bad guy was caught, and hopefully no one who ever watched this episode ever remembers it if they get caught in a tornado, because it could change their life, but certainly not in a positive way.

Oh wait. I still I have to say something nice about Norris or he might stop by and lay a beat down on me.

. . . uh . . . well….

I got nothing.

I’ll just take my chances.

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