The kick to revive the series which Chuck Norris made famous from 1993-2001 stemmed from Supernatural actor Jared Padalecki, who is also an EP on the new series along with Dan Lin and Lindsay Liberatore.
“Jared for some reason wanted to go back to work,” said showrunner Anna Fricke at the CW virtual panel for the show this AM, which airs on Thursday Jan. 21 at 8PM ET/PT, “We sat down and talked about the character, and it’s a departure from the original show, and its own version.”
In the new Walker, our protagonist Cordell Walker (Paladecki) gets a female partner, Micki Ramirez (The 100’s Lindsey Morgan), who he finds unexpected common ground with, while growing increasingly suspicious about the details surrounding his wife’s death. Cordell is a widower and father of two with his own moral code who returns home to Austin after being undercover for two years, only to discover there’s harder work to be done at home. He attempts to reconnect with his creative and thoughtful son (Kale Culley) and his headstrong, somewhat rebellious teenaged daughter (Violet Brinson) and navigate clashes with his family – an ADA brother (Keegan Allen) who stepped in during Walker’s absence, his perceptive mother (Molly Hagen) and his traditional rancher father (Mitch Pileggi). Walker’s former colleague is now his Ranger Captain, (Coby Bell).
“A few years back when there were a lot of humans being coming from South of the American border into America, our society seemed to want to put people in cages and separate families; I read a story about a law enforcement agent who couldn’t bring themselves to put a three-year old in a cage and take them away from their parents. They said something along the lines of that they had a three-year old, they couldn’t bring themselves to do it. And that empathy and that emotion struck me as something as the evitable stuck in between a rock and a hard place, but you’re bound by duty, but you still have a moral code and you see people as human beings, not perpetrators or heroes. And so we started talking about how interesting it would be to see that story told. Where someone is a proud government worker for law enforcement, and still thinks to themselves that there might be a better way; these laws are old and not nuanced. Anna and I talk about the edge of the coin. They say that there’s two sides to a coin, but there’s also a third side of the coin, the edge. So where is that where someone is bound by their duty and by their sense of safety, and helping others, but also a family man and their friends and where does that meet,” explained Paladecki about his musings for the reboot.
“We talked about wanting to pose questions instead of proselytize our beliefs and forces answers down our viewers’ throats,” said Paladecki.
While Paladecki considered taking a break after Supernatural, what made Walker attractive was that it was shot near his home in Austin, Texas.
The question was raised at today’s panel, which also included cast members Morgan, Bell, Pileggi, Keegan Allen, Molly Hagan, Jeff Pierre, Violet Brinson, Kale Culley and Genevieve Padalecki, of how a law enforcement series walks the line in telling a story, especially when it’s come under a lot of heat for perpetuating systemic racism.
Fricke answered “that question is at the forefront of our mind every day” in the Zoom writers’ room.
“Me, the writers, and the cast were weary of the position we were in, in terms of telling this story. And now I feel grateful, because we have a platform to explore the story correctly, to be thoughtful. We have been given a chance to examine things,” adds Fricke.
Morgan added, “When I signed onto this show, it was pre the BLM movement, pre-Covid, and pre-everything. While I was waiting for the show to begin, the world begun to drastically change, and I feel like the show that I had spoken to Anna about prior, was also changing with it. It became this unexpected blessing. Suddenly a show about law enforcement in a very divided state such as Texas means so much more now in our world today than it would have pre-2020.”
“From my position, and the character I play, a big obstacle and learning challenge I face daily is where do I fit as a Mexican woman in a majority Caucasian law enforcement team, in a state that is, for the history of it, has been conservative and not caring too much about marginalizing communities and immigrants. I love that my character is placed in these two worlds, and these two warring communities and hoping to be a liaison, and hoping we can tell a story of tolerance — from two perspectives. And, also, not a story of which side is right. But this is where we are, and this is who we are, and what are we doing about it next,” explained Morgan.
Acerbic border policies during the administration of President Donald J. Trump have spurred scenarios where migrant children are separated by their parents. As late as last month, CNN reported that the Justice Department and lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union were unable to reach the parents of 545 children who were separated from their families while coming into the U.S. between 2017 and 2018. The notion is that hundreds of parents may also have been deported without their children. The Justice Dept and the ACLU is trying to identify and reunite families who were separated by the Trump administration, more than two years after the “zero tolerance” policy was created.
“We live in a country built on racism and aftershocks that are still being felt in law enforcement and our political system,” said Bell, who plays Captain Larry James on the new series, “At the same time, I think it’s important to tell stories about people who are doing it right.”