TV's Texas Rangers ride back into UAE
Lindsey Morgan proud to be representing her home state on new version of Walker out now on StarzPlay Arabia
It would have been 9pm one evening in late 2001 when Chuck Norris last graced UAE screens as Walker, Texas Ranger on the iconic free-to-air terrestrial station Channel 33; a precursor to Dubai One. Having first been broadcast in 1994, it marked the end of a surprisingly long and exciting televisual journey for the martial artist cowboy police officer. Since then Walker has gone down in folklore. While re-runs have been thin-on-the-ground, who can forget mentions of the programme on enduring series such as Friends, signifying the cultural impact a supposedly more rural family show made.
Counting on that universal appeal to draw in the crowds once more, two decades later StarzPlay Arabia has rebooted the concept for a modern audience with the aim of retaining its core values: unity, trust, love and honesty.
“The show at its heart is about family,” lead actor Lindsey Morgan told us via video-conference from LA this week. Morgan is playing the titular Cordell Walker’s (Jared Padalecki) new Texas Ranger partner, Micki Ramirez. “Anyone in the world can relate to what’s close to their heart,” she said about the production’s relevance to a GCC viewer. “It tackles some very big issues of grief, death and loss. This affects us all and it can help to see it on screen.”
Morgan, a Texan of half Mexican, half Irish descent, is Houston born and bred. Filming just down the road in Austin therefore should have been a walk in the park, though ten years away first in Los Angeles followed by six years in Vancouver shooting sci-fi stalwart The 100 where she took on the role of Raven Reyes, meant her return was a bit more of a realisation than expected.
“When I came back to do this show it was like coming full circle,” Morgan explained. “Austin was the city in which I first decided to become an actor. Now I’m back here doing it after being across country. And being in Texas to represent Walker, it’s one of the most iconic television shows of all time! It has been pretty remarkable so far.”
Morgan’s Lone Star State pride is as ‘true blue’ as any of her contemporaries hailing from the same area. Asked why those from cities including Dallas and her home are so vocal about their roots, the artist explained: “Texas and Texan culture is a very specific type of America. It’s big. It’s Southern. It is just different to other places in the US. I think it’ll be interesting for people to see for themselves when they tune in.”
An unavoidable issue in the current climate, US law enforcement has been back under the global microscope since last week’s conviction of former MPD officer Derek Chauvin for his May 25, 2020 murder of African-American Minneapolis resident George Floyd. While other police-based shows including Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013-present) have tried to incorporate the issue into their plot lines, Morgan believes her presence as a part Latin woman in itself is a vital component to illustrate the service’s evolution.
“Micki is a pioneer and a change maker,” she said. “In a field where it’s predominantly male and predominantly Caucasian, she’s representing more marginalised groups just by being in this occupation. She’s breaking down barriers just by existing in this environment and challenging stereotypes.
“I love that she is tough and quite the truth-teller. She has this almost therapeutic side to her where she’s able to listen objectively and deliver the truth.”
As well as frank advice, Micki is also tasked with carrying on the Norris legacy of delivering a few swift kicks to thwart the bad guys. While not a karate expert, real life Ranger Gary Phillips was on set to provide constant training and tips. A punch and shove, according to Morgan, is however all the Way Of The Dragon (1972) star’s hallmarks you’ll be seeing in her version.
“I was told not to watch the original,” she said. “We’re doing a complete re-imagining and the show-runner, Anna Fricke (Dawson’s Creek, Minority Report), and some of the writers felt it really wouldn’t help. They are two completely different shows.”
Morgan went on to explain Fricke’s ethos on what she envisioned for this incarnation. “It has this amazing ability to go from a procedural crime show, to a buddy-cop action thriller, to a rom-com moment, to pulling your heartstrings with deep emotions all in one episode.
“I was confused by it at first, but I spoke to Anna and she said she loves scenes that make you laugh and cry. To her that’s the human experience: it’s bittersweet. We make a concentrated effort to give you a human experience.”