For eight full seasons and around 200 episodes, Walker, Texas Ranger held a special place in American popular culture. After decades in action cinema, but before he became a tired internet meme, Chuck Norris was Cordell Walker, the no-nonsense Texas lawman, expert martial artist, and horse whisperer, among a long list of other superlatives. Now three local men have taken it upon themselves to recount Walker's adventures in a weekly podcast that you never knew you needed.
Longtime friends Jared Smith, Whitt Algar, and Devin McCurdy recall spending their teenage years hanging out and collectively tossing around jokes for whatever subpar movie they happened to be watching at the time. Now, they've decided to take a weekly break from the distractions of adult life to get together for their weekly podcast, Talker Texas Ranger USA.
"We've all been friends since middle school, and that's what we did when we were 13, watch terrible movies and try to make each other laugh. That's kind of what the idea of the show is," says Algar. "It's not really important. It just opens the door for us to make each other laugh."
For almost a decade, what began as an old-fashioned police procedural set in the Lone Star State slowly morphed into an absurdist masterpiece so macho that it even featured a writing credit from the real-life Ron Swanson, who also worked with Norris in canine police buddy film Top Dog and Forest Warrior. Walker and his partner, James Trivette played by Die Hard alum Clarence Gilyard, imposed their own style of law on the criminals of Texas, relying heavily on jump kicks as much as their deductive skills.
Veering away from a basic recap of each episode's plot, which often defy explanation, Smith, Algar, and McCurdy have developed their own overarching narrative for the podcast to add an extra layer to the show.
"We do it because it's fun for us. We like getting together and talking about stupid stuff and joking about it all," says Smith, who readily acknowledges that the podcast's source material doesn't carry a large audience likely to tune into a podcast. Instead, Talker Texas Ranger USA is as much an opportunity for three old friends to get together as it is about recounting the adventures of Walker and Trivette as they lead a two-man war against Texas' criminal underbelly.
"We're all old and have lives now, so it's really good to have an excuse to hang out with these guys," says Algar.
With a new episode released every Monday available on iTunes and Soundcloud, the friends behind Talker Texas Ranger USA also have a website in the works to showcase their work. At their current rate, the trio should finish up recapping each episode of Walker, Texas Ranger in about four years — a sizable goal that they plan to achieve.
Having already made it through a handful of episodes, Smith, Algar, and McCurdy have already honed in on one clear rule for the show: Make Chuck Norris look good.
They are quick to acknowledge the absurdity and aspects of the show that haven't aged too well since the '90s. Considering that much of Walker, Texas Ranger is a holdover of the casually violent, sexist, and borderline racially insensitive action pictures from the 1980s, the team behind Talker Texas Ranger USA point out that the show wasn't the most evolved program to evaluate — and they understand that it doesn't hold up too well in the modern television landscape. Still, when asked if there is one redeeming feature to the show, they all agree that "It means well."
Walker, Texas Ranger, for all its shortcomings, does go out of its way to be wholesome. And now, offering up a weekly revival of the show via podcast, Smith, Algar, and McCurdy joke that the ultimate reward for their show would be an offer from Norris himself, asking them to take the helm for a relaunch of the famed series. Meanwhile, the three friends have an idea for the next series they might decide to tackle after the four-year venture that is Talker Texas Ranger USA. Up for consideration is another weekly recap show that details the adventures of Andy Griffith's latter-day exploits as folksy criminal defense attorney, Ben Matlock.
Whether or not they ultimately follow through with the follow-up to Talker Texas Ranger USA, Smith, Algar, and McCurdy already have the perfect name lined up for their hypothetical podcast about the former Mayberry sheriff's long-running legal drama — Chatlock.