As I noted when it was first announced, the CW’s reboot of Walker, Texas Ranger has some awfully big boots to fill, before it uses those boots to stomp a little justice into somebody’s forehead. It’s not just the absence of Chuck Norris as the two-fisted, mono-bearded Texas Ranger who dispatched drug cartels while dispensing searing social commentary, with enough energy left over to wrestle a bear (twice). From its very conception, this “reimagining” starring San Antonio native Jared Padalecki has lacked something even more essential—namely the understanding that Walker, Texas Ranger was always an extremely silly show, an absurdist proto-meme of a series that turned slow-motion ass-kicking into surrealist art, and at one point had Norris fly around on a jetpack. Instead, this new Walker is a deathly serious bid for prestige drama, a story of a broken widower desperately trying to reconnect with his estranged family, while being tormented by his wife’s mysterious death. This Walker’s “jet pack” is sorrow. The only thing he wrestles are his emotions.
Granted, there’s probably still time to kick someone through a window, even when you’re busy mourning the love of your life; that’s probably somewhere between “anger” and “bargaining” on the Kübler-Ross model of grief. But you definitely won’t see much of that in the first-look trailers that the network shared this week. Other than a scene where Padalecki (er, his stunt double) lassoes a criminal while on horseback, it’s a surprisingly teary, dismayingly action-deprived affair that mostly finds everyone in Austin lining up to remind Walker, Texas Weeper that his wife is dead. Yes sir, this ain’t your daddy’s Walker, Texas Ranger! Unless your dad is a profoundly sad man.
Robert Rodriguez Readies Female-Led Zorro
For those who like their action with a bit less pathos and a lot more guns, Austin’s own Robert Rodriguez is about to revive another Western pulp legend with his contemporary take on Zorro, which he’s readying for NBC. Rodriguez will coproduce and cowrite the series with his sister Rebecca, who’s also set to direct, centering their updated take on a female protagonist named Sola Dominguez. The character is described as an “underground artist” who adopts the mythical Zorro name while using it to fight for “social justice.” Presumably she is known only by her telltale Z-shaped slash of scolding tweets, which villagers discover has been carved into their Twitter feeds. Zorro is being executive produced by Rodriguez’s Machete star Sofia Vergara, news that has already spurred a couple of outlets to declare that Vergara is probably starring as the stealthy, shadowy woman who remains a mystery to all who encounter her. Although that would suggest they’ve neither seen nor heard Sofia Vergara.
Noah Hawley Bringing Alien to Television
Padelecki and Rodriguez aren’t the only Austinites who are bringing home the intellectual property bacon these days. Local filmmaker Noah Hawley is set to bring the venerable Alien franchise to the small screen for FX, with director Ridley Scott on board to executive produce his sci-fi series’s first foray into television. Thanks to Hawley’s adaptation of Fargo, he’s become near-singlehandedly responsible for people like me no longer being able to assume out of hand that every TV remake of a popular film will be pandering garbage, and he’s also become the go-to guy for injecting some unexpected prestige into what would otherwise seem like another soulless remake—even recently coming very close to taking the reins on Star Trek. So while we know little about his Alien series—other than that, per Variety, it’s the first in the franchise to be set on Earth and it’s a “scary thrill ride”—we can safely assume that it will be unexpectedly engrossing, visually dazzling, and far better than both Alien vs. Predator movies.
Kacey Musgraves Heads to Sesame Street and Studio Ghibli
Golden native Kacey Musgraves is one of country music’s true crossover stars—appealing equally to fans of Willie Nelson and Katy Perry, at home duetting with both Dierks Bentley and the Flaming Lips. And more recently, she’s been angling to broaden that multi-quadrant appeal by locking down the little-kid audience: Hot on the heels of her guest role on Scooby-Doo, Musgraves is set to get animated again for the upcoming Studio Ghibli film Earwig and the Witch (where she’ll voice Earwig’s mother), then drop by an episode of Sesame Street. Musgraves posted some set photos from the latter this week on Twitter, where she shared her best Oscar the Grouch and mixed it up with Big Bird, the Count, Elmo, et al., all before jetting off to find the last untapped demographic she’s yet to win over. Maybe dead people? Even corpses would probably dig Golden Hour.
Jessica Simpson’s Life to Become a TV Show (Again)
The renaissance of Jessica Simpson (the Simpsonaissance? the Jessicanaissance?) is set to continue with an adaptation of the memoir that kicked it all off. Deadline reports that Amazon is developing multiple projects based around the Dallas star’s 2020 tell-all Open Book, beginning with a docuseries that will cover Simpson’s singing career, journey through her struggles with addiction and sobriety, and celebrate her current role as a billionaire business mogul and person who could buy and sell you just for making another “chicken of the sea” joke. At the same time, the Amazon-owned IMDb TV will also air a slightly fictionalized drama based on Simpson’s twenties, when the early rush of pop stardom and reality-TV fame gave way to divorce, dating John Mayer, and (according to some) ruining the Dallas Cowboys. There’s no telling how much of that stuff will actually make it in there, mind—though Simpson certainly wasn’t shy about spilling the dirt in print.
Kelly Clarkson’s Talk Show Renewed Through 2023
Burleson’s own Kelly Clarkson will remain a fixture of your dentist’s waiting room for at least the next two years, with NBCUniversal granting a two-year renewal to her eponymous chat fest, The Kelly Clarkson Show. The daytime series currently airs in every market across the country, and it held onto its massive popularity this year by making the risky decision to keep churning out new episodes during the COVID shutdowns, with Clarkson filming remotely from quarantine in her Montana cabin. (It also probably didn’t hurt that her biggest competitor, Ellen DeGeneres, was revealed to be a sociopathic monster.) Since returning to her studio in the fall, Clarkson has kept the pandemic party going by bringing in a virtual audience, an innovation that gave us the eminently time capsule–worthy viral moment of a bunch of Zoomed-in living passport photos awkwardly couch-dancing to Vin Diesel’s new pop song. Hopefully by 2023, Clarkson will have long since welcomed real, flesh-and-blood fans back into her life, and Vin Diesel will have gotten all that music stuff out of his system.
It’s Over for the Lizzie McGuire Reboot
Like a precocious tween who blossoms into a confident adult, only to be told by a media corporation that she’s not allowed to have sex, it’s time for us to grow up and face sobering reality: that reboot of Lizzie McGuire just isn’t happening. Hilary Duff confirmed the news this week in a statement posted to Instagram, reiterating, “I want any reboot of Lizzie to be honest and authentic to who Lizzie would be today”—a stance that, as previously reported, runs counter to Disney’s belief that today’s Lizzie would absolutely be a thirty-year-old virgin, forever locked inside the chastity belt of her overalls. Disney was noticeably more sanguine in its own statement, saying only that it was holding off rebooting the show for now, perhaps until the Houston star is willing to play Lizzie as an authentic, seventy-year-old spinster.
Alan Tudyk Goes Extraterrestrial in Resident Alien Trailer
Plano’s own Alan Tudyk has long been a scene-stealer in everything from Firefly to Rogue One, but he’s finally landed his very own showcase with Syfy’s new Resident Alien. The new series, debuting January 27, finds Tudyk putting his oddball charms to work as an extraterrestrial who’s been tasked with annihilating the human race—albeit very slowly. Rather than just releasing a death ray or, say, mutant virus, Tudyk’s alien bides his time posing as a small-town doctor named Harry, who begins to question the ethics of his mission as he grows closer to his neighbors and becomes embroiled in solving a local murder. The recently released trailer suggests the show will be equal parts Starman, Twin Peaks, and one of those medical dramas about an off-putting, socially awkward genius that everyone just puts up with. And given that it’s on Syfy, it’s likely destined to run for four seasons, minimum. Well-deserved congrats, Alan Tudyk!
Did Post Malone Get a New Tattoo?
He did not—and as if to hammer home just how dry the well has been on Post Malone tattoo news, the Grapevine rapper’s newest interview with Jimmy Kimmel was all about the tattoo he got way back in September, when we were so flush with updates about Post Malone ink that it seemed like a perfectly reasonable, if fitfully amusing, idea to dedicate weekly column space to tracking it. Anyway, Malone revealed that he got that now infamous tattoo at the dentist’s office, because “I’m gonna be sitting around for hours doing nothing anyways, why not get two bad things out of the way at the same time?” We also now know that the tattoo was of a “skeleton in metal armor.” Cool. Great. Both of us will always have that, I guess.
In the meantime, Malone took part in a different kind of questionable body modification recently, with his latest model of Crocs selling out in record time to people who couldn’t wait to wear those, apparently, while also generously donating a pair of his signature black and hot pink clogs to every student at his Grapevine High School alma mater. Malone’s charitable if dubious deeds will continue well into the new year, as he’s now set to headline the Bud Light New Year’s Eve livestream for other housebound revelers, before he heads into top billing on 2021’s Lollapalooza Stockholm in July alongside Pearl Jam, Kendrick Lamar, and Kacey Musgraves. It’s an optimistic booking that offers either a glimmer of hope for live music’s return or a grave miscalculation on the overall effectiveness of vaccines—but unlike certain markings Post Malone seems to have given up on lately, they can always just change it later.
This Week in Matthew McConaughey
It’s been a rocky couple of weeks for Matthew McConaughey and his burgeoning political career, as the future governor continued to stump for his centrist utopia by repeating some talking points of the far right, far right, far right. The controversy began with McConaughey’s recent appearance on Russell Brand’s podcast, where the two decried the condescending, patronizing attitudes of Hollywood liberals and other members of the “far left.” It then continued with McConaughey’s interview on Good Morning Britain, where the actor doubled down on his criticisms of all the “illiberals” and the “cancel culture” he believes are making it impossible for America to find the kind of common ground he’s positive still exists. Of course, McConaughey didn’t hold back on rebuking the “extreme right” either: he asserted that they were just as guilty of disregarding everyone they don’t agree with, while also remaining “in denial” about the presidential election. Still, as you might expect, there was really only one side celebrating his comments—and it wasn’t because they promoted a rational detente based in mutual respect. Fortunately for McConaughey, it was the side that would be most likely to elect him to anything in Texas.
Perhaps just to keep his timeline moving right along, this week McConaughey pivoted into something that everyone can get behind, regardless of politics: doing an impression of Matthew McConaughey. Last week, the actor turned author challenged fans to do a reading from his memoir, Greenlights, in that imitable McConaughey style. He then began sharing his favorites, interspersed with videos of his own impersonation of Matthew McConaughey laughing genuinely.
— Matthew McConaughey (@McConaughey) December 16, 2020
Some of those mock Conaugheys were, obviously, better than others. But as we close out this column—arguably our most significant assemblage yet of weeks measured in Matthew McConaughey—the cumulative effect was one of that elusive unity he’s long been preaching. Within the numbing din of 2020, somehow it’s been Matthew McConaughey’s stoned rambling that’s cut through with the most clarity. It’s only fitting we end the year all speaking it together.