“Buck Tales: Why I Revisited a Failed Novel and Gave It an Academic, Navel-Gazing Reboot”

Perhaps I’m in the minority here, but I don’t think “Walker, Texas Ranger” needs a reboot, much less an origin story. And yet we now have one, starring former “Supernatural” and “Gilmore Girls” star Jared Padalecki as the titular Lone Star lawman. 

Now, I don’t think anyone was actually clamoring for Walker’s return. The Grunge-era, Chuck Norris-led, cops-and-stretch-denim kung fu Western isn’t actually a high-value IP with a diehard group of fans penning slash fiction and secretly sharing their dirty little fantasies with their fellow devotees. 

We’re not talking about “Star Trek” here. Or Bond. Or “Dr. Who.” Or “Spider-Man.” Properties with long-running multi-generational appeal. We’re talking about Billy Bob Walker, a character that is so far removed from the pantheon of great pop culture heroes that you don’t even know if Billy Bob is actually his first name. I don’t. It could be, but no one knows enough about “Walker, Texas Ranger” to say otherwise.

The point is, somebody thought enough of Walker to bring him back. More importantly, they thought enough people would be interested to see this all-but-forgotten Texas Ranger back on the screen alongside his crime partners Dr. Quinn and, um, Manimal, every Friday night on CBS.

Again, Dr. Quinn could be there, although I admit Manimal is a bit of a stretch. Then again, I’m guessing that Manimal’s name actually isn’t Manimal. That’s silly. It’d be like saying the main character of “Walker, Texas Ranger” is called Walker Texas Ranger. Or Trapper John, MD. Or Spacehunter Adventures in the Forbidden Zone. That last one is a bit of a mouthful, but it’s equally as plausible as the name of a main character on a show nobody really remembers. You know, “Wallace, Texas Strangler.” 

Oddly enough, this whole thing has gotten me feeling inspired. So, ladies and gentlemen, I’ve decided to attempt a reboot of my own by revisiting a novel I worked on from 2008-2010. 

It’s name: “Tombstoned.”

It’s plot: A talking terrier is hired by a tech magnet to locate the last book in the world. On the way, Terry the Terrier fights flesh-eating foodies, journeys to the mythical Snerf village, and faces off against Dr. Victor Van Damme’s army of robots.

OK, I’m not being entirely honest here. I mean, that’s the plot of “Tombstoned.” It’s just that none of that stuff really happens, how do I say it, on-screen. Most of the action involves more mundane concerns: sentient Fisher-Price toys, murderous coffee makers, and tinnitus, which in the world of “Tombstoned” is actually a condition involving the inability to get the theme to “Star Cars” out of your head. 

To make matters even worse as a marketable work of contemporary fiction, the book’s chief protagonist, Terry the Terrier, is a bit player in his own story. The real star of “Tombstoned” is Buck Sparkman, and, well, Buck doesn’t do much more than look at his own phone, text his wife, and rewrite history. On second thought, that’s kinda significant. 

See Buck’s a cravedigger, a kind of reality-reshaping wizard who is hired to put down the out-of-control storylines and tired stock characters that are running amok all over the world. 

Superheroes. Hobbits. Marauding anime monsters. And swashbuckling outer-space drug smugglers. You know, like Han Job, the dashing driver of the Millennium Impala and the star of, um, “Star Cars,” and it’s seemingly never-ending series of sequels, prequels, and premature intermissions.

Not that I don’t enjoy superheroes, hobbits, anime monsters, and “Star Cars.” I do. Or I did. Or, you know, sometimes I still do. But it’s all a bit much. 

“Tombstoned” was a response to that.

But there was a problem. It wasn’t very good. The book that is.

Parts were clever, witty, and really on-point. Heck, sometimes I even laughed out loud. But again, it didn’t work.

And so, I got the idea to revisit this failed book, but I decided to go about it in a round-about way: 1. I’d let my alter-ego Wyatt Duvall take the blame — it’s his book, his mistake. Bastard. 2. I’d write a series of academic papers about Mr. Duvall’s failed second novel. (What the first one is, I’m not quite sure. In fact, I’m not sure where Wyatt found the time to write, given his propensity to orchestrate mass hoaxes and all that. But somehow he did. And I applaud him for it.) 

So what you have here is my first stab at what I guess is a reboot. It’s not entirely accurate, but it’ll do. 

I don’t know if this go-round will be any better. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. Either way, it doesn’t matter. But, you know, somebody had to say something about “Star Cars.” And if not Buck Sparkman, then I don’t know who? Billy Bob Walker?

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