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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Walking Tall: Complete Series
Walking Tall: Complete Series
Sony Pictures // Unrated // March 7, 2006
List Price: $24.96 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted February 21, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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The Series:

Bo Svenson, recently seen in Kill Bill Part 2 picked up where the mighty Joe Don Baker left off by taking on the roll of one Sheriff Buford Hayes Pusser in Walking Tall II and Walking Tall III but he also took the character to the small screen for a short stint in 1981 for Walking Tall – The Series. Although there were only seven episodes in total, it was a fun, if formulaic, cop show that successfully fused Svenson's tough attitude with action packed scripts and unusual predicaments. You weren't necessarily going to see the realism of shows like Starsky & Hutch anywhere in sight, but you would likely get your weekly fix of a big dude hitting people with a 2x4, and sometimes that's enough.

Who was Buford Pusser? Well, he was a professional wrestler who, after having his fill of the sport of kinds, retired from the ring at the request of his wife. He and his family moved back to McNaire County in Tennessee where his father, Carl Pusser, took him on as a deputy. Eventually, Buford became Sheriff in his own right and he went on a one man crusade to clean up his town and get rid of the gambling and the whoring by using extreme force. Unfortunately, some of the criminals he was after fought back and his wife was killed by mobsters in 1967. Not only was Buford a big tough guy with a penchant for blunt objects but he was completely dedicated, sometimes maniacally so, to upholding the law and as such, he couldn't be bribed or bought off – or so the legends say. There are others who believe that Pusser was just as corrupt as those he fought against but for the sake of good television, let's just assume he was as the upstanding citizen and champion of justice that he was made out to be.

The real Buford Pusser died in a car wreck in 1974 outside of Memphis but his spirit lived on through the two films that were made after his death and the television series that has arrived on this two disc set.

Here's a quick run down of the seven episodes that made up the whole of the series, which ran from January 17, 1981 through to March 31, 1981.


The Killing Of McNeal County's Children: Angel dust use is on the rise in Buford's town and it looks like his own son Michael might be using the stuff himself. He and his team won't stand for that and, after a stoned kid tries to run him down with his car, Buford decides to take action against the dope peddlers.

The Protectors Of The People: Part of the problem with policing the south, evidently, is that you have to deal with the Klan! That's right, white supremacists have arrived in town and Buford's got to run those bigots out before they start making things even more difficult.

Kidnapped: A family of criminals have been making life difficult for Buford and company until the Sheriff brings in the father of the family and locks him up. What do they do in retaliation? They kidnap Carl and hold him for ransom in hopes that Buford will, in essence, agree to a hostage exchange.

Hitman: Buford normally has his finger on the pulse of the criminal activity that raises its ugly head in his town but this time he's thrown for a loop when a hitman shows up and starts working his trade. To make matters even stranger, Buford might have a personal connection to the man from his own past.


Company Town: Big Jim Clausen runs a mining town just outside the city limits where all of his employees live. Buford is called in when one of the miners mysteriously disappears, only to find out that the town's politics are a little wonky and they want their independence from the county that Buford represents.

Deadly Impact: Buford's rage finds a new target when an old friend of his and his girlfriend are killed while out on a fishing trip when they witness an environmental crime. The Sheriff and his crew are out for justice and they're going to bring these guys in at any cost.

The Fire Within: In the final episode of the series, a young Catholic priest gets himself into hot water when he refuses to tell the law about the confession he heard, in which he was filled in on the details of a local homicide case as it relates to a gun smuggling operation in the town.

Overall, the episodes are a lot of fun. Sure, they're dated and definitely a product of their times, and there are moments in the series where, much like the films, one could make the argument that they advocate police brutality but let's not go there and just enjoy the series for what it is – a fast paced cop show with plenty of action and some decent characters. Svenson is a likeable enough lead and he's got such an air of conviction on his face at certain points in the show that it's easy to get behind him when he heads out to save the day. While the rest of the characters are more or less disposable, including his three deputies, Joan Litton (Courtney Pledger), Aaron Fairfax (Harold Sylvester), and Grady Spooner (Jeff Lester) and his kids, Dwana (Heather McAdam) and Michael (Rad Daly), they were never really given much of a chance to develop into anything more as the series ended so soon after it began.

Some of the more 'family' moments, where Buford, with the help of his father Carl (played by spaghetti western regular, Walter Barnes), are trying their best to raise the kids since his wife was killed don't work so well in that the drama seems contrived and heavy handed but even with that strike against it the series works.



Each episode is shown in this set the same way that it was shown on broadcast television way back when – in glorious 1.33.1 fullframe. Overall quality of the image is pretty strong, but some of the colors look to have faded a bit and there is some mild print damage evident throughout here and there. Flesh tones look pretty clean and natural though, and the black levels remain pretty stable and solid throughout. Edge enhancement, while present, is hardly overpowering and there weren't any issues with mpeg compression that I could see.


The English language Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack is pretty clean without any noticeable hiss or distortion creeping into the mix at any given time. The odd scene sounds a little bit flat but overall this track takes care of business. The theme song in particular that starts off each episode on the set while the opening credits play through sounds quite good, as does a lot of the background music used throughout the episodes. Dialogue isn't ever hard to understand either, which is nice. The opening theme song sounds quite good on this set…"Walking Tallllll…. I've got evil on the run!"


Aside from a 'play all' option or the option to watch each episode on its own, this two disc set is completely barebones. There is an insert inside the keepcase that lists the episodes in the order that they appear, but that's all she wrote.

Final Thoughts:

While Bo Svenson is no Joe Don Baker (let's face it… there can be only one!), he's a pretty solid lead in this series that didn't last nearly as long as it should have. Plenty of action and some decent storylines make Walking Tall – The Complete Series a recommended purchase for fans of seventies/early eighties cop TV shows, despite the fact that it's barebones.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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