Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Premiering January 17, 1981, on NBC, the hour-long crime drama Walking Tall was based on a extremely popular series of theatrical features -- which in turn, were inspired by the real-life exploits of relentless Tennessee sheriff Buford Pusser (Pusser's story also served as the basis of a 1978 TV movie, A Real American Hero). Dedicated to smashing the political corruption all around him, Pusser was not averse to driving his points home with brute force, usually with the home-made club that he wielded at every opportunity. Naturally, the local bad guys did everything they could to put Pusser out of the way, including a number of assassination attempts -- one of which had claimed the life of the sheriff's wife, making his crusade against crime personal as well as professional. Starring as the TV version of Buford Pusser -- here in charge of McNairy County, TN -- was Bo Svenson, who had previously played the role in two of the three theatrical films, succeeding the original Walking Tall's star Joe Don Baker (the real Pusser had died in a highly suspicious car crash just before he was to star in one of the films himself). Others in the cast included Walter Barnes as Buford's dad Carl Pusser, Rad Daly and Heather McAdam as the sheriff's children Mike and Dwana, and Harold Sylvester, Jeff Lester, and Courtney Pledger as loyal deputies Aaron Fairfax, Grady Spooner, and Joan Lytton. Ultra-violent even by the standards of its era, Walking Tall remained on NBC's nighttime docket until June 6, 1981.