The CW’s latest stars Olivia Liang as a Shaolin-trained woman who returns to San Francisco after three years in China only to discover a triad menacing her family.
As near-trends go, The CW’s devious recent pattern of using macho “dad” brands as a Trojan horse for heartwarming family dramas is one I’m partial to. Like Walker, the network’s Kung Fu has its own share of problems. But the inevitability that fans of the ’70s show of the same title checking out this semi-remake will freak out and then tune out is absolutely a feature and not a bug.
While Kung Fu and Walker have a lot in common — namely, they both do some things well, just not the things most associated with their respective brands — Kung Fu has an added asset of timeliness. In a moment of rising hate crimes against Asian Americans, this is a show with a breadth of representation that feels astonishing on broadcast television. Yes, that fact should embarrass the industry to no end. But Kung Fu definitely derives value from the ways it looks and feels different from any other show on TV, amid all the ways it still feels very similar.