Ironside – New Series on NBC-TV


I was going to start this review of the new NBC-TV Series, Ironside, with an obvious comment – like Ironside rolled in, but the LA Times already used that as their review’s headline. So I’ll just go with, Ironside is a clunker.

According to Entertainment Weekly (EW), this show has the dubious distinction of having the lowest viewer rating for a Fall premiere than any other show in NBC’s history. Of course we all know that TV ratings measure viewers not quality. But still – this isn’t what they wanted or hoped for.

Personally, my take is that it wasn’t horrible. I’ll probably even watch a few more episodes. But there’s nothing new here. Yes, there is something different as Blair Underwood and Raymond Burr, the original Robert Ironside, are nothing alike.

Underwood is yet another cop who steps over the rules and doesn’t suffer any consequences. He has a commanding officer played by Ken Choi, but he’s just there to wring his hands, and issue warnings.

The fact of his being in a wheelchair is because he was shot in pursuit of a felon. He’s limited in what he can do, but he’s managed to hold onto a few things – his anger, his brains, and his ability to irritate and annoy his staff.

This week’s case was about a beautiful young woman who was seemingly on the fast track at one of those boutique investment advisers. Only when we meet her, she’s either jumped off a building or was thrown off her own balcony.

The director wildly overused the ‘shot from the heights looking down’. At least I thought so. We got this style shot four times in the first 17 minutes. And he’s not averse to showing a lot of blood either.

Her boss at Mullen Investments is Brian d’Arcy James as Bill Broughton. James was a recurring character in Smash Season One, and an after thought in Smash Season 2. Here, he shows all the signs of being guilty of something within the first 15 seconds after we’ve met him.

There’s another character who will telegraph some negative intentions as well. I’m talking Obvious here with a capital O. What I’m saying is that this show isn’t all that difficult.

Except for one thing – rather than just show us how good Underwood’s Ironside is at what he does, they batter us over the head with how good he is at what he does while in wheelchair.

Holly played by Spencer Grammer

Holly played by Spencer Grammer

Three women had key roles in this episode. One is Ironside’s top assistant Holly (Spencer Grammer – yes she is Kelsey‘s daughter). The second is the woman, Annie Ryan, who once upon a time was on a roof. She’s played by Holly Curran. The third was her sister Rachel Ryan played by Carrie Coon, who wants justice.

Then there were a few characters right out of Central Casting, or is it the Depository of Stock Characters – Criminal Division. We had a soft-spoken mob boss in a big limo, and a few Albanian tough guys who Annie was in bed with both literally and figuratively.

Summary: A police procedural with a case-of-the-week format. Yes, Blair Underwood, is tough, and smart, and even sexy – but I don’t see this as a prime time success. Everything is clearly too locked in. Ironside breaks a different rule each week, he already has girl friend so he won’t be paired off with Holly. His staff will all be stalwarts, and his boss will be ineffectual.

There’s just one character that has any potential for growth, and that would be Ironside’s former detective partner Gary Stanton played by Brent Sexton who appeared on The Killing. He was the guy who accidentally shot Ironside, and he’s still messed up about it. This character has room to grow (and heal spiritually).

Verdict: Roll right past this one.


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