TV Review: ‘Ironside’

Ironside (NBCUniversal)

Blair Underwood in a tired NBC retread of the old detective series? Let the bad times roll

Blair Underwood is an attractive, charismatic actor, but all that charm will be put to the test and then some by “Ironside,” another vintage revival that bears virtually no resemblance to the source — to the point where one has to ask, Why even bother with paying the royalty? Name recognition certainly doesn’t figure to give the show much of a lift among the under-50 crowd, and stripped of that, this by-the-numbers crime procedural never gets rolling. There’s a disability at work here, all right, but it has nothing to do with the show’s wheelchair-bound hero.

NBC has struck out before with recent revivals of “Knight Rider” and “The Bionic Woman,” but undaunted, the network has trotted out another artifact perhaps best remembered for the opening credits, when Raymond Burr’s detective Robert Ironside lights a cigarette, catches a bullet in the spine and emerges as a crime-solver forced to rely strictly on his wits — and others to do his leg work for him. Premiering in 1967, the show ran until the mid-1970s.

Here, Ironside’s paralysis is slowly (and not entirely) explained through a series of flashbacks involving his former partner (“The Killing’s” Brent Sexton), but we meet him as the head of a thoroughly nondescript hand-picked team of detectives, coercing information out of a perp. Despite being in the chair, Ironside’s arms work just fine, and he casually dismisses it when told “Suspects have rights,” a notion that carries about as much weight with the title character as it did with Dirty Harry.

The introductory crime involves a dead woman at an investment banking firm, but the particulars of the case are secondary, although the producers appear to feel compelled to churn out a straightforward procedural while trying to accomplish a lot of other business, such as introducing the characters.

That includes establishing Ironside as a ladies man as well as a maverick. Yet it’s all so tired and warmed over that the show feels like it’s stuck in a rut almost from the get-go, which doesn’t bode well for it either commercially or creatively.

“I’ve got a different view of the world from down here,” Ironside quips at one point, but in terms of TV’s indulgence in reboots, really it’s just the same old view. Either way, enter “Ironside” — and let the uninspired times roll.

TV Review: 'Ironside'

(Series; NBC, Wed. Oct. 2, 10 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in Los Angeles by Davis Entertainment and Yellow Brick Road Prods. in association with Universal Television.

Crew

Executive producers, Ken Sanzel, Teri Weinberg, John Davis, John Fox, Ron West, David Semel, Michael Caleo, Peter Horton; co-executive producers, Mick Betancourt, Judith McCreary, Robert Port; producers, Jim Chory, Blair Underwood; director, Horton; writer, Michael Caleo; camera, Joel Ransom; editor, Dan Zimmerman; casting, Mele Nagler, David Caparelliotis. 60 MIN.

Cast

Blair Underwood, Pablo Schreiber, Spencer Grammer, Neal Bledsoe, Brent Sexton, Kenneth Choi

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  1. Living the Geek Life says:

    None of the characters appealed to me, including the title character. The crime drama itself was average. And I found all the police officers seriously lacking in respect for the law, the people around them, and their coworkers. It’s definitely a pass for me.

  2. john doe says:

    THE BRILLIANT RAYMOND BURR MUST BE ROLLING OVER IN HIS GRAVE…OF ALL THE SERIES THAT COULD HAVE BEEN ORIGINALLY DEVELOPED, A RE-TREAD OF IRONSIDE…BUT, I DIDN’T SEE THE PILOT ON “HULU”…OH, BROTHER!…WHAT NEXT, BONANZA REVIVAL W/ AN ASIAN PA & BLACK L’IL JOE?…HOSS SAMOAN…UNDERWOOD’S BEST WORK WAS OPPOSITE ANOTHER TALENTLESS HAS-BEEN THESP, HEATHER LOCKLEAR IN LAX…ONE CAN ONLY PRAY UNI TV WILL BE AS COMPASSIONATE & AX IT AS QUICKLY…

  3. dreamgirl says:

    This was an excellent show and will definitely watch future episodes.

  4. wrenne says:

    I enjoyed the pilot, good mix of action, angst, humor etc. Plus I thought Ironside’s injury was explained without the need of a flashing neon sign – and the audience should have figured it out before the further scene with his ex-partner. Definitely looking forward to more episodes.

  5. Murrdawg says:

    Psyched to see this. Saw them filming right by my hood. Dudes got serious skills in that chair. Even saw him poppin some wheelies. Hell yeah Ironside! Get after it!

  6. Dawg says:

    Watched the pilot on Hulu. The action scenes were off the hook! And the NY Locations were amazing!

  7. 1favored says:

    Saw the pilot. Afraid it would be just a remake of the old but original, BUT it is really good. I am looking forward to watching it. I really don’t “see” Blair Underwood, I see IRONSIDE. I think it is Blair Underwood’s best work because I don’t think “Oh Blair Underwood was good” and I stopped comparing him to Raymond Burr after the first scene. It may be the same situation, but it is a different IRONSIDE. Congrats to all!!!

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