Written by Scott Clifford
This is it. This is happening a lot earlier than I expected. This is the part where I explain to our readers that I am a physically disabled man who is confined to a wheelchair.
Watching the commercials of NBC’s remake of an old show that my generation never heard of gives me a sense of intrigue and vomit-inducing sickness. It’s nice to see a character that is physically disabled on a mainstream television show even if the actor who plays him isn’t actually disabled but anything NBC advertises on their channel seems awful almost by design. I suppose that this should lead to a nuanced debate of whether or not disabled characters should only be played by disabled actors. Luckily for me I don’t feel the need to take part in that debate right now. Why is that? Well it’s because the series premiere of Ironside is bad. It’s really, really bad.
Ironside is a show about a New York City detective named Robert Ironside (Blair Underwood) who is paralyzed from the waist down after being shot in the line of duty. He continues his job as a detective by leading a team of handpicked officers that help him solve crimes. They are Virgil (Pablo Schrieber), Holly (Spencer Grammar), and Teddy (Neal Bledsoe). I don’t know if they’re interesting because the pilot barely goes into their backstories and relationships with each other. Virgil seems like a family man who suffers from the “Do as I say, not as I do” syndrome when raising children. Holly is the feisty, blonde detective of the group. Her Dad looks and acts like a fat, sleazy mobster so she has criminal connections. This could be interesting but only about twenty seconds is devoted to it so I’m not confident about it. Finally, Teddy is the guy with a rich family who rebelled by being a cop for unknown reasons so far. He’s got some charisma but they don’t show us anything else. Wait, I almost forgot. Ironside’s boss is Captain Ed Rollins (Kenneth Choi). The police chief who constantly shakes his head while telling Ironside that he’s going too far but lets him get away with it since he always turns out to be right. Wait, I almost forgot someone else. Gary Stanton (Brent Sexton), Ironside’s former partner. Phew, that’s a lot of characters who are given minimal screen time to develop.
The pilot episode intercuts between a suicide case that Ironside thinks is actually murder with flashbacks showing how Ironside became paralyzed in the first place. The flashbacks are done well and the twist involving his partner is actually really interesting. Unfortunately, the case of the week plot is riddled with clichés. One of the worst moments is when Ironside finds a gun underneath a pillow on the couch because he “has a different view from down here”. Yes, being in a wheelchair gives you a different perspective in life but that doesn’t mean that a normal cop who can walk can’t look underneath couch pillows for terribly hidden weapons.
It’s moments like these that make any viewer realize that the hook of a detective in a wheelchair in this show is just a lazy way to cram every cop procedural cliché in the book instead of breaking new ground. It’s honestly fairly insulting.
How does he get on the rooftop that clearly has no elevator access in one scene? Doesn’t matter, he’s a renegade cop who doesn’t play by the rules. Why does he risk the life of a hostage even though he reveals that he knew the victim really killed herself in the beginning of the episode? Doesn’t matter he’s a renegade cop who’s in a wheelchair. How does he get a cute Asian girl into his apartment even though we only see a huge flight of stairs to get in there. Doesn’t matter, he’s a renegade cop.
This show is terrible. The next episode better almost feel like a new pilot that is a lot better. Otherwise it will be given a merciful death.