Mark finally graduates from law school. He takes an interest in a janitor from the school who finds himself in jail accused of grand theft. Meanwhile Ironside struggles with the reality that Mark may...
Sam McCloud is a Marshal from Taos, New Mexico, who takes a temporary assignment in the New York City Police Department. His keen sense of detail and detecting subtle clues, learned from his experience, enable him to nab unsuspecting criminals despite his unbelieving boss.
Ironside is confined to a wheel chair (an attempted assassination left him paralyzed). With his former assistants Brown and Whitfield (later Belding) and former delinquent (and later lawyer) Mark, he combats crime for the San Francisco police from his mobile office (a van) while leaving a pot of chili cooking back at headquarters. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
Steven Bochco, who would later became one of the most successful television producers of the 1980s and 1990s, worked on the series very early in his career. He had been hired by Executive Producer Frank Price at the start of the first season to write a few extra minutes worth of scenes in the first six episodes, which were too short. After looking at these episodes, Bochco asked Price if it was really necessary for him to do this for all six because he didn't think the show would last that long. According to Bochco, Price was not happy with the remark, and this was the start of a strained relationship between the two of them that continued when Price was in charge of Universal Television and Bochco was a writer there. See more »
Ironside's office/apartment was on the fourth floor of the Old San Francisco Hall of Justice. Stock footage of the building appeared on many episodes for the entire series run (1967-1974). The building itself was abandoned in 1961 and demolished in 1968. See more »
There are precious few actors who can create two successful television characters. More recent examples include Mary Tyler Moore (Mary Richards and Laura Petrie) and Bob Newhart (Bob Hartley and Dick Loudon). In 1966, Burr completed a nine-year run as the most recognizable attorney on television. In 1967, returning to television, his challenge was to create a new character that wouldn't stand in Perry Mason's shadow. The result was Ironside -- a rough, former chief of the San Francisco police forced to retire when an attempted assassination leaves him paralyzed. (The theme music is reprised in "Kill Bill Vol. 1", whenever the Bride flashes back on her paralyzing injuries.) Bob Ironside had none of Perry Mason's polish, frequently spoke without thinking, and enjoyed fast cars as much as he relished good police work. He was given a special task force that included a regular joe beat-cop, Ed Brown (even in the sixties, a more vanilla name was never given a character); a highbrow, educated female detective (Eve Whitfield); and a troubled black youth, Mark Sanger, who was to Ironside what Charlie Young is to President Bartlet on "The West Wing". Instead of the Los Angeles setting of Perry Mason, Ironside was in San Francisco. In addition, while Perry Mason kept the lights on at CBS for nearly a decade, Ironside was a steady performer for NBC for almost as long. The show was an instant critical and commercial success.
I think the reason Ironside is not as popular in reruns now as it was in the late 70s and early 80s is it will always be in the shadow of Mason, and that's a shame. The two shows are not the same, and there are many memorable episodes of Ironside. One in particular features Ironside isolated in his apartment, being stalked by a killer, that always reminded me of the climactic scene in "Rear Window" -- in which the killer was played by Raymond Burr! One of my favorite lines of dialogue, from the pilot, was his ribbing of his female detective: "By all means, ask Detective Whitfield. She's had the benefit of a classical education." That line -- which would never have passed Perry Mason's lips -- is a good sample of Ironside's tone through the series.
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