TV classics: Ironside

USA 1967-75, 8 seasons,  199 episodes, approximately 45 minutes each, NBC, color. Created by: Collier Young, Theme music composer: Quincy Jones. Cast: Raymond Burr, Don Galloway, Don Mitchell, Barbara Anderson, Elizabeth Baur

Plot summary: Former San Francisco PD chief Robert T. Ironside solves crimes with a little help from his expert team.

Review: Raymond Burr had just left the air as Perry Mason after nine full years in 1966 when he returned to the small screen for another multi-season run of a new hit show called Ironside only one year later. Although fighting for justice once again, the character of his new show was distinctly different from his previous courtroom drama success. Not only did he play former police chief Robert T. Ironside who solves his crimes from a wheelchair after a failed attack on his life, he was also now based in San Francisco and surrounded by a team of young supporting actors.

During its eight season run, Ironside kept the same kind of storylines of murder and mayhem but also featured some background information and stories about the main character and his team of experts. Barbara Anderson left the series after four seasons and was replaced by an equally convincing Elizabeth Baur for the remainder of the show. The rest of the cast stayed on for as long as NBC kept the show on the air. The cancellation of Ironside in 1975 was rather abrupt and an answer to dropping ratings. In 1993 however, the Ironside reunion movie was well received by the audience and graced with the complete set of stars from the original show.

Back in the 1960s and 70s, Ironside managed to attract a large number of popular names and faces to guest star in individual episodes of the police drama. The sample episode I’ve chosen to include in this post featured Roddy McDowell for example and also reunited Raymond Burr with his Perry Mason co-star Barbara Hale.

All in all, Ironside was a good show with a cast of excellent actors, guest stars and scripts. It is still highly entertaining, smart and funny at the oddest of times. Robert T. Ironside was a brilliantly gruff character who gave Raymond Burr another chance at TV stardom which only added to his popularity. Today, he is still dearly remembered for his body of work and rightly so. Just have a look at this show and see if you agree.

Available on DVD and on Hulu. Sample episode “Murder Impromptu”, 1971