Don’t presume that I was in any way surprised by the news that NBC-TV has cancelled Ironside, Blair Underwood’s sorta/kinda remake of Raymond Burr’s classic series of that same name.
I wanted to like this new show--really, I did--but right away it turned me off. Underwood can be an excellent performer; however, he was definitely not Robert T. Ironside, at least not the perspicacious, sniper-damaged, and chili-loving former chief of detectives remembered fondly by viewers of the 1967-1975 series. He came off as too tough, too violent--nothing like the foul-mouthed, yet compassionate character Burr offered to viewers. (That’s one of the principal risks of trying to remake a familiar program: Producers want very much to capitalize on the original, but any “new” show is inevitably compared with--and commonly suffers by contrast with--whatever it’s trying to imitate.) Another strike against this reboot was the decision to move the action from San
Francisco to New York City. Why bother? And the small team of plainclothes cops Underwood’s Ironside assembled never seemed very interesting or cohesive. The whole cast appeared to be going through the motions of making a gritty cop series, without actually delivering anything out of the ordinary.
The fourth and final episode of NBC’s second shot at Ironside will air this coming Wednesday, October 23, at 10 p.m. ET/PT. (A fifth installment
has evidently been made, but there is no word of whether it will ever be broadcast.) Hmm. Four episodes? That’s only 194 fewer than were produced of Burr’s original crime drama.