Ironside (TV series)
|Created by||Collier Young|
|Theme music composer||Quincy Jones|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||8|
|No. of episodes||199 (List of episodes)|
|Running time||60 to 90 minutes|
|Original run||September 14, 1967 – January 16, 1975|
Ironside is a Universal television series that ran on NBC from September 14, 1967 to January 16, 1975. The show stars Raymond Burr as a paralyzed Chief of Detectives, Robert T. Ironside. The character debuted on March 28, 1967 in a TV-movie. When broadcast in the United Kingdom the show was initially titled A Man Called Ironside. The show earned Burr six Emmy and two Golden Globe nominations.
The show revolved around former San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) Chief of Detectives Robert T. Ironside (Raymond Burr), a veteran of more than twenty years of police service who was forced to retire from the department after a sniper's bullet paralyzed him from the waist down, confining him to a wheelchair. In the pilot episode, Ironside shows his strength of character and gets himself appointed a "special department consultant" by his good friend, Police Commissioner Dennis Randall. He does this by calling a press conference and then tricking Commissioner Randall into meeting his terms. Ironside uses an attic floor room (for living and office space) at the SFPD headquarters and made use of a specially modified and equipped Ford police truck. This is replaced in the episode titled "Poole's Paradise" after the truck is destroyed by Sergeant Brown as part of a way to frame a corrupt sheriff. At the end of the episode, the truck is replaced by a modified day van to accommodate Ironside's wheelchair. In the pilot he requests that Ed Brown and Eve Whitfield be assigned to him. He later recruits the angst-filled African-American ex-con Mark Sanger to be his personal assistant after Mark is brought in as a suspect who wanted to kill Ironside. The show became a success as Ironside depended on brains and initiative in handling cases.
Supporting characters on Ironside included Det. Sgt. Ed Brown (Don Galloway), and a young socialite-turned-plainclothes officer, Eve Whitfield (Barbara Anderson). (Eve's clothes were far from plain as she often changed stylish outfits from scene to scene.) There was also delinquent-turned-bodyguard/assistant Mark Sanger (Don Mitchell), who also opted to become a police officer and subsequently graduated from law school (night classes were mentioned from early on) and even married late in the run of the series. Commissioner Randall was played by Gene Lyons.
By the show's fourth season, Anderson left the show over a contract dispute (at the same time she was getting married) and was replaced by another young policewoman, Fran Belding (Elizabeth Baur), who filled much the same role for four more years.
The show enjoyed an eight-season run on NBC, drawing respectable, if not always high, ratings. As the eighth season began, Universal released a syndicated rerun package of episodes from earlier seasons under the title The Raymond Burr Show, reflecting the practice of that time to differentiate original network episodes from syndicated reruns whenever possible. Upon NBC's mid-season cancellation, however, the syndicated episodes reverted to the Ironside title.
Production notes 
The show was filmed in a mixture of locations, sometimes out in San Francisco but also with a large number of scenes filmed inside a studio including scenes involving conversations inside a moving vehicle where a traffic backdrop is used. The shows were also padded out with large amounts of stock footage over San Francisco, normally featuring panning shots of Coit Tower or regular clips of general traffic scenes.
The continuity on these shots is sometimes poor with repeated use of particular clips and details being missed. In several early episodes Sergeant Brown drives a black Ford sedan which is normally a 1965 Ford Fairlane but the next clip shows him turning up in a 1968 Ford Torino sedan.
Crossover with The Bold Ones: The New Doctors 
During its sixth season, Ironside did a two-part crossover episode entitled "Five Days in the Death of Sergeant Ed Brown" where Ed is critically injured by a sniper and is treated by Dr. David Craig and his medical staff.
A roster of guest stars 
One of the longer-running police dramas of the day, the series featured appearances by a number of actors, familiar and unfamiliar, among whom were E. G. Marshall, Harrison Ford, Paul Winfield, Harold Gould, James Farentino, Robert Reed, Bill Bixby, David Cassidy, Rod Serling, Edward Asner, Eddie Garrett, Darwin Joston, John Rubinstein, Jack Lord, Scott Marlowe, Norman Fell, Jodie Foster, Gavin MacLeod, Burgess Meredith, Bruce Lee and Ellen Corby (Grandma Walton of TV fame).
1971's fall TV season on NBC opened with a two-hour crossover between Ironside and a new series, Sarge starring George Kennedy as a cop-turned-priest. Kennedy's San Diego-based Father Samuel Cavanaugh came to San Francisco because of the death of a friend and fellow priest, and his investigation got him embroiled with Ironside and his staff. The special consolidated the two shows' consecutive time slots, and has been subsequently seen as a TV-movie, The Priest Killer.
Jessica Walter guest starred in a spin-off episode for the series Amy Prentiss which aired as part of the NBC Mystery Movie from 1974-1975. She played a relatively young investigator who becomes Chief of Detectives for the San Francisco Police Department. Helen Hunt, in an early role, played Prentiss' pre-teen daughter, Jill. Four 2-hour episodes were aired.
The opening theme music was written by Quincy Jones and was the first synthesizer-based television theme song, though in 1971, Jones recorded a fuller four-minute band version for the album Smackwater Jack. Much of the music score for the first few seasons of Ironside was by Oliver Nelson.
TV reunion movie 
Burr and the main cast reunited for a made-for-TV movie in 1993 which aired not long before Burr's death. Burr was starring in a series of Perry Mason TV movies at the time. In order to make himself look less like the other character, he dyed his hair and modified his full beard to a goatee for the Ironside movie. Unlike the original series, which took place in San Francisco, California, the reunion took place in Denver, Colorado (with the excuse that Ed Brown had become the city's deputy chief of police and is a leading candidate to be appointed chief), which was also where most of the Perry Mason TV movies were produced. Galloway, Mitchell, Anderson and Baur re-created their roles for the movie even though Anderson and Baur had not worked on the original series at the same time.
An episode of Get Smart which aired in March, 1969 was titled "Leadside" and featured a wheelchair-using master criminal by that name (and his assistants). Leadside could not walk; however he was able to run. Another episode was called "Ironhand" which had a KAOS operative with a hand encased in metal.
The December 1970 issue of Mad magazine included a parody of Ironside titled "Ironride".
Cultural references 
Tom T. Hall's country music classic "Old Dogs and Children and Watermelon Wine," about a nostalgic conversation in an almost deserted barroom, mentions the bartender passing the time by watching Ironside on television, although the song refers to it as "Ironsides."
In British sitcom Phoenix Nights, Alan Johnson (one half of the resident musicians at the club) has wheelchair-bound club owner Brian Potter saved into his mobile phone as 'Ironside'. This is made clear in the 1st episode of the 2nd series which shows a close-up of Alan's phone ringing.
In the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation season 2 episode "Stalker", Nick Stokes is thrown out a window during an investigation. At the hospital, he is in a wheelchair and co-worker Warrick Brown refers to him as "Ironsides".
In House, the lead character is called Ironside by Dr. Wilson while attempting to prove that wheelchair users are better off than cane users.
In the 4th season of the series "Breaking Bad", the character Hank suffers from a spinal bullet wound that prevents him from walking. When asked to go back on the case he was working on before he was shot, he replies, "What am I, Ironside?"
DVD releases 
Shout! Factory has released the first 4 seasons of Ironside on DVD in Region 1.
In Region 4, Madman Entertainment has released all eight seasons on DVD. The eighth and final season, which included the 1993 TV reunion movie The Return of Ironside, was released on October 19, 2011.
Season 5 includes the two-part crossover episode "The Priest Killer", a crossover with the series Sarge, which was never aired as part of the series.
|DVD Name||Ep#||Release dates|
|Region 1||Region 4|
|Season 1||29 (includes 1967 pilot movie)||April 24, 2007||August 16, 2007|
|Season 2||26||October 16, 2007||November 8, 2007|
|Season 3||26||January 19, 2010♦||September 16, 2008|
|Season 4||26||October 19, 2010♦||June 24, 2009|
|Season 5||25||TBA||May 19, 2010|
|Season 6||24||N/A||August 11, 2010|
|Season 7||25||N/A||February 2, 2011|
|Season 8||20||N/A||October 19, 2011|
♦ - Shout! Factory select title, sold exclusively through Shout's online store
See also 
- Hilton San Francisco Financial District – this hotel is on the site where Ironside's office was located (old San Francisco Hall of Justice Building)