First Watch: Ironside – “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1)

In an unexpected turn of events, Hulu managed to get early access to the pilot of the upcoming NBC series,  Ironside (a remake of the 1960s series of the same name). The series follows the wheelchair-bound, rough-around-the-edges detective, Robert Ironside (Blair Underwood) as he challenges society’s preconceptions about the capabilities of people in wheelchairs. While I have never seen the original series, I have done a bit of research to get an idea of what to expect from the remake. The series is a police procedural, so I wouldn’t expect to be traversing any new territory in the episode-to-episode storylines. For that reason, I’ll be skipping over the case they solve during the pilot and stick to what is revealed about the characters of the show during the pilot — since they will probably be the reason you tune in for the show, if you do.

So, let’s talk about the characters of Ironside.

The cast of Ironside.

Ironside (Blair Underwood) and the rest of the cast.

At the show’s heart, we have Robert Ironside. As mentioned in the pre-break blurb, Ironside is a detective who is now wheelchair-bound after taking a bullet in the line of duty. Ironside is a tough, no-nonsense kind of cop who is shown in the opening scenes (and a flashback) to be no stranger to breaking the rules — he leans more towards tenacious than crooked, though. In flashbacks, we see that prior to his injury, Ironside was a hot-headed detective who was quick to apply brute force to solve his crimes. That seems to have changed, though. Today’s Ironside is (for the most part) more calm and collected than before; willing to take a moment to think things through before he beats an answer out of his suspects.

Prior to being paralyzed, Ironside was partnered with a detective named Gary Stanton (Brent Sexton). Most of Stanton’s scenes in the pilot come from Ironside’s flashbacks, but he does make an appearance in the present — though, he is nothing like the man he used to be. The Stanton of today is in ruins as he has been drowning himself in alcohol and guilt since Ironside’s accident. We find out near the end of the pilot that there is a good reason for that: he was the one who shot and paralyzed Ironside. A comment in Stanton’s final scene of the pilot leads me to believe that he might have a troubled past. We’ll have to see how that unfolds later on down the road.

In the little (read: Wikipedia) research I did about the original series, I found that the people who worked with old-school Ironside all seemed to carry some sort of criminal baggage with them before joining the police force. While it isn’t certain yet if the remake Ironside will be the same, it definitely seems to be leaning in that direction.

Ironside’s new pals are:

  • Holly (Spencer Grammer) is the only female to work under Ironside and seems to be the closest to a second-in-command in the group. Holly has quite a few scenes with Ironside during the pilot and seems to enjoy working for him — she makes a few comments that show she has concern for Ironside’s well-being during a particularly stressful hockey practice. Holly makes use of a contact involved in an escort (maybe flat-out prostitution?) ring to help out with the case in the pilot. If 2013 Ironside is going the way of 1967 Ironside, it is likely that she used to be an escort/prostitute before coming to work for the police.
  • Virgil (Pablo Schreiber) is the one I gathered the least bit of information about, but will probably end up being my favorite of the bunch (due to my love for The Wire and its actors). Virgil is the first member of Team Ironside that we’re introduced to as he helps Ironside solve a case about a missing girl in the opening scene.
  • Teddy (Neal Bledsoe) is the other guy. We learn through a few conversations that Teddy was an accountant prior to joining the force. But, I would be shocked if his accounting experience didn’t come from a criminal enterprise.

Ironside doesn’t really explore any new territory (it is a remake, after all), but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I would recommend the series to you if you’re interested in any of the actors because when you’re dealing with a basic police procedural, that’s really going to be what makes the difference. Sometimes you watch a show because of the cast, not because it is pushing the boundaries. As someone who has recently become very impressed with Pablo Schreiber’s range (as seen across The Wire, Person of Interest and most recently, Law and Order: SVU), I’m pretty sure I’ll be sticking around for the show’s first season.

  • Rating: “I’ll be sticking around.”
  • Comment: Ironside is a police procedural about a police detective in a wheelchair who wants to prove that it doesn’t matter he is in a wheelchair.  
  • You might like Ironside if you like: police procedurals, crime dramas, character-driven television, cops who aren’t afraid to break the rules, any of the actors

Ironside premieres October 2nd on NBC at 10 PM PST.

About Daniel

I'm a guy who spends way too much time playing board games and watching television with his friends. View all posts by Daniel

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