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If you’re old enough to remember the original Ironside, you’re out of the demo and NBC doesn’t care what you think anyway. However, you won’t be able to figure out why they remade it if you watch this remake.
If, on the other hand, you’ve never heard of Ironside and this version starring Blair Underwood is your first exposure, you also won’t be able to figure out why they remade it or, in this case, made it for any reason.
It’s just another detective show. And it’s not even a very good one.
Had they made it with an actor who was really paralyzed and used a wheelchair, sure, perhaps that would have upped the interest level. But if they used the same script, forget it. All this Ironside does is talk tough and spout exposition endlessly. Yak, yak, yak. There’s more talking and less action in Ironside than there is in The Newsroom.
Oh, and when there is action, it’s just ridiculous.
The pilot tries to do two things at once and trips over itself both times. First, it wants to tell you how Det. Robert Ironside ended up getting shot in the line of duty. But wait, he’s going to talk you to death about why it doesn’t really matter because he can still kick your ass, and he’s got no choice but to be in the chair, so there’s no time for feeling sorry about it. Then when they try to explain what happened, it seems confusing because it’s just too simple. Then you figure it out and realize, “Oh, that’s kinda lazy and isn’t very realistic.”
I’ve saved you a lot of time already.
But, as Ironside will tell you (and tell you, and tell you), let’s move on already, damn it, or I’ll punch you in the face because I’m a buff badass who can still do the job three times better than you and nail the ladies when I want to. Got it?
Sure. OK. (That’s the Ironside tone, throughout the entire pilot.)
Anyway, the premise is that Ironside sued the department and won a huge settlement, and part of that also included giving him his own office/building and a hand-picked team. When he says, “Let’s go out and do this,” they do it. Because they, too, are badasses. Like their boss. There’s Virgil (Pablo Schreiber), who’s your standard-issue detective until future episodes prove he isn’t; Holly (Spencer Grammer), your standard-issue hot detective with non-standard links to the mob, which really helps in finding bad guys; and Teddy (Neal Bledsoe), a rich former investment banker (hooray — not very standard!), which really comes in handy in the pilot. Ironside doesn’t really have a boss because he’s too badass to follow any rules (nor does his team), but ostensibly his boss is Capt. Ed Rollins (Kenneth Choi), whose main job is to scold Ironside for not playing by the book and then share a drink with him later while they both spout expository dialogue that explains what the episode didn’t actually show you. It’s a tell-you show, if you haven’t figured that out.
I’d like to tell you to watch this, but if the pilot, which they had ages to work on and make as great as, say, The Blacklist, comes out as weak, confusing and simpleminded as this, then episodes churned out at a faster pace could very well just be Underwood looking into the camera and narrating some clips to save time.
In short, just because you’ve got a remake on your hands or just because — for everybody who doesn’t even know it’s a remake — you’ve got a guy in a wheelchair, doesn’t mean you have an actual hook. All you’ve got, when you add up the parts of Ironside, is one very average detective series. You can find that on any channel. Nothing unique there. Or here.
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