Tonight NBC rolls out its very creaky reboot of Ironside, the 1967-75 NBC police drama that originally starred Emmy winner Raymond Burr as wheelchair-bound New York Police Detective Robert Ironside. It just may be the most baffling programming decision of the new fall season.
It’s been nearly 40 years since the original ended its run. That’s roughly two generations in TV audience terms and I doubt there has been any great groundswell of grassroots support for revisiting what always was a fairly unremarkable cop drama.
This new remake is far worse, a cliché-filled hour packed with stock characters and hammy acting. The usually reliable Blair Underwood takes the Burr role, which has been refashioned into a Serpico-like cop who isn’t afraid to break some rules to get the job done. I threw up in my mouth a little as I typed those last words, but sadly, they’re accurate.
Ironside has been confined to a wheelchair since he was nearly killed in a bust that went horribly wrong, an accident for which his former partner, Gary (Brent Sexton, The Killing), blames himself. Their now-tense relationship is the most interesting thing about tonight’s premiere, at least until it takes a turn for the weepy in the final moments of the episode.
Elsewhere, this “new” Ironside piles one trite police-show convention on top of another so relentlessly that you’ll get a headache from rolling your eyes so often. For the record, Ironside’s quirky team includes Pablo Schreiber, recently seen terrorizing Mariska Hargitay on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and sexually harassing the inmates as Pornstache in the awesome Netflix prison drama Orange Is the New Black; Neal Bledsoe, who played Tom’s closeted Republican boyfriend in season one of Smash; and the usually charming Greek alumna Spencer Grammer, who just looks lost here.
Frankly, I don’t know how anyone could get lost in this show, because there’s not a moment anywhere that doesn’t seem painfully familiar.