Fall 2013 Review: Ironside

18 Oct

Bob Ironside Robert Ironside is a detective who life was dramatically altered after he was accidentally shot by his partner a couple of years before the show takes place.  He was paralyzed and now resides in a wheelchair. He also runs a special squad of hand-picked detectives who take on select cases.  Somehow through a lawsuit Ironside got the right to choose this detective squad, and this is mentioned but not really explained as well as which cases he gets, though it’s not particularly important.

Ironside is a remake of a ‘60s show starring Raymond Burr, with a similar premise, and I do want to at least mention how ridiculous it is that a guy in a wheelchair just happens to have the name ironside.  I thought it was a nickname at first, but it’s not. Whoever thought that up must have thought they were really clever. Ironside, as you might imagine, in an unconventional cop who plays by his own rules.  He doesn’t believe in the ordinary rules that govern most detectives. He’s learned a lot from having to deal with being stuck in his chair. I wish I had kept track of how many times he talks about how he sees life differently from his new vantage point, but it was several, both figuratively and literally. The most blatant example is when his superior asks him how he sees a gun hiding under a pillow, and Ironside answers, “I got a different view of the world from down here” in the most literal sense possible, and it felt like his boss only asked the question so Ironside could deliver that answer. (I vastly wish he had instead said something like, “My line of sight is significantly lower because I’m sitting in a wheelchair,.”).

Ironside frustrates his immediate superior by constantly refusing to follow rules, which seems like it should be a bigger deal than Ironside makes it out to be.  In the first scene, he blatantly disregards procedure to try to persuade a suspected perpetrator to reveal the location of a little girl he thinks the perpetrator kidnapped. When his by-the-book superior reams him out for basically destroying any legal case they’d have against the offender by not reading him his Miranda rights correctly, Ironside points to the fact that his methods worked, but that misses the point completely. It’s a seriously disturbing attitude to have that a positive result justifies a corrupt process. Ironside as a show or a policeman is not particularly concerned with the profits. In the eyes of the show, what he does is a cool, badass thing to do to a terrible a criminal who shouldn’t have any rights anyway, and if there was any question at all, they were answered when Ironside turned out to be right. Ethiical and moral questions are far outside of Ironside’s purview.

After all, he’s not the same cop he was before the injury,  As mentioned, he sees things different now physically and metaphorically and isn’t particularly worried about treading on either criminals or his superiors in his pursuit of doing things his way, which is the right way. There are many shots of Ironside thinking, either as he sifts through evidence or while he’s at home just sorting the entire case out in his head. He comes up with intuitions and forces his team to think differently, outside of the box. They’re his proteges, and while he frustrates them with his attitude on occasion, they all seem to realize they’re working with a special unorthodox mind from whom they can learn.

Part of the episode deals with the sad state that Ironside’s old partner has fallen into, full of grief due to his accidentally shooting of Ironside.  Ironside is handling it a lot better and is frustrated with his ex-partner’s inability to deal, even though Ironside was the one who got shot. I’m not really sure where this plotline fits in the show. It seems like an attempt to imbue Ironside with more emotion than is present in a typical police procedural. It just feels off and out of place though. Toward the end of the episode is a scene of his former partner attending an AA meeting, where Ironside watches from afar briefly, before rolling away. There’s supposed to be some sort of meaning here but I found it difficult to care.

There are also couple of strange allusions to how much of a ladies’ man Ironside is, which it felt incredibly out of place in the episode. At the end he gets together with a woman who may or may not have been the woman he was with earlier in the episode.

Overall, the show felt disjointed, cliched, poorly thought out, humorless, over the top, and, well bad.The more I thought about it the more I changed my opinion of the show from merely a below average police procedural to, well, a much below average police procedural. At least CSIs and NCISs have a sense of self-aware humor about their tropes which Ironside badly lacks.

Will I watch it again? No.  It’s a police procedural, so I wouldn’t watch it anyway, but it’s a bad one at that. I’d watch CSI or more likely Elementary or The Blacklist if I really want to watch one.

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