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What's New?Vintage Press InformationAn 'Ironside' Title and Airdate ListingOriginal NBC Stills ArchiveVintage Magazine Features'Ironside' CollectablesEditorials and Analytical FeaturesLinks
What's New?Vintage Press InformationAn 'Ironside' Title and Airdate ListingOriginal NBC Stills ArchiveVintage Magazine FeaturesIronside' CollectablesEditorials and Analytical FeaturesLinks
 THE WASHINGTON POSTFriday, September 15, 1967 
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Lawrence Laurent     Radio and Television
 
Burr Proves a Strong Iron
By Lawrence Laurent 
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NEW SEASON: Just about every television forecaster decided that “Ironside” would be a hit when the show appeared last spring as one of the “World Premiere” movies. The one-hour version of “Ironside” (NBC, Channel 4) arrived last night.
 
The version came nowhere near the quality of the two-hour, made-for-TV movie but “Ironside” is still likely to be a hit.
 
This is a mystery series, built around one of TV's least likely heroes, Robert T. Ironside. He is a San Francisco police detective who has been paralyzed by a bullet from a sniper. He operates from a wheelchair.
 
The guy in the wheelchair is Raymond Burr, one of the most competent and most convincing actors in the TV business. He gives the role authority; the same kind of authority he used to save the unlikely fairy tales that saved “Perry Mason” through nine TV seasons.
 
Last night's premiere had a built-in assumption that viewers had seen the movie version. Little effort was made to introduce and establish the three characters who support Ironside. This failure probably weakened the show for some viewers.
 
Between that TV movie and the TV premiere, “Ironside” had a few problems. Collier Young, who created the show started out as executive producer. After seven shows were filmed he was replaced by Frank Price.
 
In the movie version, Ironside preceeded every noun with the adjective “flaming.” This device, apparently, has been dropped. The character still abuses his subordinates but in a softer, less demanding manner. In short, Robert T. Ironside has been permitted to add a more human side to his steel will.
 
The supporting parts are well cast. Don Mitchell, the Negro who serves his personal needs and helps with badmen, is never going to be confused with Stephen Fetchit or even Willie Best.
 
His lines are filled with sardonic irony. He may refer to Ironside as, “You're the crime buster, o'great one” by commenting, “Well, thank you, Florence Nightingale.” He's an equal; not a sycophant.
 
Don Galloway, as detective Sergt. Ed Brown, is the guy who handles most of the action. Barbara Anderson might be miscast as policewoman cause she's far too pretty.
 
Last night's plot was nothing special. It centered on a race track robbery. Writers Don M. Mankiewicz and Tony Barrett scattered false clues (for viewers) all through the script and the bad guy turned out to be someone who hadn't been seen since the second commercial.
 
(You're right. The writers of “Perry Mason” used this dodge every week.).
 
All of which leads back to the main point. “Ironside” is likely to be a hit because of the character, the skill and the sturdiness of Raymond Burr. He's strong enough to carry the show a long way.
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