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What's New?Vintage Press InformationAn 'Ironside' Title and Airdate ListingOriginal NBC Stills ArchiveVintage Magazine Features'Ironside' Books and ToysEditorials and Analytical FeaturesLinks
What's New?Vintage Press InformationAn 'Ironside' Title and Airdate ListingOriginal NBC Stills ArchiveVintage Magazine FeaturesIronside' Books and ToysEditorials and Analytical FeaturesLinks
The Series Paddy Wagon ExteriorThe Series Paddy Wagon and its SFPD ShieldThe Second Season Series Paddy WagonThe Series Paddy Wagon InteriorThe End of the Series Paddy Wagon
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Paddy Wagon 2 - The Series
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When Ironside debuted as a weekly Television series in September of 1967, at least one member of the cast of the original movie had undergone a conspicuous transformation; the Chief’s iconic mode of transport—the Paddy Wagon—had changed colour from a glossy black to a flat grey.
 
I suspect that this was done for technical reasons. From what I have read, black is very difficult to illuminate, photographically. It’s inherent capacity to aborb light means that a disproportionate level of wattage has to be thrown at a black object to bring out any detail, which creates exposure problems, and so on. If you examine the shots I’ve taken from the movie (see here) and compare them with these, I think you’ll agree that the grey works much better.
 
There are also physical indications that the vehicle used in the series was not the one which appeared in the original movie; the doors which give access to the cab, for example, and the details of the cab itself, are structurally very different.
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The Case of the Vanishing Crest
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When The Mettoy Playcraft Company of Great Britain released their die cast "Corgi Junior" miniature of Ironside’s Paddy Wagon in 1970, the toy differed from the original in one major regard: emblazoned on each side of the vehicle was the crest of the San Francisco Police Department.
 
This is also true of the illustration of the Paddy Wagon which adorns the cover of Whitman’s hardcover novel "The Picture Frame Frame-Up"—except that here the crest appears on the vehicle’s cab doors.
 
During the two seasons the Paddy Wagon appeared in the series, the sides of the vehicle were characterised solely by their greyness—except for literally half-a-dozen location shots where such a crest can be seen!
 
More numerous, however, are scenes from the show where the doors are quite clearly marked with black and grey smears and scratches.
 
Studying these images—and the episodes they appear in (they are, without exception, the first few episodes to be shot) suggests that, originally, the vehicle did have an S.F.P.D. crest on it doors, but that it was clumsily removed while filming was in progress, in circumstances which prevented the job being done properly.
 
In later episodes, all trace of its existence has vanished beneath a fresh coat of paint.
 
Why, I wonder?
 
The most likely explanation I’ve been able to devise is that it was the S.F.P.D. who had the crest obliterated.
 
After all, Ironside was to be broadcast on national TeleVision (and, eventually, international TeleVision), and each week, there would be this clunking, outmoded vehicle crawling around San Francisco bearing their crest.
 
Might this not be seen as a suggestion that the S.F.P.D. were actually employing such outmoded vehicles?
 
Consequently, when one of their representatives saw the crest on the side of the Paddy Wagon on the day shooting began in San Francisco (and, presumably, someone from the Department would have been in attendance to help organise the shooting), they insisted on its removal.
 
Is there anyone out there who knows, I wonder?
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Ironside Raises The Roof
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Robert T. Ironside loved his Paddy Wagon.
 
Raymond Burr did not.
 
Whenever the Chief was to be shown getting in or out of the vehicle he used to get around the city, the actor had to remember to duck when the chair lift was in use. (See the images from the original Television movie, here).
 
If he didn’t, he banged his head.
 
And Burr didn’t always remember.
 
So, for the second season of the show, the Paddy Wagon grew up—by a good foot or two, and Raymond Burr’s headaches were cured.
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Inside
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The reasoning behind the inclusion of some of these images may appear a little… elusive.
 
So, to allay any fears you may have for my sanity, I would like to offer the following explanation…
 
One of my ambitions for this site is that it will ultimately become a complete visual encyclopedia for Ironside.
 
To that end, here are some images of the Paddy Wagon’s interior—and be warned…there will be more to come!
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Hillside
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As I mentioned above, in the paragraph devoted to images of the Paddy Wagon’s “Outside,” Raymond Burr did not share his alter ego’s affection for his idiosyncratic mode of transport, and he was continually pressing for change.
 
When the series moved into its third season, he got his wish.
 
“The Van” arrived—but not until the Paddy Wagon departed, explosively, part way through an episode entitled, “Poole’s Paradise.”
 
In the closing moments of that story, sitting in his new van, the Chief expresses regret at the loss of the Wagon, and bearing in mind Burr’s true feelings, I can’t help wondering if the following exchange between the series’ characters was not one that owed its existence to the imagination of the scriptwriter…
 
After the team have given Ironside a brief overview of the main features of his new mode of transportation, Ed remarks, “Sure beats the old bus, doesn’t it, Chief?”
 
Ironside smiles with affectionate regret,“Well, now, I don’t know,” he says, “There was a certain something about her.”
 
Mark and Ed exchange a significant glance, then Mark turns back to the Chief. Ironically, he offers, “Cranky transmission.”
 
“Concrete shocks,” Ed contributes.
 
Eve, sitting to one side, smiles, “Two miles to the gallon.”
 
Ironside reflects for a moment, then acknowledges their comments with a brief nod.
 
“May she rest in peace,” he concludes.
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Footnote: Not long after this feature was originally posted, I was contacted by Ironside devotee Terry L. Kiser, who pointed out that the Paddy Wagon destroyed in the scene presented here, was in fact the one from the first year of the show, with the low roof (see here).
 
This raises a number of interesting questions (“interesting,” at least, if you’re as deluded as I am…).
 
Firstly, it tells us that, rather than simply adapting the roof of the original Paddy Wagon to provide the height Raymond Burr had asked for, an entirely new vehicle was constructed.
 
This initially suggests that, perhaps, the second “Paddy Wagon” survived the production of the series—except for the fact that if you examine the captures I’ve selected to illustrate the demise of the Chief’s original mode of transport, as the vehicle hits the canyon floor and breaks apart, the rear doors we see are those of the second season version (
see here).
 
So…
 
What we see of the Paddy Wagon’s demise in “Poole’s Paradise” is edited together from three points of view. It could be that, instead of one vehicle being destroyed, with the scene filmed from three angles (as I'd originally assumed), both versions of the vehicle may have been employed—and filmed separately—to get comprehensive footage of its final moments.
 
Alternatively, was the vehicle destroyed that day some sort of hybrid, specially constructed for the purpose? If so, is one of the Chief’s “Paddy Wagons” still out there, somewhere?
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