Studio: Shout Factory
US Rating: Unrated: Some Adult Themes
Film Length: 1260 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English Dolby 2.0
In its second season, Ironside, starring the popular Raymond Burr told its stories with confidence and a comfortable pace. Burr’s Ironside character appears to have softened somewhat from the harder edged detective running the special investigations unit in season one. However, he still has a prickly nature with a combination of logical thinking, a grumpy disposition and a heavy dose of impatience.
As many will already know, Ironside was the youngest chief of detectives with the San Francisco Police Department who was gunned down on the porch of the home where he was vacationing. The injuries he sustained left him paralyzed and wheelchair bound. Unable to continue as the Chief of Detectives (equal opportunity laws were not around) but eager to investigate his own shooting and itching to get back to work, he was allowed to create a special investigative unit and put together a small team. This team consists of Detective Sergeant Ed Brown (Don Galloway, Arrest and Trial), policewoman Eve Whitfield (Barbara Anderson, Mission: Impossible) and former juvenile delinquent Mark Sanger (Don Mitchell, Scream Blacula Scream).
Just as with its very popular inaugural season, Ironside Season Two sports a bevy of tried and true crime stories, this time featuring jewel thieves playing cat & mouse with Ironside, ex-cons questing for a Mynah bird with details on the location of stolen bank loot, the extortion of a baseball pitcher and, of course, plenty of murder. Ironside was always recognized for tackling some stories that were hot button at the time, including racial tension (the show began in the late 60’s after all), the treatment of minorities on the force and abortion. Of special note is the intriguing fourth episode of the season, ‘Robert Phillips vs. The Man’, in which Ironside and team are tasked with finding out if an activist, played by Paul Winfield, is guilty of the murder that he has been accused.
Ironside also has a delightful array of guest star talent, including the aforementioned Paul Winfield, Ricardo Montalban (episode. 3 – The Sacrifice), Anne Baxter (episode. 8 – An Obvious Case of Guilt), Burgess Meredith (episode 10 – The Macabre Mr. Micawber), Bill Bixby (episode 12 – Sergeant Mike) and Ed Asner (season finale – Not with a Whimper but with a Bang).
There is something very appealing about Ironside and the way that Raymond Burr plays him. The character has a grumpy demeanor and his methods can be rude and curt, but inside Ironside is the often not so subtly hidden soft spot for his fellow man. Burr plays the wheelchair bound detective with great consistency and the issue of his handicap is never exploited for cheap sympathy or gimmicky storytelling; a fact that should be applauded for a show so old. At the end of the day, Ironside is just a great detective who happens to be wheelchair bound.
He bites into cases, thinking rather than shooting his way into and out of solving crimes that have been committed and working against the clock many times to prevent crimes from happening.
As I mentioned in my review of season one, “Ironside” is a notable show that has become a fixture in the lexicon of American television. You will find plenty to enjoy in this show.
1: Shell Game
2: Split Second to an Epitaph
3: The Sacrifice
4: Robert Phillips vs. The Man
5: Desperate Encounter
6: I, The People
7: Price Tag: Death
8: An Obvious Case of Guilt
10. The Macabre Mr. Micawber
11: Side Pocket
12: Sergeant Mike
13: In Search of an Artist
14. Up, Down, And Even
15: Why the Tuesday Afternoon Bridge Club Met On Thursday
16: Rundown on a Bum Rap
17: The Prophecy
18. A World of Jackals
19: And Be My Love
20: Moonlight Means Money
21: A Drug on the Market
23: The Tormentor
24: A Matter of Love and Death
25: Not with a Whimper, But with a Bang
As with season one, the image is framed at 1.33:1, consistent with broadcasts of the day, and is of generally good quality through the 26 episodes that make up the season. The very noticeable dust elements that popped up frequently in the first season set are at a real minimum here. Even the exterior ‘stock shots’ are vastly improved.
There is some inconsistency in the quality, with some shots exhibiting heavy softness, but aside from a few grumbles in that regard, Ironside season two’s image quality looks very good indeed. The image is rather clean throughout and bright colors manage to standout at times against the generally drab color palette of the show.
The Shout Factory brings us this second season set with a pretty solid Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track. With dialogue heavy episodes, the center channel ends up taking on most of the duties and is free of any noticeable distortions. Quincy Jones’s odd opening theme still sounds good too. Overall, another fine quality audio track for this older gem of a TV show.
With just over 21 hours of entertainment, Ironside season two is well worth your money. The stories are entertaining, the cast a pleasure to watch and the time in which the show was made captured so well, that it is great to see how the world of the SFPD existed. Ironside is a great character, whose persistent dedication and adherence to logic must have inspired characters through the years. In watching the sophomore season, I was reminded many times of William Peterson’s character from C.S.I; a peculiar demeanor, high intelligence and desire for solving crime in ways that often irk those around (co-workers and criminals alike).
For fans of the show, you will know doubt already have picked this up or at least have it on your Christmas list. For anyone on the fence – go ahead and put in your order – you won’t be disappointed.