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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Detective > Drama > Action > Crime > Ironside – Season One (Shout! Factory/DVD-Video)

Ironside – Season One (Shout! Factory/DVD-Video)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Episodes: B+



Raymond Burr gained a reputation for playing the heavy in many a film, including several Film Noirs and in a more ambiguous way in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window in 1954.  Soon after, he became the ultimate good lawyer in the tremendous TV series hit Perry Mason, one of the longest-running early hit TV shows.  Eventually, the show wrapped off after a decade, Burr was still extremely popular and a new show was waiting in the wings.


Created by Collier Young, Ironside offered Burr a much tougher and less likable character, but instead of returning to his days as a heavy, he would play one of the toughest detectives on TV history.  The name tells you how tough he is, but as soon as he takes a very much-needed vacation, he is shot.  He should have died, but is instead paralyzed and from the first show is back to work trying to find out who tried to kill him.


And that is just the telefilm pilot.  No shown on TV in a while and classic of the genre, in no small part thanks to the amazing talent behind the scenes as well as in front of the camera.  The behind the scenes story is a separate essay for another time, but Burr was terrific playing a character that took advantage of TV’s growing realism and maturity.  Shout! Factory is releasing Season One on DVD (plus a smaller sampler version) for all to enjoy again.  The episodes for this debut season are:


1)     Pilot (guest stars Geraldine Page, Wally Cox, Kim Darby & Lilia Skala)

2)     Message From Beyond (guest stars Kent McCord, James Gregory & Madlyn Rhue)

3)     The Leaf In The Forrest (guest stars Barbara Barrie, Henry Beckman & Bert Freed)

4)     Dead Man’s Tale (guest stars Jack Lord)

5)     Eat, Drink & Be Buried (guest stars Lee Grant, Farley Granger, Richard Anderson & Quincy Jones)

6)     The Taker (guest stars William Schallert)

7)     An Inside Job (guest stars John Saxon, Don Stroud & Norman Fell)

8)     Tagged For Murder (guest stars Bruce Lee & Bert Freed)

9)     Let My Brother Go (guest stars Ivan Dixon)

10)  Light At The End Of The Journey (guest stars Robert Reed)

11)  The Monster Of Comus Towers (guest stars David Hartman & Warren Stevens)

12)  The Man Who Believed (guest stars Barbara Rhodes, Cliff Potts, Guy Stockwell, Marcia Strassman & Michael Constantine)

13)  A Very Cool Hot Car (guest stars Bernie Hamilton)

14)  The Past Is Prologue (guest stars Victor Jory, Gail Bonney, John Hoyt & Harrison Ford)

15)  Girl In The Night (guest stars Susan Saint James & Oscar Beregi, Jr.)

16)  The Fourteenth Runner (guest stars Edward Asner & Ingrid Pitt)

17)  Force Of Arms (guest stars Cliff Norton & Arthur Adams)

18)  Memory Of An Ice Cream Stick

19)  To Kill A Cop (guest stars Pernell Roberts, Ruta Lee & Hal Needham)

20)  The Lonely Hostage (guest stars Kathy Browne & Robert Lansing)

21)  The Challenge (guest stars Sue Ane Langdon & Cec Linder)

22)  All in A Day’s Work (guest stars Jeanette Nolan & Lorraine Gary)

23)  Something For Nothing (guest stars Susan Saint James, James Farentino, Vincent Gardenia, Paul Mantee, Jan Merlin & Leonard Stone)

24)  Barbara Who (guest stars Vera Miles, Kiel Martin, Marion Ross & Philip Carey)

25)  Perfect Crime (guest stars Shelly Novack & Bill Baldwin)

26)  Officer Bobby (guest stars Jeanne Cooper)

27)  Trip To Hashbury (guest stars William Windom & Cliff Osmond)

28)  Due Process Of The Law (guest stars Dwayne Hickman, David Carradine & Barry Cahill)

29)  Return Of The Hero (guest stars Gary Collins, Joe Turkel & Gavin MacLeod)



It is an amazing guest list and was the beginning of a great run for the show about as big as Perry Mason one, just short one season.  Once you start watching, the show becomes more and more involving like all the great hour-long dramas were at their best.  As compared to Hawaii Five-O which I also recently reviewed, I was stunned at how well this held up.  This is television made by people who knew what they were doing.


Don Galloway, Don Mitchell and Barbara Anderson were the regulars who helped the chief detective solve the crimes and at the time, that any character with any kind of physical limit was groundbreaking.  Cannon soon followed.  The show became a launching pad for some of the best talent in the business, with Frank Price a producer for this season only.  He eventually became president of Universal Pictures and went on to become one of the top executives in town.  That is just the beginning of the behind the scenes story.


As for the show, the mystery element is underrated and the combination of mystery and police procedural is still tops within its genre.  The show also had to compete with the memory of Perry Mason, so the set-ups are not for short attention spans and you get the added bonus of the characters not being co-dependent on PCs.  It gives each show more of an edge.  And don’t forget the lack of commercials at the time, so a story could actually be developed.


Ironside has no excuse to become some kind of lost classic and thanks to this solid box set, it is time for the show to have a comeback.



The 1.33 X 1 image can be a bit grainy in shots, but these are nice vault print transfers that have some fine moments.  Technicolor did the lab work, but we do not know for certain if any three-strip prints were made of any of the shows.  We do now that before they had a more standard color look as a regular series, the original Columbo telefilms were originally issued in dye-transfer-like prints.  Ironically, the color was reformatted to make those initial telefilms look like the later shows when they hit DVD.  Only HD transfers will truly surpass these.


The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono does no show its age as much as you might think.  Dialogue is often clean and clear, while many may recognize the early version of the instrumental title song by Quincy Jones if they have seen Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill films, played before each fight scene.  The sound is decent overall and likely first generation or very close to it, including Oliver Nelson’s regular score.  There are sadly no extras, but with more seasons, Shout! Factory will hopefully be able to come up with something in later volumes.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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