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Ironside 1.01 Pilot Preview: Ironside Rolls Back Onto Your Television

I loved Ironside when I was a kid. I also loved Hawaii Five-O. But while I found the re-boot of Hawaii Five-O pretty pointless (and not as good as the original), the re-boot of Ironside looks to be better than the original. The biggest difference between the two re-boots for me is acting and storytelling – both of those elements are excellent in Ironside.
    The series is “developed” by Michael Caleo (he didn’t “create” it, after all), and he wrote the “Pilot.” Caleo’s biggest credit to date is as one of the writers to come out of the Sopranos, which makes me hope for some pretty gritty drama to come. We get a bit of back-story on each member of Ironside’s “team,” but there is no doubt more to come – forty-two minutes doesn’t allow for everyone’s character to get fleshed out. 
Blair Underwood as Robert Ironside
     As with all pilots, the story has a lot of exposition to cover and still needs to grab our attention with a complex mystery that needs to be solved. The flashbacks that tease just how Ironside ended up in the chair are particularly well done. Caleo’s version of Ironside shares the basics with the original – he’s the head of a special police unit and was too good at his job for the department to let him go. But Caleo’s Ironside is more like House or Sherlock in Elementary – a damaged individual who can be caustic but is brilliant at his job and who uses that job to eek joy out of his life. Not surprisingly, Blair Underwood brings the character sharply to life. Like the original Ironside, this Ironside also has three sidekicks – a girl, a street-wise ne’er do well, and the “good guy.” Both Ironsides have an “Ed,” but in the original Ed Brown was the “good guy” on Ironside’s team. In the re-boot, Ed Rollins (Kenneth Choi) is Ironside’s Captain. Choi and Underwood have undeniable chemistry.
Kenneth Choi as Captain Ed Rollins

 The “Pilot” was directed by Peter Horton, a busy guy on either side of the camera. In fact, Horton had an uncredited role on LAX, one of Underwood’s former series. It will be interesting to see if the camera work will be adopted as the general style for the show – I suspect it will. Like a lot of cop dramas, there was a lot of handheld footage – though for those of you bothered by “shakey-camera” – it’s not that pronounced. I particularly appreciated the dolly camera work that created a moving image that mimicked Ironside’s motion in his wheelchair.
    I’m not going to go into a lot of detail on the plot as this article is a “preview” and not a “review.” I will say that the opening scene sets the tone and is particularly satisfying. At the end of the opening scene, Ironside is asked, “Are you really a cripple?” And he answers, “You tell me.” The show doesn’t shy away from Ironside’s physical challenge, but it doesn’t really emphasize it either, giving the show the potential to really explore and raise awareness of issues pertaining to differently advantaged individuals.
    This pilot is definitely worth checking out. Once again, as a quick re-cap – very good acting, writing, and directing. If you like cop shows, I’m betting you’ll like this one. Be sure to catch the premiere on October 2 at 10pm EST on NBC.

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