Ironside: TV review

A wheelchair-bound police officer full of vengeance can't spice up this rote cop drama.
Blair Underwood and Kenneth Choi star in Ironside on NBC
By Jessica Johnson |

A remake of the 1960s drama series of the same name, Ironside tries to add some life to the gritty, hard-boiled cop genre by incorporating a disabled protagonist. But the result is an all too familiar procedural drama that brings nothing new to the mix.

Two years ago, Detective Michael Ironside (Blair Underwood, notMichael Ironside) was shot while pursuing a suspect and the injury has left him permanently paralyzed. Now, as a bit of compensation for his accident, Ironside runs his own unit of hand-picked detectives who solve special cases. The opening installment has the team investigating the apparent suicide of a young woman who worked at financial firm and may have had ties to the Albanian underworld.

The case work in Ironside is familiar to anyone who's seen more than a few episodes of any Law & Order incarnation. Where the show tries to re-invent the genre is in Ironside's approach to investigating crimes. The man is on a constant mission to prove that being in a wheelchair won't stop him from doing his job. This approach often leads to him taking risks and cutting corners with potential suspects, which often leads to him getting scolded by his Captain (Kenneth Choi). This isn't as fresh as the show thinks. Ironside is basically just Martin Riggs in a wheelchair. He wrestles with a post-accident death wish and thinks back on happier times with his old partner (Brent Sexton). In more of the painful parts of the pilot, Sexton appears in flashbacks, and also drops in to mope around, punishing himself for not having prevented his partner from getting injured.

Pablo Schreiber, Spencer Grammer and Neal Bledsoe make up Ironside's detective squad and little is done to define them beyond their roles as the boss's legs in the field. Grammer probably fares the best, as we're given a hint of her family's ties to New York's criminal underworld. While Underwood does his best to add bite to the title character, he can't overcome the recycled feel of Ironside.