A detective in a wheelchair? You better believe it, and he’s damn fine too. A NBC show from the ’60s on this very cool subject is being brought back to life, with Blair Underwood putting on the wheels of ol’ Ironside.
The show has an awesome premise, one that way ahead of its time too: To show it’s possible to still get back to doing what you love doing despite a spinal cord injury. Detective Robert Ironside, who gets injured on the job (shot), goes back to work as a NYPD detective and the show portrays it as a completely normal thing. Love love love this.
When the show was first on between 1967 – 1973, the paralyzed detective was played by the lovingly burly Raymond Burr (a popular mid 20th century actor, WWII vet, regular on Perry Mason). But now, oh now…NBC has totally reimagined the show, and the biggest change – adding a much needed dose of sex appeal to the main character. And you can’t get more sex appeal than Blair Underwood.
Maybe you remember Ironside from the ’60s, or maybe you immersed yourself in crime programming reruns as a kid. However you know about Ironside (or maybe right now is the first time you’ve ever heard about the show), you gotta love how this show was so popular in the ’60s, proving that the mainstream public can embrace this strong character with a disability.
It’s still however sadly rare to see characters like Ironside. The most “main” a character with a disability gets is a supporting role, like Artie on Glee. Ironside may very well be one of the most leading TV characters ever to be in a wheelchair
And an interesting talking point – there has been debate online as to whether NBC did the wrong thing in hiring an able-bodied actor to play the role. There are several awesome paraplegic actors, both male and female, who would’ve loved to play Detective Ironside.
I know a well-known name like Blair’s helps bring in more viewers (and the show plans on showing many flashbacks from when he was nondisabled), but having a famous actor isn’t always necessary. Look at Heroes. That show was hugely popular and nearly every actor on the show was unheard of. I love Blair, but I would’ve loved to have seen an actor with an actual disability more than his sexy face.
Whatever the case, I’m just glad Ironside was brought back. To see a leading character, the lead character, as a wheelchair-user is awesome. Hopefully this will embolden TV producers and directors to seriously consider even more lead characters with disabilities in the future.
Ironside is set to premiere this fall, Wednesdays 10/9C, on NBC.
Will you be watching?