As the show rolled into production, some wheelchair users were miffed that Underwood was cast when there are talented wheelchair-using actors who could have played the part. Darryl “Chill” Mitchell was mentioned, as was Mitch Longley, Toby Forrest and others.
“I know a well-known name like Underwood’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,” wrote New Mobility blogger Tiffiny Carlson when news hit that Underwood would be playing Ironside. “I love Blair, but I would’ve loved to have seen an actor with an actual disability more than his sexy face.”
In the end it didn’t matter who played the famed detective. The show just stunk. “The cancellation has nothing to do with the guy in a wheelchair any more than House depended on House walking in a limp,” says New Mobility contributing editor and Hollywood insider Allen Rucker. “It failed because it was stupid and predictable in an era when dramatic TV is smart and unpredictable.”
Media writer Jeff Shannon laments the show’s lost opportunities in his Ironside Post-Mortem. “Accessibility, health care, discrimination, exclusion, sexuality — everything that’s important to us could’ve been examined in the context of a weekly, hour-long crime drama,” he says.