Posted on September 12, 2013 | |
In the US: Wednesdays, 10pm ET/9pm CT, NBC. Starts October 2
Ironside is one of those fondly remembered but actually pretty rubbish cop shows from the 70s that occasionally appears on re-run channels. Starring Raymond Burr as San Francisco's paraplegic chief of detectives Robert T Ironside, the show ran from 1967 to 1975 and it largely had two things going for it: Burr, who was even more famously Perry Mason; and its memorable title sequence, which in case you've forgotten went something like this:
True, its heart was in the right place: after all, its message was that a guy in a wheelchair can solve crimes and apprehend criminals just as well as someone who wasn't. It even surrounded Ironside with a 'diverse' range of assistants. Trouble is that gave Ironside the eternal reputation of being the show in which a token black guy pushes the hero white guy around in a wheelchair all day, but who doesn't get to do much himself.
Now NBC have decided to remake Ironside and they've decided it's time to fix that particular issue. Because now Ironside, as well as being a New York cop, is black - he's played by LA Law/In Treatment/Sex and the City favourite Blair Underwood, who's also one of the producers.
Laudably, that means we have probably the first black, physically challenged lead character in TV history (I'm pretty sure War of the Worlds doesn't count). Hooray! Progress!
Unfortunately, though, so happy are the writers and network to have ticked off that particular box on their CVs, they've neglected to actually make the show anything but cliched. Or maybe that's deliberate. Here's a trailer - I'll explain afterwards:
Continue reading "Preview: Ironside 1x1 (NBC)"
Posted on September 12, 2013 | |
Back in the 1960s, crime stories were all the rage (well, crime stories and spy stories. But crime stories particularly.) Finding a way to differentiate the main characters and give a series a unique selling point compared with others was often a challenge.
Possibly the most differentiated - and indeed interesting - crime show of the 60s was Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) (known more prosaically in the US as My Partner The Ghost because focus group research suggested viewers wouldn't understand the word 'deceased'). Its premise was simple: two down-at-heel British private investigators, Jeff Randall (Mike Pratt) and Marty Hopkirk (Kenneth Cope), are investigating a case. The bad guys don't like this and think they're getting too close so they kill Hopkirk.
Except that doesn't stop him. Hopkirk is so dedicated to his friend, Jeff - and so keen to bring his murderers to justice - that he returns as a ghost to help solve the case and stop the bad guys. Unfortunately, it takes him too long and after the bad guys are rounded up, a curse dooms Hopkirk to walk the earth as a ghost in an eternally spotless white suit for 100 years.
So Hopkirk stays on to help Jeff solve further cases as best he can, despite being intangible and invisible to everyone else. Cue catchy theme tune and 25 more episodes.
Continue reading "Nostalgia corner: Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) (1969-70, 2000-2001)"
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Posted on September 11, 2013 | |
It's often said that science-fiction never truly predicts the future, only comments on the present - that trying to imagine what the future will bring only ever shows you what the writer thinks about the now. Perhaps never on TV has this been more highlighted than in the 1982 BBC1 series Play For Tomorrow.
When The Flipside of Dominick Hide proved a hit for Play For Today, the BBC commissioned a series of six plays all set in what was then the distant future: the end of the 20th century and start of the 21st. However, with the obvious benefits of hindsight, we can see just how wrong they were - and how much what they predicted was predicated on the future being not too different from the present, even when it seemed to be.
After the jump is your chance to visit a 2002 when nuclear war was perilously close, a 1999 when the EU is at war, a 1997 when cricketers practised guerilla warfare, another 1999 when married women couldn't work, yet another 1999 when everyone had virtual reality shades and finally a 2016 where Kenneth Branagh will still have a Northern Irish accent.
Continue reading "The Wednesday Play: Play For Tomorrow (1982)"