I don’t even know how to talk about what I saw last night when I tuned into the premiere of the new NBC show Ironside. I’d love to say it was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen, but I enjoyed myself so immensely watching its ridiculousness and describing the episode in detail to my coworkers this morning that it’s hard for me to tell you not to watch it.
In case you haven’t seen the previews for it, Ironside centers around ‘the toughest cop in the city’ Robert Ironside, who lost the use of his legs in a work-related shooting incident two years prior, and is now in a wheelchair, but back on the city streets as a member of the force again. And yes, the city in question is Manhattan. So there’s a whole host of non-handicap accessible buildings, public transportation, and uneven terrain to consider for someone . But don’t worry; we’re not going to worry ourselves about that.
From the top, I think this show really dropped the ball on deciding how to handle the fact of Ironside’s disability. If you’re going to use it as the entire basis for the plot — which I guess you are because you have — ideally you’d decide on a way to frame it that wasn’t insulting to the disabled community. I don’t know how you would do that, since the concept itself is so flawed, but I think you’d have to show the ways that he’s found to return his life to some semblance of normalcy, and the adjustments he’s had to make. A life in which he feels no different from any other cop. Orrrrr you could just put an actor in a wheelchair at the top of the show and pretend like the only obstacles to his success as a police officer come from being underestimated by idiotic, insensitive non-handicapped people around him. Which — spoiler alert — is the way they decided to go. They address nothing.
So I will! I will take up that mantle and point out every time that something completely unfeasible happens. This is my duty as a journalist. Just bear in mind that it might be a kind of a long list, because in addition to alternating back and forth between ignoring his condition and exploiting it, Ironside is also a remarkably bad police officer.
- Lights up on Ironside beating up a suspect in the back of a car while his partner reads him his Miranda rights from outside said car. How does he get out of this car? Who knows. Does he knock on the window when he’s done violating the guy’s Constitutional rights in multiple ways simultaneously and get someone to lift him out? Unclear.
- The criminal says to Ironside, “Hey man, are you really a cripple?” First of all, who says that to a guy in a wheelchair, and what does it mean. And second of all, Ironside’s response is, “You tell me.” COME ON.
- His boss is complaining to Ironside about all the things the department had to give him after his accident — like a settlement, and reinstating his job, and a fancy building LITERALLY CALLED ‘THE WHEELHOUSE’. Way to open yourself up to a lawsuit, buddy.
- In a flashback to a time when he still has the use of his legs, he’s holding a kid upside down over the side of a building by his pants. I mean let’s not do that, probably, right?
- The implication is that he has some kind of spidey sense for knowing criminals’ minds due to what happened to him, but his only superpower seems to be rudeness.
- He coaches ice hockey to ‘help him relax’. And yes, he goes on the ice in his wheelchair, and yes, he is rude to those kids too.
- The rest of the cops on the force also suck. They search a house by dumping everything out on the floor. Nice work Pablo Schreiber from Orange Is The New Black. I expected better from you.
- Ironside is also rude to his team members. So he’s a bad cop and a bad boss.
- He takes the locket of a dead girl — indisputably a piece of evidence — out of his pocket to give to her sister, saying, “It’s okay, I don’t think forensics needs it.” I don’t THINK they need it, so I removed it from the scene and I’ve just been carrying it around IN MY POCKET.
- The other cops kick down a door like fifteen seconds after they knock on it, after pretending they heard a cry for help. Naturally, they don’t have a warrant.
- At the crime scene, Ironside sees a gun under a couch pillow, picks it up with his bare hands, and is asked by his proud, incredulous boss, “How the hell did you see that?” MY GOODNESS AREN’T YOU A MARVEL, LITTLE CHAIRBOY.
- His response to the above question isn’t, “Well, just because I’m in a wheelchair doesn’t mean they took my eyes and brain, too. I’m a human being and a police officer whom you employ, so pull it together and don’t talk to me like that. Instead he says, “Different perspective.” Ah yes. The strategic advantage of having your head 2.5 feet lower than other officers’. What the hell is your angle here, NBC?
- Ironside says, “I’m not very good at implying, so usually, I go straight to accusing.” Welp, no offense, but if you don’t have a gray area between thinking and accusing, it sounds like you’re a really bad cop.
- They leave Ironside in the car when they go to confront a suspect so he’s perfectly placed to door him in the face when he flees the scene because Pablo Schreiber is an IDIOT.
- Ironside goes into a hostage situation because he says, “A woman from the Peace Corps isn’t gonna shoot a guy in a wheelchair.”
- He tells his ladycop assistant (?) to shoot the hostage — THE HOSTAGE — in the leg.
- AND SHE DOES. In the knee, from the look of it. So that’s great.
- But don’t worry, the guy’s attorney won’t get anywhere with him because Ironside is ready to exploit his disability now, “Are you gonna sue a guy in a wheelchair because your client got scratched? You really wanna compare bullet wounds with me?” I can’t. I effing can’t.
- Now we lie to a man in custody, which I do believe is illegal and enough to get your case thrown out of court. His boss brings it up with him, but Ironside says, it’s the ‘best way to get a confession’, so I guess that’s the end of that!
- Ironside solved the case on the first day but spent four days figuring out why the girl killed herself and taking it upon himself to punish anyone and everyone who’s tenuously connected to it. WHY.
- He lurks in the doorway of an AA meeting listening to his friend open up, which you are definitely not encouraged to do if you are not an alcoholic. (Unless you need to get clarifying exposition out there.)
- There’s a girl waiting on the doorstep to his apartment to hook up with him, and he LITERALLY DOES NOT HAVE A RAMP LEADING INTO HIS OWN EFFING BUILDING. Like…what? WHAT. Pull it together.
I can’t even with this stuff. It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. Just no work went into it at all. He always just appears on the top floor of a walk up, or the roof of a place, or in the seat of a car and it’s not addressed until he needs to further the plot by exploiting his disability. Jesus Marie Christ.
Ironside premiered last night, October 2nd, and will presumably continue to air at 10:00pm on Wednesdays on NBC until someone realizes that it’s a parody in disguise.