It’s a new city, new stories and a new team of detectives when the classic TV series “Ironside” is re-imagined by NBC for 2013 and premieres on Wednesday, Oct. 2 at 10/9c.
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The original “Ironside” series, which ran for eight years starting in 1967 and starred Raymond Burr as Detective Robert T. Ironside, is being given new life for the new millennium. There is a helluva lot more action, the New York City setting makes it grittier, and Blair Underwood, who takes over the title role, is a hardcore cop, who despite being wheelchair bound still manages to get something going with the ladies!
In the re-imagined “Ironside,” which is as much character-driven as it is case-driven, the action begins two years after the detective became wheelchair bound. In that time, he has handpicked three talented, young detectives to comprise the new team that helps him solve some of New York’s most difficult crimes.
XfinityTV had the opportunity to speak to Underwood and his co-star Spencer Grammer, who plays Holly, the only woman on his team, to get the answers to some burning questions about what we can expect from the all-new “Ironside.”
I watched the pilot a second time and what I noticed was Ironside was as badass before the accident as after in my opinion, so how do you think being shot changed him?
Underwood: I love that you said that because he was a badass before the accident. He is a badass now. He was more of a loose cannon prior to the accident. I would say he is a better cop today than he was prior, but he doesn’t realize it yet. Part of his journey is understanding that and learning that. He is still fighting in many ways to be who he was, not realizing that he is better for it in many ways.
There is a very real aspect of his disability and the fact that he is paralyzed and can’t use his legs, and that is a source of frustration that we only see in private moments in the pilot. We don’t see it a lot after that. But we will as he goes down this path, as he goes on this journey. We sit down and talk about how exciting it is not to do a play or a film, but a television series, which allows these characters the opportunity to breathe and live.
Watch the Pilot Episode of “Ironside” Now on xfinityTV:
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Spencer, you’re playing a handpicked member of Ironside’s team, but then he has you shoot someone, who is a victim — though not innocent — in the leg. So why is working with him a good career move for Holly? And will we see more of you than we did in the pilot in upcoming episodes?
Blair Underwood: Yes, where Ironside goes, Holly goes.
Spencer: The character definitely grows. The show producers and I talked about this. I come from a crime family background, which Ironside sees as an opportunity to be better at my job, but other people would have a problem with that, especially wondering where my loyalties lie. I chose to uphold the law, as opposed to break it as a character. This is it. This is the only chance I am going to get, or I am going to be behind the desk.
But you will see plenty more of me in the episodes coming up. There are interrogations, there is some handcuffing, some gun shooting, wrestling, all kinds of stuff.
Because of the flashbacks, Ironside had to be played by an actor who could walk. But what has been the reaction from people who are actually wheelchair bound? Are you getting it right?
Blair: My mother is in a wheelchair as is my technical advisor. I have said this before and I will say it again, my priority is to honor my mother and her life experience. There are those who will understand that and there are those who will not like the fact that an able-bodied actor is playing a character who is disabled. But the reality is there are flashbacks in every episode where we see him prior to the accident. That said, my job as an actor is to make it as authentic and as real as possible. For my part, it is to make it as honest and as poignant to my mother as her experience.
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What kinds of cases will you cover?
Blair: You see this big ship behind us? We are filming Episode 8 right now and we are dealing with the Navy and the Marines.
Spencer: We can say it is Fleet Week.
Any upcoming guest stars?
Blair: Danny Glover comes on the show. He plays Ironside’s father. I am very excited about that. I have known Danny for 27 years and never had a chance to work with him, so this was a dream come true for me.
Spencer: We’ve had a lot of great guest stars.
What about Kelsey Grammer?
Spencer: I’ll call my people! We’ll work it out.
“Ironside” premieres on Wednesday, Oct. 2 at 10/9c on NBC.