By Darlene Donloe
When Ironside returns to NBC Wednesday nights, the main character will have the same name, but that’s where any similarity ends. A lot has changed.
Instead of an older, white, burly, gruff Ironside, he will instead be played by the tall, dark and sexy Blair Underwood.
Ironside is a beloved, iconic character from the television series of the same name that starred Raymond Burr and aired on NBC from 1967 to 1975.
Burr played San Francisco Detective Robert Ironside, a cop who, due to a spinal injury is confined to a wheelchair.
Underwood (L.A. Law), too, will be confined to a wheelchair, but due to the magic of flashbacks, the audience will also get to see him walking upright on two legs – prior to being shot and paralyzed. He will play a street detective instead of a supervisor.
As the promo material attests, it’s His Team. His Town. His Rules. This time around the show will be set in New York.
(l-r) PABLO SCHREIBER and BLAIR UNDERWOOD
The cast of the latest Ironside includes: Underwood, Brent Sexton (Gary Stanton), Pablo Schreiber (Virgil), Spencer Grammer (Holly), Neal Bledsoe (Teddy) and Kenneth Choi (Ed Rollins).
I caught up with Underwood, who is a producer on the show, to talk about him taking on such an iconic role.
DD: Do you remember the original series? If so, how old were you?
BU: Yes, I remember the show. I was three-years-old.
DD: You must be pumped to be doing such an iconic show.
BU: Can I say how excited I am to be working with this team. I’d big on working on teams. I'm so excited about this. I get a chance to do the things I love doing. I mean, I’ve been able to show a different side of myself in some films, but never on network television. I’m looking forward to showing what I can do. This feels very familiar to me.
DD: Were you at all nervous about taking on such an iconic role?
BU: Well, it’s a beloved character. You don’t want to mess it up. Raymond Burr was the man. I’m just going to give my interpretation. This is a great opportunity for us. While we know there are fans that remember the character, there is also a whole new audience who has never heard of the show or the character.
DD: What do you like about the character?
BU: He’s real. He wants to make a difference. Sometimes he’s goes about it in a different way, but he’s interested in getting results. What I like is getting inside his head. We really get into the psychology and the emotional aspects of this man. His disability has a lot to do with who he is now.
DD: What can we expect from the new show?
BU: We are breaking ground and doing things we’ve never done before. We’re having fun.