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Ironside Seasons 3&4 on UK DVD

Monday, 28 November 2016 00:00 Written by 

Ironside - Season 3 on UK DVD - Season 4 also now availableIn August 2015, the first two seasons of Ironside were releases in the UK by Fabulous Films. You can read our review of that release by CLICKING HERE. Now, 15 months later, we get Seasons Three and Four to savour. Our wheelchair-bound former Chief of Police, Robert T Ironside (Raymond Burr) is back with more insightful detective work, and these seasons mark the final ones for one of the quartet of key players – the female lead Barbara Anderson as Eve Whitfield, finishing her 105 of the 199 total episodes, landing an Emmy for her role in 1968.

We get 26 episodes on each season box set this time out, season three having originally aired Stateside from September 1969 to April 1970, and season four from September 1970 to April 1971. Again there are plenty of guest stars to look out for, whose faces will be familiar to many a Cult TV appreciator. The victim of a failed assassination attempt, Ironside was left paralysed from the waist down. He became the head of his own special police unit, aided by a crack team of investigators on the streets of San Francisco, including Sergeant Ed Brown (Don Galloway), and ex-con-turned-assistant Mark Sanger (Don Mitchell).

Stories in Season three include Ed Brown getting kidnapped, attempts on Mark Sanger’s life, Ed being framed for an assault, taking on a treason plot, Eve becoming bait for a rapist, Ironside’s attempts to get a boxer to retire from the ring, foiling dognappers, Ironside uncovering a plot to steal gold in Fiji, Ed avenging the murder of his fiancé, the team bending the rules to allow a con to see his son, and guarding a crown prince who has a thirst for the night life of the city.

Season four features storylines including Ironside being trapped in a cabin in a blizzard with a heroin addict, Mark’s law class re-enacts a murder which then takes an unexpected turn, an investment manager’s false confession to a murder, a two-part story set in Montreal which involves an old flame of Ironside’s, murder and a stolen chess set, Ironside being framed by a drug pusher, a San Francisco blackout used as a cover for crime, Ironside kidnapped by a Communist spy, a jockey is suspected of throwing races, and fighting the production of synthetic marijuana.

Burr has the reputation of being a storyteller of the highest calibre, hoodwinking an adoring nation with a fictional biography which claimed he was in the US Navy, where he was seriously wounded in the stomach during the Battle of Okinawa. He invented a college education, two marriages and a son who died as a teenager, world travel, an acting tour of the United Kingdom, and success in high school athletics. Such a back story ensured that the press seldom asked for any further information about him.

Director Jeffrey Hayden says Raymond Burr had two particular stipulations in the way he would work on Ironside. Burr would not film on location, so he would be replaced with a stand-in for shots of his back. For close-ups, Hayden shot just the backgrounds, with no stand-in actor, which he then merged Burr into during post-production. Burr didn’t want to learn his lines every night either, so he had three tele-prompters on-set. Every set-up, some 20 to 30 per day, had to accommodate these as well as the lights and cameras. “It took a lot of figuring, a lot of minutia” noted Hayden.

What was certainly true was that, having become a TV icon through his starring role on Perry Mason, Burr used his own production company for Ironside - Harbour Productions Unlimited. This explains why whatever he wanted on-set happened. This outfit was not only responsible for Ironside but also Sarge, starring George Kennedy as Samuel ‘Sarge’ Cavanaugh, a priest at the St Aloysius Parish in San Diego. He was so nicknamed after having been a homicide detective in the area for nine years. The formats met each other in “The Priest Killer”, the season five double-length premiere of Ironside in September 1971.

The pilot movie for Sarge, “The Badge or the Cross” had screened in February 1971 (with the character’s surname being Swanson rather than Cavanaugh), and it is established that the change of career for the central character came about after his wife had been murdered. The week following his brush with Ironside, Sarge ran for 14 more episodes, ending in January 1972. The bizarre riff of changing names from the pilot to series also happened on the format with actor Ramon Bieri, who played Sarge’s police contact. In the pilot, his name was Chief Dewey, but this was changed to Lt Barney Verick, Chief of Detectives, for the series.

Harbour Productions did a similar crossover trick with another of its shows the following year. The Bold Ones: The New Doctors – which ran for 45 episodes between 1969 and 1973 - briefly combined with Ironside in a two part story - beginning as the season six premiere of Ironside, “Five Days in the Death of Sgt Brown”, and concluding on The Bold Ones: The New Doctors as its fourth season premiere.

Harbour Productions also produced the 1974 cult Brian De Palma classic “Phantom of the Paradise”, which was narrated by Rod Serling of Twilight Zone fame.

For more on Burr’s life, you should seek out Michael Seth Starr's book “Hiding in Plain Sight: The Secret Life of Raymond Burr”. It’s by no means complete, but it certainly does shine a light on one of Hollywood’s well-kept secrets. CLICK HERE TO ORDER.

Ironside Season 4 comes to UK DVD - alongside seasons 1 to 3Seasons three and four of Ironside feature special guest appearances from an array of stars including:

  • William Shatner (“Little Jerry Jessup”, “Walls are Waiting”)
  • DeForest Kelley (“Warrior’s Return”)
  • Walter Koenig (“The Summer Soldier”)
  • Martin Sheen (“No Game for Amateurs”)
  • Bill Bixby (“Tom Dayton is Loose Among Us”)
  • David Cassidy (“Stolen on Demand”)
  • David Carradine (“The Quincunx”)
  • David Soul (“Lesson in Terror”)
  • Steve Forrest (“Poole’s Paradise”)
  • Richard Basehart (“Noel’s Gonna Fly”)
  • Tyne Daly (“The People Against Judge McIntire”)
  • Ron Ely (“A Killing at the Track”)
  • John Saxon (“Ransom”)
  • Leo G Carroll (“Little Dog, Gone”)
  • William Smith (“Poole’s Paradise”)
  • Dana Elcar (“Eye of the Hurricane”, “A Killing at the Track”)
  • Alan Napier (“Return to Fiji”)
  • Belinda Montgomery (“Little Dog, Gone”)
  • A Martinez (“The Machismo Bag”)
  • Vera Miles (“Goodbye to Yesterday”),
  • Anne Baxter (“Programmed for Danger”)
  • Alan Oppenheimer (“Stolen on Demand”)
  • Gerald S O’Loughlin (“The Man on the Inside”)
  • Andrew Duggan (“The Riddle in Room Six”)
  • Theodore Bikel (“The Summer Soldier”)
  • Simon Oakland (“Lesson in Terror”)
  • Roger C Carmel (“Walls are Waiting”)

Ironside Season Three and Four are out now on DVD from Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises. Both are seven disc sets with a ‘PG’ certificate - Season Three has a running time of 1,256 mins approx, while Season Four is 1,250 mins approx. Both have a RRP of £39.99, or you can get either or both for less at






Last modified on Tuesday, 29 November 2016 03:55