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The toughest cop on four wheels returns with this seven-disc set containing all 26 episodes from the second season (1968-69) of Ironside. Of course, that also means that Raymond Burr is back in the title role, portraying a former San Francisco chief of detectives who returned to the force as a consultant following the shooting that left him wheelchair-bound (also returning are his core team, including Don Galloway as Detective Sgt. Ed Brown, Barbara Anderson as Officer Eve Whitfield, and Don Mitchell as Mark Sanger, Ironside's bodyguard and driver). As ever, Burr's Robert Ironside is one of the more distinctive characters on the cop show landscape. Gruff, stubborn, impatient, and utterly unwilling to suffer fools, he commands respect with a combination of tough love and unwavering fairness. There's nothing touchy-feely about this guy. Take "Split Second to an Epitaph," a two-parter near the start of the season. When Ironside regains sensation in his feet, a doctor advises him to immediately undergo an operation that could heal him for good. But the chief refuses to go under the knife as long as the team's current case is unsolved. When he finally shows up at the hospital and another paraplegic asks him how to cope with his disability, Ironside replies, "It starts out as pure hell. Then it gets worse." And when the doc asks him what he'll do should he be able to walk again, the answer is classic Ironside: "Probably sit down." The second season's episodes run a fairly wide gamut, dealing with issues ranging from black militancy (in "Robert Phillips vs. the Man," Ironside refuses to submit either to Paul Winfield's hostile taunts or to the white racists eager to jail the black leader for murder) and professional sports (in "The Tormentor," a baseball player is threatened by an extortionist) to abortion ("A Matter of Love and Death" finds Eve posing as a pregnant young single in order to flush out a criminal abortionist--these were the days before Roe v. Wade) and boorish TV talk show demagogues (Milton Berle in a decidedly non-comic role in "I, The People"). There are also a few more personal stories than were found in Season One (Eve falls in love in one episode and hovers near death following a shooting in another, while Mark continues his quest to become a lawyer). That's all good, but like other series of its era, Ironside often seems rather dated; you'll find folks smoking in hospitals (and, in Ironside's case, having a couple of stiff drinks, with his doctor's approval, the night before his operation), star athletes struggling to put together a $100,000 payoff (a hundred grand is about what waterboys make these days), and gigantic American-made cars easily finding street parking spaces in downtown San Francisco. But while such details can be written off as mere anachronisms, the show's cheesy sets, slow-moving action and overall lack of genuine tension are more problematic. In the end, though, Ironside is mostly driven by its star power--not only Burr's, but also guests like Berle, Winfield, Broderick Crawford, Joseph Cotten, Clu Gulager, Diane Ladd, Ricardo Montalban, Anne Baxter, Ed Asner, Burgess Meredith, and Chad Everett. There are no bonus features in the box set.

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SF102582 Ironside Season 2 DVD (Raymond Burr) $49.98 $44.99