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Ironside: Eat, Drink and Be Buried

Our look back on the debut season of Ironside continues.


Episode 5: Eat, Drink and Be Buried

Airdate: 5 October 1967

Plot: After popular advice columnist Francesca Kirby (Lee Grant) is nearly kidnapped from her estate by the Creature from the Black Lagoon, her old friend Robert T. Ironside is called in to narrow the list of suspects.

This episode opens with what may well be the most laughable opening of any Ironside installment - no, make that any crime drama of the last 50 years. Don't take my word for it; do yourself a favor and rent the DVD. The sight of Lee Grant in a blousy black-and-white print pantsuit sprinting up the side of a hill, fleeing from her wet-suit clad abductor, is a hilarious moment of vintage '60s television.

Guest stars: Lee Grant, Farley Granger

Special guest star in triplicate: Quincy Jones pulls triple duty. In addition to writing the music for this week's episode, Jones plays the part of Les Appleton, a jazz club owner and old friend of Mark's. Finally, during a poolside cocktail party, Lee Grant's character makes reference to the famous music man when she says, "Oh, Quincy Jones, he really turns me on."

Six million dollar cameo: Richard Anderson (aka Oscar Goldman) plays Darren Sanford, Francesca's frustrated publisher.

She's does advice, not sports: Bantering poolside with her publisher, Francesca says, "Using that kind of logic, Willie Mays would still be playing ball with Toronto." Um, Willie Mays never played for Toronto.

Abduction For Dummies: There has got to be an easier way to kidnap someone than popping out of a pond in full scuba gear and chasing after your victim while wearing a wet suit and mask. Driving the getaway convertible while clad in rubber can't be easy either.

Speak softly and carry a big magnifying glass: Ironside actually uses a giant magnifying glass to show Eve (and the audience) what's obvious to the naked eye - the typewriter used to write Francesca's threat letter has a worn-out 'E'.

If you've seen one nightspot, you've seen them all: The Key of C jazz club owned by Quincy Jones' character looks like the same set as the underground Tiny Tim club used in the first episode.

Get hep to the lingo:
Les Appleton: It's all over the street now that you're living with the fuzz.
Mark: Plainer man. Run it on down to me.
Les Appleton: Well, he's a jive, funny-time-keepin', tuned-out musician.

Lifestyles of the rich and famous: A second attempt on Francesca's life is made when she's poisoned with strychnine. Thank goodness she's wealthy enough to have a personal physician on call who packs his own stomach pump.

Flash of inspiration: "The Ronco Home Stomach Pump." It's handy to have on hand for those times when you accidentally ingest too many sleeping pills or find yourself the victim of strychnine poisoning. Order one today.

Prime-time porno, 1967 style: Francesca's sister Doris Keller runs a photography studio. Well, sort of. For three dollars an hour, her male clients (or as she refers to them, "kooks") can snap photos of a woman in a plaid bikini posing with a giant pink stuffed teddy bear.

Another round before you arrest me, Chief? People in San Francisco are hilariously casual about being interviewed by the police during a murder investigation. In the last episode, Ironside and his crew were sipping cocktails served by a suspect's wife. In this episode, Francesca's sister offers Ironside a shot of whiskey before pouring herself a stiff one.

Insert moment of false suspense here: Back at Ironside's home office, an unidentified man creeps through the front door and tiptoes across the hall toward a meat cleaver menacingly placed in the foreground of the shot. Ironside turns to face the intruder, Francesca's husband Mitch Kirby (Farley Granger). Since Kirby is there to plead his innocence to the Chief, you quickly realize there's no point to any of this bogus red herring.

Jack and Jill of all trades: Quincy Jones isn't the only one with multiple skills at work in this episode. Eve goes undercover as Francesca's secretary, providing police protection, gathering inside information, and taking dictation. For once, no domestic skills are required of the policewoman.

Scenes like this are why I love this show: Ironside meets Francesca on the dock of her yacht to discuss the case and try to convince her she needs police protection. She's absolutely against having a tag-a-long cop, saying, "What's the point. Anybody can be hit. Of all people, you should know that."

No sooner are the words out of her mouth than shots ring out. A hit man in a parked car a mere few hundred yards down the waterfront uses a scope rifle to take shots at Francesca. Ed and Mark sprint after the shooter's car as it squeals out of the parking lot.

Ed displays crack marksmanship when he caps the car tires, firing his handgun which he steadies at eye level with the open palm of his opposite hand. Squinting one eye, his tongue sticking out between his teeth, he's the picture of concentration. And all this is set to the accompaniment of Quincy Jones' thrilling soundtrack. You gotta dig it.


* A Cop and His Chair
* Message From Beyond
* The Leaf in the Forest
* Dead Man's Tale


Posted on September 1, 2008

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BOOKS - All About Poop.


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