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Ironside: Force of Arms

Our look back on the debut season of Ironside continues.

Episode: Force of Arms

Airdate: 4 January 1968

Plot: A "dynamic millionaire" named Marcus Weathers is amassing a private army called The Second Force, a citizen group he proclaims will help the San Francisco police force deal with the rampant crime overtaking the country. The murder of his own security officer gives Weathers the excuse he needs to whip up support. Ironside must solve the murder before the vigilante millionaire begins enforcing law and order - his way.

Guest stars: Harold J. Stone, Gene Raymond (Mr. Jeanette MacDonald), and Linden Chiles.

The Second Force's Mission Statement: "We're a group of concerned citizens who want to help. We don't intend to hand over our country to the forces of lawlessness and crime, without a fight." Step right up, they're accepting applications for membership.

A prelude to the Summer of Love: "Crime (is) going up. Disregard for authority. Murderers being turned loose to roam the streets. You name it, we've got it."

Mark breaks it down for us: "(The Second Force is) a real police state, man. Instant posse."

The nose knows: While collecting evidence in the dead man's room, Eve sniffs an empty glass and says, "Rye Old Fashioned." Sniff, sniff. Ironside corrects her - Bourbon Old Fashioned.

Fuel efficiency circa 1968: Mark calls in with the crime lab report for the car in which the murdered man's body was found and he unwittingly reveals an important clue. The rental car's mileage on the highway was a whopping 14 miles per gallon.

Weathers reveals his real goal behind The Second Force: "I'm going to see to it that this city is a safe place for my wife to drive alone to her hairdresser, to the art gallery or a department store and back." It's the "and back" that really sells it.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Eve is double-dissed by Weathers and his wife Susan. First, during introductions to his wife, Weathers can't remember Eve's name three minutes after Ironside has introduced her to him. When Ironside steps in to introduce "Officer Whitfield," Susan Weathers exclaims, "Really?!" Eve responds, "It happens all the time," and Mrs. Weathers says strangely, "I meant that as a compliment." Snap snap.

Good work Officer Whitfield: Eve is supposed to "pump" the wife for information, but the wife ends up asking all the questions.

Insert the sound of tires squealing against the curb here: So far I've counted two "Chinese landings" in this episode (See the previous episode for explanation.)

Stealth mode #1: Eve's no dummy and she follows Mrs. Weathers when the millionaire's wife tries to give this girl detective the slip. Officer Whitfield is very unobtrusive in her bright red coat, arriving in a bright orange taxi that squeals away from the curb after she gets out.

Super-computing: Weathers' master plan includes collecting information on fellow citizens of interest, a databank of dossiers touted as second only to the FBI. Ironside takes a tour of the Second Force computer room, where the new security chief boasts they have a million bucks worth of floor-to-ceiling computers, the kind with spinning reel-to-reel tape, lots of flashing buttons, punch cards, and reams of accordion paper spitting out onto the floor. The machines currently store an impressive 200,000 names and are working at a tremendous clip, adding (get this) 100 names a day!

Whirr, whirr, click, click, whirr: Ironside asks for the computer to compile a list of suspects in the murder of security officer Dennison and after a few button presses, for a full ten seconds we watch the men in suits watch the computer whirr and click. Very suspenseful. Finally, Ironside is handed a stack of 32 punch cards, a "real murderer's row," which includes a Unitarian minister, a Stanford professor, a surgeon at the Children's Hospital, and none other than Robert T. Ironside!

Best in show: As the episode goes on, Mrs. Weathers' hairstyle is making her look more and more like a poodle. I think it has a lot to do with the two-inch-wide pink beaded necklace clasped high around her neck.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: We're treated to a recycled cut-away shot - Edward Asner's wood-paneled station wagon from the previous episode.

It's in the details: I love the little white metal desk light that's duct-taped to the desk in Ironside's crime fighting van.

Low blow: Ironside is convinced Dennison's murder is an inside job and when he brings in a few of the Second Force for questioning, their leader goes ballistic on the police commissioner. "He's out to destroy the Second Force. Wipe it out! And why? Because he has a neurotic hatred for us, because he's an embittered, vindictive man who's sorry for himself, who'll do anything to get back a little of what he had in public life before he became a cripple!"

We identified the body from his AARP card: Weathers' chauffeur is murdered and I have to laugh when the coroner says the victim was 37 years old. He didn't look a day under 55.

Stealth mode #2: Ironside arranges with Weathers' wife to sneak into the Weathers' mansion so he can flush out the killer from within. Late that night, Ironside rolls through the open terrace door and hides behind a rubber plant.

That's how he rolls: Holding three others at gunpoint, Ironside then wheels around the living room and out onto the terrace and no one makes a move against the solo "crippled" cop.

My plan would have succeeded if it hadn't been for that pesky cop in the iron chair: Just when it looks like Ironside has been set up and he and Weathers will be the final victims of a Second Force coup, master crimefighter Robert T. Ironside pulls a fast one with a gun loaded with blanks. When one of the bad guys tries to make a run for it to the waiting helicopter, Ed pops out from the cockpit, gun at the ready and they've got their man.

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Previously:
* A Cop and His Chair
* Message From Beyond
* The Leaf in the Forest
* Dead Man's Tale
* Eat, Drink and Be Buried
* The Taker
* An Inside Job
* Tagged For Murder
* Let My Brother Go
* Light at the End of the Journey
* The Monster of Comus Towers.
* The Man Who Believed
* A Very Cool Hot Car
* The Past Is Prologue
* Girl In The Night
* The Fourteenth Runner

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Comments welcome.

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Posted on February 22, 2010


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