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Ironside: Light at the End of the Journey

Our look back on the debut season of Ironside continues.


Episode: Light at the End of the Journey

Airdate: 9 November 1967

Plot: Shortly before he's to meet his old buddy Ironside for a rib dinner, private investigator Ted Bartlett is gunned down waiting for a hotel elevator. Not even a blind witness is enough to stop Ironside from getting his man. As the cop says to the coroner, "If you were going to kill someone, would you kill a friend of Robert T. Ironside?" Only if you had a death wish!

Guest star: Katherine Crawford (Yeah, I'd never heard of her either).

Special guest star: Robert Reed (AKA Mr. Brady) as the blind woman's overprotective fiance.

San Fran DOT: The dump truck in front of police headquarters is back, still filling that bottomless hole to China.

For whom the bell tolls: As Bartlett leaves his hotel room, a repeating chime on the soundtrack tells us the Grim Reaper is paying a call, and he's taking the stairs.

Top of the Mark: I've only been to San Francisco a few times, but I knew the exterior shot of the fictional "Hilltop Hotel" looked familiar. It's the Mark Hopkins Hotel, a famous landmark building on Nob Hill built in 1926.

There are worse ways to go: Staring at the body of his fallen colleague, Ironside says, "Nobody should die in a hotel hallway." As opposed to, say, dying on the battlefield of a foreign war 7,000 miles from home.

Fancy-schmancy: We can tell the Hilltop Hotel is one plush place to stay by the gold and cornflower blue color scheme going on in the lobby - it's like a magnificent, over-sized powder room.

Fly girl: Eve's chocolate brown leather coat has an incredibly wide collar. Very WWII bomber girl.

Introducing the timid Miss Norma Wales and her domineering fiance Jerry Pierson: Eve has located a witness whose elevator just happened to open onto the murder scene. Norma could identify the killer - if only she wasn't blind! Tough break, Ironside.

Hey Chief, are you blind? Ironside's powers of observation must be failing; upon meeting Norma he hasn't a clue that she's blind. No matter that she's wearing a thoroughly obvious pair of dark sunglasses indoors and is staring off at an odd direction, away from Ironside when he enters the room.

Ironside (to Eve): "Well?" Eve: "You're not going to believe it."

Ironside: "Are we on an investigation or playing Twenty Questions?"

Eve: "She was on the elevator when it stopped at the fifth floor."

Ironside: "Miss Wales, did you see anything?"

Norma: "No."

Ironside (cocking his head in surprise): "Nothing at all?"

Norma: "Nothing at all, Mr. Ironside. I'm blind."

D'oh! Ironside's mouth drops open and he shoots a look at Eve as if to say, "Well, why didn't someone tell me!"

Like a bickering married couple: Ironside and the Commissioner never converse. They yell, yell, yell.

Willing and differently-abled: Ironside convinces the Commissioner that the only way to catch the killer before he offs the witness is to set the blind girl up as a decoy. Though Norma looks thirty years old, they keep referring to her as a girl, as in, "If the girl's willing, that's exactly the way I'll do it."

Two sitting ducks and a sweetie bird: Of course Eve is the cop left to guard the pretty engaged couple in their hotel room. (For a previous use of "sweetie bird," see Ironside, Episode 08: Tagged for Murder.)

She's packin' heat: Eve's handbag is just big enough to carry a handgun. When she opens the door to Ironside and Mark, she continues to hold the gun at waist level, pointing it directly at them as they enter the room. "Easy with that," Mark says. "We're on your side."

Fraidy cat: Norma is utterly and completely dependent on her fiance Jerry, and he seems to like it that way. Jerry's dead-set against Norma helping Ironside set a trap for the killer and she's not too keen on it either. Norma turns Ironside down, saying, "I live with fear all the time. Fear of little things that don't matter to people like you . . . I can't. I can barely live with the fear I have now. I can't add more to it. Please don't ask me."

Wait until dark: As soon as Jerry leaves, Norma's hotel room becomes a haunted house of menacing sounds. Rapping, tapping and foreboding footsteps freak the girl out in less time than it took for her to recite the above speech and she immediately changes her mind to help Chief Ironside catch a killer.

Suspicious coincidence: Wait Until Dark, the film starring Audrey Hepburn as a blind woman terrorized by drug smugglers in her own home, opened just a few months before this episode originally aired.

Pre-pre-steadicam: Ironside stages a press conference with Norma on the police station steps. The news crew has set up the equivalent of a TV studio on the sidewalk with multiple cameras on wheeled tripods.

If we wanted your opinion, we'd ask for it: Jerry sulks in the back seat of the limo like a sour teenager. "I don't suppose anyone is interested in what I think about all this."

Doppelganger: This is the second episode in which Eve poses as a witness by dressing in an identical outfit and switching places at a crucial moment. This time she impersonates Norma, waiting in the hotel room for the killer to show. It's a good thing she and Norma are both bleach bottle blondes.

Good plan: Threaten the uptight white guy with the ex-con black dude: When Ironside tires of Jerry's stick-in-the-mud interruptions, he says, "Mark, what were you doing the first time you were arrested?"

Mark: "I do believe it was in the middle of a rumble. Some of us, some of them. If I remember correctly, I was pushing this guy's head through the cement."

Ironside: "Think you could do the same thing on the side of law and order?"

Mark: "Be glad to. (To Jerry) Care to wrastle?"

Guilty much? Jerry is suffering from a classic case of Magnificent Obsession syndrome. Turns out he was responsible for the car accident that caused Norma's blindness; he was driving the car.

Sisters aren't doing it for themselves: When Chief Ironside asks Norma what she's been doing in the two years since her accident, she replies, "Done? I've been blind . . . I'm helpless. I need Jerry to take care of me."

"This chair is my white cane. Where's yours?" In a tender moment, Ironside rains on Norma's pity party when he reveals to her his disability.

Anything else I can do for you sir? The killer checks into the hotel where Norma is staying (along with Ironside and fifteen other cops.) I'm so distracted by his pulling out a couple of lousy quarters as a tip that I nearly miss who's playing the bellboy. It's Mike Farrell everyone!

They had time to set up a warning system? On his way out of the room where Norma is being held, Chief Ironside flips a switch, which triggers a flashing red light located in a nearby room. A group of cops who look like they're standing in a utility closet stare at the flashing bulb - I think they've got the signal.

Gunfight at the O.K. Hotel: It's hardly a fair fight. One guy with a silencer against seven uniformed cops with guns, including a female officer who looks like a meter maid.


* 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


Posted on October 27, 2008

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