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Ironside: Message From Beyond

Our look back on Ironside continues.


Airdate: 14 September 1967

Title: Message From Beyond

Plot: It looks like an inside job when $175,000 is stolen from a horseracing track. Good thing Robert T. Ironside and his team of three (police officers Eve Whitefield and Ed Brown and the Chief's bodyguard/driver Mark) just happen to be enjoying one of their semi-regular afternoons at the track when the power goes out and the cash is taken. Bad thing for Ironside that it happened just moments before he's about to post his sure thing, big-money bet.

Guest stars: Gene Evans, James Gregory, Madlyn Rhue and Ken Lynch. You may not know their names, but you'd recognize their faces.

Stepford Blondes: In episode two, Eve is looking even more like a Hitchock blonde, sporting an up-do modeled after Tippi Hedren in The Birds.

The Socratic Method: Ironside likes to brainstorm a case by constantly peppering his young team with questions, most of which he already knows the answers to. When Mark (who's not a trained police officer) surprises his boss by correctly answering one of Ironside's queries, he adds, "I study everything. You told me you don't want me to be ignorant."

A (police) woman's work is never done: Back at Ironside's police station apartment, as Ed and Ironside discuss the case so far, Eve busies herself with cleaning up the dinner dishes.

Quit touching my stuff: Ironside's irate because Eve washed the coffeepot out. "It was just starting to build up flavor."

Obligatory chase scene: When the bagman who stole the money rams through a police roadblock, a motorcycle cop takes off in hot pursuit. Racing through the dry California hills, the suspect spends more time looking behind him than where he's driving, so you know how this is going to end. Sure enough - smash, crash, and a shattered windshield brilliantly colored red indicates Game Over for Ironside's best lead on the case.

One-Adam-12, The Audition: The motorcycle cop first on the scene is none other than Kent McCord, a year away from starring in Adam-12.

Meanwhile, back at the stationhouse: Mark is playing darts and Eve is washing dishes. Again.

What the well-dressed police detective will wear: In one scene, Eve's dress looks like it shrank in the wash. The wide patent leather belt wraps under her chest and the hem comes up above her knees. Her stylish black patent leather shoes have clear acrylic heels. Good for running, no doubt.

Have purse, will travel: I truly feel sorry for Eve. In almost every scene, she's clutching a handbag. Is this really the best way to carry around her badge and gun? She wears three different outfits in this episode, each with a coordinating handbag and shoe combination:

* A navy blue bag at the track.
* A black patent leather purse with the outfit mentioned above.
* A taupe bag paired to her orange and mustard yellow woven suit with burnt orange piping.

Do I have to do everything myself? When he learns the local sheriff has left the suspect's car unattended and unsearched, an irate Ironside heads out to pick over the car himself.

Lamest directions ever: Ironside asks where they'll find the abandoned car wreck. The sheriff puts his finger in the middle of a large San Francisco wall map, in the manner of someone blindly picking a point on the map, and says, "In there, by the culvert. It'll take you about half an hour." That's okay, they can just use their GPS.

That Eve is so handy to have around: After a bumpy ride in the back of the truck with Ironside, Eve hands him the radio when Ed calls in with important news.

Our suspect has a thing for old cars: When Ironside & Co. fail to find anything in, on, or around the car that will lead them closer to their suspect, they use it as bait at a police auction. A shifty-eyed man who looks like Jack Albertson in a fedora tops the previous winning bids of $80 (by ten dollars!) to score the car. Mark and Ed exchange a knowing glance. They've got their man.

Slow chase pursuit: As the suspect drives the bait car away, Ed and Eve follow. They're followed in turn by the head of security from the track, who slyly hides behind a newspaper before jumping behind the wheel of his car. All three cars slowly wend their way through city streets, dodging huge wood-paneled station wagons and little old ladies as the soundtrack thumps out a jazzy version of the Ironside theme.

When did we cross the border into Mayberry? Ed and Eve approach the car's new owner, a man named George Bentley, currently Suspect No. 1. They identify themselves as police officers and Bentley cheerfully asks them if they'd like to come in? "Marthy will be so excited. Well, come on along!"

They just don't make cars the way they used to: George Bentley on why he buys all his cars from police auctions: "Only place in town hasn't raised its prices and you get good clean cars, too. Not like it was back in Prohibition of course. Then I used to get some of those fancy black limousines. You know, the kind they grabbed off the rumrunners."

"Oh George, you're such a good provider": As soon as Eve and Ed are out of the house, Bentley flashes a wad of cash at his adoring wife. "Nothing like doing a small favor for a friend. Just buy him a car." Ed and Eve emerge on the street to find (surprise) the bait car is gone!

It's always sunny in '60s San Francisco: So far, every exterior interstitial scene is of a bright sunny day - no rain, no fog, no homeless people.

What's missing from this picture? About the fourth time the camera pans the San Francisco skyline I realize what looks so odd: There's no Transamerica Pyramid (1969-1972).

The "iron-fingered Viking": Ironside's a-ha moment comes during his weekly Swedish massage, delivered by the thickly accented Helga. (What else could her name be?) "Better ya? Ya . . . Yust one more gud one, Chief. Hold still until Helga can finish scapula."

It ends with a splash: Just as in the pilot episode, Ironside & Co. catch their man after a tussle with the suspect ends with him falling into the bay.


* A Cop and His Chair.


Posted on August 11, 2008

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