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Ironside: The Leaf in the Forest

Our look back on the debut season of Ironside continues.


Episode 3: The Leaf in the Forest

Airdate: 21 September 1967

Plot: In a newspaper headline befitting the outbreak of World War III, the Bayside Strangler has hit again and Chief Robert T. Ironside is on the case. Five little old ladies have met their untimely ends, but something about the most recent murder doesn't sit right with Ironside, who suspects a second killer has used the Strangler's MO to disguise his own dastardly deed.

Guest stars: John Larch, Edward Andrews

Directed by: Leo Penn, Sean's dad.

Earthquake Schmearthquake: The episode opens with an elderly woman, her gray hair in a bun and a sweater draped around her shoulders, sitting up late at night in bed reading the newspaper. Esther Garrison looks old enough to have survived the San Francisco Quake of 1906. Judging from the framed paintings hanging over her brass bed, she's not too concerned about living through the next one.

What part of "Bayside Strangler Still at Large" did you not understand? Apparently the headline screaming across the front page of the San Francisco Dispatch isn't enough to keep this widow from opening her front door in the middle of the night.

Now you see it, now you don't: In a bizarre lapse of continuity, Chief Ironside seems to have had his hair cut between two scenes which are connected by a short car ride. Somehow, I just can't see Eve wielding scissors in the back of the Ironside van, snipping at her boss's hair, all the while bumping down the streets of San Francisco.

Hot wheels: Ironside is tooling around in a motorized wheelchair now. Easier on everyone involved.

Number of Ironside F-bombs: The Chief utters his "flaming" expletive twice in this episode.

Nightcap: As the sun sets on the first day of the investigation, Ironside gathers his team for a "skull session" to review the facts of the case. Mark fixes the old man his late night toddy, a shot of bourbon in a glass of milk.

The 'Frisco fog lifts slowly: It takes Eve and Ed a full day before they figure out that Esther Garrison knew her killer, and even then Ironside has to spell it out for them, connecting the dots while they sit with puzzled looks on their faces.

Anything you have to say to me, detective, you can say in front of my wet bar: Ironside, Eve and Ed pay a call on their No. 1 Suspect's home to question his wife. During their interview of Myra DuPont (played by Barbara Barrie, eight years away from life as Mrs. Barney Miller), a cart with an ice bucket and six very large liquor decanters is prominently set in the foreground. It looks like a fifth character in the room.

In a New York Minute: The police commissioner puts the heat on Ironside to close the Bayside Strangler case ASAP. The number of applications for pistol permits has gone up at an alarming rate: 15 in the last ten days! (A shocking increase from the normal rate of one per year!!)

Imagine a time when every third TV show wasn't a police procedural crime drama: Ironside wakes Mark up in the middle of the night, asking him to perform a series of baffling tasks: read the newspaper, drop the paper on the ground, answer the door. Mark is completely baffled by Ironside re-creating the scene of the crime, even when his boss gravely tells him, "Mark, I'm sorry I couldn't let you in on it, but what you just did gave us a very important clue. Thanks."

More fog between the ears: Eve is so flaming clueless. Ironside spends five minutes explaining how he believes the Bayside Killer goes about choosing his victims while Ed and Eve listen, their brows furrowed in mutual looks of intense concentration. He has an idea to test his theory:

IRONSIDE: We put someone in an apartment with a view of the plaza and leave the lights on. (Do I have any volunteers?)

EVE: Well, you'd have to use a woman.

IRONSIDE: Yes, and she gets no protections because he only attacks women living alone. (Is there a policewoman in the house?)

EVE (aghast): You might be setting up the seventh murder. A defenseless old woman!

IRONSIDE: She only has to look old and not necessarily defenseless. We could use a young, vigorous graduate of the police academy skilled in Judo. (I'm looking at you, Eve.)

Cut to Eve with a shocked look on her face. She's the only one who didn't see that one coming. Well okay, neither did Ed.

The secret to a successful stakeout is to blend in: Mark (the only black man in a plaza filled with white folks) is hanging out near a group of hippies who are entertaining a small crowd. Though it's nighttime, the hippies singers all sport sunglasses. Ed, in his usual brown suit, wanders conspicuously through the crowd, blending in like oil and water.

No, really, they're hippies: A couple of the musicians are credited as "First Hippie" and "Second Hippie," who's played by John Rubinstein, the original Broadway Pippin.

Old habits die hard: During the stakeout, Raymond Burr (who co-starred in Rear Window) looks right at home sitting in a window peering with binoculars at "old lady" Eve in a nearby apartment.

Query: Imagine detectives show up at your house to interrogate you a second time about your husband's guilt as a murderer. You firmly believe your spouse is innocent and serve as his alibi. Would you serve these detectives martinis or Harvey Wallbangers?

Wise old Ironside: "The more you get into police work, Eve, the more you'll know that every time you solve a case some innocent person ends up behind a closed door crying. It's tough. You've got to be tougher."


* A Cop and His Chair.
* Message From Beyond.


Posted on August 19, 2008

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