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Ironside: The Man Who Believed

Our look back on the debut season of Ironside continues.


Episode: The Man Who Believed

Airdate: 23 November 1967

Plot: A Twiggy-esque folk singer's body is found floating under the Golden Gate Bridge and her death is quickly ruled a suicide. Ironside refuses to believe that world-famous songbird Samantha Dain would take her own life. He insists on increasing the San Francisco homicide rate by one when he overrules the coroner and cracks opens a murder investigation. His reasoning? One heartfelt anti-suicide get well card sent to him by said victim when he was recovering from the gunshot wound that landed him in his wheelchair. Nope, Ironside is certain his pen pal didn't take a "200-hundred-foot shortcut into the bay" - she must have been pushed! And Iron-tuition is never wrong.

Guest stars: Guy Stockwell and Marcia Strassman (AKA Mrs. "Hello Mr. Kot-ter") as Samantha Dain. Introducing Barbara Rhoades as Bonnie Lloyd.

The Tripped-Out Tulip: Most of this episode is set in a swinging little club called "The Psychedelic Daffodil."

Opening night = farewell performance: Before we learn Samantha Dain has died, the episode opens at a morose gathering at the Daffodil, where a poster at the front door declares the singer's opening night performance is sold out. A handful of people inside the club glumly listen to the singer's nasal whine emanating from a reel-to-reel machine placed at the foot of a microphone stand. Samantha Dain is phoning it in - from the Great Beyond.

What's the matter with you guys? You act like somebody died or something: Slowly Samantha's backing band comes together, air-drumming, air-pianoing, and air-mandolining along with the recording.

The electric mandolin: (Hey now, that would make a bitchin' name for a swingin' little club.) The mandolin sounds suspiciously like an electric guitar.

Samantha Dain should fire her agent: Her character's name is misspelled in the program's opening credits.

I hope you like Samantha's number one hit, "Even When You Cry," because you're going to hear a lot of it:

" . . . In a rat race brother only rats can win.
Between the day you're born and the day you die,
You're lucky if they hear you even when you cry.
Even when you cry."

Ay, this song is going to make me cry.

Are we boring you? It doesn't say much for this episode's excitement level when the first scene after the credits begins with a close-up of Mark yawning.

Ironside likes to play with dolls, part 1: Back at Ironside HQ, Mark has delivered a life-size cutout of Samantha Dain. In the photo, she's wearing a paisley chiffon long dress and a vacant expression. She's perched barefoot on a stool, holding her guitar and looking ready to break into song at any moment. Ironside has requested the cardboard chanteuse for inspiration and she hovers like a creepy presence over the investigation.

I can fly! When the only witness to have seen Samantha on the bridge says he saw her laughing, waving and having a jolly good time just before supposedly leaping to her death, no one mentions the possibility of drugs. I repeat - 1967, music scene, San Francisco - and not one of the detectives mentions drugs.

Ironside likes to play with dolls, part 2: When Ironside asks Mark to find a toy store where he can buy a "boy doll and a girl doll," Mark begins to wonder if his boss is feeling okay.

Someone with too much time on their hands: In the next scene, the team is standing in front of a model section of the Golden Gate Bridge, which spans the length of Ironside's pool table. (Who had time to construct and paint this, I wonder.) All this so Ironside can recreate the scene of the crime and convince his skeptical detectives that, despite the witness' statement, someone else was on the bridge. Someone who helped Samantha off the bridge - in a hurry.

As solid as a Vermont Republican strung out on smack: No sooner has Ironside proclaimed that " . . . Samantha Dain was as solid as a Vermont Republican" then we learn she was a heroin addict with two failed suicide attempts in her past. On the night she died, she was flying - and not just off the bridge.

Shake it, don't break it: Back at the Daffodil, Samantha's band is jammin', while a woman on a small rod-iron balcony overhead shimmies and shakes to the music. In the middle of a back-bend, she spies Ironside and Mark coming through the door.

Hip-shaking girl: Hi!

Mark: What was that you were doing?

Hip-shaking girl: (Descending the circular stair to the stage.) You mean this? (Standing sideways with one hand raised and the other on her hip, she kicks out one leg, hops her feet back together, and rapidly shakes her ass from side to side in a bad mash-up of Bob Fosse meets Laugh In dance moves.)

Mark: Yeah. Wild.

Ironside: If you'll stop trembling Miss, I'd like to see Harry Brancusi.

Heeeeeere's Harry: Brancusi (Michael Constantine) enters through a beaded curtain. He's the owner of the Psychedelic Daffodil and speaks with a voice like Marlon Brando's in Godfather. (Constantine would go on to use a decidedly different tone of voice when he portrayed Principal Seymour Kaufman on Room 222.)

I'm cool, I'm cool: When Mark makes one-too-many smart remarks, Brancusi threatens him with a pointed finger, saying, "This is my place. You cool it or blow."

The Red Herring in a patterned suit and a paisley tie: Samantha Dain's manager is quite tightly wound, fairly creepy and appears to have some issues with women. In his mind, to be female is to be "occasionally treacherous, frequently cruel, and always difficult."

Apparently successful folk singers don't wear long sleeves to hide their smack habits: The heroin injection mark on Samantha's arm doesn't fit with Ironside's scenario, since a woman about to perform onstage would never have risked a puncture wound or bruise on her arm. Unless of course, she was wearing the dress pictured in her cardboard cutout, which is standing right behind Ironside. Yeah, the one with the singer photographed wearing long sleeves.

How convenient that no one thought to turn off the tape recorder once the session was done: The gang gathers around the table to listen to the recording of Samantha's final rehearsal. "Oh, it was you. You coulda got me twenty years in jail for what you did," the singer says to a silent party on the tape. "Oh, darling you're going to straighten it out and I mean tonight. Because if you don't, I head right for the police." Unless of course, someone gets me high as a kite and pushes me off the Golden Gate Bridge first.

Ironside, on the cutting-edge of technology, circa 1967: The Chief calls on the expertise of a Stanford professor to use experimental voice print recognition to ID the voice of the man on the rehearsal tape.

Well, hellooooo: When Eve comes through the lab door, Professor Peabody (that's really his name) makes a beeline for her. You can practically hear his internal voice saying, "Va va va voom."

World's worst pick-up line, number 1: A hospital nurse with white tights, brown cat's-eye glasses, and a stick up her butt berates Ironside for rolling down the hall in the opposite direction from physical therapy. She yells at him as if he was deaf, snapping, "And just what are you doing dressed?"

Ironside: I was just about to ask you the same thing.

Uptight Nurse: What are you talking about?

Ironside: Raw passion. (Cut to a shocked look on the nurse's face as she clutches a clipboard to her chest.) But I'll settle for Dr. Zelman.

I'd tell you but I'd have to kill you: Ironside interviews Paul Bridger (who's working his way through medical school by playing piano at the Daffodil.) They meet in the hospital lab, in the dark, late at night. No one around but Bridger, his microscope, and a scalpel. Their conversation boils down to Ironside asking Bridger point blank if he killed Samantha and Bridger pointing out if he did, he'd have to kill Ironside right now.

Who are you calling a cripple, you cripple? The scene ends with a series of tense close-ups between the two men, menacing looks, low tones, and name-calling.

Holy shillelagh! What is Eve wearing on her head? A Kelly green leprechaun hat, minus the gold buckle. It completely clashes with her rust and brown tweed suit.

Dope is the name of the game: Ironside and company brainstorm in the Daffodil dressing room and based on absolutely no physical evidence, they deduce that Samantha Dain unwittingly smuggled drugs through the airport.

World's worst pick-up line, number 2: (Professor Peabody to Officer Whitfield) I find your voice intensely interesting. I wonder if you'd let me program it on this machine sometime. Like, tonight.


* 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.


Posted on December 19, 2008

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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