NBC Cancels Blair Underwood's 'Ironside' Reboot After Just 3 Episodes

Television
by Tambay A. Obenson
October 18, 2013 5:43 PM
44 Comments
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Shocked? Not me. Not at all. And if you read my thoughts on the premiere episode, and those after, you really shouldn't be shocked either.

The series just hasn't been quite the draw that NBC likely hoped it would be. 

The debut of Ironside drew decent numbers - 6.8 million viewers and a 1.4 rating (adults 18-49) - thanks in part to the series that leads into it, Law & Order: SVU

Ironside retained 99.7% of the total-viewer lead-in from SVU, during its season debut night.

That retention didn't quite continue in successive weeks, however, as the most recent episode, which aired on Wednesday, drew 4.8 million viewers and a 1.0 rating. Those aren't necessarily terrible numbers... if you're a cable TV network, that is. But when you're NBC, and you're in a distant 3rd place behind CBS (9.45 million) and ABC (5.76 million) during the Wednesday 10pm hour (when Ironside airs), it's just not a good look.

Repeating what I've said previously, this is a new series that I didn't think would last more than 1 season, and expected that it might not even last through the whole first season, given how anxious networks have become when new shows aren't performing as strongly as hoped for - especially when compared to the competition - and how quick they are to cancel said shows.

Having watched all 3 episodes that did air, from my POV, there's really nothing all-that special about this Ironside reboot that makes it stand out from all the other cop shows on TV currently, and in recent years - other than the fact that the title character is black, as played by Blair Underwood. And that's just not quite enough, when you consider that it seems to be going for something far more gritty, rough and tumble, compared to the 1960s original that starred Raymond Burr, which it doesn't really succeed at, in a cop/detective/crime-solving TV series climate that includes much darker, more graphic, moodier material in the likes of Law & Order: SVU, the CSI franchise, and others.

NBC has unfortunately struck out in the new series department with black leads, over the last 3 or so seasons - remember Undercovers 3 years ago; Deception last season, and now we have Ironside

Underwood did co-star in another NBC series that was canceled after its first season - remember The Event? Just like that action-adventure series, Ironside is now history.

Via press release, NBC has announced it will debut Dick Wolf’s Chicago P.D. (the spin-off of Chicago Fire) in Ironside's timeslot - at 10 pm on Wednesdays, starting on January 8.

In the meantime, over the next 2 months, replacing Ironside in that 10pm slot, for November and December, NBC will air a string of original programming, including new episodes of DatelineSaturday Night Live holiday-themed specials, as well as holiday music specials starring Kelly Clarkson and Michael Buble.

Chicago P.D. will star Jason Beghe, Jon Seda, and Sophia Bush as Windy City cops. The show is a spinoff of NBC’s popular Tuesday night drama Chicago Fire, which continues to see significant ratings increases in its second season.

Blair Underwood's NBC reboot of 1960s/1970s crime drama series Ironside, co-starred, alongside Underwood, Spencer GrammerBrent SextonPablo SchreiberNeal Bledsoe, and Kenneth Choi.

The series is written and exec produced by Michael Caleo (Rescue MeThe Sopranos), and exec produced by David Semel, Teri WeinbergJohn Davis, and Jon Fox.

It's worth noting that, a year ago, Underwood signed what was then referred to as "a major development/talent holding deal" with NBC/Universal TV.

So expect that, under the above agreement, both sides will make another attempt, with another series, starring Underwood.

Television
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44 Comments

  • steve | December 9, 2013 3:03 PMReply

    NBC = No Black Cops.

  • James | November 25, 2013 10:07 PMReply

    You know darn well it was canceled after that bedroom scene with that white woman on national TV and especially NBC. It"s a darn shame that that klan mentality is still present in 2013. Poor Blair,
    he need to get with Oprah or TV One and do his thing before an audience that appreciates his gift.

  • CareyCarey | November 26, 2013 12:13 AM

    "It all has something to do with power, privilege and White male vanity"

    Andre, I am copying that line and adding it to my "Andre Seewood's Wise Words of Wisdom" file. I'm serious, over the years you've given me a wealth of insight (and sentence structure) that leads me to say "you ARE the man!". And... I do keep a file with many of your more pointed observations front and center.

    Maybe one day I can get your autograph in your book SLAVE CINEMA: The Crisis of the African-American in Film.

  • CareyCarey | November 26, 2013 12:13 AM

    "It all has something to do with power, privilege and White male vanity"

    Andre, I am copying that line and adding it to my "Andre Seewood's Wise Words of Wisdom" file. I'm serious, over the years you've given me a wealth of insight (and sentence structure) that leads me to say "you ARE the man!". And... I do keep a file with many of your more pointed observations front and center.

    Maybe one day I can get your autograph in your book SLAVE CINEMA: The Crisis of the African-American in Film.

  • Andre Seewood | November 25, 2013 10:59 PM

    I concur with your assertion: the show was cancelled after the broadcast of the love scene between Underwood's character and a White female. In reality, the show was no more badly and no better written than any other episodic cop show running on network television. Furthermore, NBC had been promoting the show for months in advance and they seemed to be invested in making the show a hit- but to abruptly cancel the show after that particular episode -citing low ratings after only two episodes- was particularly indiscreet and disingenuous. In fact, the cancelling of IRONSIDE after the interracial love scene between a Black male and a White female is very interesting in comparison with the interracial romance of ABC's SCANDAL between a Black female and a White male which continues its successful run on. It all has something to do with power, privilege and White male vanity... It takes us back to the cancelling of the original STAR TREK series a few episodes after the interracial kiss between Nichols and Shatner's characters; those were different times, but I could be wrong in assuming such a thing today. Although the cancelling of a television series is so frequent these days that it barely warrants our attention, particularly if you didn't get a chance to see it or weren't impressed by the first episodes, the cancelling of IRONSIDE was a knee-jerk reaction by television execs who either feared a White conservative audience backlash (that could spill over into their cherished L&O franchise) or were themselves made uncomfortable by the open display of Black male sexual possession of one of their own... The excuse of low ratings was intended to make the abrupt cancellation more palatable, but it was clear to me that it had to do with that open display of interracial sexuality with the Black male/White female configuration. It is in this way that the cancellation of IRONSIDE was really a quick signal of the shallow degree of racial tolerance within network television today; they'd rather kill and audience than build an audience if the show makes them (the execs) uncomfortable in any way.

  • James | November 25, 2013 10:07 PMReply

    You know darn well it was canceled after that bedroom scene with that white woman on national TV and especially NBC. It"s a darn shame that that klan mentality is still present in 2013. Poor Blair,
    he need to get with Oprah or TV One and do his thing before an audience that appreciates his gift.

  • James | November 25, 2013 10:07 PMReply

    You know darn well it was canceled after that bedroom scene with that white woman on national TV and especially NBC. It"s a darn shame that that klan mentality is still present in 2013. Poor Blair,
    he need to get with Oprah or TV One and do his thing before an audience that appreciates his gift.

  • James | November 25, 2013 10:07 PMReply

    You know darn well it was canceled after that bedroom scene with that white woman on national TV and especially NBC. It"s a darn shame that that klan mentality is still present in 2013. Poor Blair,
    he need to get with Oprah or TV One and do his thing before an audience that appreciates his gift.

  • James | November 25, 2013 10:07 PMReply

    You know darn well it was canceled after that bedroom scene with that white woman on national TV and especially NBC. It"s a darn shame that that klan mentality is still present in 2013. Poor Blair,
    he need to get with Oprah or TV One and do his thing before an audience that appreciates his gift.

  • James | November 25, 2013 10:06 PMReply

    You know darn well it was canceled after that bedroom scene with that white woman on national TV and especially NBC. It"s a darn shame that that klan mentality is still present in 2013. Poor Blair,
    he need to get with Oprah or TV One and do his thing before an audience that appreciates his gift.

  • James | November 25, 2013 10:06 PMReply

    You know darn well it was canceled after that bedroom scene with that white woman on national TV and especially NBC. It"s a darn shame that that klan mentality is still present in 2013. Poor Blair,
    he need to get with Oprah or TV One and do his thing before an audience that appreciates his gift.

  • James | November 25, 2013 10:06 PMReply

    You know darn well it was canceled after that bedroom scene with that white woman on national TV and especially NBC. It"s a darn shame that that klan mentality is still present in 2013. Poor Blair,
    he need to get with Oprah or TV One and do his thing before an audience that appreciates his gift.

  • James | November 25, 2013 10:06 PMReply

    You know darn well it was canceled after that bedroom scene with that white woman on national TV and especially NBC. It"s a darn shame that that klan mentality is still present in 2013. Poor Blair,
    he need to get with Oprah or TV One and do his thing before an audience that appreciates his gift.

  • James | November 25, 2013 10:06 PMReply

    You know darn well it was canceled after that bedroom scene with that white woman on national TV and especially NBC. It"s a darn shame that that klan mentality is still present in 2013. Poor Blair,
    he need to get with Oprah or TV One and do his thing before an audience that appreciates his gift.

  • James | November 25, 2013 10:06 PMReply

    You know darn well it was canceled after that bedroom scene with that white woman on national TV and especially NBC. It"s a darn shame that that klan mentality is still present in 2013. Poor Blair,
    he need to get with Oprah or TV One and do his thing before an audience that appreciates his gift.

  • James | November 25, 2013 10:06 PMReply

    You know darn well it was canceled after that bedroom scene with that white woman on national TV and especially NBC. It"s a darn shame that that klan mentality is still present in 2013. Poor Blair,
    he need to get with Oprah or TV One and do his thing before an audience that appreciates his gift.

  • James | November 25, 2013 10:06 PMReply

    You know darn well it was canceled after that bedroom scene with that white woman on national TV and especially NBC. It"s a darn shame that that klan mentality is still present in 2013. Poor Blair,
    he need to get with Oprah or TV One and do his thing before an audience that appreciates his gift.

  • James | November 25, 2013 10:06 PMReply

    You know darn well it was canceled after that bedroom scene with that white woman on national TV and especially NBC. It"s a darn shame that that klan mentality is still present in 2013. Poor Blair,
    he need to get with Oprah or TV One and do his thing before an audience that appreciates his gift.

  • James | November 25, 2013 10:06 PMReply

    You know darn well it was canceled after that bedroom scene with that white woman on national TV and especially NBC. It"s a darn shame that that klan mentality is still present in 2013. Poor Blair,
    he need to get with Oprah or TV One and do his thing before an audience that appreciates his gift.

  • James | November 25, 2013 10:06 PMReply

    You know darn well it was canceled after that bedroom scene with that white woman on national TV and especially NBC. It"s a darn shame that that klan mentality is still present in 2013. Poor Blair,
    he need to get with Oprah or TV One and do his thing before an audience that appreciates his gift.

  • James | November 25, 2013 10:06 PMReply

    You know darn well it was canceled after that bedroom scene with that white woman on national TV and especially NBC. It"s a darn shame that that klan mentality is still present in 2013. Poor Blair,
    he need to get with Oprah or TV One and do his thing before an audience that appreciates his gift.

  • James | November 25, 2013 10:05 PMReply

    You know darn well it was canceled after that bedroom scene with that white woman on national TV and especially NBC. It"s a darn shame that that klan mentality is still present in 2013. Poor Blair,
    he need to get with Oprah or TV One and do his thing before an audience that appreciates his gift.

  • James | November 25, 2013 10:05 PMReply

    You know darn well it was canceled after that bedroom scene with that white woman on national TV and especially NBC. It"s a darn shame that that klan mentality is still present in 2013. Poor Blair,
    he need to get with Oprah or TV One and do his thing before an audience that appreciates his gift.

  • James | November 25, 2013 10:05 PMReply

    You know darn well it was canceled after that bedroom scene with that white woman on national TV and especially NBC. It"s a darn shame that that klan mentality is still present in 2013. Poor Blair,
    he need to get with Oprah or TV One and do his thing before an audience that appreciates his gift.

  • ALM | October 26, 2013 8:54 PMReply

    NBC needs to call Shonda Rhimes. She could write something original and amazing for Mr. Underwood.

  • Sigh | October 22, 2013 8:22 PMReply

    The problem with this show was the underwhelming writing and supporting cast. Blair Underwood did a great job, but unfortunately, he was the only interesting thing about it. I don't get NBC ... you'd think, by now, they'd recognize that the writing is the primary reason many of their shows fail, and do what it takes to get better writers on their projects. : P

  • nycole | October 21, 2013 8:30 PMReply

    As a Blair Underwood fan, I am sad to see the show go, however at the end of the day the numbers do matter, and it is about networks "pockets" and retaining power when it comes to shows.

  • tamara | October 21, 2013 1:14 PMReply

    Was it really bad though? I didn't think so. It held my interest. I liked the characters. It was just beginning to develop. NBC is notorious. SMH. However, if they release the boxset, I will definitely rent/buy.

  • LadyJ | October 21, 2013 10:43 AMReply

    It was just a bad show............

  • Mia | October 19, 2013 1:35 PMReply

    and yet another reason why NBC SUCKS

  • Sad | October 19, 2013 9:33 AMReply

    This is sad...we need more cop shows on tv

  • Michiline | October 19, 2013 6:28 PM

    More?!?!

  • Kojak's Wig | October 18, 2013 11:55 PMReply

    Nobody, and I mean NObody, wanted to watch Blair Underwood not sexing up the ladies. American TV is so ridiculously racist.

    Try "Luther", you wanky dumbasses.

  • Carl | October 19, 2013 2:40 PM

    Yeah its just America. No other place does racism exist on TV. Pull your head out your ass and smell reality will you please. thanks.

  • dean | October 18, 2013 11:54 PMReply

    I saw the first episode of Ironside and that was two episodes too many. A waste of time.

  • Monique a Williams | October 19, 2013 8:06 AM

    Haha! I watched the opening scene of the pilot and couldn't get past it.

  • slb | October 18, 2013 11:50 PMReply

    It was doomed from the start. No reason to reboot a 40 year old cop show. It has no name recognition among younger audiences. The show itself was pretty average. There was nothing distinctive about it. Blair is good, but the premise and the material were not compelling in the least. He's gotten some terrible shows under his development deals. LAX, The Event, Ironside. He really needs to take a closer look at the roles put forth in front of him.

  • Miles Ellison | October 18, 2013 9:41 PMReply

    It might be time for broadcast networks to revise the ratings threshold for keeping a show on and actually try to cultivate loyal audiences. 4.8 million people is about twice as many viewers as Breaking Bad drew in the seasons before the final episodes. It's also about as many people as watch Sons of Anarchy on FX. Granted, those shows are exponentially better than this show was, but there is something to be said for trying to attract an audience that appreciates some originality. It's also be time to stop rehashing old cop shows with black leads. You would think NBC would have learned from the failure of USA's attempt to reboot Kojak with Ving Rhames.

  • Elianarra | October 18, 2013 8:51 PMReply

    I watched the pilot and it was pretty terrible, but I'm still sad to see another show with a black lead get cancelled. Kudos to NBC for trying, but they need to get better writers! I hope this failure doesn't scare people away from diverse casting, but it definitely doesn't help. Shame.

  • Nadell | October 22, 2013 10:57 AM

    Exactly my thoughts.
    I pray NBC doesn't shy away from what they've intended to do - that is cast black leads in their shows based solely on their history. Although that is very likely what they as a network could do. But they shouldn't. They need to brainstorm and colab w/ the best writers for their plots & storylines.
    I applaud them for Undercovers, Kojak, Deception and Ironside. They are making attempts...just not quite successful ones...YET.

  • Beemooree | October 20, 2013 3:10 PM

    I hope it doesn't scare folks away. NBC seems like they're trying thought even though their black leads shows get canned. I believe their next black lead is lance gross in crisis

  • dancelover51 | October 18, 2013 7:48 PMReply

    Blair Underwood is a show killer.

  • Monique a Williams | October 19, 2013 8:05 AM

    I have been saying the EXACT same thing and people were tryna kill me! Beautiful or not, his track record proves it!

  • Sergio | October 18, 2013 5:53 PMReply

    OUCH!

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