Ironside and Sarge

Ironside (1967-1975)
Sarge (1971-1972)
Type: Spin Off
Group 36

   While writing these crossover/spin off pages I have come across a lot of crossovers and spin offs that I knew little or nothing about. For the most part though it was simple enough to find some reference material on these either in a book, on the internet or through some other way. But with this one I had met my match. I had found a spin off on which I could find no information. While I know that supposedly the show Sarge was tied in some way to the Raymond Burr series Ironside.... that was all I knew about any connection between the shows. Until, that is, I got a very helpful reader e-mail.

   Ironside starred Raymond Burr as a former San Francisco police detective who had been crippled in a shooting but continued to fight crime from a wheelchair with the help of his loyal staff. Oddly the show was named Ironside because Burr's character's name was Robert Ironside and not in any way because of the wheelchair. Truth is though, if you're a TV cop with a last name like Ironside, dude, you're ending up in a wheelchair. Its TV logic. If he had been named Robert McBlindguy he'dve ended up loosing his sight.

   Here is the weird thing. The show was on eight seasons! It was a popular show. Most shows on that long have someone putting out an episode guide book on them or a tribute site on the internet. Ironside? No dice. I guess the Raymond Burr contingent is more obsessed with his Perry Mason work. I dunno. There just is no good info on the exploits of San Fran's baddest ass, motion impaired, crime fighter. But according to The Complete Directory To Prime Time And Cable TV Shows, the Bible of TV geekdom, Sarge is indeed a spin off of Ironside with George Kennedy's character of Sarge having first appeared on an episode of that show. Guess what though? Looks like that esteemed tome is a tad off.

   Now it does make sense that Sarge would be a spin off of Ironside (it isn't). The plots were vaguely similar enough. Where Ironside told the story of a former cop turned non-cop do-gooder (Ironside was a special consultant to the police) Sarge told the story of a cop turned non-cop do-gooder priest! Father Samuel Cavanaugh worked as a priest in the same area he had protected as a cop. Due to his police background he was nicknamed Sarge. He went from saving their lives to saving their souls. Another point towards these shows being linked is the fact that when Sarge premiered it aired immediately after Ironside on NBC. Networks like to put shows on together on the same night that are linked. Its a nice way to try and keep the audience from switching channels.

   But now, thanks as I've said to the help of a kindly e-mail, we get to the truth of the situation. Are the shows linked? Yes, but by a crossover and not as a spin off. Seems Sarge was based on a series of books and had a telefilm, i.e. "pilot", before any of this Ironside stuff happened. And the series was a fact before the shows hooked up. Rather than a spin off situations it's in fact another case of a network using an established hit to try and hype a new show. Not that it worked so hot. I've had bags of dorritos that lasted longer than the series Sarge.

   The only problem getting these shows together though was location. While Ironside was set in San Francisco, Sarge was set in San Diego. While both cities are in California, they are hardly right next to each other. Easily overcome though. Seems Ironside had a case involving a church hating nut. I mean I don't like getting up early on Sundays but that's nothing compared to this homicidal sucker. Anyway, as you see the case already had that religious angle. That meant Ironside needed some religious style consultation on the case and, wouldn't ya know it, Sarge was in town for a religious conference! What luck! He not only helped Ironside avert major pushing up of tons of dasies, he also managed to save the killer's soul too.

   Hmmm. Maybe I see why Sarge didn't last. I see a nut menacing people for an hour or two, at the end I want to see him get some just desserts. Even though its right and good and all, I don't want the end to be that Mr. Loopy is going to be living next door to me in the hereafter. Hey, he's gone off before. If Sarge did that a lot, it might sorta toss a wet blanket on the whole vicarious enjoyment of the baddies getting what's coming to them vibe. It's not right but it's true.

Other Ironside Links
Ironside and Amy Prentiss

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