IRONSIDE. “The Leaf in the Forest.” NBC, 21 September 1967 (Season One, Episode Two). Raymond Burr (Robert T. Ironside), Don Galloway (Det. Sgt. Ed Brown), Barbara Anderson (Officer Eve Whitfield), Don Mitchell (Mark Sanger). Guest Cast: John Larch, Edward Andrews, Barbara Barrie, John Rubinstein, Bert Freed. Director: Leo Penn. Currently available online.

   The basic setup for the series was established, in a TV movie entitled Ironside (March 28, 1967), but I’ve not seen that since it first aired, so I can’t provide any details beyond the following: Robert Ironside was a member of San Francisco Police Department until was crippled in an accident and confined to a wheelchair. Not wanting his expertise go to waste, he was hired as a consultant and given two liaison officers (Eve Whitfield and Ed Brown) to work for him, along with a personal driver (of a custom-fitted armored car).

   The title of this episode comes from an old “Persian” saying along the lines of “The best place to hide a book is in a library, to hide a man is in a city, and to hide a leaf is in a forest.” Ironside quotes this to his crew when the death of an old woman in her apartment appears to be the sixth victim of a serial killer menacing the serial. The m.o. appears to be the same, but Ironside sees some crucial differences.

   Raymond Burr was of course fresh from a long run as TV’s Perry Mason, and his popularity easily continued on to this series, which lasted eight seasons. As Robert Ironside, he was extremely observant and made an obvious effort to push his assistants to think the way he did, and not much succeeding, at least in this episode. Perhaps they got better.

   In any case, by challenging them with the clues, he was doing the same for the benefit of the viewer, but without calling the members of his TV audience “children,” as he does on a couple of occasions, with some exasperation.

   All in all, it’s a fairly easy case to solve, but it’s fun to see the cast as they start to come to grips with their roles. Of the guest stars, Barbara Barrie stood out way ahead of the others, as a wife faced with the hard decision to give her husband [PLOT WARNING!] an alibi for the killing or not.