Monday, May 25, 2015

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries (Glen A. Larson, 1977-79)

So this weekend, the wife finished watching Bloodline on Netflix, and the television went silent. I am not a big television watcher these days, but having some time off I needed to find something. "I want something stupid, fun, and not mentally-taxing. Low-and-behold, as I scrolled through my Netflix list I saw that I had added The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, which I remember as a child but did not watch. Well, it did indeed suit my viewing needs, except that it is not exactly stupid. I was never a Hardy Boys reader, nor Nancy Drew for that matter, so I was coming to the show with no real preconceptions. It is an amazingly fun show, and while dated, much better than I expected of the time.

The basic stars are Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson as Joe and Frank Hardy (respectively), and Pamela Sue Martin as Nancy Drew. In general, the show does a Hardy Boys mystery and a Nancy Drew mystery. The two seem to not cross paths until the beginning of series 2 (which I have yet to watch). The Hardy Boys episodes are often either very Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? or Johnny Quest flavored, dealing with pretend ghosts, aliens or espionage, and Nancy Drew deals primarily with thefts, though they often have a "haunted" element.

As for the structure, Joe and Frank work for their father, investigator Fenton Hardy, and have some sidekicks. Callie Shaw (Lisa Eilbacher) shows up a lot. Nancy works on her own, but is often assisted/guided by her father, lawyer Carson Drew. Nancy has two full-time sidekicks in George Fayne (Jean Rassey) and Ned Nickerson (George O'Hanlon Jr.).

Part of the fun, for me, is all of the 1970's nostalgia. There are some obvious ones, like the use of CB radios, but also less memorable things like gliders; a whole Nancy Drew episode revolves around her and flying a glider (or "sail plane").

Sadly, as I watched more episodes, things went a bit downhill, both with the show, and with Netflix. There are numerous missing episodes on Netflix, and season 3 has only 4 total episodes. Halfway through season 2, Pamela Sue Martin left the show. The actress playing George was replaced for some reason I have not researched, and the show becomes more Hardy Boys centered. The Hardy Boys become less interesting as things go on, and Nancy Drew gets to be very two-sided (in a bad way). Sometimes she is independent and ready to go-it-alone, then in the next scene she is a damsel in distress.

Bottom line, sadly, is to watch the first season for Nancy Drew. Those are the better episodes from the series. It won't take you long, perhaps, to discover that the Hardy Boys are a bit dull, and the stories overly goofy. I enjoyed making fun of Joe Hardy throughout, though he does have to stellar moments (for him) in the first episode pair ot season two. It would be nice to see those missing episodes, but don't really care to buy the DVD sets for the few I'd be interested in. Oddly, none of the Nancy Drew sans Pamela Sue Martin appear on Netflix.

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