Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries
was a short-lived ABC series about three chicks solving crimes in a world
that resembles a studio backlot and there is nothing to Google.
their feather-haired cuteness, trouble just seems to find them. In almost
every case, some poor schlub is either framed for a mild crime or scared off
his land, with Gordon Jump making an appearance at least somewhere in the
mix. And because this series is filmed at the height of seventies kitsch
culture, it's obsessed with the Big Three: UFOs, discos and Russians.
the Doubting Thomas authorities ("It's our job! Not yours!" growls the
police chief), these two guys and a girl always get their man or occasional
woman, who are diabolical only in an annoyingly acting-coached manner, with
all the menace of a mosquito.
think you're smart, dontcha," one bad guy inquires of the Hardys.
smart, I'm cute," responds Shaun Cassidy, which, of course is up for debate,
as science has recently discovered that the Hardy you think is most cute
could be the key to your anxiety disorder.
guys (Seinfeld's Uncle Leo, Len Lesser, is one of them!) may have
plans to rock the cruise (or the haunted house, or the carnival, or the old
theater), but they will assure you that things will be explained "all in due
we have the patience to wait in the thirty years since the debut of this
series, television drama, especially for teenagers, has gotten faster,
sexier and more attitudinal.
effort here is noble, and meant for that rare teenage viewer with the higher
grade-point average, but the plots move so slowly and the energy is so low
that your brain actually starts to drain as the endless, irony-free minutes
lumber on, deconstructing the deconstruction until you have no idea what is
brain is the last organ to die," instructs Nancy's Drew's less-attractive
friend, and don't we find that out here.
you have to give cred where it's due: Glen Larson, later of Battlestar
Galactica and Knight Rider, was the producer, and he was probably
just cutting his teeth here. It's an honorable attempt to feed young
people's minds, in an era of Sweathogs and Fonzie. But the feeding is slow,
and through an intravenous tube.
has a very inquisitive mind," says her father (the fatherly William
Schallert, who played Patty Duke's TV dad), but we don't know if he is
boasting or reaching out.
were your kids, you wouldn't know whether to be bumper sticker-proud of them
or anxiously freaked out by them. You can bring them home to mom, but mom
will be subject to their suspicion in "The Case of the Puzzled Parent."
solve more crimes than breathe, eat or sleep; we're told they're brilliant,
but investigation takes precedence over school (they don't seem to attend,
ever) or dating or rebelling (yet on some freaky level, their crime-solving
is their form of rebellion).
thing we do know, according to a hardy reminiscence by Papa Hardy, is that
Frank (Parker Stevenson) got an F in volleyball class because his shorts
were too tight.
almost robot-like in their dedication to their procedural work there is
absolutely no downtime no rest for the nerdy.
Hardys were your typical All-American boys: surfing, scuba diving, digging
bubblegum music and wearing hot pants. Cassidy, an actual teen idol at the
time, had a convenient chance to lip-synch his current hits when not solving
baffling mysteries, the most baffling of all being why these songs were such
ditties include "Da Doo Ron Ron" (clap your hands over your head!), "Surfin
USA" (clap your hands over your head!) and "That's Rock and Roll" (clap your
hands over your head!).
point, he instructs his small but eager audience, "Feel free to clap your
hands or do whatever you feel." Of course, the "whatever you feel" does not
include changing the channel.
Drew (Pamela Sue Martin, in an age where it was a law for all actresses to
have the middle name Sue, as in Melissa Sue Anderson) was smart and pretty,
and to prove it, she had a Plain Jane friend (Jean Rasey, her "Rhoda"), who
was reluctantly drawn into each adventure like an unfunny Ethel Mertz.
Drew was meant to be spunky, but you hate spunk. She cracks cases, but
rarely cracks a smile. Ultimately, though, she wins, because her series
captures more guest stars than the Boys: Jamie Lee Curtis (with no lines!),
Robert Englund (later Freddie Krueger of the Nightmare on Elm Street
movie serial), Howard Cosell, Mark Harmon and Terry Kaiser (Bernie in
Weekend At Bernie's!).
occupy your time while your mind wanders away from the uninvolving plot,
ain't nothing funner than a car chase with an AMC Gremlin; in fact, the cars
in this series are so ugly that you can actually see the actual moment of
the demise of the American auto industry.
you get character actress Penny Peyser, who made it her business to
guest-star in every seventies show ever (again, it was a law, even though
her middle name didn't appear to be Sue); you can also shake your groove
thing along with extras dancing to generic disco music, which is always an
episode revolves around this following concept, with no exceptions: "what
starts out as another day at the
" and then plot it from there. While you're
at it, throw in your occasional skeleton chained to the wall and the old
dependable ticking time bomb.
can't miss with at least one Lady From Shanghai mirror scene and a
pain-in-the-ass Aunt Gertrude (never been kissed) who believes that boys
need their eight-hours sleep. And to be impressed, seventies style, watch
them communicate via CB radios.
are actually two mysteries here that are actually actual mysteries: actor
Bob Crane appears as a washed-up actor in a staged murder mystery (in real
life, he himself would be washed up and murdered). Rick Nelson is also
strangely cast as a rock star adored by The Kids, which would be fine if it
were 1957 and highly unlikely in 1977. Nevertheless, he stars in an episode
revolving around plane trouble, and he himself would die in
airplane crash in 1985. Still we get to hear him sing some good Rick Nelson
stuff, including "It's Late" and "Garden Party."
beats a remake of Da Doo Ron Ron.
©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: August 18, 2007.