Saturday, March 28, 2015

Bubblegum crimefighting: The Hardy Boys-Nancy Drew Mysteries (1976)

I grew up reading some of the classic Hardy Boys books credited to Franklin W. Dixon, which, as I'd find out later, was just a house pseudonym used by the Strathmeyer Syndicate and its publisher, which, back in the day, was Grosset & Dunlap. I also read a few Nancy Drew books, just to pass time. I was hooked on mysteries from reruns of Dragnet, Perry Mason, etc., so what did you expect?

Enough digression. The Hardys were first adapted for television by Walt Disney for the original Mickey Mouse Club in the 50's. That series was reviewed over at Saturday Morning Archives many moons ago. Just punch up Hardy Boys in the search box and see what you'll find. Nearly 20 years later, Frank & Joe Hardy returned, this time in primetime.

ABC and Universal took over the license, and got three seasons out of not only the Hardys, but Nancy Drew as well, in the network's latest attempt to find an anchor for their Sunday night lineup, and it seemed as though they'd found their answer, though in the final season, the series was moved down an hour to 8 pm (ET) to make room for the original Battlestar Galactica. Unfortunately, both series went down at the end of the season.

Musician-turned-producer Glen Larson's version served as a vehicle for actor-singer Shaun Cassidy, following in the footsteps of big brother David, who later flopped in an adult crime drama of his own (Man Undercover). Cassidy was cast as Joe, and given the opportunity to sing every so often. Yeah, that's also a call back to the animated Hardys of 1969, which also aired on ABC. Parker Stevenson, a relative unknown, was cast as Frank.

In the first two seasons, the Hardys & Nancy alternated. Pamela Sue Martin was cast as Nancy for the first two seasons, with William Schallert (ex-The Patty Duke Show), for a time a studio announcer for ABC, as her father, Carson. The locale of River Heights was shifted from a Chicago suburb to New Jersey. Don't ask. The only thing I can figure is that because the Hardys' adventures were set in Massachusetts, where Bayport was located, they wanted Nancy close by for those season 2 crossovers. However, Martin left after season 2, replaced by Janet Louise Johnson, who was never heard from again after the show was cancelled. Martin went on to Dynasty, then vanished.

I didn't get to watch the show much due to church. The parish I was attending had evening services, and by season 2, was close enough to home that I could get there on foot. I was a little put off by the fact that this was, as noted, a means to sell records for Cassidy. Speaking of selling records, that brings us to season 2's "The Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom", which has JD Cannon & Dennis Weaver visiting from NBC's McCloud, but Weaver is credited as playing himself. No, that's not Peter Falk as Columbo, though that series would later resurface on ABC. Instead, American Top 40 host Casey Kasem dons the rumpled raincoat for the first time since roasting Telly Savalas on The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast.

Edit, 11/15/16: The original 2-part video has been deleted, so we are substituting this excerpt:

Rating: B-.

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