Hardy Boys / Nancy
Drew: Season 1

Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew: Season 1

Nothing cutting edge in Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew: Season 1, just wholesome entertainment

Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew: Season 1

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Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew: Season 1

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I know this may be very difficult for some, especially younger readers, to believe but there was a time that young people read books. Kids between the ages of 10 and 14 especially would actually open a book to be transported to exciting worlds.

Two of the most popular of these ‘books’ was The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. As you might imagine the readership was largely split on gender lines, Hardy Boys for the guys, Nancy Drew for the girls. When these books became a television series this demarcation was blurred a bit. Young girls would flock to the Hardy Boys to see the cute boys in the lead while boys the same age would turn on Nancy Drew because of its star. Like several other television series in the mid to late seventies the two series shared a time slot alternating each week. Now, with the first season released on DVD a new generation can enjoy these easy going mysteries. Sure, they are both tame by today’s grit filled standards but there is something about good old fashion family entertainment that still works.

Frank Hardy (Parker Stevenson) and his younger brother Joe (Shaun Cassidy) often find themselves helping out their father in his detective business. This usually brings the boys into danger only to be extricated by their resourceful wits. The boys are somewhat young Sherlock Holmes in their approach to their weekly mysteries. Joe keeps a mini crime scene laboratory in the basement, always ready to compare fingerprints or perform an analysis of a spec of matter found at the scene of the crime. It’s a wonder how their father, a twenty year veteran of the police force, managed before the boys gained sufficient age to solve all his cases. In the season pilot they even take on a case that Naval intelligent couldn’t solve. Of course even the boys need a support system. On the home front there is Aunt Gertrude (Edith Atwater) their constantly worried old woman that cleans the house, cooks the meals and relays messages over the CB radio. Yes kids, this was way before everyone on the planet had a cell phone. Then there is Callie (Lisa Eilbacher) who works for dad and is usually available to get into trouble that only the boys can get her out of. The usual result is a chaste kiss on the cheek for Frank as a jealous Joe looks on. Even the simplest request form dad becomes a dire race against death as the brothers Hardy find clues and uncovers the truth.

Alternating with the Hardy Boys is their female counterpart, Nancy Drew (Pamela Sue Martin). She is beautiful as she is resourceful. Perky and always friendly she is drawn into her mysteries usually to help a new found friend, typically a good looking young man. Nancy works part time doing minor investigations for her lawyer father Carson (William Schallert). Nancy is helped along by her best girl friend George (Jean Rasey) and their pal Ned (George O'Hanlon Jr.) Poor Ned, he has a major crush on Nancy, seeking advice from George on how to win her, oblivious to the fact that George likes him. This innocent teen triangle most likely helped a lot of the young girls watching identify better with the characters. Ned is typically emasculated at least once in each episode. Nancy usually has to save him and in one humiliating moment after they are caught in a storm Ned winds up in a frilly pink robe as their clothes dry. Nancy pokes and prods around; ignoring all the adults that tell her she is only a girl and should do such things. This was girl power in embryonic form.

What really hit me while watching Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew: Season 1 is just how gender biased they where. The Hardy Boys relied more on the scientific approach in gathering and analyzing their clues. Nancy went more on her female intuition in her investigations. A lot of this was due to the producers trying to remain faithful or at least capture the feel of the original books After all, both of the series began about seventy years ago when boys where boys and girls where girls, divided by an unbreakable line. As with many television mysteries of the day the clues are nice but the resolution usually comes somewhat out of the blue. This was to ensure a little surprise ending for the youthful target audience. It is also no surprise that the leads in both series are attractive and stylish. The casting was done to ensure both genders would have something eye-catching to watch. You can’t blame them; almost all series aimed at older audiences do the same thing.

Speaking of the cast they did have more than their looks going for them. Parker Stevenson plays his role as the older Hardy brother with flair. He is cool and collected in even the most threatening of circumstances. Frank always has a joke to share with his brother as the face down the bad guys. Shaun Cassidy is given less in the way of real acting here. As the half brother of teen heart throb David he is eye candy for the girls who really don’t care much about his acting. Pamela Sue Martin is a little more polished than the others. She should her abilities for melodrama later in her career when she joined the cast of the popular night time soap opera Dynasty. For an actress in the late seventies she was around at right time to play a strong willed young woman.

Universal took an interesting approach with the DVD presentation of Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew: Season 1. Instead of presenting them on the discs in the order they aired they split the season into two double sided discs. The first disc has the Hardy Boys episodes while the second holds Nancy Drew. Within each disc the original order is preserved. You have the option of playing all the episodes sequentially or you can opt to select the one you want to view. This is pretty typical of Universal classic television releases. The full screen video shows some signs of age. There are white specks and in one case I saw a red blotch on the screen. They are not so bad as to be annoying but they are there. The Dolby two channel audio held up surprising well. The audio range is limited by current standards but it presents the dialogue in a clean manner. Don’t be turned off by the sugary reputation Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew: Season 1 have, sure it’s the happy ending days of television but it is something the family can watch and enjoy together. Nothing cutting edge here, just wholesome entertainment, I never watched them when they where on the air but I enjoyed the Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew: Season 1 DVD set.

Movie Review of Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew: Season 1
by Doug MacLean of hometheaterinfo.com

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