On The Case: The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries (Season One)

 

 

Hello & welcome back to On The Case and I realize that it’s been a while since we’ve taken a look at any of The Hardy Boys TV adaptations.   And that is just because I had taken on a lot of other projects but I’m ready to return.   I also think that I was a bit nervous as I am now taking on, the most famous adaption of The Hardy Boys as I look at The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries.   The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries was an ABC TV series  that ran for 3 seasons from 1977 – 1979 and up until the third season,  the show would alternate between episodes featuring The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew.  We will talk about that more as we look at the next two seasons of this show.  (Which may be a while)  e.   The website, Den of Geek  has a rather good article that does a deep dive into the history of this incarnation of The Hardy Boys.  I highly suggest reading it before reading this article.   Universal has released all three seasons  of the show on DVD and as or right now,  I have the first season.

For this particular series, I will be looking at  the episodes and give brief overviews for each of them.  Now, as this is a Hardy Boys event, it should be understood that I will only be focusing on The Hardy Boys episodes. And thankfully, the DVD set has made this easier by separating the episodes by Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew.  Now, I’m going to save my thoughts for the portrayals of Frank and Joe in this show after I have watched all three seasons. Now, with this introduction outta the way, let’s  dust off the casefiles.

Episodes

The Mystery of The Haunted House

From The Hardy Boys Wiki:

Frank and Joe Hardy stumble into their father’s latest case when they become suspicious of his so-called “fishing trip”. An ex-soldier is pursued by killers who want information that he has, and the Hardys are soon deeply involved when their father goes missing. From a nightclub to a graveyard the Hardys are in danger every step of the way.

I’ll most likely do a whole review on this episode around the next 31 Days of Halloween as while it isn’t exactly a Halloween episode per se,  there are a lot of Halloween-ish elements to this particular episode.

Overall, this is a great introductory episode to  Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy as Frank and Joe.  And perhaps, it’s because I’ve spent so much more time with these two as Frank and Joe than any other.  Now,   it should be made clear that like any other version of The Hardy Boys that we have looked at, they are drenched in the era that it aired in and that is no different but all throughout, I could feel the characters I love from the books.

The Mystery of Witches’ Hollow

From The Hardy Boys Wiki:

Frank and Joe Hardy try to visit Captain Maguire, the uncle of their father’s assistant Callie, but discover that he disappeared in a mysterious wooded place called Witches’ Hollow. Their only clues are a mute’s sketches.

Now, this is actually the first episode I saw of the show back when the show used to be on Netflix. It’s not bad and it is a take one of the books but it is a bit of a slog to get through.   It is perhaps out of the adaptations from this series, one of the more faithful but I think that may have hurt it.

The Disappearing Floor

From The Hardy Boys Wiki:

The Hardy boys, while doing some legwork on a case of their father’s involving a missing Russian scientist, see a UFO that leads them to a mysterious mansion full of illusions, where floors disappear and rooms change size.

Now, this is another episode that airs a title with one of the books. The Disappearing Floor was the 19th book of the original volume of The Hardy Boys books but according to Wikipedia, this episode is as Dom from Lost in Adaptation would say, “In Title Only”

In the television seriesThe Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, the story is completely rewritten. In it, the boys are asked by their father to help him keep surveillance on an employee of a technology firm who have hired for a case. However, their participation is complicated when they follow him to an isolated property and are beset with a number of strange experiences, beginning with a UFO sighting, that make them doubt their senses.

Now,  I may see if I have this book in my collection of Hardy Boys books or try to find it at my library as I’d be curious to see how drastic the differences are.   This is another episode that would make a good Halloween episode with the UFO elements.  And for a ’77 episode, this show has a lot of really cool effects with how things appeared and disappeared.

The Flickering Torch Mystery

From The Hardy Boys Wiki:

While assisting in a missing persons investigation for their father, the Hardy boys believe they have discovered a murder plot against a famous rock musician, but no one believes them.

Now, we are once again dealing with another “In Name Only” adaption from the series and I am fairly confident that I have not read the book that this episode was based on.   Looking at the plot from Wikipedia for the episode, things were changed quite a bit. And just for clarity’s sake,   this is more a take on the revised text.

When two suspicious plane accidents occur near Marlin Crag Airport, the two Hardy brothers investigate the case and find themselves in greater danger than they anticipated. Frank and Joe suspect an oil beacon near the airport caught the pilots off track. The boys go to fictional Pittville and visit Martin Weiss’s parents. They get a clue about a dance place called The Flickering Torch. This involves investigating the Flickering Torch where a band seems to be involved in something shady. Their friend Chet Morton develops a new hobby of building airplanes; however, when he buys a used fuselage from an airplane junkyard it gets stolen from his farm. Ultimately the Hardys smash an illegal plot to make industrial diamonds using uranium isotopes from smuggled coal from the United Kingdom.

For one thing, while Chet Morton is a character in this show, he was not in this episode whatsoever.  Now as Wikipedia brings up, quite a few elements were moved to the next episode.

The Mystery of the Flying Courier

From The Hardy Boys Wiki:

The Hardy Boys investigate a crooked disc jockey and a case of record piracy. Joe Hardy makes his singing debut at a disco where Frank recognizes a girl who has been missing for three years but denies her identity when confronted.

This episode felt less like a Hardy Boys episode and more Frank and Joe in two separate subplots with  Frank working mostly on the mystery aspect of the episode and that was the more engaging part of the episode as it was really sweet seeing Frank get to know Susan/Sandra, the missing person that had been missing for three years.  Whereas Joe’s subplot mostly involved his singing and as we saw in the last article,  this isn’t uncommon.  And when the show was casting for the role of Joe, they wanted a “young David Cassidy type”  and they ended up getting his younger brother. And the DVD even advertises  “Hear Shaun Cassidy sing all his hit songs”.    And while his singing is good, I don’t care about hearing The Hardy Boys sing.  I wanted to watch this show to see Frank and Joe solve mysteries.

Wipe-Out

From The Hardy Boys Wiki:

While the Hardy Boys are in Hawaii for a surfing contest, their hotel room is robbed. Discovering that they’re not the only victims, the two detectives volunteer to help the Hawaiian police apprehend the burglars.

The Hardy Boys go Hawaiian and apparently, Frank is now a pro surfer.  Heh, sure.    Look, I love Frank and Joe and they are smart characters and as much as I love and adore these characters.   They are the only characters I love that I would even consider using  the term “Mary-Sue” around  but that comes more from the fact Franklin W. Dixon as we discussed in the introduction for this retrospective was a ghost name for authors to use.   And authors  would put Frank and Joe in any situation and give them skills required, that they may not have had in the previous book.   So, in that regard, this is faithful to the books.     Now, the other big thing about this episode is that we get to see Frank and Joe go undercover as robbers to get the perp.   So, that was fun and this episode did use the scenery to great effect.

The Secret of the Jade Kwan Yin

From The Hardy Boys Wiki:

The Hardy Boys discover a box at the beach that contains a priceless jade statue. This plunges them into a case involving smugglers and an extortion plot against a community of Chinese-Americans.

We’ve now reached the final episode of the first season and it’s pretty good with a neat twist at the end.  And it does have some great action set pieces such as a chase through a parade in Chinatown and a boat blowing up.   I will admit that I had my reservations going into this episode as it featured a heavily Chinese cast and The Hardy Boys in the past hasn’t always been so great with Asian characters but I do think for the most part, the characters were treated with great respect in this episode.  Oh, something else that I should mention, Callie, who is a character in the books and appeared in most of the episodes gets to do a lot of heavy lifting this go-round. And that was a delight to see.

My Overall Thoughts on Season One

I’d say that there was only one mediocre episode.   I wouldn’t call it bad but I didn’t enjoy it as much as the others.    All in all, this was a great take on these characters and making them feel like the characters from the books while at the same time, updating them for the time.   We’ve hit a bit of a snafu here as I don’t yet have seasons 2 & 3 of this show on DVD but I don’t want to keep you guys waiting for the next installment.   I did however get the 1995 TV series on DVD for Christmas.    So, we’re gonna jump around a bit and look at the 95 TV series in the next installment and then, we will return to look at seasons 2 & 3 of this show in a future installment.    Join me next time as we look at the Nelvana produced Hardy Boys TV series.

 

4 replies
  1. les
    les says:

    Hi Moviefan. I love how the Universal Studios version of the show REALLLLLLY took advantage of their backlot for locations and scenery. That Haunted House, for instance, was the Bates Motel from “Psycho.” I enjoyed this show back in the day and loved your review of it. I look forward to the continuing series, my friend. Peace.

    • moviefan
      moviefan says:

      Thanks, yeah I noticed that you used a lot of the Universal backlot and that was a treat to see. This was a fun series and I’m excited for seasons 2 & 3. Especially, the second season as I’ll finally get to see The Hardys team up with Nancy Drew on screen.

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