Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Day Two Hundred and Sixty-one - The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries: Season 1, Episode 1 "I am so very, very embarrassed..."

...that I was ever obsessed with these novels as a kid.

I mean, "surprise, surprise," I was very much taken with them (mostly the Hardy Boys) from the ages of 5 to about when I hit puberty. By then I had gone from the classic mysteries to the modern team-up adventures like The Last Resort, where Frank and Nancy got their smooch on (I guess Callie no longer being a thing) and the stories were taking an edgier, more adult vibe... like when Joe's girlfriend died in a car bomb attack.

I remember a few episodes of the television show which combined the three teen sleuths, though their mysteries remained separate, into a family friendly, ultra-cheesy detective series. It sat in VHS format in my local base library back on Ft.McPherson... and I vaguely recollect watching them, but nothing ever stuck with me about it aside from the horrible 70's hairdos.

Going back to the series now... man, I'm glad I grew up, because this show is unbelievably terrible.

The first epsiode, The Mystery of Witches' Hollow, has Frank and Joe on a camping trip with Frank's girlfriend, Callie (author's note: my 20 year old tabby cat is named after this particular character), and cowardly sidekick, Chet. Don't think that they're supposed to be without chaperone, though, as Callie's uncle, an ex-police captain, was going supervise... only he's nowhere to be found when they get to his cabin.

On top of the missing guardian, there are strange things going on in Witches' Hollow, which may or may not (definitely not) have something to do with the ghost of a Salem witch and her ghost-jaguar pet. At least, so the gypsy housekeeper claims. At least, I think she's Romany. I dunno, that head scarf throws me off.

What strikes me as hilarious (in a bad way) are the little inconsistencies and overall hammy lines and deliveries from all the characters. Instead of updating the dialogue, these 70's kids are written like they live in 50's Pleasantville, all "gosh" and "gee-willikers."

Then there's Chet. From what I recall of the books, he was always a porker with a buzzcut who was more than a bit of a coward and almost always the butt of every joke. Here, while the lines that should support him being an obese football center (as he ate a diner out of all of its hamburger meat), he looks more like a pasty nerd with glasses and a fro.

Worst of all, I think was Callie Shaw. Not only did she not have any charm, annoyingly pointing out just how her decorated, ex-police captain uncle would feel about superstition (like a snooty little priss), she didn't seem to have any actual chemistry with her boyfriend. In fact, it was the single most chaste on-screen relationship that I have ever seen... it wasn't even acknowledged, really. To top that off, she and Frank also looked like they were well into their 30's. The only one of the group that looked like a possible teenager was Joe, who was played by Shaun Cassidy.

The mystery was trite, the acting and writing puerile, and the production value sub-par, even for the era. Unless you're feeling some serious nostalgia for the books themselves, as it does capture the zeitgeist of the original post-WW2 detective series, I recommend that you stay far, faaaaaaaaaar away. At best, this is a harmless children's adventure suitable for the late elementary set, but cheesy as all get out.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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