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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Comedy > Literature > TV > The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries – Season One + Two

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries – Season One + Two


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Episodes: B



Like Leslie Charteris’ The Saint book, the book series featuring The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew are among the most successful formula mystery series in publishing history.  Sure, the stories are somewhat the same, but the characters made the stories all the more interesting.  Like Simon Templar, the junior detectives have also found themselves on film more than a few times.  Summer 2007 even sees a new Nancy Drew theatrical film not long after a TV revival died a quick ratings death.


After releasing the first season a few years ago, Universal has decided to issued the second season of their hit The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, in part to take advantage of the new Drew film and because it is still a fan favorite.  When the show launched, it was conceived as a junior version of the NBC Mystery Movie series Universal produced with rotating hit series (Columbo, McCloud, Banacek, McMillan & Wife, etc.) with an adventure of each detective each new broadcast.  The second season decided to have the characters meet more than once, which may have been a mistake in the long term, but was a hit with fans then.


Universal gambled correctly that they could infuse the classic characters with new life and did this with casting in part.  Parker Stevenson was an up and coming actor when he was cast as Frank Hardy and Shaun Cassidy (already showbiz royalty via mom Shirley Jones and half-brother David Cassidy) was cast as bother Joe, with a convincing chemistry that made you believe these guys were probably related.  Pamela Sue Martin was also becoming a hot actress (who many felt was hot to begin with) when she landed the role of Nancy Drew, minus the school marm or other pretentious trappings.  The result was a hit for Universal and ABC that delivered a whole new generation to the books.


That left Ed Gilbert playing Fenton Hardy and the always interesting William Schallert playing Carson Drew.  The show was set and some of the shows were based on books, while others were from scratch.  The show was pop hip all the way down to Cassidy having three hit Gold singles (That’s Rock ‘N’ Roll, Hey Deanie (penned by Eric “Hungry Eyes”/”All By Myself”/”Never Gonna Fall In Love Again” Carmen) and an odd remake of the 1963 Crystals classic Da Doo Ron Ron that remains his biggest hit) and some of the guest cast the show managed to land throughout its run that was as much a show of Universal’s power as anything.


For the first season, the Hardy Boys shows were more kitschy and comic than the Drew shows, which were more serious mysteries.  The opening of the second season brought the two together which strengthened the Hardy storylines, but started cutting into the Drew shows which sadly led to martin eventually leaving.  As the trend continued, her replacement did not work out and Nancy Drew was dropped altogether, which killed the show outright.  Janet Louise Johnson (not shown on this box set) took over on second season episode Voodoo Doll, making The Lady on Thursday at Ten Martin’s last show.  The show was a mid-season replacement in January 1977 and the first two seasons ran 36 episodes into mid-1978 as follows:


Season 1


1)     The Mystery of the Haunted House

2)     The Mystery of Pirate's Cove

3)     The Mystery of Witches' Hollow

4)     The Mystery of the Diamond Triangle

5)     The Disappearing Floor

6)     The Mystery of the Whispering Walls

7)     The Flickering Torch Mystery

8)     A Haunting We Will Go

9)     The Mystery of the Flying Courier

10)  The Mystery of the Fallen Angels

11)  Wipe Out

12)  The Mystery of the Ghostwriter's Cruise

13)  The Mystery of the Jade Kwan Yin

14)  The Mystery of the Solid Gold Kicker


Season 2


1)     Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula (two parts)

2)     The Mystery of King Tut's Tomb

3)     The Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom (two parts)

4)     The Mystery of the African Safari

5)     The Creatures who came on Sunday

6)     The Strange Fate of Flight 608

7)     Acapulco Spies

8)     Nancy Drew's Love Match

9)     The Mystery of the Silent Scream

10)  Will the Real Santa...?

11)  The Lady on Thursday at Ten

12)  Oh Say Can You Sing

13)  The House on Possessed Hill

14)  Sole Survivor

15)  Voodoo Doll (two parts)

16)  Mystery on the Avalanche Express

17)  Death Surf

18)  Arson and Old Lace

19)  Campus Terror



Guest stars throughout the first two seasons include Richard Kiel, Gordon Jump, Rocky Nelson, Victor Buono, Bob Crane, Pippa Scott, Jamie Lee Curtis, Robert Englund, A Martinez, Craig Littler, Beverly Garland, Susan Pratt, Shelly Novack, Red Brown, David Wayne, Mark Harmon, Lorne Greene, Bernie Taupin, Paul Williams, Fritz Feld, Casey Kasem, Valerie Bertinelli, Rick Springfield, Anne Lockhart, Stuart Whitman, Tony Dow, Hunter Von Leer, Don Marshall, William Sylvester, Craig Stevens, Maureen McCormick, Val Avery, Larry Storch, Trini Lopez, Dan O’Herlihy, Missy Gold, Simon Oakland, Nicholas Hammond, Lloyd Bochner, Melanie Griffith, Dorothy Malone, Diana Muldaur, Kim Cattrall, Linda Dano, Ray Milland, Julius W. Harris, Edd Byrnes, Vic Damone, Troy Donahue, Fabian, Tommy Sands, Jack Jones, Regis Cordic, Joseph Cotton, Cathy Rigby, Pernell Roberts, Eric Server and Nick Dimitri.


The show is much smarter than you might think with the series never thinking it was more than it was.  Along with other Pop/Rock phenomenon, there is not as much disco music here as you might expect and this is still the definitive version of the characters.  Too bad it was soon to all fall apart.



The 1.33 X 1 image in both sets looks good and the prints seem to have been preserved well enough, with good color and consistently clean quality throughout.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sounds good for its age, though Cassidy’s songs have not been dubbed in stereo of any kind.  The instrumental theme song (by Stu Phillips) sounded better in the first season when they used the maze motif.  Extras for the first set include a poster reproduction of the cover of Dynamite Magazine with Stevenson & Cassidy promoting the show that may still be available, while the second has the Sleuth Channel’s documentary special America’s Top Sleuth’s, which just happens to include the many great Universal TV detectives.


We have also covered the Disney version of The Hardy Boys, which you can read more about at this link:





Warner has issued all four of their late 1930s Nancy Drew B-movies on DVD, while the mid-1990s revival of both is thankfully nowhere to be found.  Universal is now likely to issue the rest of this series.  Now if only we could figure out who has the rights to the animated Hardy Boys by Filmation Studios from 1969, where the two were rock stars before Cassidy!



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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