Mental Ward

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Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew: Man, I'm Old

Did you ever watch the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew mysteries when you were young? I loved 'em when I was a kid, although probably like most boys, I much preferred the Hardys to Nancy. I also read the books growing up; one of my fondest memories from when I was very young was walking to the library with an armful of Hardy Boys books that I'd just finished, and getting another armful to take home and devour. I think I read every one of 'em. So naturally I loved the TV series, too.

Well, somehow we acquired (don't know whether my wife bought them somewhere, or they were a gift) a DVD set of all of them, and we've been watching some with our kids. Wow, what a shock -- they are horrible! It's amazing what your young mind will accept, that your much-older mind sees as complete, utter drivel.

The dialogue is laughable, and the plots inane to the nth degree. It looks like each episode cost about a buck to produce. In one two-parter, set in some Dracula's castle-like place, there's a scene where a bat gets into a room. Frank (the immortal Parker Stevenson) picks up a lamp and throws it at the bat. This is hilarious on several levels: first, this incredibly fake-looking bat is like four feet long, and keeps itself aloft by flapping its wings about once every five seconds. Second, who would try to take out a bat by throwing a huge, ugly, late-70s lamp at it? I was literally screaming with laughter, at what was supposed to be a highly tense moment.

That kind of stuff happens all the time in those episodes. The acting is, to put it kindly, amateurish. The Dracula episode featured another 70s icon - Paul Williams. Remember him? What flashbacks his hair and oversize aviator glasses brought back. Classic stuff. And he's only one; I recognized just about everyone from those episodes, as they all appeared in all the 70s shows. It's like there was one huge acting troupe for the networks, and they just shuffled them from show to show.

Actually, I enjoy watching the episodes. They are unintentionally hysterical. If you lived through that era you owe it to yourself to get an episode or two and relive your youth. It's sorta like watching Scooby Doo; with the benefit of age and experience, you watch them now with your kids and say "Hey, every plot is exactly the same!" At the time though, you thought Fred, Velma and Daphne were the most brilliant detectives this side of Sherlock Holmes -- or at least Frank and Joe.

And before you write in, saying "Why is this dork writing about this junk on a computer site?", see my disclaimer.

Posted by Keith Ward on 02/15/2008 at 12:48 PM


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