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It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it.
Based on the two famous children's book series, The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, this 1970s TV show on ABC starred Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy as the amateur detective brothers Frank & Joe Hardy, and Pamela Sue Martin and Janet Louise Johnson as the intrepid girl detective, Nancy Drew.
The Hardy Boys are brother amateur detectives, Frank (Parker Stevenson) and Joe (Shaun Cassidy). The two boys live in the fictional city of Bayport, MA (not the NY of the books) with their famous father, Fenton Hardy (Ed Gilbert), a private detective who'd spent "20 years" with the New York Police Department and who seemingly has connections everywhere. The brothers can't seem to go anywhere without having a mystery drop into their laps; even driving down a road heading for home means they'll get stopped by a young woman running away from an angry mob.
Nancy Drew is the amateur sleuth — she insists on the term "part-time investigator" — daughter of attorney Carson Drew (William Callert). She lives with her father in the fictional River Heights. Her stories feature her close friend George (Georgia) Fayne (Jean Rasey and, later for three episodes, Susan Buckner) and Ned Nickerson (George O'Hanlon Jr.). Another prominent character from the Nancy Drew books, Bess Marvin (Ruth Cox), made only two appearances in two-part episodes.
- Actor Allusion: the show's "romance" between Frank Hardy and Nancy Drew. The actors Parker Stevenson and Pamela Sue Martin had played lovers before in a movie about a teen girl's first time, "Our Time" (also called "The Death of Her Innocence" when it aired on TV).
- Adaptation Decay: Hooo, brother, where to start?
- Bayport, NY becomes Bayport, MA.
- The TV show never could keep straight which brother was the impetuous, impulsive one and which one was supposed to be the brainy cool one; the brothers switched roles at the drop of a hat.
- Despite Joe-in-the-books being the more athletic and more likely to get into fights, the Joe Hardy of the show (1st and 2nd season, anyway) was distinctly pacifistic, bohemian, and tried to avoid trouble, tending to push Frank out front when a fight did break out. Frank was usually the driving force behind most of the show's mysteries, and portrayed as the jock.
- The brothers' ages tended to shift as needed in the show; they were supposedly two years apart, not the one-year in the books.
- The Hardys' mother is dead.
- Nancy Drew (especially at the end of second season) got progressively more stupid and more damsel-in-distress-ish, as opposed to the smart, tough investigator she's supposed to be. The episode "Arson and Old Lace" will have you screaming at the TV, especially.
- Adaptation Distillation: The show cuts most of The Hardy Boys books' supporting cast. The Hardys' mother, Laura, is dead, and the boys live with their widowed father and Aunt Gertrude, and the only friends from the books that show up are Callie Shaw and Chet Morton — and Chet, only in two episodes.
- Adaptation Dye Job: In the books, Frank's hair is dark. TV Show, inexplicably blonde.
- Adorkable: The show tried to do this to Joe Hardy in 1st season: nerdy argyle sweater, check. Heavily into forensics and fingerprints and likely to start expounding on fingerprints at the drop of a hat, check. Portrayed as socially awkward younger brother, check. But then the writers realized they were up against Shaun Cassidy and gave it up as a lost cause.
- Amateur Sleuth: No matter where the Hardy brothers go, they end up involved in a mystery...though the show sometimes plays with it by having the cops or others get real suspicious about the Hardys' involvement, up to and including tossing them in jail. Nancy's amateur status is questionable, as she often implies that she's working for her father.
- The Cast Showoff: Shaun Cassidy's singing career. A number of episodes featured Shaun singing whatever his latest hit single was. Luckily, the show worked around this by having Frank never stick around to hear his younger brother perform. Plot follows Frank, with cut-backs to Joe's performance.
- Parker Stevenson was also a good surfer in real life. One episode, "Wipe Out" had a silly contrived mechanism of Frank Hardy placing in a national surfing competition, just to get the boys to Hawaii and in the middle of a hotel theft ring.
- Casual Danger Dialog
(the Hardys are about to walk into a mausoleum holding god-knows-what)
(as the brothers are about to pry open a coffin containing god-knows-what)
(spooky cursed house has opened up a door all by itself to let the Hardys in)
- Catch Phrase: See the page quote.
- Darker and Edgier: The first two seasons had a very light-hearted, humorous tone. Season Three, though...dear GOD. It not only dropped Nancy Drew completely, but started off by killing Joe's fiancée in a car wreck (complete with Joe weeping over her body) and having Joe go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge in response (Last Kiss of Summer). Season Three ditched almost all the light-hearted humor, showed actual dead bodies, and involved more dangerous situations (including references to selling off Joe and a missing woman to white slavers in China — huhwhat?) and more conflict between the brothers ("Game Plan" had Frank pulling a gun on Joe). The turn confused the show's teen audience, and lost viewers.
- Dawson Casting: in the books at that time, the Hardys were supposed to be 16 and 17. The actors: Shaun was 19, Parker 25.
- To be fair, the show never explicitly states the brothers' ages. Then again, it's implied heavily in the episode "Mystery of the Jade Kwan Yin" that they're supposed to be still in high school.
(Chief Collig is ripping the brothers a new one over the theft of a valuable statue)
- Deadpan Snarker: Both Frank and Joe did this, but Joe had the majority of the snark — probably due to Shaun Cassidy taking a hand in rewriting the scripts.
(The brothers have just been tossed in jail for disturbing the peace in a cemetery)
(Joe's getting hit on by a much older woman in a bar)
(Joe's getting hit on by another woman)
(The Hardys have just burst in to rescue Nancy Drew; ND's ready to beat the first thing that moves)
(Joe's just found a way to fake evidence.)
(Joe's trying to talk Frank into investigating a supposedly cursed house.)
- Hollywood Psych
- "House on Possessed Hill" features a psychiatrist hypnotizing a young psychic woman so she can wander an old house like she was four years old.
- "Campus Terror" is just full of this, with a multiple personality who is going on a kidnapping spree, but snaps out of it just because Joe yells in her face.
- Fan Service: Too many incidents to count, but hey, we can try:
- "Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom" had a half-naked Frank Hardy stepping out of the shower, Joe tied up and writhing around (see entry below), and Frank walking in on a topless Nancy Drew. Woohoo!
- Any episode showing the brothers in swim trunks...
- "The Mystery Of The Haunted House" showed Frank in a tight white t-shirt and boxer shorts, riding a motorcycle.
- "Sole Survivor": the opening shots had a helpless Joe Hardy lying on a hospital gurney and getting his shirt stripped off.
- "Life on the Line" had Frank stripping his shirt off to show his awesome bare chest.
- Mystery Magnet: Frank & Joe just can't seem to stay out of trouble. From diamond-laden jade statues landing on them in the middle of the ocean ("Secret of the Jade Kwan Yin") to accidentally renting a hotel room that the villains are trying to use to poison an ambassador ("Voodoo Doll"), no wonder they joined the Justice Department in Season Three — at least then they're getting paid.
- Lampshaded in the Campus Terror episode:
(The Hardys are discussing why a mysterious kidnapper mentioned them by name, in an area where they don't know anybody)
- The Other Darrin: The change in actresses for Nancy Drew.
- Police Are Useless: not ONE episode on the Hardy Boys' side in season one or two had a single case of the cops ever believing what the brothers' said. At least, not at first. Usually, said cops were just as likely to toss the Hardys in jail for disturbing their peace.
- The episode "Creatures who came on Sunday" subverted this by having the sheriff be in on the whole secret operation. He was stonewalling the Hardys with his useless act to deliberately keep them away from the top secret plot.
- Pretty Boy: Joe Hardy, aka Shaun Cassidy.
Joe: Just because I'm smaller, younger than you are, and more easily intimidated...?
- Real After All: Poor Joe got the brunt of this.
- "Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula": In the episode, the Hardy Boys suspect a man of being Dracula, but this is apparently dis-proven. At the end, the villain is in handcuffs and standing in front of a mirror, and Joe Hardy notices that the villain has no reflection, while the other characters conveniently not look at the mirror. The villain is taken away by the cops before Joe can get anyone else to notice.
- "House on Possessed Hill": The Hardy Boys have supposedly dis-proven a haunted house. Final scene is the brothers driving by the house in their van; Frank is giving logical common-sense explanations for all the haunted phenomena. Cue Joe looking towards the house just as they drive away, in time to see a ghostly figure walk out of the house...which disappears when Frank stops the van to look.
- "The Creatures Who Came on Sunday" features supposed flying saucers that have abducted a woman's boyfriend. When the villains are caught and it turns out that said saucers are just helicopters and part of a Witness Protection Program, the Hardys are trying to joke with the local sheriff and the Feds about the "aliens", and the officials clam up, with serious we're-not-talking-about-this faces, implying heavily that yup, guess what...
- "Voodoo Doll" has the main villain use "real" voodoo and magic to turn into a snake at the end of the show — naturally, Joe's the only one who sees it, but still somehow manages to convince the cops that he should be taken seriously.
- Running Gag: Just TRY to get Frank to stick around to listen to Joe sing. Go on. I dare you. Joe even taped himself and tried to play the tape for Frank, which only resulted in Frank telling him bluntly to turn it off (and a hotel security officer telling him to shut that noise off, too, for that matter. At least the scriptwriters had a sense of humor about their Teen Idol.)
(Frank & Joe are talking a ragtag group of buskers into letting the brothers travel with them as a cover)
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Almost right down to a T: Frank Hardy, Manly (Parker Stevenson being the muscled prep-school jock into surfing), aggressive, and likely to get into a fight. Younger Brother Joe, Sensitive (Shaun Cassidy, slender teen-idol musician) who tries to avoid trouble at all costs. Though the show occasionally subverted it by having Frank shove Joe out front in dangerous situations. See Casual Danger Dialog entry for example.
- Season Three really subverted it. Joe Hardy went from Sensitive Guy to the guy most likely to chase down the villain and get into a fight. This might just have been Character Development, but still...
- Sibling Rivalry: Of the good-natured, teasing variety between Frank & Joe Hardy, though all bets tended to be off when both brothers were interested in the same female...and Frank wasn't above shoving all the heavy physical work off on Joe, either. And don't get Joe started when Nancy Drew and Frank were anywhere in the same room together...
- Special Guest: the show is FULL of these. "Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom", in particular, seemed to be just an excuse for ABC to work in as many of their B-list stars as possible.
- "Assault on the Tower" had a very cool appearance by Patrick Macnee, recreating his John Steed role to help Joe rescue his father and brother.
- Teen Idol: Shaun Cassidy, who used the show as a vehicle to promote his musical career at the time.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Frank Hardy and Nancy Drew, in all the eps that featured all three detectives. The show's take on this predates all the current books.
Episodes of this series provide examples of:
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Frank Hardy & Nancy Drew. Dear GODS, Frank & Nancy. The first time the Hardys & Nancy Drew met, Nancy throws Frank to the floor. All episodes featuring the trio inevitably have Nancy & Frank getting seriously on each others' nerves — until they finally share a kiss in "Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom".
Nancy: ARGH!!! Frank Hardy is the most exasperating...annoying...frustrating...
- Bound and Gagged: The Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom has an extended sequence of Joe Hardy tied hand and foot and gagged in an abandoned backlot of a movie set. Yeah. Exactly.
- The Butler Did It: Played with in "Dangerous Waters" — the kidnap victim doesn't recognize her mother's supposed "butler" when he greets Frank & Joe at the door, and said butler turns out to be part of the plot.
- Captain Obvious:
- Voodoo Doll
(empty coffin has been open the whole time, in full view of the cops have been in crypt, with Hardys standing nearby)
- Chekhov's Skill:
- "Acapulco Spies": Joe discovers a technique for planting fingerprints at the scene of the crime. Guess what the Hardys use to trick the Big Bad into revealing where Fenton's being held prisoner?
- Crash-Course Landing: The Strange Fate of Flight 608 has all three pilots knocked out by some weird drug...leaving Frank and Joe to fly the plane. In a hurricane. In the middle of the Bermuda Triangle. Without any radio help, and the one semi-conscious pilot falls asleep mid-instruction. Guess who manages to crash-land in the middle of the ocean? Of course, they do make it to a deserted island and find themselves all alone with an ex-plane full of of young stewardesses, so I guess it wasn't too hard on them.
- Creepy Doll: the episode "House on Possessed Hill" has Joe Hardy walking into a room of a cursed house...with a creepy-as-hell animated toy doll nodding its head in time to tinkly music box chimes.
- Defector From Commie Land:
- Sole Survivor revolved around East Germans trying to stop the defection of a Chinese scientist, using a Mind Screw to get Joe Hardy to spill his guts.
- Mystery On The Avalanche Express had a side plot of a ski champion wanting to defect to the West, and dragging Joe into the matter.
- Defection To Paradise had the daughter of a top Russian Official being chased down by Russian assassins, and Frank and Joe trying to help her escape.
- Distress Ball: Nancy Drew. Dear GODS, Nancy Drew in 2nd Season.
- "Arson & Old Lace" has Nancy held captive for six months. By an old man in his 70s. In a penthouse. With a phone and an intercom to a secretary who's not in on the plot. With an elevator that doesn't require any special code to operate, that leads right down to a very public and open office area. No, she's not tied up. She's not held under lock and key. And somehow the elderly gent is able to force her into an elaborate dress and hairstyle, too. She just passively waits for Frank Hardy to rescue her as the building is burning down.
- Ditto "Voodoo Doll". Nancy goes off on her own to investigate the Big Bad. Yup, gets caught. Yup, is held captive (again, untied up) with two other women, similarly untied, in an open warehouse with tons of crates. The only door INTO the warehouse area is locked. On Nancy's side of the door. With the hinges on HER side, too. Her one attempt to escape involves her climbing UP crates to go through a window, and is promptly caught. It takes the Hardys breaking into the warehouse through said door before Nancy can escape.
- The Dulcinea Effect: the show mostly avoided this by having the girls in question be friends from school or former girlfriends, but a couple eps stand out:
- House on Possessed Hill, where Joe champions a supposedly psychic girl who's just flagged him down, jumped into his van, and gets him running for his life from a lynch mob...
- Death Surf — this time Frank falls in love with a girl he's seen for only three or four seconds...and who's supposedly dead for most of the episode.
- Subverted in The Mystery of King Tut's Tomb, where the brothers are trying to get out of helping the stranger-girl, but are finally forced into it because the Egyptian police hold their passports. Frank even threatens to kick said girl's teeth in, at one point.
- Faked Rip Van Winkle: See the You Wake Up in a Room entry below. Sole Survivor. Joe Hardy.
- Hollywood Voodoo: Voodoo Doll, an episode that has to be seen to be believed. A white stuffy English professor is somehow a Voodoo High Priest (with the Haitian Voodoo Priest stated to be his "protoge"), tarot cards called "Voodoo cards" (though their apparent accuracy is actually a Mind Screw used by the villain to psych the Hardys out), and stage magic presented as the real thing. Though the episode does have one point in its favor: Baron Samedi is not mentioned at all, and during a fake Voodoo ceremony, the practitioners summon "Papa Legba" instead.
- Point taken away: Papa Legba is the guardian of the crossroads, and would hardly be the one invoked for the apparent death curse that the villains are trying to lay on the Hardys.
- The Infiltration: "Game Plan", in Season 3, has Frank going deep undercover and joining with a criminal organization. At one point, he seems to have gone totally over & sold out the Feds, to the point of pulling a gun on Joe.
- Moment Killer: "Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom" has Frank Hardy and Nancy Drew finally sharing a kiss and making plans to go see the sights together...only for an Annoying Younger Brother Detective to ruin it:
Nancy: What I'd like to do is thank you...for saving my life. (kisses Frank)
- Reading Lips: In the episode "Silent Scream", a deaf girl finds out about a Las Vegas bomb plot by reading the lips of a man in a phone booth. Of course, the woman, the Hardys, the villains and the casino owners then spend the rest of the episode passing around the Idiot Ball, but no one's perfect.
- Revenge: Last Kiss of Summer has Joe Hardy going after the criminals who killed his fiancee' in a drunk-driving accident.
- Shirtless Scene: Hoo, brother, where to start? Luckily, Parker Stevenson had a great body for it.
- Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom: Frank Hardy walks into the room fresh from the shower, clad only in a towel.
- Life on the Line: Frank strips off his shirt inside his trailer.
- Sole Survivor: Joe Hardy spends most of the episode in a sweat-jacket unzipped halfway down.
- Wipe Out: for some odd reason, Frank (the so-called surfing champion who spends most of the ep on the surfboard) is always shown with a shirt on, even in the water. But Joe gets a glorious, shirtless, wet-chest scene, shortly after saving Frank from two feet of water.
- Mystery of the Jade Kwan Yin: Ditto on the Joe-Hardy-In-Halfway-Zipped-Sweats.
- House On Possessed Hill, which features a demon-haunted house, uses the house from Psycho, complete with a fast drive-by-glimpse of a boarded-up, one-story building that looks suspiciously like the Bates Motel:
(the Hardys are walking up to the house on a stormy night, to investigate the "ghosts")
- Television Geography:
- The episode "Voodoo Doll" is just painful. Despite having a stock footage opening shot of the real Bourbon Street in New Orleans during Mardi Gras...the Hollywood backlot not only didn't bother to make buildings that looked like New Orleans, but the ep also refers to addresses that don't exist and has the Hardys wandering through a wide, spacious, bury-them-below-ground cemetery...never mind that cemeteries in NOLA in the Quarter are all bury-them-above-ground due to the high water table and jammed-packed. And we won't go into the total lack of any believable accents (What are LAPD doing in NOLA?) and black people in general.
- "Creatures Who Came On Sunday" has the Hardys driving from Massachusetts to New Mexico, just to help a friend, while supposedly en route to Las Vegas; that's at least a 5 day road trip. But then they start talking as if Las Vegas is just a short distance away...when it's easily a 10 hour drive. And we won't mention that Frank's using a map of Montana to get through New Mexico...
- Thriller on the Express: "Mystery on the Avalanche Express".
- Uberwald: "The Hardy Boys & Nancy Drew Meet Dracula" had the plucky detectives going into Transylvania for a Halloween music festival — cue the old spooky castle and villagers who still wear medieval peasant folk costumes who give the warnings about the vampire in the castle...
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?:
- Voodoo Doll: even though the Big Bads have already killed several people who've gotten in the way, they tread very lightly with the Hardy Boys. The villains lure the brothers to a fake Voodoo ceremony and chloroform them, yet the Hardys only wake up the next morning in coffins next to the bayou. Untouched, unhurt, and definitely un-dead (though confused and freaked-out). Y'know, Mr. Villains, coffins work so much better if the heroes are dead when you put them in.
- You Wake Up in a Room: "Sole Survivor", where Joe wakes up in a hospital room with no clue where he is or how he got there, only to be told that he's not only been in a coma for a year, but that his father and brother are dead. Cue fake newspapers, fake newscasts, and forged letters from all his surviving relatives and friends. Of course, Frank and Fenton are very much alive, and the whole thing is a Mind Screw to get Joe to reveal information on a defection attempt.