The other night, our son told us that he gives The Hardy Boys two thumbs up, and Nancy Drew one-and-a-half thumbs up. Then we ran into this segment, which left him confused and bored. He didn’t enjoy this at all. I got a kick out of seeing so many future stars early in their career, including Terry Kiser, Martin Kove, and most obviously Mark Harmon, who’s coming up on an astonishing 379 episodes of NCIS. I had no idea that show has been going so long. Harmon was just a few months away from being cast in his first starring role, in the long-forgotten Jack Webb show Sam, about a police dog and his handler. Bigger and better things were in his future, including the miniseries Goliath Awaits, which we would totally watch for this blog if it were available.
In the last episode of The Hardy Boys, I noted that the director and editors did an exemplary job making stock footage mesh with a carnival and parade, but I can’t say the same about this effort. Harmon plays the kicker for undefeated Overton State University, who play their games at the Not-Fooling-Anybody Rose Bowl, and their uniforms are a little more bright red than the University of Oklahoma’s crimson. Yes, they pulled in lots of old stock footage of Oklahoma playing a couple of other teams, and then the poor director – Andy Sidaris, who would later make all those movies where Playboy models fire bazookas at ninjas in Hawaii – tried to match this beat up footage that looks like it was the first color broadcast of anything, at twilight, with the new material of actors in their bright red and about twenty extras in the stands at high noon in Pasadena.
At least they got a legend to call Overton’s games. They brought in Howard Cosell to do the play-by-play. Honestly, I tease about the production, but the story’s a pretty good one, where gamblers convince Overton’s kicker that he’s killed a girl in order to blackmail him into throwing a game. But the highlight is watching and listening to Cosell doing his shtick and talking his pretentious piffle. (Read more about Cosell at this great post last year at Classic TV Sports. There was nobody like him!)
That wraps up the first season of The Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew Mysteries. There were a couple that I didn’t enjoy much, but overall this was better than I expected! We’ll watch season two a few months down the road, probably starting in late July. Stay tuned!