Every once in a while, we look back at some old TV and – even though “old TV” is mainly what we watch – we’re surprised by the changes in society over the last forty years. In the second season finale, one of Joe’s old girlfriends, played by Valerie Bertinelli taking a break from the successful sitcom One Day at a Time, phones our heroes for help because three girls have been abducted from the small college she attends over the course of a week. This college doesn’t even have a computer in the registrar’s office to provide a printout of the current roster of students and professors; there’s one behavioral scientist who’s got a room-filling machine that can do that.
So how weirdly dated is this? These kidnappings are not the biggest news story on the planet, which they sure would be today. There’s not even a single reporter in sight. Obviously a similar story made today would have to do things radically differently. But what blew my mind was the way everybody treats this as no big deal. Students are still walking alone on campus at night, and classrooms that were crime scenes the night before are cleaned up for lab work the next day. Then Frank and Joe find some evidence and withhold it from the police so they can confront somebody themselves. Good grief!
A weird coincidence: one month before this aired, NBC showed an episode of Columbo called “How to Dial a Murder,” which was also made by Universal and which also had some Dobermans trained by a behavioral scientist. I wonder whether they were the same dogs.
That’s all from The Hardy Boys for now! But stick around, because we’ll check out the third season in November. Stay tuned!