Category Archives: hardy boys / nancy drew

The Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew Mysteries 2.8 – Strange Fate of Flight 608

There is a whole lot about the Hardy Boys’ Bermuda Triangle adventure that’s incredibly familiar. And yes, of course there’s a Bermuda Triangle adventure, because this was made in 1977. The episode starts with a little bit of footage from season one’s “Wipe Out,” to remind us that this is the Hardy Boys we’re watching, before we spend several minutes with these two characters in the picture above.

That’s Herbie Braha on the left, and Thayer David, in one of his final roles, on the right. While this isn’t a Maltese Falcon story, look at how they look and how they’re dressed and try telling me they’re not meant to evoke Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet! I love this! I really enjoy stumbling across Thayer David in old TV shows, because he got to play Nero Wolfe in a pilot for ABC shortly after he made this. The network passed on the show, and finally screened the movie a year and a half after the actor had died.

But what really struck me as familiar was when the Trans-Pacific Airlines jumbo jet, inevitably, goes down in the Bermuda Triangle. I popped in a Six Million Dollar Man disk to confirm my thoughts. We’d seen all the business with the airplane flying through a storm at night and number four engine catching fire and the extinguisher not working in both the Six episode “Survival of the Fittest” and its remake, the Bionic Woman story “Fly Jaime.”

I dug around and it appears that the footage originally came from a 1970 Universal TV movie called Lost Flight that starred Lloyd Bridges and Anne Francis, wherein a Trans-Pacific jet crash-lands and the survivors wash up on some kinda tropical island someplace, like Stan Ridgway sang about. Who knew that Universal had its own version of the ITC white Jaguar? Never board a Trans-Pacific flight, teevee action heroes, because that plane is definitely going down!

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The Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew Mysteries 2.7 – The Creatures Who Came on Sunday

It’s the second time that Frank and Joe have been buzzed by a fake flying saucer, but this season’s story about supposed little green men is much better than the earlier one. In part because the damsel in distress this week is wound really tightly and is very upset about her missing boyfriend who nobody in town seems to know anything about, and in part because there are two well-dressed thugs pretending to be government agents warning everybody off the scent of either aliens or the boyfriend, this one kept me guessing for a really good while. And it built to a climax where Joe has to tackle a gunman, knowing that if he succeeds, Frank, who’s held hostage, might be killed. Our son got extremely worried by this moment of jeopardy and hid.

One of the main guest stars this week is John Quade, who Glen A. Larson called on fairly regularly in the period. He’s in that superlative Buck Rogers story “The Plot to Kill a City” as one of the villains, and also appeared in some other Larson shows like Galactica 1980, B.J. & the Bear, McCloud, Switch, The Fall Guy, and Quincy. Always nice to see a producer keeping a reliable actor’s number handy for meaty roles.

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The Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew Mysteries 2.6 – Mystery of the African Safari

For those of you curious whether the show would once again impress by seamlessly mixing actual location work with a backlot set after doing it so well in the Egypt episode, the answer is no. It looks like they shot some material at one of those “Lion Country Safari”-type places, but the production didn’t actually go to Kenya. There was a Lion Country Safari south of Atlanta when I was our son’s age. It was rebranded “Kingdoms 3” a year or two before it closed, but nobody seems to remember that. I can’t find precisely where this story was filmed. Possibly the San Diego Wild Animal Park…?

Well, even though they kept production in California, it still looks great, and this one pleasantly surprised me by being the most intelligent installment of the series so far. It prompted me to stop the episode after about twenty minutes for a lengthy discussion with our son about history, and why some of those “ex-colonial governors” that we often see in television from the period might still be hanging around in Africa. I suggested that this one might be a likely source for importing machine parts or air conditioning units or whatever, and I wasn’t too far off course. This one knows how to get tractors and bulldozers moved in to the country, and how to get poached ivory out.

He’s also the only really likely suspect, despite the distraction of a simmering resentment between a character played by Harold Sylvester, above, and one played by Stuart Whitman. They represent the struggle between “the new Africa” and “the old,” which is what prompted me to stop the show to discuss all the representations of Africa that we’ve watched for the blog, from Young Indiana Jones to Black Panther, and why Sylvester’s character might have some reasonable justification for being sick and tired of having Great White Hunters throwing their influence and weight around. Whitman’s character’s daughter, played by Anne Lockhart – a regular casting choice for producer Glen A. Larson – gets caught in the middle, and when the Hardy Boys, who are doing some supposedly discreet investigations while their dad is working another angle on the poacher’s trail, the usual sparks fly.

I enjoyed this one a lot. It shows the heroes as competent and rational detectives, and the politics and resentment of the situation are handled with more tact and sensitivity than I expected for a kids show in the seventies. Engaging our son with a talk about the bigger picture helped, because he really enjoyed it as well, and not just because there were rhinos and lions in it.

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The Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew Mysteries 2.5 – The Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom (part two)

Padding, padding, padding. There are barely sixty minutes of story between these two parts, and to add insult to injury, the “scenes from what you’re about to watch” bit, the credits, and the recap of part one takes – no lie – eight full minutes. Even worse, the little teaser scene, apart from spoiling absolutely everything of note in the adventure, includes almost the whole of Jaclyn Smith’s cameo, so we get to see it twice!

One thing they didn’t spoil in the teaser was the identity of the fellow in the Phantom of the Opera mask. No, the producers did that themselves by casting Casey Kasem in a very small role and then having a guy in a Phantom of the Opera mask who speaks with one of the most distinctive voices in radio and cartoons.

Kasem’s bad guy gets clobbered and Nancy is rescued in another scene spoiled in the teaser, when Robert Wagner, pretending to be on set as Pete Ryan from Switch, intercepts the kidnapping. Bizarrely, this kind of preceded an actual incident in 1996, when a shoplifter in Baltimore ran onto the set of Homicide: Life on the Street and surrendered to actors Clark Johnson and Richard Belzer, who were acting as Lewis and Munch. Only Johnson and Belzer kept their cool and didn’t give their criminal a knuckle sandwich like Wagner gives Kasem.

Switch is a mostly forgotten piece of television. It ran for three seasons and my parents often watched it, but it never seemed to turn up in syndication and has never been licensed for home video. There’s a couple of poor bootlegs on YouTube.

Anyway, our son liked this a little more than part one, until Nancy and Frank’s inevitable smooch at the end, anyway. Clive Revill gets maybe two lines, the studio tour tram goes through the ice tunnel again, Joe has an incredibly convenient lockpick in his shoe, and the grownups rolled their eyes at the missed opportunity.

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The Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew Mysteries 2.4 – The Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom (part one)

Well, this wasn’t anywhere even close to being as good as I hoped. The kid didn’t much like it either; he found it far too creepy. In the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew’s second team-up, they are at a detectives’ convention at a hotel next door to Universal Studios when some goon in a Phantom of the Opera mask, and far more resources and technology than is in any way probable, starts playing And Then There Were None with some famous detectives. Plus there’s the Studio tour, so we get to see the collapsing bridge, and the Jaws bit, and the Earthquake bit.

I paused before the tour started to explain to our son how phenomenally popular the tour was in the seventies, and reminded him of the weird rotating tunnel that Bigfoot carried Steve Austin through. Sure as shooting, we got to see the tunnel again. But there was a little too much creeping around at night for our son’s liking, and the cliffhanger, where the villain snatches Joe, had our son hiding behind his mom’s arm.

But here’s where I got disappointed: the story seems to have originally been shown over two Sundays: October 2 and October 9, 1977, but the preview for part one on the DVD has scenes from both episodes, which is the sort of thing you’d expect to see if this had originally been a two hour special broken into two halves for syndication and home video. And the scenes were incredibly promising: it looked like some of the detectives that our heroes would be meeting in cameos are Marshal Sam McCloud, Kelly Garrett, and Pete Ryan. Unfortunately, only Dennis Weaver appears in part one, and, in a big bummer, Weaver is playing himself on the Universal lot waiting for a setup while shooting McCloud when he rescues Nancy Drew from a runaway truck. (That’s a delightful in-joke at least, because Weaver had such a memorable experience in 1971 with a runaway truck.)

So it looks as though who I thought were Garrett and Ryan will actually be Jaclyn Smith and Robert Wagner on the sets of Charlie’s Angels and Switch. Big missed opportunity, I say. (Except… like this show, McCloud and Switch were both produced by Glen A. Larson at Universal, but Angels wasn’t. Shrug.)

But the strangest cameo of all is… not Peter Falk. It’s Casey Kasem, the immortal voice of American Top 40, playing “Paul Hamilton,” who claims to have once been a respected actor but is now Peter Falk’s double for long shots on the Columbo set at Universal. All credit to Kasem, he does a really terrific impersonation of Columbo, right down to having just one more thing to ask Frank and Nancy. I’d expect nothing less from the man who read long distance dedications for little dogs named Snuggles.

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The Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew Mysteries 2.3 – The Mystery of King Tut’s Tomb

There are times where you have to remind yourself “this is just a kids’ show.” I can’t imagine any grownup being very surprised by anything that happens in this episode, with the possible exception of ninety seconds of padding just before the cops show up, but our son was riveted by all the twists and turns. In Cairo, Joe and Frank get caught up in a con that two American girls, played by Taryn Power and Elyssa Davalos, are trying to pull on a much larger and more dangerous gang of con artists. The real bad guys are pulling a “King Tut’s Tomb” job on rich marks, using one gold artifact as bait, the girls arrange to have the artifact “stolen” in public, and then the Hardy Boys butt in. Our son loved it, and the revelation that somehow along the line, the gold artifact got switched for a lead fake was his favorite moment.

So while the plot didn’t really grab my attention, I was actually very impressed with the filming choices. They sent a second unit and a white VW hippie van to drive around Cairo for all the establishing shots, including setting the scene of the theft in a large outdoor market, then had the actors – usually framed very tightly – on a Universal backlot dressed like the market the Egyptian unit had filmed. I’ve seen lots of TV from this era and this really is one of the most successful switcheroos I can recall. Using the same film stock instead of library footage makes a huge difference. Apparently the Hardy Boys will be in Kenya for their next case; I wonder whether they can pull it off twice?

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The Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew Mysteries 2.2 – The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula (part two)

That’s a better screen grab.

Anyway, tonight we watched part two of Michael Sloan and Glen A. Larson’s season two opener of The Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew Mysteries and it’s… more of the same, with another pair of tunes by Paul Williams and one more by Shaun Cassidy. Shaun, as Joe, gets to smooch Nancy’s friend, and Nancy and Frank get to make goo-goo eyes and will they / won’t they each other. Universal’s costume department got to pull every Oktoberfest outfit out of mothballs to dress the extras, and the props department provided a very silly fake bat for some poor guy to dance around on a wire. This was some very, very silly television, although I did genuinely smile during a cute denouement after the real culprit who is pretending to be Dracula gets handcuffed.

Speaking of Paul Williams, isn’t it so darn weird that he was omnipresent in the seventies, and wrote so many good songs that were hits for everybody in pop music and provided so many memorable tunes for Hollywood soundtracks… and yet he seems to have made the top 100 charts on his own only one time? (“Waking Up Alone” made #60 in 1972.)

Our son pretended to be frightened all night, pronouncing this the creepiest Hardy Boys story ever, and playing up the fake-scared business to let us know that his Doggie would watch the scary bits and let him know what happened while he hid on the staircase. If I didn’t know he was playing at being scared, it would almost make me feel bad about what we’re going to watch Sunday night. Unpleasant dreams, viewers.

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The Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew Mysteries 2.1 – The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula (part one)

So okay, it seems faintly ridiculous for me to celebrate the first time that the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew ever crossed over into each other’s stories with a screen grab of Frank and Joe with guest star Lorne Greene, but I’d say it was even more ridiculous that this big meeting did not result in a single useable photo of Pamela Sue Martin sharing good face time with either Parker Stevenson or Shaun Cassidy. Is this a harbinger of a troubled television season, or am I reading too much into things? We’ll see as we spend the next couple of months tackling the second season of this program.

Our son was initially excited to see this back in the rotation, because he really did enjoy the first batch of fourteen – the Hardys’ segments more than Nancy’s, just like most of America then – but this one turned around and gave him a really solid set of frights. The convoluted plot sees Frank and Joe tagging along with a small-change rock band to the Dracula’s Castle Festival in Transylvania, because their dad has vanished on the trail of some art thefts that may be carried out by someone in the entourage of a big rock star who’s playing dates all over Europe. For backup and background, Dad Hardy had been in touch with Carson Drew and his daughter Nancy, who really has no time for the “amateur hour” antics of Frank and Joe.

The “meet cute” involves our heroes unwittingly sending each others’ luggage back to the lobby of a hotel in Munich, much to our son’s glee. He cackled with laughter as the tensions escalated until it ends with Frank flipped onto his back. But then the business of some undead fiend possibly stalking the grounds and tombs of the castle while the bands play – Paul Williams and Bernie Taupin are among the musicians – gave him some behind the sofa frights. And I thought we all knew this simply has to be a Scooby Doo plot!

Anyway, the first cast change to note is that that Jean Casey’s character of George Fayne isn’t present, but actress Ruth Cox is here as a nearly identical character, Bess Marvin. Even weirder, George will be back in some future episodes, but played by a different actress. Lisa Eilbacher’s character, Callie Shaw, has been dropped, and so has the character of Ned Nickerson. Maybe they were freeing up space for more guest stars, who also include John Van Dreelen, Norbert Schiller, and Leon Askin. Perhaps it’s just me, but it does feel slightly silly to pack your guest cast with European actors and then ask Lorne Greene to attempt a Romanian accent as a grouchy police inspector.

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