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In which we bid farewell to Nancy Drew

Poor Nancy. Yes, okay, so I don't like her. I still feel a little sorry for her, though. She's been the star of her own successful book series for somewhere in the region of seventy years. It could be argued that she's probably fairly capable of handling a few investigations. For some reason, however, the makers of the TV series clearly don't agree. Firstly they cast somebody who constantly looks as though she's worried about breaking a nail, and then they give her companions who are at best useless and at worst deserving of a good punch. Then they just forget all about her. Quite honestly it's no wonder that Pamela Sue Martin gave up and went to find something else to do instead.

Take "Voodoo Doll". This is a Hardy adventure, but for some reason - contractual obligation? - the writers decided to stick Nancy into it. It's a two-parter, so you'd think they'd have time enough during the course of the adventure to find something for her to do. No. In episode one, she rifles through a cupboard. In episode two, she gets kidnapped. That's it. Well, no. In episode two she also breaks a window. This is the sum total of Nancy's contribution to the adventure, so why they bothered to bring her into it, I don't know. It could be anybody getting kidnapped. Better yet, don't bother kidnapping anybody, since it adds nothing to the plot. It seems so silly, too. "Voodoo Doll" is a good adventure - there's few enough episodes of this show that aren't good, after all. This one has good pacing, good moments of humour, it uses the double length well, without obvious dragging, and only really falls apart during the round up of crooks at the end. It doesn't need Nancy. It clearly has no space for Nancy. So why is she there, making it all a bit of a joke by being so conspicuously under-used? Still, pointless or otherwise, there she is - although entertainingly the boys completely fail to recognise her. Mind you, she has had a head transplant since her last appearance...

Nancy, undercover as a magician. Frankly I'd be worried about any expert detective who failed to recognise a close friend just because there's a tiny strip of cloth covering their eyes. Actually I'd be worried about anybody who failed that one, unless they were a nineteenth century Spanish army officer stationed in Los Angeles. Fortunately for the boys' reputation, they're excused on the grounds of the sneaky recasting. Meanwhile new Nancy, anxious to start up where the old one left off, is pretty enthusiastic about throwing herself into her predecessor's sometime relationship with Frank, the brazen hussy. You've never met him before, woman! Keep your hands to yourself!

Not that Frank is objecting.

Mask off, and the new Nancy is revealed. Nobody seems terribly upset about the loss of the last one. Nobody really seems to notice the presence of the new one. Alas, poor Nancy. Not that I care in the slightest.

Meanwhile, the boys set to work investigating a local voodoo magic club. Interestingly it has exactly the same interior - right down to the tablecloths - as the bar they visited in Kenya recently. Must be that African cultural influence, huh.

The boys are arrested for wilful possession of a red plastic anorak. Right before...


... finding Ray Milland dead in their bedroom. Not the sort of place where you usually find Ray Milland, but then it's apparently obligatory for anybody who was working on the Battlestar Galactica pilot down the corridor, and had a few minutes free, to pop over and help out the Hardys. The boys are anxious to get to the bottom of this - Ray Milland being dead, that is, not the peculiar wormhole betwixt America in 1979, and space in... whenever Battlestar Galactica is.

This leads to much creeping around in the dark, watching people doing voodoo. Note the complete absence of Nancy. She hasn't been kidnapped yet, so goodness only knows what she's up to. Anyway, the boys firstly get zapped by voodoo power (chloroformed); secondly wake up to find themselves in their own, tailor-made coffins, complete with nameplates; and thirdly discover that Ray Milland isn't actually dead after all. All in all, it's been a rough night.

Being teenagers, however, they're only ever allowed soft drinks. I always feel rather sorry for them about that. Still, maybe being teetotal is why they're such good detectives? So good, in fact, that without even knowing that Nancy has been kidnapped, they go to where she's being held, and rescue her. She, however, isn't nearly so good a detective, because when they break in to save her, she comes at them with a home-made spear.

Rather charitably they look slightly disconcerted by this, despite the fact that, quite honestly, the only thing it would be capable of stabbing is some very unwary thin air.

It's just like Lord Of The Rings, isn't it. Frank leads his companions on a quest to defeat Ray Milland, undeterred by the fact that the only one remotely useful in a crisis is Joe. Who's wearing beige slacks. Which isn't exactly dashing.

Anyway, Ray Milland and his cronies are soon overpowered, and the Hardys and Nancy celebrate by going on a skiing trip. Needless to say, this offers Nancy no opportunity to do anything useful, despite the rest of the guest cast being rushed off their feet throughout. Everything kicks off when, whilst waiting at the train station, the gang are accosted by a woman who promptly snogs Frank as a distraction. Somewhat unfortunately, not only is she clearly a woman, not a girl, but Parker Stevenson chooses this particular moment to actually manage to look somewhere close to eighteen for a change.

So the poor woman winds up looking like a right cradle-snatcher. Not that the show cares. They've been confusing themselves about how old the boys are supposed to be all along. Having distracted her pursuers with the inappropriate Frank snoggage, she switches her bag with Nancy's, and disappears into the crowd. This gives Nancy (and her utterly appalling friend George) their one real opportunity for dialogue.

"She took my Trans-Global bag!" says Nancy.

"Your Trans-Global bag?" asks George.

"Yes! We both had the same Trans-Global bag!" says Nancy.

"Easily done," says George. "They travel to one hundred and eight countries, so there must be quite a lot of Trans-Global bags around."

Tonight's show, ladies, gentlemen and others assembled, is brought to you by Trans-Global.

Then there's a big chase on skis, which seems to involve the absolute Nancy-minimum, before George sings the show out, thus causing me to practically lose the will to live. Mind you, the ski chase provides its own sort of fun. Long distance ski chase shots are brought to you from the ski slopes by Stunt Vision! Thrill to the exciting chase on skis, as our intrepid young heroes ski this way and that way at speed! Then cut back to the studio for some close ups, as everybody stands in front of a backdrop, and tries to pretend that they're skiing. If they can be bothered.

Dynamic skiing Joe!

Somebody fetch Mr Cassidy a coffee. I think he had a late night last night...

Dynamic skiing Frank!

Frank has a very excited hat. It's clearly enjoying the chase more than Joe is, anyway. It's also enjoying it more than Nancy, who disappears completely just afterwards, having presumably had enough of never being given anything to do. Her poor father makes a TV appeal for her safe return, which is sweet of him.

Although it might have helped if somebody had told him about the change of heads. Poor fellow thinks that his daughter's missing, when in actual fact she's probably standing right next to him. He's so sweetly concerned, however, that the boys decide they might as well try to find her anyway. The police and the FBI have apparently been looking for six months. Six months?! She was just on a train with Frank and Joe five minutes ago! Clearly the authorities weren't really trying, because the boys find her in less than half an hour. Being Frank and Joe, however, they find her just as the building that she's trapped in catches fire. Frank breaks into the apartment where she's being held, and encourages her to flee with him up a lift shaft, which leads to some spectacularly bad 'I'm climbing up a rope, honest' acting from... whoever that is now playing Nancy. At one point, despite no obvious sign of effort or strain, she wails that she can't go any further. Well, no. And I can see why. When climbing up a rope, Nancy...

... it's generally considered good practice to take off the high-heeled shoes first. How is she even holding on?! Joe, by the way, is at this point saving a building full of extras, whilst assisting me no end in my ongoing attempt to prove that Frank is best. Why is Frank best?

Frank is best because he is not wearing this shirt. And bless him, I think Joe is trying to grow a beard.

And that's it really. They get up onto the roof. They're rescued. Nancy is re-introduced to her father, who doesn't seem too upset by the different head. And that, folks, is that for Nancy. She appeared, she did nothing, and she went away again.

Stick to books, Nancy. Carolyn Keene might not actually exist, but she certainly takes better care of you than Universal Television.

Not that I'm complaining.


( 3 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
Jan. 11th, 2010 06:48 pm (UTC)
I love reading these posts :)

*enjoys, for fish*
Jan. 11th, 2010 10:49 pm (UTC)
I love watching The Hardy Boys. :)

Nancy, not so much...
Jan. 14th, 2010 03:03 am (UTC)
LOL! Awesome. I liked the fire in the building episode, but I know i ranted on about it in another comment. I was surprised Joe had so much to do in that one, saving people left and right, and poor Frank was going to get his eye knocked out by Nancy's HUGE heel in his face.
So this was Nancy's last hurrah? You're right, with the way this show treated her, she needs to stick to the books. For what it's worth, Pamela was the best.
( 3 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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