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look out world, here come the Hardy boys . . .
on January 3, 2010
In the first season, The Hardy Boys Mysteries and Nancy Drew Mysteries split time equally, alternating episodes each week. In second season, the series underwent a major change, placing the emphasis on the Hardy Boys, and making Nancy Drew secondary. Of the 22 episodes, only three were stand alone Nancy Drew Mysteries. Pamela Sue Martin also appeared as Nancy Drew, in two, two-part Hardy Boy adventures. Martin, left the series with several episodes remaining, resulting in Janet Louise Johnson being cast as a replacement. Johnson, appeared as Nancy Drew, in four additional episodes.
With more backing from the studio, The Hardy Boys Mysteries changed in several ways. The writing, while still not great, is improved. Many of the clichés remained, but the series featured colorful international settings outside of Bayport, Massachusetts, that created possibilities for the stories. Hollywood, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Austria, Nassau, Egypt, and Africa, are some of the scenic spots on the Hardy boys' itinerary . The handsome brothers, Joe (Shaun Cassidy) and Frank (Parker Stevenson), while still prone to goofy foulups, display a higher level of maturity and competence. Still mostly pretty boy detectives, who usually run from trouble, at least the Hardy boys are now independent, and not constantly apologizing like schoolboys in the principal's office after messing up. While more lovers than fighters, the Hardy's are able to take on some physical tasks, without looking completely ridiculous.
With most of the action set outside of Bayport, first season regulars Aunt Gertrude (Edith Alwater), and Callie (Lisa Eilbacher) were written out of season two. On their own, the guys, especially Frank, experienced a hormone rush, becoming much, much, more interested in girls, with this often being the motivation for their investigations. Some of the young actresses featured include, Kimberly Beck, Valerie Bertinelli (One Day at a Time), Kim Cattrall (Sex In the City), Debra Clinger, Elyssa Daniels, Bonnie Ebsen, Martha Garrett, Melanie Griffith (Working Girl), Jean Marie Hon, Maren Jensen (Battlestar Gallactica), Stepfanie Kramer (Hunter), Anne Lockhart (Battlestar Gallactica), Robin Mattson, Cathy Rigby, and Deborah Ryan. After some pretty lackluster guest stars in season one, season two featured notable Hollywood veterans like J. D. Cannon, Cesare Danova, Thayer David, Howard Duff, Lorne Greene, James Hong, Jack Jones, Casey Kasem, Dorthy Malone, Ray Milland, Diana Muldaur, Larry Storch, James Wainright, Paul Williams, and Stuart Whitman. Those making cameos include Jaclyn Smith, Robert Wagner, and Dennis Weaver.
The Hardy boys remain mostly non-violent, and inept at fighting. A push is usually about as aggressive as they get, and it often doesn't take more than a push to put a Hardy down, particularly Joe. Whenever they are travelling, these guys seem to get their room searched nearly every time, but thankfully Joe doesn't spend much time, ridiculously collecting fingerprints anymore. The Hardy's have mostly left their junior investigators ways behind, taking on enemy spies, braving fires, thwarting smugglers, facing ghosts, and even managing to land a jet airliner at sea! Although the guys are approaching superspy status, there are still many cartoonish 'Scooby Doo' aspects (laughing phantoms, ghosts, witches, and vampires) to the program, which are part of its 'charm'.
While Shaun Cassidy's singing is featured more, he also demonstrates that he has some talent as an actor, with his best dramatic performance probably being in Sole Survivor, where foreign agents try to trick Joe into believing that he has been in a coma, and that Frank and his father are dead. The younger Hardy uses his head and makes a daring escape across the rooftops of Hong Kong, with a beautiful nurse. Campus Terror features a very determined Joe, searching for whoever is terrorizing female students on campus. The guys usually have an exciting time in Hawaii. In Death Surf, Frank is obsessed with finding out all he can about a girl that disappeared in the surf. Mystery on the Avalanche Express, is like a reunion for past teen stars, featuring Troy Donahue, Tommy Sands, Fabian, and Deborah Walley. It's a pretty good adventure set on a train passing through Europe, that features Joe fighting on the rooftop of the train, and in a ski chase down a slope.
While things are going very well for the Hardy Boys, the same can't be said for Nancy Drew. Nancy repeatedly describes herself as a 'part time investigator', and ironically, that is exactly what she became in season two. The rise of the Hardy brothers' star, is correspondingly the setting sun for Pamela Sue Martin. Martin has three separate Drew adventures, but most of her River Heights ground base from season one is gone. William Schallert returns as Carson Drew, but Susan Buckner replaces Jean Rasey as Nancy's pal George Fayne, and Rick Springfield is the reintroduced Ned Nickerson. Martin's stand alone episodes are not very well written. The best may be Nancy Drew's Love Match, where Nancy is hired to keep an eye on a star tennis player (Maureen McCormick, Brady Bunch) who has a penchant for shoplifting.
Martin fit in well, when teamed with the Hardy Boys, with the writers playing up her relationship with Frank, but with her role reduced, she decided to move on. Her replacement, nineteen year old Janet Louise Johnson, does an admirable job, in what must have been a stressful situation. It is kind of hard to accept another actress as Nancy Drew, after the sudden switch, but there isn't much choice. Johnson makes her entrance in the two-part episode Voodoo Doll, and does her best with the part. She is put to the test in Arson and Old Lace, a completely over the top story, where Nancy has been kidnapped, and held captive for six months, by a demented, reclusive millionaire. Later she is put into the ridiculous position of shinnying up an elevator cable with Frank.
The Hardy Boys becoming jet setting international operatives, unfortunately left Nancy Drew behind. In the third and final season, Nancy Drew would be completely phased out. In season two, Frank and Joe become more well rounded and credible sleuths, while retaining their wholesome appeal. After leaving the series, Pamela Sue Martin apparently sought to radically change her image, appearing in Playboy in 1978, and playing a prostitute in The Lady in Red (1979). She then secured the role as Fallon, on Aaron Spelling's Dynasty (1981-84).