The Great Detectives of Old Time Radio The great ones are back in action.

20Sep/130

EP1057: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Jolly Rogers Fraud Matter, Part Five and Dr. Tim: The Man from Trouble Creek

Bob Bailey

Johnny confronts the killer and faces death.

Original Air Date: March 23, 1956

Dr. Tim searches for a missing man with tuberculosis.

Original Air Date: 1948

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28Jun/130

EP0985: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Forbes Matter, Part Five and the Widow is Willing

Bob Bailey

 

Johnny knows all except why Sheldon Forbes through his life away on a woman who didn't want him.

Original Air Date: December 30, 1955

The first heir is dead as an insurance investigator cuts through lies to find the truth about the existence of alleged photos of a murder.

Original Air Date: 1958 or 59

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25May/130

EP0956: The Line Up: The Senile Slugging Case

William Johnstone
Guthrie investigates a series of brutal muggings that have targeted elderly victims.

Original Air Date: September 12, 1951

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6May/120

Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys On TV in the 1990s

The 1970s "Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries" is the best known TV adaptation of the two famous stars of young adult detective novels.  However, in 1990s,  they returned to television in separate programs. For these shows, the characters aged a bit. Joe Hardy and Nancy Drew were college, and Joe Hardy had started first job as a reporter for the Bayport Eagle.

The 1990s series would not make anyone forget the 1970s version. The show was filmed and produced in Canada. Of the three leads, only Paul Popowich (Frank Hardy) would ever have much of a career. The programs were syndicated   for half hour time slots which left the writers with 21 minutes to resolve the story.

Given the limitations , it's not a surprise that some episodes were weak or not all that interesting. What's surprising is that more of them weren't.

Nancy Drew presented me with a few problems. The first one I encountered was that the star (Tracy Ryan) looked nothing like the Nancy Drew I'd read about in books. I'd read the Nancy Drew files of the late 80s and early 90s as well as the older novels. Nancy was a Strawberry blonde with gorgeous blonde hair. Ms. Ryan was a short-haired brunette. However, once I got used to her not looking anything like the Nancy Drew I knew, she became acceptable in the role. She did a good job capturing the inquisitive nature of Nancy Drew, so that I grew to more or less accept her in the role.  Though occasionally this crossed the line into nothing other than nosiness. After the first episode, my wife was watching and asked how the "mystery" she'd investigated (which didn't involve any crime) was any of her business. I responded, "She's Nancy Drew." However, at some point that doesn't hold water particularly in a case like, "The Death and Life of Buddy Feral."

One big change with the series was Ned Nickerson, who had become an international aid worker, which was not a move I would predict. All Ned wants during his brief visits is to spend time with Nancy without getting involved in a mystery. Good luck with that.

Its clear that Nancy and Ned are going in separate directions. Ned is going to spend his life helping people in the third world. And Nancy-um, it's still not clear what Nancy is doing. She wants to study criminology with a professor who appears in two episodes, but what is she going for? We never see her in class and don't know what her major is. She's just sitting around waiting for another mystery to pop up.  It seems to me she could do that just as easily in the third world.

Beyond her relationship with poor Ned, the series does work but leaves a lot of ground uncovered. After the first episode, Nancy lands herself a room in a mysterious hotel in the college town of Callisto. Its hotel clerk is a mysterious man named Seymour. Other than in the Billy Feral episode, the hotel setting is never fully developed which was a shame because it had a lot of potential.

Beyond these snags, the situations themselves are quite lively. Nancy finds herself battling a phony marriage racket, video pirates, international jewel thieves, and the Russian Mafia. The mysteries themselves are well-told with the possible exceptions of "The Asylum" and "The Stranger on the Road" which felt like a story I'd seen before we three women running frantically around an abandoned insane asylum and haunted house respectively.  Perhaps the most amusing episode, "The Exile" ended with Nancy seated around the table with a slightly fictionalized version of the Dalai Lama eating pizza with Nancy and her friends.

The Hardy Boys met my expectations more. For starters, Popowich and Colin Gray (Joe Hardy) actually looked like what I'd imagine the Hardy Boys to look like and they also hit the character right on with Popowich's Frank serious and responsible with Gray's Joe much more carefree and a lady's man. The writers also kept the series set in Bayport. Though whether they were aware that Bayport was an actual city in New York, I don't know. The license plates with Bayport on them would indicate no.

The writers created a very believable situation for Frank. He's a cub reporter trying desperately to get ahead and get the opportunity to write hard news and attract the attention of editor Katie Craigen (Fiora Highet).  The truths he uncovers with the help of Joe  helps him towards this goal.

The Hardy Boys Adventures are fun and intriguing. In "The Jazzman" a good friend of the boys  who runs a newspaper stand disappears before his wedding. Their search for him leads them to uncover the missing man' s past as a jazz singer who witnessed a gangland shooting thirty years previously.  In "Play Ball" Frank Hardy seeks to uncover why a sports writer rewrote his column to viciously insults a struggling baseball star. In, "The Debt Collectors", Joe house sits and expects to live large in a vacation doctor's home. Instead, he's held hostage by first-time debt collectors who think Joe is the son of the doctor who owes money to their boss.

The series also features two episodes with Tracy Ryan playing Nancy Drew. The two shows crossover in France where Nancy Drew also filmed four episodes.  Any time you can get two of the best known detective shows together for a cross-over or two, it's a great deal, and the crossovers were both fun and intriguing, particularly the first one which had Frank filling in for his father, a well-healed policemen, and sheepishly trying to deliver a speech his father had written that was critical of the French police.

The only problems I have with the series is that it occasionally veers  into political opinions which is a bit of a turn off as the  Hardy Boys has never been political. In addition, no one quite seems to know what order the episodes are supposed to be in which isn't such a big deal except that Frank gets a goatee in the middle of the series and so if you go through it in the wrong order the goatee will be reappearing and disappearing every other episode.

Each series had 13 half hour episodes. The best way to enjoy them is to watch the shows on Netflix. (and they are available as of the writing of this piece.) The Hardy Boys set is also available through Amazon. There are some fair priced used sets, but the $33.99 retail price for 13 twenty one minute episodes is absurd.

Still, if you can find a way to watch the series without paying an arm and a leg, both the Nancy Drews and Hardy Boys series are worth watching.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that items purchased from these links may result in a commission being paid to the author of this post at no extra cost to the purchaser.

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29Jan/120

Sleuths of My Youth: The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Tom Swift, Jr.

The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew have been keeping generations of kids reading and occasionally watching their heroic exploits.

The Hardy Boys was a series my dad talked about a lot and my older brothers read as well.  Nancy Drew I heard of in the popular culture, so I picked her books up out of curiosity. However both series' had the same corporate owner, so can be discussed together.

There were several different Hardy Boys series' out there when I was growing up. I had a definite preference.

There were the first 58 blue hard cover books-which I viewed as my dad's Hardy Boys books. I read a few of them and enjoyed the classic setting and stories.

Of course, most of the Blue Hardy Boys and Yellow Nancy Drew mysteries on the market have been revised, so the ones I read in those series' may have been a little different from what my father read growing up.  However, I was fortunate that my library had one copy each of the original Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew stories. These are a little bit longer and the language is a little more complex than modern readers are used to being set in the late 1920s and early 1930s respectively.

Then there was a Paperback series that started with #59 as the Hardy Boys Mystery digest. I viewed this as my older brothers' Hardy Boys series. The books looked less interesting to me than the Blue books, so I never read them.

Then there was the Hardy Boys Case Files, a series that began in 1987 and contained far more action than the blue books. The first book began with a car bomb killing off Joe Hardy's girlfriend and ends with the Hardy's racing to stop the assassination of a presidential candidate.

That was my Hardy Boys series.

Each Hardy Boys Case File was a page-turner that packed as much suspense, action, adventure, and danger as would fit into a 160-page paperback. I devoured each copy of the Hardy Boys case files I could get my hands on. (Note: If you have trouble getting your boys to read, get on Ebay and buy a few of these.)

It was a little different with Nancy Drew.  I like the Nancy Drew files, but at some point got tired of the constant romantic subplots that kept springing up. Everywhere they went Nancy's two gal sidekicks  George and Bess fell for different guys. They had Nancy break up with Ned Nickerson early in the Nancy Drew Files series, so Nancy could get in on the act for a while too.  The big problem with these love interests is they would invariably be murder suspects.  The teaser's before the book would have a question like, "Has Bess fallen for a killer." And I'd mentally add, "again."

I liked golden age Nancy a little bit better with a greater focus on the mystery.

Of course, there was one thing the more modern Nancy Drew could do that the golden age one couldn't.

If there was one thing better than a Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew Book, it was a Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Super Mystery. These were always fun with a greater length (usually 220-230 pages), more detectives, and a better mystery.  The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew happened run into each other and a mystery about 30 times over ten years.

Speaking of running into the Hardy Boys, the same corporation that owns the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, also owned the Tom Swift franchise, which began in 1910 with Tom Swift, Sr. as an inventor and adventure. In the 1950s, the baton was passed to Tom Swift, Jr. who developed more space age technology. As a sci fan, I'd read quite a bit of the various Tom Swift books from the 1950s as well as a couple from the 1970s. Tom  The 1990s series was similar to the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series with action-packed stories coming in at 160 pages.

They had the great idea to put the Hardy Boys and Tom Swift in the same book. While I've not read every Hardy Boys story, it suffices to say, that never have the Hardy Boys had a higher stake than they did in their first crossover with Tom Swift, Time Bomb.

I didn't read all the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, or Tom Swift books out there as I was limited in time and to what I had available at the library. Still, the time spent with these characters were among the happiest I had growing up.

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