“The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries” (1977-1979) is another show that I remember fondly, if very vaguely, from my very early childhood. It ran on ABC for a scant three seasons (over a two-year period), and that sounds positively odd to me, because my memory has morphed it into something that seems like a much bigger part of the 1970’s.
I also remember it being two different shows, but that maybe makes sense — the first season of the program had a weird format in that you saw a standalone adventure of the Hardy Boys one week, and then a Nancy Drew outing the following week. (The characters, of course, were based on the young adult books written respectively by Franklin W. Dixon and Carolyn Keene.) They eventually went on to have adventures together, Wikipedia tells me, although Nancy Drew had a reduced role, and was eventually dropped altogether in the third and final season.
Wikipedia also tells me that the show’s third season portrayed the Hardy Boys as … adults? And that they were agents of the Justice Department? And that the Season 3 premiere saw the younger brother’s fiancee killed by a hit-and-run driver? I definitely don’t remember that — and it seems a little darker from what I remember of 1970’s primetime television shows.
I loved the show, even if I was too young to follow its relatively simple stories well. (I would have been in either kindergarten or the first grade.) But it was a program intended for “big kids” (my older siblings had the books), and that made it wonderfully cool to me.
I moved onto the books myself, by the early 1980’s. I loved those too. The two that I remember are “The Secret of Wildcat Swamp” (with the Hardy Boys) and “The Secret of the Old Clock” (with Nancy Drew). It was the Wildcat Swamp adventure that inducted me into the club — you see that snarling mountain lion on the cover? That was utterly enticing to me when I found the book in the bottom of the closet I shared with my brother, when I was … maybe in the third grade, I guess. (It looked a lot like the “saber tooth tiger” baddie in that Aurora model kit that I loved so much.) I kept pondering that scene and wondering what the outcome was. (Did they even have guns?! Would the dad or whoever that was protect them?!) One day, I finally accepted the challenge of reading what seemed like a very long book to me at the time, and I wasn’t disappointed. That’s the power of a good book cover, I guess.