20150906

THE HARDY BOYS

Glen A. Larson developed 'The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries' for television in 1977 to 1979. The series used the characters from the books written by "Franklin W. Dixon" and "Carolyn Keene" but did not use the plots outlined in the books to solve the mystery each week on the show. Glen explained, "The books were written in the form and a time span that would take too long to tell. We have no restrictions against using the books, but some of them are just not that easy to transfer to the screen." 

At the time of productions, Glen reasoned, "As we have more time I think we'll use more material from the books. As a producer, it's nice to know that sitting on a shelf are all those stories to go to." The junior detective series went on air on Sunday nights. It was up against '60 Minutes' and 'The Wonderful World of Disney', at the time a "TV institution". Ratings winner '60 Minutes' consistently drew 20% more viewers than its rivals in its time period. 

On 'The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries' which originally was shown on a rotation basis (one week 'The Hardy Boys', one week 'Nancy Drew'), Glen made known, "We try for a sense of realism but there are times when our villains don't act realistically because we're in the pre-family hour. We can't have guns or violence." He also pointed out, "The old idea that the imagination is the best device holds true. They discovered that with radio a million years ago. What you don't see is more exciting in many instances. Though our main thrust is on mystery, there is fun to be had, but I draw the distinction between camp and humor." 

Parker Stevenson confessed at the time, "I have a tendency to over-intellectualize and I wonder sometimes if that doesn't get in the way of what I'm doing. When we first started working with the pilot for 'The Hardy Boys', I repeatedly asked the producer, 'How do you see the characters?' I never did get an answer. I think they were waiting to see how things went. So I looked at some of the books, tried to get some ideas from them. I found I had to go more and more to myself for feeling for the part. The shows that go on and on, seem to work because the characters work. In our case, the storyline is important, but we're also trying to work into the show this relationship between 2 brothers (Frank and Joe Hardy), 2 different people." 

'The Hardy Boys' attracted a huge following among the young teen audience. Its popularity created highly successful merchandising ventures for the network and the studio (with the sales of posters, T-shirts, action figures, cologne, necklace, special magazines, metal lunch box, books, flags, pins, activity gift box, etc.). Commentator John Goudas of 'The Bulletin' remarked at the time, "You can't pass a magazine rack without seeing the faces of Shaun Cassidy and/or Parker Stevenson on at least 6 magazines." On reflection, Parker theorized, "Perhaps the success in the merchandising area is the reason ABC and Universal keep the show on the air. All I know is the fans go to extremes to get at us, sometimes. On a recent (back in 1978) location around Los Angeles, some of the girls broke through the barrier and started climbing all over the trailer we were in. It was a little frightening, I have to admit." 

Shaun recalled, "There have been times when I've been in limousines where you couldn't see out the windows because they were completely covered with bodies. Once, they even fell through the roof. I've snuck by crowds by disguising myself as the chauffeur. A few times I've had my hair pulled out until my head bled. But sometimes it's fun. And, let's face it – right now (in 1977) I'd be more upset if they didn't go crazy. Before ('The Hardy Boys'), of course, I had the best of both worlds; I'd go to Europe (to sing), where they treated me like I was royalty, and then come back – and be able to play pinball in public without being hassled. The trick, I suppose, is not to take it so seriously that it can make me go bonkers. I try to be rational about it. I'm on the upswing now (in 1977)."

Parker insisted, "Why did I accept a 'kid show?' I don't think of it as a children's program. Obviously, young people make up a strong portion of the audience, but you can't play down to them. They're too sophisticated." Pamela Sue Martin played Nancy Drew - Mark I on the series. Glen acknowledged, "Casting the role of Nancy Drew was one of the toughest things we did. The difficulty was that with 50 years of books (or 5 generations of young readers) you have a following of all ages. Everyone had a preconceived of what she should be like." 

Although Shaun was a big singing sensation in Germany and other European countries, Americans did not know him until 'The Hardy Boys' series. At the time Shaun was on 'The Hardy Boys',  Parker was 24 and he was 18. Parker said after the series ended, "Actually, Shaun and I were fortunate in that we never had any problems working together, although we didn't socialize because we had so few common interests." Shaun admitted after 'The Hardy Boys' went off air, "I've never even been to an acting class. I never had any training of any kind. As a matter of fact, I was talking to Harvey Hart, who directed 'Like Normal People', about that and he said I shouldn't study. He thought it would screw me up. He bought me some books, Stanislavsky and Chekhov, and he said that was all the training I needed." 

Shaun told the press in 1978, "A career like mine lasts about 5 years . . . Sure, I'm being sold from here to Timbuktu. But I'm doing the selling and I think I know when – and how – to change the merchandise. You grow with the audience, but you grow gradually, until by the 5th or 6th album nobody realizes you've changed unless they go back and listen to the first one." On reflection, Parker  was matter-of-fact, "I really never wanted to do a series in the first place and I honestly hoped it would only last about 3 years. I felt that would give me what I wanted out of the series – something of a name, some experience at TV, and money in the bank. I got all 3 things." 

Between 1981 and 1984, Pamela Sue could be seen on 'Dynasty' which by 1983 "already has pop culture status, here (in the U.S.) and abroad." 'Dynasty' was gaining in popularity because of its attention to detail or "the look" courtesy of Nolan Miller - the costume designer, Brock Broughton - the set decorator and Tom Trimbler - the set designer. 'Dynasty' used some 24 sets to film. It was reported the wardrobe and sets used on the show to attract viewers comprised suits costing $1500, those $500 blouses, the Teri Rose fabric on Alexis' French chairs, the Schumacher fabric in the conservatory, the $450 Baccarat crystal goblets, the fresh flowers and Dom Perignon (champagne), the hand tooled moldings on the carefully crafted sets, the genuine Louis XIV antiques, the $5000 cradle in the Carrington nursery, $250 shoes, $100 belts, silk blouses, $500 buttersoft suede skirts, tailor-made women's suits and assortment of polyester blouses which didn't wrinkle. Nolan had said, "Aaron (Spelling) and Esther (Shapiro) knew exactly what they wanted. They wanted the women to wear the most sensational clothes on TV. They wanted audiences swept away into a fantasyland of fine fabrics and fabulous hats and fox-tailed coats, to create a look on TV in the '80s that would be as special as those glamorous pictures of women in the '30s and '40s." Nolan spent about $10,000 a week in costume expenses.

Blog Archive