As a kid growing up in the 70s, I couldn’t get enough of The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries. I was a big fan of teen idol Shaun Cassidy who played Joe Hardy. But what most didn’t know was how hard I crushed on Pamela Sue Martin. When she left the role of Nancy after one season, I managed to get my hands on the issue of Playboy she appeared in. Mmm! I followed her to Dynasty where she played the original bad girl Fallon Carrington. I even saw her appear in a Skinemax movie called The Lady in Red. So very UN-Nancy Drew!
Apparently the character was originally conceived as a hellion, well, as much as teenage girl could be in the 1930s. But then in 1959, all the Nancy Drew novels were revised and sanitized for a more conservative America, removing anything that might be considered controversial or subversive. Original writer Mildred Benson would later complain, “they took the spice out!” And when Martin was first cast, the copyright owners demanded there be no hints of sex or drugs.
“Nancy Drew never cried or experienced an inordinate amount of pain,” Martin complained after she left the show. “Never a kissing scene or any sign that she would indulge in the opposite sex.”
Sure, there have been other incarnations of the high school sleuth since then, but they all adhered to the character’s squeaky-clean 1950s makeover. No one seemed to get this character’s potential as a smart, cool and, yes, sexy modern heroine. But now the CW is out with a new adaptation of Nancy drew and it’s actually good!
With a Riverdale feel, Nancy Drew is a teen drama in a supernatural world. It was developed by Gossip Girl’s Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage along with The Magicians’ Noga Landau and contains elements of both. Think Serena van der Woodsen meets Veronica Mars.
Starring the delightful Kennedy McMann, the show modernizes the source material, making it relevant again for a young audience.
Oh, and the first episode has a guest appearance by Pamela Sue Martin. See? Something for us old guys, too.