It’s happened to you: you’ve been goofing around on the IMDb, looking up some obscure work of Swedish existentialism, French New Wave, or German scheisse. One thing leads to another and you suddenly – without warning – find yourself on the main page for the Hardy Boys TV show from the ’70s.
You want to leave. Immediately. But the gooey tendrils of nostalgia hold you in place. “I remember this show,” you think to yourself. Sure, you read the Franklin W. Dixon books, and when your 8-year old self heard they were making a TV show about them, you nearly applauded yourself to death in a spasm of prepubescent enthusiasm. And yet, how could you know they were going to cast a couple of feather-haired blondes as your youthful crewcut heroes?
“Never mind that now,” you say, “I’ll just check out the credits list, see if there’s any associated trivia (there isn’t), and be on my way.” Then you scroll down and see the user comments, and your already waning faith in humanity gutters out completely:
The casting of Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy as Frank and Joe was near-perfect as they complemented each other handsomely (pun certainly intended!) Parker Stevenson as blue-eyed Frank was very much the leader, taking the initiative and making the decisions most of the time. He tended to be headstrong but was more reserved emotionally than his younger brother. Shaun Cassidy played Joe as tending to be in his elder brother’s shadow and adopting a rather cynical view of matters. Although Joe generally conceded to Frank, he was more than capable of taking initiative and working independently (one example being his selfless rescue of a little girl from a fire in ‘Arson and Old Lace’). He showed emotion more readily than Frank (such as in ‘Dracula’ when their father was seriously injured).
I belatedly discovered that these have come out on DVD, initially choosing to be horrified by the possibility that this guy memorized 25-year old episodes. I’m pretty sure I watched this show every week, but damned if I can remember anything beyond the Halloween team-up with Pamela Sue Martin’s Nancy Drew and that one time when the bad guy killed Joe’s girlfriend and tricked him into surfing in shark infested waters (I remember the song “If” by Bread figured prominently in the episode). You just don’t forget drama like that.
But wait, there’s more:
Edmund Gilbert’s role as Fenton Hardy tends to be overlooked although he was a real sweetie. He was dedicated to his work but always found time for his sons. Firm but benevolent, he admonished Frank and Joe when necessary but was equally ready to console them. The Hardy men made a very close family unit and I think this is what I liked most about the series. Most of the adventures featured Frank and Joe becoming involved in one of their father’s cases. The Hardys were intensely loyal and were always there for each other. This was perhaps best shown by their mutual devastation and subsequent joy in the episode ‘Sole Survivor’ from the second season. (It made me cry. Watch it to find out what happened!)
Holy creeping jesus…
Fenton was a cop, right? I’m just trying to decide who’d emerge victorious in a battle royale between him, Mike Brady, Steve My Three Sons Douglas, Tom Eight is Enough Bradford, Jason Seaver, Steven Keaton, Cliff Huxtable, and Howard Cunningham. I think my money’s on Seaver…Alan Thicke is a real bastard, and besides, anyone would be homicidal after putting up with Kirk Cameron for that long.