Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


Nancy Drew

Man, the next time I stupidly wonder aloud why I'm so tired someone should just slap me upside the head and say "Because you're SICK, stupid!" In full-blown sick mode at the moment (sneezing fits, congestion, aches, fatigue) and even having been chewing Zicam, drinking echinacea tea, and taking DayQuil (which usually works pretty well for me) I'm definitely feeling it. Limping along through the day...

So, anyway, Nancy Drew. From 1977 to 1979, I was a huge fan of the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries television series. (I was oddly attracted to Shaun Cassidy for reasons I can't begin to fathom now. Parker Stevenson was far cuter to my adult eye... and I thought that maybe he was just too "adult" to be attractive to a seven year old, but my lifelong love of Harrison Ford's Han Solo flies in the face of that theory. Oh well, I was a child, what can I say?) My memories of the Nancy Drew series remain fond and they fueled many games of pretend where I was a spunky child detective solving "mysteries" of my own. By the time I was in third grade, I had checked out all of the Nancy Drew mysteries from our public library and had started on the Hardy Boys series (while I liked the Hardy Boys on tv just fine, I always enjoyed Nancy Drew books better).

I've written before that Kate and I have played several of the Nancy Drew computer games together. Kate is not the avid reader that I was at her age; she loves stories but reading comes harder to her and she still struggles enough that reading for "fun" isn't much fun after all. Still, we've listened to all the Nancy Drew stories that have been released in audiobook format. Kate follows in my footsteps to Nancy Drew fandom as I followed my own mother. I imagine the feeling to be something like what sports fan parents feel when their kids discover their own love of the Cubs or the Broncos.

There have been several attempts to "update" Nancy Drew to appeal to kids today. I think this is foolishness! Nancy doesn't need to be turned into a pre-teen (ala the "Baby Looney Toons" fad of a few years back where all the classic cartoon characters were recast as diaper-wearing toddler versions of themselves) or made into a boy-crazy would-be sorority girl to capture the attention of today's Bratz-loving grade schoolers. There is a new movie out this summer that neither Kate nor I am looking forward to (but will probably see despite our skepticism) because, well, Nancy Drew isn't a Valley Girl! There's also a modern series of books (Nancy Drew Girl Detective) which aimed at the 8-12 year old audience (which is firmly where I was when I was reading the originals) but in a dumbed down and modernized tone that's unrecognizable as the Nancy Drew of the previous 70 years.

I'd been thinking that maybe my expectations were unrealistic, that my memories of the Nancy Drew mysteries of my childhood were those typical overly rosy impressions of youth (like my crush on Shaun Cassidy). To my delight, I can say that's not the case! One of the things I picked up at Scarecrow Video the other night was a DVD of the collected Nancy Drew episodes from the tv show. Kate and I watched the pilot episode and one other together last night and that old show holds up! Pamela Sue Martin IS Nancy Drew. She's clever and accomplished without being a know-it-all, she's remarkably pretty and extremely fashionable without needing supporting characters to comment on her clothing choices. You just notice that she's put together. She's exuberant and genuinely appealing. Sure, there are some hilarious gaffes in the 70s show (like scenes that are clearly being filmed in broad daylight but which claim to be taking place in the middle of the night, or scenes of the California coast which are supposedly in New England) but for a television show of that era the quality is really there. Most importantly, Nancy is the Nancy we expect. Kate watched this with me and loved it (though she hates the doofus casting of Ned as an uptight geek/comedy relief character; that's a valid complaint).

The treatment of Nancy Drew today, which foolishly relies on inane superficialities instead of focusing on those timeless characteristics that make Nancy Drew so iconic, reminds me a bit of the constant search for "the girl game" in the game industry. That approach is never going to get the desired result. The 1977 series shows it's possible to do Nancy Drew for the screen and to do it right.

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TV Party

So I was listening to Black Flag's TV Party the other night and was overcome by the urge to have a TV party. For those unfamiliar with the song, I've linked to the lyrics but the thing that makes the song goofy and funny isn't reflected in the lyrics. After they swear they're dedicated to their favorite shows, the guys in the band yell out various popular tv shows like: That's Incredible!, Hill Street Blues, Dallas, Quincy ("Ladies and Gentlemen, you are about to enter the exciting world of forensic medicine..."), Dynasty.

Checking out Wikipedia's 1982 in Television entry, it seems like we could do a 1982 TV party (making it a nice flat 25th anniversary) and pull in a lot of other great awful shows. M*A*S*H* was still on in 1982, as was Happy Days, Little House on the Prairie, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, CHiPs, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Three's Company, Benson, Dukes of Hazzard, The Facts of Life, Trapper John, M.D., Magnum P.I., Gimme a Break!, Knight Rider, and The Fall Guy. 1982 was the last year for WKRP in Cincinnati, Fridays, Barney Miller, Mork and Mindy, and Bosom Buddies. 1982 was the Eddie Murphy/Joe Piscopo/Robin Duke era of Saturday Night Live. So much awful tv to draw from!

I presented the idea to my dinner companions on Friday and received a pretty enthusiastic response. I'm thinking it'll take some time to put something like this together but the more I think about it, the more I think it's something that just has to be done! Make it an all-day affair, like Toren's Cartoon Party, where people can come and go as they feel like it. If it's too hard to get a hold of the TV shows, we could always branch out into films from 1982, though that does stretch the "TV" part of TV Party. Still, 48 Hours? E.T. the Extra-Terristrial? First Blood (aka "Rambo")? Mazes and Monsters? Nightshift? Poltergeist? Oh yeah.

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