21st Century TV Reboot Planned for Nancy Drew
21st Century TV Reboot Planned for Nancy Drew
by William Land
As a long-time Nancy Drew fan, my feelings about the proposed Nancy Drew TV series are mixed. Anything that brings Nancy into the 21st century is welcome, but the project must be done well. Unfortunately, neither book series Nancy Drew, Girl Detective (2004-2012, 47 titles) and the current Nancy Drew Diaries (2013-, currently 11 titles) are particularly successful. Many long-time, adult fans dislike and/or are not interested in this modern version of Nancy Drew.
I don’t believe either series are credible modern adaptations of the classic Nancy Drew mystery stories which the former series had replaced. The modern books lack the gothic elements and thrilling spine-tingling situations of the original series, Nancy Drew Mystery Stories (1930-2003, 175 titles). The first 56 books, published by Grosset and Dunlap, are particularly noteworthy as a testimony to the originality of the Nancy Drew series. These exciting novels of yesteryear have been replaced by a running theme in each book of the new series – sabotage.
Of course, the various Nancy Drew series are not geared for the adult fan, but for an age-appropriate child audience. I lack first-hand knowledge of children’s reading habits, but I believe if the books were block buster sellers, like the Harry Potter books for example, sales reports would be frequently reported in the news.
I am not optimistic about some of the planned reforms. Changing Nancy from an eighteen-year-old amateur detective in a small, bustling city to a NYPD 30s super-sleuth is my biggest misgiving for the success of this project. How will the 21st century TV Nancy Drew still be similar to the Nancy Drew of the novels? Of course, if Nancy and the other main characters from the classic book series were present and close to their book personalities, the new TV series may have merit.
Of course, Bess, George, and Ned would have professions because they are Nancy’s age. Ned, for example, would have left university long ago. Nancy’s father and their housekeeper, Hannah Gruen, would likely have cameo appearances in the series unless Carson Drew, too, had relocated to New York City. Will his sister, Eloise, a resident of New York City in the book series, be cast in this updated TV adaptation?
What is very positive about the TV adaptation is that it will introduce the Nancy Drew brand to new audiences? Diehard fans of the TV series might be eager to seek out the first 34 original titles (1930-1956) and/or their counterpart revised books (1959-1977) and the balance of the series which only had original texts (1957-1979, 35-56 titles). Both the child and adult readers might take interest in the various Nancy Drew print series; many of the books are long out-of-print.
1) Bonita Granville (four movies approximately 66 minutes each, 1938-1939);
2) Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries: Pamela Sue Martin (11 hour solo appearances and two two-hour episodes with the Hardy Boys, 1977-1978;
3) Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries: Janet Louise Johnson (one two-hour appearance and two one-hour episodes with the Hardy Boys, 1978);
4) Nancy Drew: Tracy Ryan (13 30-minute episodes and two 30-minute appearances with the Hardy Boys, 1995);
5) Nancy Drew: Maggie Lawson (1 87 minute movie, 2002); and,
6) Nancy Drew: Emma Roberts (1 99 minute movie, 2007).
If the TV series brings Nancy Drew again into the limelight and the character gains new fans that is wonderful. The legacy of Nancy Drew from the Stratemeyer Syndicate will continue well into this century. The current book series might not be blockbusters, but the Nancy Drew HER Interactive computer games have been best-sellers since 1998. Currently, over 30 titles, based on Nancy Drew books, have been released; more are in development.
Count me among those life-long Nancy Drew fans waiting for the release of this new incarnation. Of course, I won’t wait with bated breath – I suspect a 30s-something New York professional women sleuth will bear little resemblance to the young teenage amateur detective of the white-spine and wraparound-spine dustjacket-covered blue books and the yellow-spine pictorial hardcovers from my collection.
Yet, over 85 years since her first appearance in The Secret in the Old Clock (©1930), Nancy Drew still lives on in her various incarnations. The long-lasting young sleuth, in whatever form she makes her appearances, still continues to captivate her audiences from the first time age appropriate child reader to a nostalgic elderly adult fan in her sixties or seventies. Nancy Drew still has universal appeal!