On occasion, someone who reads my blog posts, of which I say to all of you who do, I very much appreciate your readership, will reach out to me. Usually, it is someone I know, a family member, or a friend, but sometimes, like this past week, it will be someone I know purely from on-line interaction. The recent comment I received, I have heard before from people who have children. The comment was complimentary, but stressed that I never, or almost never, review anything that would be considered family friendly. The person said they check out the things I review, from time to time, but between working a full time job, taking care of household responsibilities, and being a parent, the majority of their free time is dedicated to their children, and that I simply don’t review things that are appropriate for them to watch with their kids. I can’t argue with that statement. I went back and looked over the titles of each of my reviews, and for the most part, with rare exception, all of the films, television series, and books I’ve reviewed feature adult content. I decided to try my hand at something family friendly for this blog post, and given that it is October, I wanted it, like all my blog posts during the month, to fit in with the Halloween season. While this wouldn’t be of interest to very small children, those a bit older, I am happy to say, can watch what I am about to review with their parents or guardians.
The first of the two episodes begins on a rainy, lightning filled evening, in Transylvania. A car is being driven toward Dracula’s castle, by the castle’s caretaker (Norbert Schiller). The caretaker has no desire to approach the castle in the evening, but his passenger, retired NYPD Detective Lieutenant, turned famed private investigator, Fenton Hardy (Edmund Gilbert), does. He is eager to continue investigating a string of art theft cases, that he is working on with Interpol, which has led him to the location. The caretaker cautions him not to go inside, but Fenton ignores the warning. Perhaps he should have heeded the advice, because a short time later, he is knocked unconscious, by someone, who, all the viewer sees of them, is that they are wearing black boots.
Fenton’s sons, Joe (Shaun Cassidy) and Frank (Parker Stevenson), receive a call from the Paris police, regarding their missing father. The brothers are confronted by the sobering thought, when they learn from the police that their father’s body, may be in the morgue. Fortunately, it isn’t Fenton, which immediately prompts the brothers to start searching for him. When Joe and Frank go to Fenton’s hotel room to begin their search, they encounter Inspector Hans Stavlin, portrayed by Golden Globe nominee Lorne Greene (Bonanza). Stavlin informs the brothers of what their father was working on. After Joe and Frank discover their father’s notebook, taped to the bottom of a drawer, they find a clue, which will lead them to Munich, Germany, where Fenton had a meeting scheduled.
When the brothers arrive in Munich, it turns out that their father’s appointment, was with none other than Nancy Drew, played by Pamela Sue Martin (Dynasty). Nancy is accompanied by her sidekick, Bess (Ruth Cox). She is there because her father, who is an attorney, represents one of the people who has had art stolen. The Hardy Boys and Nancy and Bess, are acrimonious toward one another. The paramount concern for Joe and Frank, is understandably finding their father, while Nancy is consumed with solving the art theft case. Of course, things will change, as the episode progresses, but for now the brothers and Nancy and Bess part company. (As an aside: The episode was the first time that the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew ever had a crossover, that also included the respective book series).
The art thefts have all coincided with performances by singer Allison Troy, a role acted by Oscar, Golden Globe, and three time Grammy winner, Paul Williams (A Star is Born – (1976). Troy’s next stop is Romania, where he will be playing The Dracula Festival at Poenari Castle. The Hardy Boys are low on funds. They catch a ride with a trio of musicians led by Tim, played by Oscar winner Bernie Taupin (Rocketman), whose band will be playing at the festival.
Soon art theft is the least of everyone’s concerns, when town dignitaries begin to get attacked, and wind up with bite marks on their necks. The discovery of the bite marks sends the townsfolk into a frenzy, wanting to burn Dracula’s castle down. Amidst the chaos, Inspector Stavlin, is seemingly the only voice of reason.
Nancy and Bess, are also in Romania, and they and The Hardy Boys, decide to put their differences aside to solve not only the art theft case, but discover where Fenton Hardy is. In the meantime, someone, perhaps Dracula, perhaps an imposter, because all that is shown of the person, or vampire, are black boots, a black cape, and a ring, is causing trouble. Has Dracula returned after centuries of being dormant? If it is not the world’s most famous vampire, who is going around biting people on the neck? Where is Fenton Hardy? Who is stealing the valuable works of art? All of those questions will be answered by the conclusion of the second episode.
The two part “The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula,” was directed by Hugo Award winner Joseph Pevney (Star Trek: The Original Series: The City on the Edge of Forever). The episodes’ teleplays were written by Grammy and three time Emmy nominee Glen A. Larson (McCloud), and Emmy nominee Michael Sloan (Quincy M.E.) The episodes premiered on ABC (American Broadcasting Company), on September 11, 1977, and September 18, 1977. The episodes, were comprised of the genres of family and mystery. (As an aside: The Hugo Award was founded by Hugo Gernsback. The award was first presented in 1953, and is given annually by the World Science Fiction Society for the best science fiction and fantasy works and achievements of the previous year).
In closing, there were parts of this that I watched, and said to myself, “wow, is this corny.” I am looking at you Shaun Cassidy, and your saccharine singing. The episodes are devoid of gore, any sort of overt violence, and sexual innuendo. As stated earlier, these episodes can be watched with younger children, who want a taste of Halloween and or horror, but whom parents might feel are still too young to watch anything that touches on adult themed content. Overall, fun and harmless.