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Thursday, January 31, 2013

'The Hardy Boys' S3: Shout Factory's Valentine Gift for Classic TV Fans

 The Hardy Boys: Season Three

The DVD Set, which Shout Factory is releasing on February 12 2013, of the third season of "The Hardy Boys" is the latest show of Shout's deep love for hardcore sofa spuds. It is also another example of Shout releasing additional seasons of an awesome childhood favorite after another studio only released a season or two.

Other, out-dated, news regarding Shout is that it is now the parent company of Timeless Media. Timeless shares Shout's love of classic shows and has great titles. These include the '60s Western "The Virgnian" and  the "Hardy" era family show "The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams."

"Hardy, " which was based on the uber-popular book series that produced more titles than Stephen King, was a mid-70s Sunday night must-see show for the tween set a decade before Fox launched its "21 Jump Street" anchored lineup that night. Incessant badgering was a proven technique for parents agreeing to forgo "60 Minutes" in favor of Frank and Joe's latest action-packed adventure.

Frank and Joe Hardy were a much kinder and gentler, and less homoerotic, version of Sam and Dean Winchester of "Supernatural." Dreamy teen idol Shaun Cassidy, who had a bubble gum pop music career similar to that of his dreamy teen idol older brother David from "The Partridge Family," portrayed Joe and eclipsed co-star Parker Stevenson.  

Stevenson was perfectly dreamy and had his well-deserved share of coverage in "Tiger Beat" but simply lacked the puppy dog eyes and overall "it" of Cassidy. I, and many others, still would not kick Stevenson out of our ice cream parlors.

Before leaving this discussion of harmless heartthrobs, the oft-overlooked Cassidy bro Ryan deserves some ink. Ryan showed as much charm and rocked a shorty robe in a brief stint on the '80s sitcom"The Facts of Life" just as well as David and Shaun smiled and strutted around in barely buttoned shirts on their shows. It is difficult to imagine anyone not letting Ryan move into their attic even today.
Les freres Hardy spent most of their first two seasons investigating crimes and mysterious happenings around their New York state home ala the Scooby gang in the current "Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated" series.

Frank and Joe did take road trips and teamed up with fellow teen sleuth Nancy Drew, whose show alternated with the boys' timeslot in the early season, in some first and second season episodes.

The third season began on a dark and unintentionally comic note with an episode in which Joe got engaged within five minutes only to have his fiancee killed in an accident ten minutes later. Frankly (no pun intended), Cassidy and the girl lacked much charisma.

The incident and the law's refusal to act as aggressively as Joe wanted caused that sweet innocent twink to try to act tough and go rogue with predictably amusing results. 

Although the award for best line in the episode goes to Frank, who straight-faced (pun intended) and completely seriously says "you're beautiful too" to Joe during a discussion of Joe's dead fiancee, Joe's line "not when there's a fed around" when the bad guy offers him a doobie comes a close second. The elevator music version of the disco tune in the background adds to the entertainment value.

That episode also had a bit of "jump the shark" irony in that the first half ended with Frank being lured into surfing into shark-infested water. The spoiler alert is that he did not become chum.

The better news is that the series really rallied after the first episode, which made it seem that "Hardy" had jumped the shark.

It is possible that, like older brother David, Shaun had tired of playing things light and wanted to act (pun intended) more his age. He, and the producers, wisely abandoned that course. The show became MUCH better after the first episode.

The boys became federal investigators after Joe's visit to the dark side. The rest of the season had them traveling around the world where they locked lips with babes and crossed swords with nefarious criminals. 

One particularly good episode had the boys posing as archeology students searching for the lost city of Atlantis in the Greek Islands. (Of course, any fanboy knows that Atlantis is now at the bottom of the San Francisco Bay under where Voyager will make its triumphant return home.)

Seeing Joe resent getting sweaty and filthy while a clean and comfortable Frank made time with the babe of the week was quite amusing; further, a true cliffhanger scene in which Frank faced imminent peril was genuinely suspenseful.

Other exotic locales included Hawaii and the South of France.