Frank and Joe Hardy were the teenage sons of world-renowned private investigator Fenton Hardy. Snooping must have been in the Hardy blood, since Frank and Joe were always stumbling across mysterious goings-on, usually of the non-violent kind. Kidnapping, smuggling, robbery, missing persons and haunted houses were the norm in the Hardy hometown of Bayport, although their adventures often took the boys to other cities or even countries. Frank was the sensible, older brother, while Joe was impulsive and a budding pop singer. Gertrude was Frank & Joe's sometimes nagging aunt, Callie was Frank's cute girlfriend and Harry a government agent the Hardy boys occasionally worked with. Written by
Marty McKee <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When I was eleven or twelve, I fell madly in love with The Hardy Boys! I was an avid fan of the television series starring Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy. Recently, I have been able to enjoy the series again on American video.
The series was based on the 'Hardy Boys' books by Franklin W. Dixon, although was largely updated for the 1970s. Frank and Joe Hardy were the eighteen- and seventeen-year-old sons of Detective Fenton Hardy (Edmund Gilbert). They lived in the fictional coastal town of Bayport in Massachusetts. Although both their parents featured in the books, in the t.v. series they had no mother and were cared for by their stern but loving Aunt Gertrude (Edith Atwater), their father's sister. In the first season of the series, the boys were still at school and most of the action took place in Bayport.(Also, their hair was shortest in this series and suited them best!) In the second season, the mysteries took them to more exotic locations such as Hong Kong, Acapulco and Africa. By the third series, the boys were in their early twenties and working for the F.B.I. They were joined on some mysteries by girl detective Nancy Drew (almost certainly the future Mrs. Frank Hardy), played first by Pamela Sue Martin, then by Janet Louise Johnson (whom I preferred).
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).
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!)
After 'The Hardy Boys', Edmund Gilbert tended to be heard rather than seen in his acting career. During the 1980s and 1990s, he voiced dozens of films and t.v. programmes. He died from lung cancer in May 1999 aged sixty-seven. Parker Stevenson has continued to appear in films and t.v. series, including as Craig Pomeroy in 'Baywatch'. He was married to Kirstie Alley and they had two children. Shaun Cassidy acted and sang for a while before turning to producing and writing. He has married three times and has four children.
Although it looks rather dated now, 'The Hardy Boys' is still a most enjoyable adventure series to watch. The plots were well thought out, combining action, mystery, emotion, a little romance, good supporting roles and, often, twists at the end. And - Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy had such lovely smiles and were just so CUTE!
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