As in the books, Frank (Tim Considine) and Joe (Tommy Kirk) are the teenage sons of Fenton Hardy (Russ Conway), a private detective. Following in their father's footsteps the two boys are looking for a pirate's treasure supposedly hidden in the Applegate Mansion in their neighborhood. The series has a cool theme song (see below). Despite the song there are no pieces of eight. They were one ounce Spanish silver coins, worth 8 reales, or half of a gold dubloon.
Frank and Joe are assisted by Joe's girlfriend Iola (Carole Ann Campbell) and hindered by their Aunt Gertrude who is looking after them while their father is out of town.
The Applegate mansion is a spooky looking house and when the boys finally meet the owner he confirms that there really is a treasure, given to his grandfather by LaFitte the pirate as repayment for when he burned the Applegate plantation. His grandfather hid the treasure and no one has been able to find it since.
The story has gold doubloons and crooks, and Iola gets a lot of scream queen moments. "Applegate's Treasure" was my personal favorite of all the MMC serials. The only drawback is that it was a rather complex mystery with a lot of misdirection, and having to watch it in a cliffhanger serial format was extremely frustrating. No sooner had they cleared up the suspense from the last episode than something would happen and they would break off- telling you tune in for the next episode. But we were hooked and faithfully tuned in day after day. A lot of family plans were altered during this time so as to not interfere with daily viewing.
Watching it now I was pleasantly surprised by the high quality of the performances by the child actors; especially Campbell and Kirk. The serial is definitely several notches above "Spin & Marty" in what was demanded of the cast, and for the most part they come through.
The DVD has some nice special features including a 2006 interview with Considine and Kirk in the Disney Studio where the serial was filmed. Also included is the entire (hour-long) MMC episode in which it premiered. It was a Monday, which was "Fun With Music Day", and Darlene does a lengthy song and dance number with Bobby.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
"Gold dubloons and pieces of eight, handed down to Applegate? From buccaneers who fought for years for gold dubloons and pieces of eight. Handed down in a pirate chest, the gold they sailed for east and west. The treasure bright that made men fight, till none were left to bury the chest. So now the gold and pieces of eight all belong to Applegate. The chest is here but wait...now where are those gold dubloons and pieces of eight?"