DVD Review ‘The Hardy Boys: Season Three’

Hardy BoysNostalgic fans of this family-friendly detective series have had to wait nearly six years for its third and final season to reach DVD, after Universal abandoned it without sealing the deal. But good old Shout! Factory has taken care to complete it, even using box art in the style of the first two releases. It’s due at retail Tuesday.

The big difference, of course, is that this isn’t The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, with alternating or crossover shows featuring the boy detective brothers played by Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson and the girl detective played by Pamela Sue Martin. It’s only the The Hardy Boys this time, and with only 10 episodes.

But if you savor late-’70s styles and innocent yet earnest entertainment, you’d do well to hitch a ride with Frank and Joe Hardy as they visit exotic settings to solve cryptic mysteries and crimes. This time they’ve grown up from amateur sleuths in college to professional agents for the Justice Department.

Well, maybe the settings weren’t so exotic. The show was shot in So Cal, which stands in for such places as Greece by dressing outdoor sets with ancient columns and focusing on the seaside (Pacific, not Mediterranean).

But the real scenery is the two stars themselves, forever basking in the glow of statuesque, bell-bottomed,  teen-idol glories, and none more pronounced than their hair.

It’s amazing how the boys’ coifs are perfect regardless of the action situation — as if someone had just blow-dried them moments before they staged a dramatic rescue, emerged from water or escaped from flames. Of course, that’s exactly what happened on the sets.

But why quibble? This is fun, undemanding, good-hearted action-entertainment for kids or the young at heart, and it kept alive a fictional series that began with the young-adult novels by ghostwriters under the name Franklin W. Dixon starting 1927. I grew up on the books, then came the series, so I know and appreciate the material.

And while we’re thanking Shout! Factory for finishing out the boys’ three-season TV run, let’s also note that the label has 1987  indie-film darling Bagdad Cafe in the wings for Feb. 19, showing us how to make the best of on-the-road isolation. You’d do well to check in to that one, too.

— Bruce Westbrook

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