Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Hardy Boys (1969)

The Hardy Boys
Stars: Byron Kane, Dallas McKennon
1969
17 episodes

In Short: Animated versions of the world's best known teen detectives (?) solve cases and play bubblegum pop.

I read my fair share of Hardy Boys books back in the day. Actually, I read all of the Hardy Boys books back in the day. Mr. Wiki suggests that there were about 60 back then and I read them all multiple times, going back to my very favorite ones over and again. I gather that the Hardy Boys books have survived to the present day, but I'm not sure how much of a force they are now that there's a YA volume or two around every corner and under every rock.

The history of the Hardy Boys books has been well documented so I'll say no more about it. What I didn't realize was that the books spawned a total of five TV adaptations over the years. There's the one that most people know, the one that starred Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy and aired from 1977 to 1979. But I wasn’t aware until just recently that there were four other versions. The Fifties brought two serial incarnations and a short-lived TV series aired briefly, in 1995. It went nowhere fast. In 1967, NBC aired a pilot that adapted The Mystery of the Chinese Junk and starred Tim Matheson, Teri Garr and Jan-Michael Vincent. It also went nowhere. Two years after that came the subject of today's dissertation, another short-lived series, this time an animated one and one that found the brothers playing in a decidedly Sixties type pop band.

Each episode of the 17 that were made is split into two segments and each one of these is based (very, very loosely) on an actual Hardy Boys book. My memories of the books are a bit hazy all these years later but I don't recall the brothers breaking into song at any point. But here in the animated version they do just that. The music is of a style that would be very familiar to anyone who recalls the bubblegum pop of the late Sixties and early Seventies and it's actually not so bad - if you like that sort of thing. As for the show itself, about the best you could say about it was that maybe it could have been worse - maybe.

Of Note:
In addition to voicing the brothers Hardy, Kane and McKennon also contributed the voices of their dad and pals, Chubby and Pete. Dallas McKennon is better known for providing voices for Gumby and Archie, of The Archie Show. The Hardy Boys, the band, were an actual group that was composed of humans of the not cartoon variety. They toured and released two albums - Here Come the Hardy Boys and Wheels. I've listened to the former and I could probably stand to listen to it again. For an interview with one of the band members, look here.

Observed: Undetermined
I'm not sure which episodes I watched. Some segment titles didn't seem to match up with the segments themselves and since I didn't want to devote too much time to cracking this particular case I'll just stick to the facts. There were two 20-minute episodes, each composed of two 10-minute segments.

In a word - awful. To elaborate a bit, let's start with the concept of 10-minute segments. I doubt that you can take a Hardy Boys book and distill it down to 20 minutes and end up with something worthwhile, not even for a kid's cartoon. But you'd have a better shot at doing something coherent with the 20-minute length than you do with 10 minutes.

Then there's the animation. It's not so great but maybe that could be overlooked if all of the other elements were serviceable. They're really not. Last of all, are the voices. Some of which were tolerable and some of which were nearly unbearable (I'm looking at you, Chubby). On the plus side (there's not much), the music. Your results might vary but I found it to be quite catchy, in a frothy lightweight sort of way.

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