Nancy Drew Revamped Is A Sign of Everything that’s Wrong With the CW
Why Did This Network Take The Wrong Turn?
I remember at the beginning of this decade I was impressed with the direction the CW was taking with so many of his new kinds of series, giving new twists to franchises that were decades old and making them topical and entertaining, even with a twist of darkness. But at the end of the 2010s, I’m really beginning to wish that they could just ease up on the darkness a little.
Nancy Drew has been entertaining and inspiring young readers for nearly a century, creating a franchise for young readers before the term ‘franchise’ really existed. And you’d think that the CW, a network that going back to its roots had such brilliant shows with young adult female leads like Veronica Mars (and if we extend it to the WB, the sacred Buffy and Gilmore Girls) would be the perfect place to come up with an adaptation where so many other TV channels have failed to get off the ground. Well, the CW version of Nancy Drew may inspire fans, but I seriously doubt it will be the same group of people who grew up reading those books.
I expected that there would be, certainly by necessity, some updates to the plucky and wholesome heroine that has been solving mysteries for ninety years. I didn’t expect the series introduction to Nancy to begin with her screwing Ned just before heading off to her job at the Claw. Yes, this Nancy has delayed going to college because her mom has passed from cancer, and while she used to solve mysteries as a pre-teen, she has given that up. She doesn’t seem to even be talking with her former bestie George (whose gender flip is frankly the least of my problems with this series), and Bess happens to a former rich girl who has a leaning towards kleptomania. All of this before the opening credits on the first episode have rolled in which by the way, there’s a murder.
Naturally, the chief of police hates Nancy, but this time its because he considers her, and everybody who was working in the restaurant as suspects in the murder, who happens to be the society wife of one of the most powerful men in town. Nancy finds herself beginning to investigate the murder to clear her name. So naturally, it turns out that Ned is a suspect because he was a juvenile delinquent, who the woman testified against.
Not satisfied with dealing with all of these clichés (which let’s face it, make up a lot of YA novels these days) it now appears that her father, an attorney (Scott Wolf, how did you get corralled into this?) may have a history with the town’s most notorious disappearance. And as if this series wasn’t stealing from Twin Peaks enough, it now seems that Nancy keeps having visions of that woman’s ghost.
I’ll be honest. I’ve never read a Nancy Drew book in my life. But even if this series were to try and stand on its own merits, I still wouldn’t like it much. It’s overly dark, it seems to be determined to put way too many bizarre twists in every episode, and it doesn’t have a sense of humor to save its life. It’s frankly the last thing to come from the mind of Josh Schwartz, who clearly demonstrated his knowledge of teenagers in Gossip Girl and The O.C., but demonstrated that he had the light touch in the wonderful Chuck. Here, anytime there’s even a hint of lightness or humor, the writers stomp it dead. They also seem to be willing to flip genders and races for some characters, which I normally approve of, but they seem to have done so without any effort to make them human beings.
When did the CW lose its sense of humor? It clearly demonstrated it had one in the astonishing Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and could make even the darker subjects seem entertaining (iZombie). Now, the lesson they seem to have taken from Peak TV is that you have to make everything dark, dark, dark and God forbid that anybody involved (cast, writers and audience) have a good time. They clearly seem to have an idea of what they’re doing when they ignore franchises entirely (All-American and In The Dark) but these series are the exception rather than the rule.
After Gilmore Girls was cancelled, I gave up watching the CW for more than six years. When I started watching again, it clearly seemed like they were really going to find a genuine niche in the world of shrinking broadcast TV/ But if series like Nancy Drew are going to be the new normal, I may go into hibernation from them again. Mister, we could use a teen like Buffy Summers again.
My score: 1.75 stars.