‘Nancy Drew’ review: A nostalgic tribute to the girl detective

A still from ‘Nancy Drew’

A still from ‘Nancy Drew’   | Photo Credit: Robert Falconer

The reimagination of the literary characters makes for a typical Gothic teen drama with acceptable amounts of sex, drugs and violence

Just like its other show, Riverdale, The CW’s Nancy Drew changes things around for the titian-haired teenage sleuth. And just like you need to get your head around a moody, angsty Jughead, who prefers purple prose to burgers in Riverdale, Nancy is not the wholesome super-achiever of the books that inspired Hilary Clinton among others. Her hair, however, is still titian and she does drive a bright blue convertible.

The show that debuted on October 9, 2019, is set in the fictitious town of Horseshoe Bay in Maine (not River Heights, as it might be confused with Riverdale). Nancy (Kennedy McMann) is struggling to come to terms with losing her mother to cancer. She gives up her love for solving mysteries and also decides not to apply to college. Instead she works as a waitress at a diner (what’s with these teen shows and diners?), The Bayside Claw.


When Tiffany Hudson (Sinead Curry), wife of local rich guy, Ryan Hudson (Riley Smith), is murdered at The Claw, Nancy has to put her thinking cap on and find the killer. Tiffany’s death is revealed to have links with the death of a teenage beauty queen, Lucy Sable (Stephanie Van Dyck) who vanished on the night of her crowning 20 years ago and now is the subject of a creepy nursery rhyme.

The characters from the books, which were first published in 1930, have been reimagined. Nancy’s sidekicks, tomboyish brunette George Fayne and plump, pretty, blonde Bess Marvin have been replaced by prickly George Fan (Leah Lewis), the owner of The Claw and Bess (Maddison Jaizani) who is brunette, lives in a van and is probably an heiress. Nancy’s boyfriend, Ned Nickerson, is called Nick (Tunji Kasim), he is a football player and ex-convict who works at an auto repair shop.

Nancy Drew
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 18
  • Run time: 40 minutes
  • Creators: Noga Landau, Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage
  • Starring: Kennedy McMann, Leah Lewis, Maddison Jaizani, Tunji Kasim, Alex Saxon, Riley Smith, Scott Wolf, Sinead Curry, Stephanie Van Dyck

Nancy’s father, Carson, (Scott Wolf) far from being the respected, successful lawyer, seems to be the fixer for the Hudsons and involved in all sorts of shady deals. Housekeeper Hannah Gruen (Carmen Moore) has turned into the keeper of secrets at the historical society and Chief McGuinness (Adam Beach), far from being the grateful recipient of Nancy’s brainwaves, does not like her too much and tries to pin Tiffany’s murder on Nancy. Of the new characters, Ace (Alex Saxon), the stoner dishwasher and cook at The Claw is a welcome addition.

The biggest change from the books is of course the supernatural element. While the books had hauntings, phantoms and ghostly tapping heels, they were always revealed to have been done by humans. The show, however, goes full-on supernatural with Dead Lucy haunting Nancy, an episode in a Gothic mental asylum with exorcisms and evil cockroaches, a sunken treasure ship and finally an evil spirit of the sea called Agleaca.

Nancy Drew’s pacing is interesting as Tiffany’s murder is solved by episode 14 and the mystery of Lucy’s death by episode 16, which also reveals an almighty twist. The death of a major character also shakes things up a bit more. With Agleaca hot on the heels of Nancy and friends, questions of identity and different kinds of relationship triangles, Nancy Drew was poised at an interesting point at the end of episode 18. However, shooting was shut down due to COVID-19 and we will have to wait for season 2 for the answers.

Fans of the book will find all sorts of Easter eggs from Larkspur Lane and the Old Attic to Lilac Inn and the Velvet Mask. A middling show, the acting, writing, effects and music, while not spectacular are not terrible either. Nancy Drew works as a nostalgic tribute to the girl detective we spent summer vacations with and also as a typical Gothic teen drama with acceptable amounts of sex, drugs and violence.

Now we can wait for the small-screen adaptation of Perry Mason, and hope Paul Drake continues to drape himself sideways on an armchair.

Nancy Drew airs on Zee Café from Monday to Friday at 10 pm

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2020 5:17:22 PM |

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