Looking for an edgy new show to watch this fall? Well, look no further. On Oct. 9, “Nancy Drew” premiered on the CW. Just in time for Halloween, this show is the third time television has adapted America’s favorite sleuth to the screen. Nancy Drew is a beloved literature icon; however, despite that, this new show does not give this teen hero the justice she deserves.
In this version, Nancy is 18 years old and taking a gap year after losing her mother the year prior to pancreatic cancer. She’s working as a waitress at a local restaurant, “The Bayside Claw,” as she tries to figure out her next move. At the same time, Nancy must deal with her old high school nemesis and now boss– George Fan, mysterious co-worker Bess Marvin, stoner dishwasher Ace and secret ex-convict boyfriend, Ned “Nick” Nickerson. However, these five teens find themselves wrapped up in a ghostly murder mystery when they’re pinned as the suspects.
There’s a lot to unpack with this show. To begin, this Nancy Drew is unbelievably edgy. Too edgy at times. I understand wanting to take a different approach to the usual chipper teenager, but I think that the show takes it too far at times. A lot of times Nancy is unreasonably pessimistic and has random outbursts. Not to mention her romance with Ned Nickerson goes way too fast. I think it would’ve been more eventful to have them gradually get together rather than put the two of them together in the pilot. Alas, they’re speeding up this trainwreck in the making.
I have a lot of issues with the characters themselves. For example, Bess and Ace aren’t supposed to be bright characters for comedic reasons, but I don’t think the writers know how to make them funny. Besides that, I don’t think there is a lot of depth to the characters. Granted, it’s only the first two episodes, but even if it’s too soon you’re supposed to have something to keep you hooked to these fictional characters and I feel nothing for them. The only character at the moment that I can say has any sort of substance is George, but even then there isn’t a lot.
As for Nancy’s father, Carson Drew (Scott Wolf), he is the blandest character of them all. First, he’s a terrible father. When he’s first introduced you learn that he and Nancy have drifted apart since her mother’s death, but for what reason? It’s pretty unclear. I feel as if the writers just wanted to add drama so they also made Nancy happen to hate her father for dramatic effect. Not only that, but the writers complicate him even further by making him have an unnecessary romance with his deceased wife’s best friend while simultaneously giving him a mysterious past. I also don’t think the actor does a good job portraying Carson either, especially for the kind of character he’s supposed to be. Freddie Prinze Jr. was originally supposed to play Carson, which, in my opinion, would’ve been 10 times better. Something about this version of Carson Drew feels forced and unlikeable. He’s a Corn Flake in a sea of Froot Loops.
This show, like “Riverdale” and “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”, keeps up with an old-timey aesthetic, including the old 50s styled cars the characters drive or the overall aesthetic of a 1950s style dinner they work in. It feels like the writers are trying to match a Stephen King theme with the show taking place in a fictional town in Maine, and it deals with the supernatural. I think that is something that definitely works for the show and makes it likeable.
I do feel as if this show fit way too much into the first two episodes. At times, it feels as if there is too much drama happening, and it’s somewhat hard to follow. If they cut down a lot of it or spread it out, it would make the show a lot more engaging instead of trying to stuff a ton of drama into only two episodes.
I will give the show some props; the drama isn’t dull. Everyone has their secrets, and I’m intrigued as to where the plot plans to go. If the writers pull through, it may be an actually entertaining show. They just need to do it right. However, as someone who has very little faith in the CW, we’ll see about that.
This mistrust also comes down to the fact that the CW is tarnishing the good name of not only “Nancy Drew” but other beloved classics like the Archie comic series and even “Sabrina the Teenage Witch”– despite it being a Netflix show, “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is still created by the same people who birthed the hot-dumpster fire known as “Riverdale.” These are shows that have interesting characters and a good aesthetic, they just need better writing.
Look, I will give “Nancy Drew” this: it’s better than “Riverdale.” Almost all of the characters are awful human beings in “Riverdale,” but I think the characters of “Nancy Drew” have a lot more potential. I think it can go somewhere if they choose to do it well– especially if the Hardy Boys happen to make a guest appearance (just saying, CW).
So, that’s why, for my first reaction of the first two episodes, I’m going to give the series a 4/10. Could do better, but not the worst thing I’ve ever seen.