Sunday, March 01, 2015

Outré Intro: The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries (Season One)

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries from producer Glen A. Larson aired from 1977 to 1979, and made stars -- at least briefly -- of Shaun Cassidy, Parker Stevenson and Pamela Sue Martin.

At my house, The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries was required viewing, and I retain a special fondness for the episode set at Dracula's Castle, starring Lorne Greene as the Count, and featuring a guest musical performance from Paul Williams.  I'll post about that show later this morning.

I haven't revisited the series of late in anything approximating a global way, but episodes are available on Netflix, and the ones I watched remain highly entertaining.

The opening title sequence for the series in its first season is a terrific representation of the program's subject matter. 

We begin at a high angle, looking down on a giant outdoor maze.  

The maze is the central symbol of this introductory montage, and course, it's an appropriate image for a mystery series.  A maze promises twist and turns, false starts, and a (presumably) unexpected exit or outcome. 

Again, those are all qualities you can readily apply to the mystery genre.

As the title card appears on screen, the camera begins to sink, moving lower to the ground, until we are on eye level with the maze.

This too is an important conceit.

From a high angle or view, we can see the way out of a mystery, can't we?  From ground level, we see only blind alleys, turns, and dead ends. Each turn represents a new danger, a surprise, or even a clue.

Next, under glaring moonlight, we push in towards the maze, as if we are to enter it ourselves (a metaphor, of course, for our experience of watching the series).

Super-imposed over the maze, we see two of our leads: The Hardy Boys.  They will enter the maze for us, and we will follow their trajectory. They are our guides (as is Nancy Drew).

Next up, we find a reason to trust our guides: a life-time of adventures shared together in print.

I especially enjoy how we see Frank and Joe, and later Nancy, as characters featured in the long-standing books, explicitly connecting the literary series to the TV series. These books are the "mazes" that Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys have already solved.

In the following frames, we meet our cast-members, or stars, and again, see them positioned against their literary counterparts and narratives.

Here's the montage in its live-action mode:

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