Wallowing in nostalgia while reading this thread! Aww. I'm about halfway through watching the series, so far.
43 here and I was obsessed with the books as a kid. Claudia and the Phantom Phone Caller was what reeled me in in the bookstore, because I loved (still do) spoooooky things, and I was also (still am) somewhat OCD, so I couldn't start reading the series at the second book! The horror!
My mom really loved the books too and we read them together a lot; I wish she were still here to watch this series with me. She always loved Dawn because Dawn was good at cleaning...the daughter she never had lol. I also remember we had to stop reading during the book where
because we were both crying too hard.
I'm mostly impressed with the casting, especially with the adults. Marc Evan Jackson is PERFECT as Mr. Spier. That had to be a difficult role to cast, finding someone who can convincingly portray an uptight single dad with some control issues, without making it seem like's he's controlling-bordering-on-creepy. The additional element of his character raising a biracial daughter also works well for his story. And I wasn't sure how I'd feel about Alicia Silverstone as Elizabeth, but I love her. She's so warm and relaxed; she really does seem like a cool mom without trying too hard to be the Cool Mom.
A couple nitpicks:
I've only seen her in one episode so far, but Charlotte Johansson seemed awfully baby-ish. She was 8 years old in the books, and very smart and mature. Here she just seemed like a kind of whiny little kid. I liked that they kept her mom a doctor, though, and gave her two moms.
Since she's only in one book/episode, I could see why they made Mrs. Barrett almost evilly over the top for the series; but she was a much more realistic character in the book. She was still a mess and made lots of mistakes, but I don't think she was intentionally oblivious and self-involved the way they depicted her in the series.