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Nancy Drew Show vs Book vs Other Adaptations

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This is where to discuss the differences between the books and the show.

I started this topic even though it's been a good 30 years since I've read any of the books.  I still have a fondness for them and have to admit the show really disappointed me. 

Some major differences from the pilot are: 

  • Ned vs Nick
  • George & Bess not being Nancy's BFFs
  • Nancy's hair color (?)

I know there's more.  I just wanted to kick this off. 

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Nancy's hair color? It still looks strawberry blonde to me, so...?

That aside, I don't know why they couldn't have taken the easy option of making George gay or trans. I don't appreciate them race-bending Ned/Nick just to make him a violent ex-con. Who the heck is Ace?

And what the heck is wrong with River Heights?

Edited by ursula
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I'm pretty sure they changed literally everything that made the books what they were for the show. Bess and George are neither cousins nor Nancy's friends. Since Nancy's mom died when she was in high school versus when she was a child, there is no Hannah Gruen. Nancy and her dad are estranged and her father is in a relationship. They changed Ned's name and made him a shady ex-criminal.

And it's sad. Like someone else in the episode thread said, they might as well have not even called their show Nancy Drew. 

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1 hour ago, kariyaki said:

Nancy’s hair on the book covers always looked red, so I’ve got no problems with the color on the show. 

Me neither, but it was mentioned in the episode threads.  That's why I added the question mark since I'm second-guessing it's even different. 

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The weird thing to me about the show changing from Ned to Nick is that few people who had that name are not actually named Ned, as it's traditionally a nickname for Edward. Methinks the writers might've been too young to know that.

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This show has absolutely nothing to do with the books, other than the main character's name, and yes, she did have strawberry blonde hair in the books so the red hair is ok.

Everything else is totally different. Honestly, this is a trend I hate -- taking something "known," if only in general public knowledge, and using it to create a TOTALLY different show, book, etc. If you want to tell this story, tell it. Just don't hang it on a beloved or culturally significant other book, show, etc.  (Still angry that Frozen used any references or allusions to H.C. Andersen's The Snow Queen in its early advertising because... Again, NO RESEMBLANCE WHATSOEVER).

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I read the books when I was a kid, but I re-read a lot of them a few years ago as a diversion, and I still found Nancy to be a very likeable character and a good role model.  

I suppose this Nancy in the TV show could be that person still once she properly deals with her mother's death.  I also wouldn't mind seeing how she became best friends with Bess and George. 

One of the traits I admired most about her was her prioritizing cases over romance, so it was a disappointment right from the start when she was using sex as an escape.   I understand a TV show needs more to work with to develop a complex character, but I think if they stray too far, then what's the point of doing an adaptation other than getting name recognition?  If you changed the characters' names and took away their connections to Nancy Drew, the pilot wasn't very good.  Half the "fun" was to see the little Easter Eggs.  They did try to make references to books like Shadow Ranch, or the Hidden Staircase, so on some level, they are trying to get at viewers who might have read the books in the past.

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On 10/27/2019 at 7:03 PM, Hanahope said:

They had an old clock in episode 2

I call this show alternate universe nancy drew because they changed everything!!    oh the name of the town is the name of the ACTUAL town where it is being filmed...I guess they save money not having to change the signs with the city name on them

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So Bess and George are not cousins, but gay? Really, I have no words, I mean George was always tomboyish in the books, but definitely not gay. 

Ned, maybe they took the Nick from Nickerson? And he's black, no problem with that, but he's white in the books, 

If they were going to change things so drastically from the books, they could have put the Hardy boys into the show, and have Nancy hook up with Frank Hardy, it's always been a dream of mine anyways

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7 hours ago, Lyanna19 said:

So Bess and George are not cousins, but gay? Really, I have no words, I mean George was always tomboyish in the books, but definitely not gay. 

Ned, maybe they took the Nick from Nickerson? And he's black, no problem with that, but he's white in the books, 

If they were going to change things so drastically from the books, they could have put the Hardy boys into the show, and have Nancy hook up with Frank Hardy, it's always been a dream of mine anyways

Did I miss something? I don't remember George being gay (on the show) - when did that happen? Or was it a throwaway line that I missed? At any rate, a book series that started in the 1930s for kids likely would not include any gay protagonists.

Bess and George are definitely not cousins on the show.

They did take "Nick" from Nickerson - they explained this in the first episode.

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16 hours ago, secnarf said:

Did I miss something? I don't remember George being gay (on the show) - when did that happen? Or was it a throwaway line that I missed? At any rate, a book series that started in the 1930s for kids likely would not include any gay protagonists.

Bess and George are definitely not cousins on the show.

They did take "Nick" from Nickerson - they explained this in the first episode.

Confession here 😬 I did not totally watch the episodes throughly, in the last episode, (which I admittedly skipped thru) I thought Bess's date, the short haired girl that left when her niece had an appendix removal, n the security guard, I honestly thought they said her name was George!?!? 🤔 My bad. 🤷‍♂️ 

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On 11/19/2019 at 9:56 AM, Lyanna19 said:

Confession here 😬 I did not totally watch the episodes throughly, in the last episode, (which I admittedly skipped thru) I thought Bess's date, the short haired girl that left when her niece had an appendix removal, n the security guard, I honestly thought they said her name was George!?!? 🤔 My bad. 🤷‍♂️ 

George is the other girl who works at the diner and was having the affair with Tiffany Hudson's husband (the murdered lady from the first episode)

I get needing to make some changes from the books, but some stuff I feel like they changed just to change it, even though it doesn't matter. Why can't Ned just be called Ned?  Why cant George and Bess be cousins?? 

I think what I dislike the most is that they've changed Nancy's whole back story with her dad and mom, making Carson a probably badish guy.. making her mom's death so recent.... In the books she died when Nancy was quite young, so she had a great relationship with her dad... I would have liked to see that aspect. 

It's just sort of, we want to make a teen ghost drama.... lets call it Nancy Drew even though it will be very tangentially related to Nancy Drew.

Edited by roctavia
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Granted the books were written in the 30s, so I understood the need to update the franchise for the 21st century... but when you have the same people that did The OC and Gossip Girls running things... you know that a beloved franchise will be altered.

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5 hours ago, JAYJAY1979 said:

Granted the books were written in the 30s, so I understood the need to update the franchise for the 21st century...

That argument doesn't really hold water, when you consider that there have been several modern-day Nancy Drew series in the past 3 decades alone - Nancy Drew Files, Nancy Drew Case Files, Nancy Drew Diaries, Nancy Drew Girl Detective, Nancy Drew and the Clue Club, etc. etc. 

Edited by ursula

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I don't mind changes per se.  Having Nancy's mother die more recently could have potentially led to a deeper character exploration of Nancy's grief, for example.  But the problem is it hasn't.  Having Nancy be at odds with her father could have been a possible character arc bringing them closer, but their conflict has been poorly written and acted.  

I also don't mind George and Bess not being cousins, or seeing Nancy building a friendship with them over time, but I feel like Nancy is a bit too robotic to have friends, at least at this current moment.  The change with Ned/Nick doesn't seem like it has much potential beyond the initial mystery, which is now over.

All those changes were potentially to create story ideas, so I could see a reason for them.  Changes like re-naming the town of River Heights was unnecessary and irritating.  If they didn't want to change the actual street signs, they could just say it's the town of River Heights overlooking Horseshoe Bay.

At the end of the day, I just don't get the sense that the people who created this show and the people who are writing the show truly loved Nancy Drew.  Making ghosts real is the biggest clue of that, to me.  Randomly naming places "Lilac Inn" and throwaway lines mentioning "Shadow Ranch" are not too satisfying, and could be done simply by looking a list of titles on Wikipedia.  They needed to dig deeper into the Nancy Drew canon to convince me they actually wanted to make a Nancy Drew adaptation, and not a supernatural salacious-details-of-the-rich-and-famous teen soap.

Edited by Camera One
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This show has gotten me to re-read a few old Nancy Drew books over the last two weeks and there were a few differences that struck out to me about her personality and characterization.

In the books, people naturally open up to Nancy because they sense that she cares.  In one book, a character who was previously closed off expressed this to Nancy, before asking her for help.  I don't get this sense from the Nancy in the TV show.  She is very abrasive to people and doesn't seem very personable.   The ones who open up only do so after she has confronted them about something (often with a threat).   Was she like this before her mother died?  Who knows.

Secondly, in the books, Nancy has an almost obsessive need to help everyone.  In the show, she's not actually helping real people.  She's helping Lucy's ghost and Tiffany's ghost.  So it's hard to get the sense that she's a caring person.

The books also show Nancy being reluctant to make accusations or report to authorities until she gathers enough evidence.  On the show, she straight-up blurts out her accusations to random people... the dumbest example was when she confronted Ryan's mother Celia Hudson.  The show's Nancy spends more time trying to figure out a way to communicate with spirits than she does investigating or tracking down leads or evidence.

Finally, Nancy is sort of a superhero in the book (to the point of being unrealistic) because she boldly puts herself into dangerous situations with actual criminals.  The show is so supernatural-based, that the threats are more nebulous and mainly just creepy.

To be fair, there are some similarities in character traits.  Both Nancy's are persistent to the point they have blind spots.  Both are fearless.  Both are reasonably straight-forward and logical (though this trait is unfortunately affected by the constantly "shifting" rules of the TV universe where ghosts are real).  

Edited by Camera One
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I've been watching the 1970s Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys television series over the last few weeks, so I wanted to discuss some of the other adaptations.

Even though the show is a tad cheesy and the 1970s "look" makes the show feel especially dated (which is strange since some productions from much earlier have aged better), I have surprisingly enjoyed watching this show.

I'm not usually a fan of procedurals, but I don't think it would have been a bad thing if the new Nancy Drew show had cases-of-the-week, along with a season arc (which was the case in shows like "Buffy" or "Alias", etc.).  

Cases of the week can still reveal a lot about character, and lead to development.  Plus it could have fleshed out the setting of River Heights and the community that lived there.

I know this new Nancy Drew wants to be ghost-based, but they could have thrown in a mix of criminal cases and supernatural cases.

I did find the Nancy of the 1970s was a little abrasive and unfeeling, not unlike the current Nancy.  The Nancy of the 1930s was even worse in that regard (though that version was more comical).  

Still, I always find it a kick to see Nancy Drew being bold and fearless in the face of danger.  I like to see how she proves skeptical older men wrong and solve the cases before they do.  I also enjoy seeing her persistence and her logical deductive skills.  I think all of this is unfortunately lacking in the current 2019 incarnation of Nancy Drew.

It's a shame that the 1970s show eventually phased out Nancy Drew in favor of the Hardy Boys.  I've always enjoyed Nancy Drew more than Hardy Boys books (even though I read and liked both), so I was surprised to begin to enjoy the Hardy Boys-only episodes.

I actually hope for the Hardy Boys to eventually join the new Nancy Drew show (or at least guest star) since there have been fewer Hardy Boys adaptations than Nancy Drew.  Of course, they'll probably be shady as hell.

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On 12/21/2019 at 3:28 PM, Camera One said:

It's a shame that the 1970s show eventually phased out Nancy Drew in favor of the Hardy Boys.  I've always enjoyed Nancy Drew more than Hardy Boys books (even though I read and liked both), so I was surprised to begin to enjoy the Hardy Boys-only episodes.

I loved Nancy Drew books growing up, specifically the Nancy Drew Notebooks and then Nancy Drew Files, but I like the Hardy Boys episodes more, probably because I'd never read the books and had no preconceived ideas about them to say they're messing up the stories and weird love of Shaun Cassidy. 

I like the show, but Nancy is not what I want her to be. The actress is good and looks enough like the character, albeit with a very strong emphasis on the strawberry part of strawberry blonde. But Nancy doesn't detect much. I wouldn't mind the supernatural stuff so much if I could see her problem solving and using deductive reasoning more. And I'm feeling a lot of sympathy for George as she seems like she'd be a pain in the ass to work with.

Having not seen the 1995 series or the old movie serials, my favorite live-action Nancy Drew remains Maggie Lawson in the 2002 TV movie.

Edited by bettername2come · Reason: clarity between character and series

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