Nancy Drew Series Premiere Review: Back To The Future - Comic Years
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Nancy Drew Series Premiere Review: Back To The Future

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BY April 11, 2021

The Nancy Drew series premiere aired this week. With it, we got a look at what kind of show it wants to be, as well as the mysteries the teen detective will try to tackle. So let’s start solving mysteries! (There will be mild spoilers.)

The Breakdown Of Nancy Drew

First, a quick refresher on who’s who and what’s what. Even if you have no idea what The Secret of the Old Clock was, you don’t need an Encyclopedic (Brown) knowledge of the books. (I will not apologize that for that.) While the show will probably contain some Easter eggs for book fans, it’s more of a reinvention than a direct recreation.

Basically, 18-year-old Nancy Drew (Kennedy McCann) lives in the seaside town of Horseshoe Bay, Maine, with her father Carson (Scott Wolf). Carson, an attorney, and Nancy are grieving the sudden loss of Nancy’s mom, who died after a quick illness. Nancy kind of floundered after that, and missed out on going to college. So now she’s working at the local diner, The Claw, for her former high school nemesis George (Leah Lewis). That’s where she is, along with her friend with benefits, Nick (Tunji Kasim), when someone kills local socialite, Tiffany Hudson.

Nancy manages to capture part of the incident, but not the murder itself, on her phone. It’s hazy, but it sure looks like an apparition, perhaps of local legend Lucy Sable, approaches Mrs. Hudson just before her death. Lucy went missing way back in olden times, in the year *checks notes* 2000. Presumably, she is dead. However, no trace of her was ever found, except for a bloody scrap of her evening gown. (She had just been crowned the Sea Queen, which is apparently a thing in Horseshoe Bay.)

Setting Up The Mysteries In The Nancy Drew Series Premiere

Nancy Drew Series Premiere Image via The CW

Obviously, the Tiffany Hudson murder is the most immediate mystery. But the pilot also sets up Lucy Sable’s disappearance as a parallel mystery. The two cases might be connected–Nancy finds some evidence that suggests so–or it could all be symptoms of something else. That is, both could be symbolic of a rot undermining the town from within. The secret darkness behind a bucolic locale is certainly not a new theme for TV and movies, so we’ll see.

The most important thing about the cases for Nancy herself is that they get her moving again. She’s fallen into a kind of stasis when we meet her, having abandoned her schooling and her previous love for solving mysteries. However, the Hudson murder piques her interest. That’s probably because she’s so close to it. As I mentioned, she captures part of it with her phone. That’s because Tiffany Hudson is murdered in the parking lot of The Claw. Besides the killer, Nancy, who served Mrs. Hudson a meal, is likely the last person to see the victim. That makes it personal.

Of course, it also makes it suspicious. So Chief McGinnis (Adam Beach) hauls Nancy and her coworkers, along with Nick, down to the police station. It’s clear that McGinnis doesn’t trust Nancy–she’s solved more than one of his cases, to his consternation. He can’t make a case against her here, but the scenes with them do demonstrate that everyone, including Nancy’s coworkers, has secrets. She’ll find out later in the episode that there are also secrets within her own home.

Solving The Mystery Of The Nancy Drew Pilot

This is smart for the series, because it introduces a number of interesting questions. What happened in Nick’s past, for example? Why is Bess lying about her wealth? And most importantly, what is up with the trunk that Nancy finds? I want to know all of these things–I want to go back to the future–which means the pilot was successful in its most important task.

And while none of the characters lit up all my synapses, I found them all appealing enough. In addition, after Batwoman‘s weird misstep with the Mystic Native™ character (check out our Batwoman TV show review), it was refreshing to see Adam Beach playing a character whose indigeneity isn’t his defining detail. And again, he’s called McGinnis, not [some terrible make-’em-up Native name]. He’s just a regular guy–you know, like natives actually are.

Further, as for the episode overall, I thought it was a solid B+ effort. Parts of the Nancy Drew series premiere dragged, particularly in the middle, but that bad pacing was bookended by decent shocks. It has an appropriate lead-in with Riverdale, another sexy update on an old property (even older than Y2K), and they make a good pair. I’ll be watching the rest of the season, but will you?

Nancy Drew airs on Wednesday nights at 8C/9E on The CW. You can also watch the show, including the series premiere, on demand or on The CW or its app. Will you be tuning in? Solve the mystery for us in the comments or give us a clue on social media.

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Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at salome@comicyears.com.

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