Tom Swift On Nancy Drew: Now With More LeVar Burton - Comic Years
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Tom Swift On Nancy Drew: Now With More LeVar Burton

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BY May 13, 2021

This week’s episode of Nancy Drew served as a backdoor pilot for a possible spinoff of the Tom Swift character. And now that we’ve seen Tom Swift on Nancy Drew, we’ve got a better idea of what to expect if The CW picks up the show.

Who Is Tom Swift?

tom swift on nancy drew Tian Richards on Nancy Drew, image via The CW

Like Nancy Drew, Tom Swift is a product of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, the publishing company that also gave us the Bobbsey Twins and the Hardy Boys. As you probably know, Nancy, the boys Hardy, and sometimes even the Bobbsey Twins are mystery solvers. Stratemeyer created Tom Swift, on the other hand, for another purpose. His books were more science fiction adventures.

The stories are more fanciful than fact–more fiction than science, in other words. Still, they were important enough to inspire real science and real science fiction. Isaac Asimov, for instance, was reportedly a fan. In addition, the inventor of the Taser, Jack Cover, named it for Tom Swift.

That’s right–the word Taser is an acronym of Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle, a little touch of the old in with the new. Unsurprisingly then, since we’ve never lost our taste for science fiction, there’s certainly room for a new Tom Swift in the world. Or rather, a new introduction to a new Tom Swift.

Tom Swift on Nancy Drew: Character Makes First Appearance in Backdoor Pilot

tom swift on nancy drew Tunji Kasim and Richards on Nancy Drew, image via The CW

In this week’s episode of Nancy Drew, “The Celestial Visitor,” we got our first look at this new Tom Swift. He appears in Horseshoe Bay, the setting for Nancy Drew, to hire Nancy to help him find a meteorite. As this is Nancy Drew, though, they have a few spectral setbacks.

The episode was a good, if pretty common episode of Nancy Drew. However, it was an excellent introduction to the character Tom Swift. While he’s still the inventor from the books that older fans might recognize, he’s also a thoroughly modern interpretation. He’s still brilliant, but he’s also charming, cool, and very well-dressed. And as Tian Richards, who plays Swift, told TVLine, “The original Tom Swift was great for his time and what he represented. At the time, that was the face of young boys, All-American kids full of possibilities. But in 2021, that can look so different. It can look like someone like me–a Black guy who is chocolate, who is queer, who is all those things that we’re told aren’t the normal or the status quo.”

But that isn’t the only innovation. In the books, Tom Swift, Jr. (the later iteration of the character) had a friend named Bud Barclay. On the show, as we see, there is a Barclay, but this version is a bit different. It’s not a person, but rather an AI assistant, along the same lines of J.A.R.V.I.S. for Tony Stark. And in a great coup, it’s voiced by LeVar Burton. Looks like Ryan Reynolds’s campaign (“LeVar Burton for literally everything”), as I mentioned in my piece on the LeVar Burton Aviation Gin ad, is working out well.

Swift Pilot Still in the Works

There’s still no word yet on if The CW is going to pick up the Tom Swift show. But I think they should. Not only is the character fun, but also the plot summary sounds intriguing. According to it, the show will follow Tom as he “…is thrust into a world of sci-fi conspiracy and unexplained phenomena after the shocking disappearance of his father. Tom takes to the road on a quest to unravel the truth, leaving behind the comforts of his usual moneyed lifestyle, all while fighting to stay one step ahead of an Illuminati-scale group hell-bent on stopping him. Tom’s missions will require his genius and flair for innovation guided by love, romance, friendship and the mysteries of the universe yet-unsolved.”

Did I say “intriguing”? I meant fun as hell. Anyway, we’ll, of course, let you know any and all future developments for the show.

Be sure, though, to tell us what you think in these comments or on our social media.

featured image via The CW

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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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