The cast and creators of Nancy Drew, the upcoming adaptation of the classic book series, were on hand at Comic-Con to give the audience a sneak peek into what to expect when the series premieres on The CW in October. In addition to screening the show’s pilot episode, the panel discussed the connections to the original canon, as well as how the story has been modernized for today’s audience.
Nancy Drew first premiered as a character in fiction in 1930, spun off as a female counterpart to the popular amateur detective mystery characters The Hardy Boys, who had their own book series which begun in 1927. When asked if there’s any chance we might see The Hardy Boys appear in the Nancy Drew TV series, producer Noga Landau said: “We shall see.”
It sounds like the writers are open to the possibility, though it probably wouldn’t make sense to bring in other iconic characters so early in the show’s run, as the show works to establish this new version of the Nancy Drew character. In the CW reimagining, Nancy is an 18-year-old girl working in her hometown diner the summer after high school graduation. Having fumbled her college plans in the wake of her mother’s death, Nancy is relatively lost when we meet her—in fact, she’s given up sleuthing, a skillset that used to define her, altogether.
“Girls have always wanted to run around and do whatever they want to do, so I think that has universal appeal,” said producer Noga Landau. “But as far as how to bring her into nowadays, I think it’s showing that Nancy Drew isn’t perfect in the year 2019. You know, she was always very prim, did everything right, in the early books, but now she’s complicated. She has tragedy. She’s lost things. She has complicated relationships with her family and her friends. She makes a lot of mistakes, which I think is relatable.”
The Nancy Drew series is also adding a supernatural element to the mix; the show pilot strongly suggests a ghost might be responsible for the murder that takes place right under Nancy’s nose. The creative team, including Landau and producers Melinda Hsu-Taylor and Stephanie Savage, said they were drawn to the supernatural elements from the book series and wanted to bring some of that flavor into the show.
The supernatural bits aren’t the only book series callbacks. The writers room has a research intern whose jobs include looking for potential Easter eggs to the book series the TV show can use. Past that, the behind-the-scenes team uses every opportunity to bring in references to previous Nancy Drew canon. For example, the costume designer used the colors from the original Nancy Drew board game for the colors of the diner uniforms Nancy and her friends wear at work.
In another homage to previous canon, Nancy Drew star Kennedy McMann announced that Pamela Sue Martin, who starred as Nancy Drew in the 1970s TV show, will cameo on the show. Martin wrote McCann a letter, from one Nancy Drew to another, that McCann said made her cry. “She’s the most lovely lady,” McCann added.
While the new Nancy Drew series may be taking lots of different kinds of inspiration from the book and TV canon that have come before, don’t expect for the show to go full Secret of the Old Clock on us. When asked if they would ever pull an entire mystery as-is from the book canon, the Nancy Drew producers said no.