You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Nancy Drew

Nancy Drew is off her game. The plucky heroine from the books of Mildred Wirt Benson, aka Caroline Keene, just doesn't have the same relevance she once did, and while ABC's updated version for the "Wonderful World of Disney" is a slick, earnest effort, it's way out of place.

Nancy Drew - Maggie Lawson Mr. Drew - Brett Cullen George - Lauren Birkell Bess - Jill Ritchie Teeny - Marieh Delfino Allison Price - Sabine Singh Patrick Daly - Heath Freeman Hank Greenberg - Charlie Finn Professor Shifflin - James Avery

Nancy Drew is off her game. The plucky heroine from the books of Mildred Wirt Benson, aka Caroline Keene, just doesn’t have the same relevance she once did, and while ABC’s updated version for the “Wonderful World of Disney” is a slick, earnest effort, it’s way out of place.

The Nancy Drew of the new millennium can’t be chasing down the Secret of the Old Clock or the Clue in the Diary anymore. Especially when just about every other network offers bigger, juicier and timelier thrills. So writer Ami Canaan Mann gives it a good effort with a contemporary campus mystery, but this Nancy, played with enthusiasm by Maggie Lawson, is a confounding mix of Keene’s trademark innocent and a frantic, latte-addicted overachiever.

Pic begins as Nancy heads for River Heights U. with high school pals George (Lauren Birkell) and Bess (Jill Ritchie). Nancy, heady with big-fish-in-small-pond syndrome, is jolted into reality when she becomes just another coed. When it becomes apparent that earning a much coveted spot on the college paper will require a big scoop, Nancy doesn’t so much uncover a mystery as much as create drama and chaos.

A very popular med student and sorority president, Allison Price (Sabine Singh), is kicked out of school for providing her football player boyfriend performance-enhancing drugs that put him in a coma. But Nancy decides there is more to the story and ferrets out a mystery — sort of — by basically annoying everyone from her father to the football coach to the local police until she uncovers the all-too unremarkable truth.

The last incarnation of Nancy Drew disappeared from TV screens back in 1979, when Shaun Cassidy was a teen heartthrob. While the character may have evergreen appeal in theory, the execution here by director James Frawley feels like it’s stuck in some netherworld; he would have us believe here that an inspiring pep talk or a heart tugging speech is still all that’s needed to turn a grievous wrongs into a triumphant victory.

Mann’s script tries to be timely with college athletes and drug abuse, but except for a few arguments with her father, this version feels more like a fantasy throwback with a few nods to modern life via coffee houses and cell phones.

Lawson has the clean-cut go-getter style of a 21st-century Nancy, but her version of the she-Sherlock appears to be driven by self-interest rather than the desire to help the greater good. Her Nancy is independent and resourceful, but she’s also a big pain in the ass.

Daddy Drew, played by Brett Cullen, receives a much needed makeover and gives the story its most credibility. Any chance of resurrecting the mystery franchise, however, will need some serious rethinking.

Production quality is squeaky clean, and features unbelievably fabulous dorm rooms, cool clothes and cars that should appeal to the pic’s young femme aud.

Nancy Drew

ABC, Sun., Dec. 15, 7 p.m.

Production: Filmed on location in Los Angeles by Bender Brown Prods. in association with Touchstone Television. Executive producers, Kevin Brown, Lawrence Bender; producer, Hans Proppe; co-executive producer, director, James Frawley; writer, Ami Canaan Mann;

Crew: Camera, James Chressanthis; editor, Scott Vickery, Mickey Blythe; music, Richard Marvin; casting, Donna Rosenstein. 2 HOURS.

Cast: Nancy Drew - Maggie Lawson Mr. Drew - Brett Cullen George - Lauren Birkell Bess - Jill Ritchie Teeny - Marieh Delfino Allison Price - Sabine Singh Patrick Daly - Heath Freeman Hank Greenberg - Charlie Finn Professor Shifflin - James Avery

More TV

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    John Singleton, the two-time Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as “mild.” According to TMZ, which first broke the news, [...]

  • Adam Lambert, of Queen, performs at

    Adam Lambert Back to 'Idol' to Mentor Finalists Through Queen's Catalog

    Adam Lambert famously launched his career on “American Idol” a decade ago performing a brilliant audition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” He wrapped that amazing eighth season performing with the band on the season finale, and years later earned his current spot as the front man touring as Queen + Adam Lambert. On April 28, Lambert comes full circle as he steps [...]

  • Lily Tomlin SAG Lifetime Acheivement Award

    TV News Roundup: Netflix's 'Laugh-In' 50th Anniversary Tribute Sets Premiere Date

    In today’s TV News roundup, Netflix sets the premiere date for its 50th anniversary special of “Laugh-In.” DATES “Laugh-In: The Stars Celebrate,” the 50th anniversary tribute to the original series by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, will premiere on Netflix on May 14. The special, which was taped at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, pays [...]

  • Texas Tech's Norense Odiase (32) shoots

    Live+3 Ratings for Week of April 8: NCAA Championship Game Dunks on Competition

    The final of the 2019 NCAA basketball tournament, in which Virginia triumphed over a spirited Texas Tech team, unsurprisingly finished way out in front in the Live+3 ratings for the week of April 8. Although the sports broadcast’s scripted competition made some gains, its 5.4 ratings still more than doubled that of “Grey’s Anatomy” in [...]

  • Mueller Report Release Draws 11 Million

    Mueller Report Release Draws 11 Million Total Viewers Across TV News

    Coverage of the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into whether President Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice unsurprisingly caused a ratings bump across TV news yesterday. In terms of overall viewership, around 11 million people tuned in to see Attorney General William Barr’s news conference regarding the report’s release, and the news coverage surrounding it. According [...]

  • Neilsons Measurment Problems TV Digital

    WarnerMedia Pulls Out of Audience-Targeting Alliance Open A.P.

    WarnerMedia is going its own way when it comes to helping advertisers find specific groups of TV-watchers. The company, a founding member of the audience-targeting media alliance known as Open A.P., said Friday it would withdraw from the group, citing its desire to pursue its own strategy under owner AT&T. AT&T purchased Time Warner in [...]

  • BLESS THIS MESS - "The Chicken

    Listen: Lake Bell, Dax Shepard on Returning to Broadcast TV With 'Bless This Mess'

    Welcome to “TV Take,” Variety’s television podcast. In this week’s installment, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Daniel Holloway, chats with Lake Bell and Dax Shepard, stars of ABC’s “Bless This Mess,” which debuted on Monday. The show centers around a newly married couple, played by Bell and Shepard, who decide to ditch their shoebox New York City [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content