Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries - Strange Fate of Flight 608 (1977)

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries
Strange Fate of Flight 608

The second season of the Hardy Boys featured many episodes with The Boys on the road, both in the United States and abroad, such as a string of episodes where they drove from France to Kenya, with stops at Transylvania and Egypt along the way, or later when they took a road trip from Massachusetts to Las Vegas, with a stop to solve a mystery in New Mexico.  Making things confusing was the fact that these episodes were either filmed or aired out of order, so they would be driving from Egypt to Kenya in one episode, then they would be in Los Angeles the next, and then they would arrive in Kenya the episode after that.

Joe and Frank Stand in Front of a "Las Vegas" Poster
This episode, "Strange Fate of Flight 608," is another international one, beginning with the Hardy Boys and their father in Nassau, where they have just finished a case for an airline involving stolen airline tickets.  This is established using clips from previous episodes set in Hawaii and Los Angeles, which we are supposed to believe are now taking place in Nassau.  That is combined with an awkward voice-over by Frank Hardy, explaining the plot thus far.  My best guess is that this episode was originally shot out of order, thinking that they were going to film the preceding episode set in Nassau later.  Then, the Nassau episode was cancelled, forcing the producers to splice together a last minute introductory segment in the editing room.

Island Cove Bar
Even without the awkward introductory segment, this is an oddly structured episode.  There is no mystery to be solved, at least as far as the audience is concerned.  All of the criminals' actions take place on camera, so we know everything before The Hardy Boys do.   Even then all The Hardy Boys have to do is see someone acting suspiciously and then follow her, after which the criminals reveals themselves.  So it's really more of an adventure story then a mystery this time around.

Hiding Under the Desk
As far as adventures go though, it's a pretty good one.   It starts off with Frank and Joe leaving Nassau early, because Joe wants to go back to New York to catch a Knicks game.  They manage to hitch a ride on a special airline-employees-only flight back to New York, as thanks from the airline for their help with the stolen tickets case.  Frank and Joe are both excited, because all of the other passengers are beautiful young stewardesses.  But there's just one catch: the plane will be flying over The Bermuda Triangle!  Joe Hardy is spooked by this, worried that the Bermuda Triangle is a portal to another dimension.  This might seem goofy, but it's in character for him.  Remember, in a previous episode it was established that he also believed the Egyptian pyramids were built by aliens, so he seems to have a soft spot for these types of pseudo-scientific myths that were popular in the 1970s.

Joe Panics About Flying Over the Bermuda Triangle
Naturally, the boys don't really get sucked into another dimension, but they do end up having to pilot the commercial aircraft themselves, and through a tropical storm, no less, before having to make a crash landing in the ocean.  Then they end up briefly marooned on an uninhabited island.  That's all a lot of fun to watch.  The problem is it takes two thirds of the episode to get there, and then the adventure is over just as quickly.  If the show would have spent more time with the boys learning to survive on the island, as well as given them more of a mystery to solve, it would have been a lot better.  But still, just watching the boys playfully bicker with each other, fly (and crash) a plane, and flirt with girls is kind of fun on it's own, even without much of a mystery.  So I still enjoyed the episode.

"May Day! May Day!  Can you read me, over?   Roger zero delta!   That's the sort of thing I'm supposed to say on a radio, right?  Over!   Roger!"
Things to watch for in this episode:
  • Movie References.  This episode seems to be an homage to adventure movies from the 1940s, such as Casablanca or the Maltese Falcon.  The two villains are clearly patterned after Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre, and the "Island Cove Bar" could be a weak stand-in for "Rick's CafĂ© AmĂ©ricain."
  • Recycled Props.  Be on the look-out for props and sets that have been re-used from previous episodes.  For instance, the wicker chair that the Sydney Greenstreet character sits in at the "Island Cove Bar" was last seen a few episodes back at the "Grammy American Bar & Disco" in "The Mystery of King Tut's Tomb."
  • Stock Footage.  The airplane evacuation footage is clearly from another movie or show.  When the crashed airplane is evacuated, the raft is full of men, while other men help people on to the rafts.  But in this episode, the plane was full of women.  The only men on the plane were Frank, Joe, and the three unconscious pilots.  Even better, when the the two villains sail through a storm to reach the island, the footage of the boat is from the opening credits of Gilligan's Island, when they sing "the weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed."
  • Guest Star Don Marshall.  Don Marshall plays a member of the flight crew in this episode.  Don was all over TV in the 1960s and '70s.   He's probably best known as one of the stars of the sci-fi show "Land of the Giants" in 1968, at a time when a black man in a lead role was practically unheard of.  He's also had roles on tons of other sci-fi shows, including Star Trek, The Incredible Hulk, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Bionic Woman, and Mission Impossible, as well as in the cult classic sci-fi films Terminal Island and The Thing With Two Heads.

Frank and Joe Stare Into Each Other's Eyes


Middle of the Road - Fate Strange Fate

Radiohead - Lucky

More screencaps after the jump...

"Doo Run Run Run, Da Doo Run Run"

Shadowy Office

Opening a Safe

Diamonds are a Boy's Best Friend

Posioned Coffee

"Hi, I'm TV's Don Marshall!"

Peter Lorre Jr. Infiltrates the Hot Dog Stand

Sydney Greenstreet Jr. Sits on a Familiar Chair

Sunset Takeoff

"Gee, the Captain is acting a little strange."

Suitcase overflowing with money with a reasonable amount of money in it, I guess.  (Seriously, how hard would it have been for the prop department to fill it up?)

Breaking Into the Cockpit

Unconscious Pilots

"We are so f---ed!"

The Incredible Air Traffic Controller Hulk

Frightening Lightning Strikes!

Engine on Fire

The Radio Magnetic Indicator

Escaping From the Crash

The Mysterious Men of Flight 608:  Never appearing before this scene, and never seen again.  Maybe they all drowned.

"This, gentlemen, is a 'Map'."

"So, it looks like both our kids are dead.  That totally sucks, am I right?"

Peter Lorre Jr. and Sydney Greenstreet Jr. Come Up With an Evil Scheme

Cave Women

Wet and Dirty Boys

"The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed..."

"The ship set ground on the shore of this uncharted desert isle..."

Frank and a stewardess watch Joe as he sleeps.  Heck, who can blame them?  He looks so peaceful, like a little angel.

Did I say "Sydney Greenstreet Jr. and Peter Lorre Jr.?"  I meant "Alan Hale III and Bob Denver Jr.," my bad.

"Here, drink this can of peas."

Dirty Pretty Boys

"Hi!  We're creepy!"

Frank Hardy is Molested by a Man in an Off-White Suit

Joe Hardy Grips His Shaft

At last!  We had to wait till the end of the episode, but the Boys finally rubbed their shoulders together.  No episode of the Hardy Boys is complete without it!

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