Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries - The Mystery of the Silent Scream (1977)

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries

The Mystery of the Silent Scream
This episode begins with Larry Storch (most famous for his role as Corporal Agarn on the old TV series "F Troop") playing a washed-up Vegas stand-up comedian, slanting his eyes and delivering a racist impression of a Chinese person.  Looking at this from a modern day perspective, it's not clear to me whether the producers of the show actually wanted us to laugh at this, or if it's there to indicate what an unfunny hack Storch's character is supposed to be.   Hopefully the latter, although I have a sneaking suspicion that might not be the case.

"Ah, so... me Chinese, me play joke, me go pee-pee in your... hey, why is everyone booing me?"
Storch's character, in addition to being a washed-up opening act with delusions of grandeur, is also massively in debt due to a gambling problem.  His solution to his financial woes is to become a mad bomber of the casinos.  He rigs up a variety of remote-controlled bombs and plants them in various spots in the casinos, and then threatens to blow them up unless the casinos pay him off.  Rather than just take the money and leave, however, which would seem to be the sensible thing to do, Storch dresses up in a disguise (the two we see are "Hippie" and "Old Man") and then proceeds to make losing bets at the roulette wheel, and forces the casino to pay him as if he was winning.  This causes large crowds to gather around the table, and wonder why they are paying a guy who is clearly losing.  Apparently Storch feels like this will humiliate the casinos in some way, and add to his sense of revenge.  It doesn't really make any sense.  It seems like the show's producers just decided it would be fun to dress Storch up in some silly costumes, and worked backwards from there.

Larry Storch's "Hippie" Disguise
Storch also has a co-conspirator or conspirators who he speaks with on the phone, but it's never clear exactly who he's talking to.  The person he talks to sounds like the brains of the operation, but the only conspirator we ever see on the show seems like a hired thug, and is wearing what looks like a parking valet's uniform.  I'm guessing it's just another disgruntled casino employee who Storch recruited to his cause.  However, Storch's telephone conversations are what eventually becomes his undoing.  Two young women are on a trip to Las Vegas, and one of them is a deaf lip-reader, who sees Larry Storch talking about his bombing plans on a pay phone and reads his lips.  The girl and her friend try to report him, but no one will take them seriously.  One of the casino bosses takes pity on them, though, and gives them free passes to a Trini L√≥pez concert with Larry Storch as the opening act.  Which is kind of a dick move when you think about it, giving tickets to listen to a singer and a vocal impressionist to a deaf girl.

Some interesting symbols on Larry Storch's casino chips.  Most of them have a star and crescent moon on them, which symbolizes Islam.  But then there is one stack that has a triangle inside of a circle, which could represent the Illuminati... or Alcoholics Anonymous.  That means that you lucky conspiracy theorists out there can now tie "The Hardy Boys" in to your insane belief systems!  No need to thank me all at once.
Even though the casino bosses and police don't take the girls seriously, they run into someone else who does: The Hardy Boys!  Things get off to a rocky start though, when the girls run the Hardys off the road (they were driving away in fear after reading Larry Storch's lips).  When the Hardys see the girls later at the casino, Joe yells at the deaf girl, and then is humiliated and ashamed when he learns she is deaf.  He then tries to make it up to her by talking down to her like she was a child while simultaneously trying to romance and make out with her.  The whole thing comes across as pretty skeevy, really.  The idea that deaf people are just normal people who just happen to be deaf, and should be treated more or less the same as everyone else never seems to occur to him.

Seriously, look where Frank's left hand is pointing!
Joe Makes Out With His Girlfriend-Of-The-Week While Frank Watches.  There's No Telling Which One is More Turned On.
Over all, this wasn't one of the better episodes of the Hardy Boys.  Even with Larry Storch dressed in a "Hippie" costume, it just wasn't weird or spooky enough to really excite me the way my favorite episodes of this series do.

...and a Bumper Sticker That Says "No Other Possibility"

Larry Storch has had a long career as recording artist, stand-up comedian, and actor in both television and film.  He also lent his voice to many cartoons, my favorite being Filmation's The Batman/Superman Hour from 1968, where Storch became the first actor to voice The Joker in animation.

The Joker

BONUS!  "Mystery of the Silent Scream" MUSIC VIDEOS:

Elvis Presley - Mystery Train

The Electric Soft Parade - Silent to the Dark

The Cure - Baby Screams

More Hardy Boys screencaps after the jump...

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries - The Creatures Who Came on Sunday (1977)

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries

The Creatures Who Came on Sunday
In "The Creatures Who Came on Sunday" the Boys are driving their van across country to Las Vegas, but they decide to make a detour to Justice, New Mexico to check in on their old friend Bonnie who might be in trouble.  It seems Bonnie's boyfriend has disappeared, but no one in town is taking her story seriously.

 Bonnie is Run off the Road by a UFO
There are two reasons why nobody is taking Bonnie seriously:
  1. Bonnie thinks her boyfriend was abducted by aliens.
  2. Bonnie used to be a mental patient (but she got help and is much better now, thank you)
Bonnie is Ignored by the Sheriff
The Boys are split about what to do.  Joe wants to write her off as a kook, and continue on to Las Vegas.  Frank however, is willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, and convinces Joe to stay and investigate.  Joe and Frank are put under pressure from the local sheriff and a couple of federal agents to lay off the investigation and get out of town, but of course this has the opposite effect, convincing the brothers that there is a real mystery to solve.

Boys on the Road
Along the way, the Hardys encounter a lot of weird stuff.  Their van nearly gets run off the road by a UFO.  They discover an underground bunker full of people with bandaged faces.  They meet a pair of rifle-toting park rangers, who might actually be undercover military men or federal agents.  They meet a pair of federal agents, who might actually be mafia hitmen or foreign spies.

The Underground Bunker
Possibly the weirdest thing is when they discover a group of families in an isolated spot in the mountains playing baseball.  Frank asks someone what the score is, and is immediately treated with suspicion and marked as an intruder, because none of the people there actually know how to play baseball.  They are just going through the motions, imitating what they have seen other people do.  Creepy.

Strangers Pretend to Play Baseball
All of this weirdness with UFOs and government agents makes the episode play out like a low-rent version of the X-Files, although the episode concludes with the boys uncovering logical, non-alien related explanations for everything they encounter.  They do get in one final "maybe they are aliens after all" moment in, however, right before the screen freezes and the credits roll, making for a fun ending.

Watched by a Mysterious Man in Bandages

  • There's a cameo appearance in this episode from Tony Dow, famous for his role as Wally Cleaver in the 1950s sitcom Leave it to Beaver.  He plays the radar operator at the airport that the Hardy Boys talk to while they are investigating the UFO sightings.
"Gee, Beaver, there's no such thing as UFOs!"


The Rezillos - Flying Saucer Attack

The Ramones - Zero Zero UFO

More Hardy Boys screencaps after the jump...