The format called for a "Hardy Boys" segment, starring Shaun Cassidy as Joe and Parker Stevenson as Frank, to alternate with a "Nancy Drew" segment, in which Pamela Sue Martin took the lead. (Every fifth week would be devoted to that classic bit of TV kitsch, The Brady Bunch Hour.) Arlene Sidaris, who produced the show with Joyce Brotman, explained to journalist Joan Hanauer on the eve of its debut, "We grew up on Nancy Drew. It was probably my first reading. Nancy Drew just brought back memories of this terrific girl who got into all of these wonderfully exciting situations and fought herself out of them."
From the outset, the series' 7 p.m. Sunday time slot meant formidable competition for family viewership from NBC's long-running The Wonderful World of Disney. According to Sidaris, producers and executives hoped to attract a broad audience to the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew shows. "We think the kids who are reading the books now will watch, that the format is fun and exciting for younger children and that the older members of the family will be attracted by nostalgia. Certainly they'll view the first shows to see what we've done, and we hope they'll be entertained by them."
The show performed well enough at the outset to be renewed for a second season, but didn't achieve lasting popularity. Ratings for the Hardy Boys segments benefited from Shaun Cassidy's following as a pop singer, but by late 1977 the separate Nancy Drew segments were dropped (with Nancy folded into the boys' adventures), and the show was ultimately canceled in 1979. The books, however, are still being read by kids today, though in modified form from what we Baby Boomers loved. To see how some longtime fans of these classic series keep the memories alive, go here.