EXCLUSIVE: When Tom Swift drops in on Nancy Drew to help her solve a mystery, he will not be alone. He will be joined by a major character in the proposed spinoff based on the classic Tom Swift book series. LeVar Burton has been tapped to voice Barclay, Tom Swift’s (Tian Richards) steadfast AI companion and tough-love mentor, in the upcoming episode of the CW drama Nancy Drew, which will serve as a backdoor pilot for a potential spinoff series, now in development at the network.
Created by the young genius when Tom was eight years old, Barclay has been by his side ever since — nimbly transferring himself to Tom’s smartwatch, his tablet, his laptop and even the screens of his car to offer astute encouragement and lightning-fast analysis. He’s Tom’s Hype Man, Tom’s confidante, and Tom’s friend — with a surprising depth of emotion and a journey of his own to take.
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Barclay appears to be a version of the character from the books Bud Barclay, Tom’s best friend and sidekick who accompanies him on all his adventures. Burton is bringing strong sci-fi credentials to role from his work on Star Trek: The Next Generation TV series, in which he starred and also directed, as well as other series in the franchise such as Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise.
In the Ruben Garcia-directed planted-spinoff episode of Nancy Drew, which airs this Wednesday, May 12, Tom Swift (Richards) will crash into one of Nancy Drew’s (Kennedy McMann) investigations, an event that Nancy interprets as supernatural and Tom believes to be cosmically paranormal. Since this is not a traditional backdoor pilot/planted spinoff, the CW also is developing a traditional Tom Swift pilot script in addition to the title character appearing on Nancy Drew.
Tom Swift comes from Nancy Drew co-creators/executive producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, their Fake Empire banner and CBS Studios.
Co-created by Nancy Drew’s Melinda Hsu Taylor and Noga Landau, with Cameron Johnson, Tom Swift — as previously unveiled by the CW — follows the serialized adventures of its titular Black, gay, billionaire inventor (Richards) who is thrust into a world of sci-fi conspiracy and unexplained phenomena after the shocking disappearance of his father. Tom takes to the road on a quest to unravel the truth, leaving behind the comforts of his usual moneyed lifestyle, all while fighting to stay one step ahead of an Illuminati-scale group hell-bent on stopping him. Tom’s missions will require his genius and flair for innovation guided by love, romance, friendship and the mysteries of the universe yet-unsolved.
Burton is also known for his role as Kunta Kinte in the ABC miniseries Roots and as the longtime host of the PBS Kids educational television series Reading Rainbow for over 23 years (1983–2006). He received 12 Daytime Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award as a host and executive producer of the show. He recently released This is My Story, a video series in which he narrates audience stories about their experiences with racism in America.
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