In the spirit of Riverdale, The CW’s new take on the classic Nancy Drew is darker, more supernatural and little sexier than the teen sleuth that we are used to. Comic-Con fangirls and fanboys were treated to a sneak peek at the pilot episode of the new series from showrunner Melinda Hsu-Taylor as well as executive producers Noga Landau and Stephanie Savage which was a spooky hybrid of Veronica Mars and Charmed (yes, I know Nancy came before Veronica). The trio was on hand in Ballroom 20 at San Diego along with the new Nancy Drew Kennedy McMann as well as series stars Leah Lewis, Maddison Jaizani, Alex Saxon and Tunji Kasim to talk about this new take on a YA classic.
Hsu-Taylor points out that she did read the original series and connected with the character but wanted to diversify the cast for the new iteration. Yes, the Nancy remains white, but her crew is inclusive and with three women helming the show, Hsu-Taylor said, that she is “proud we are diverse in the casting and behind the camera.”
In addition to making the cast and crew diverse, the new series adds nuance to Nancy. “She’s not perfect,” said Landau. “She has tragedy — she has lost things.”
The EPs were all fans of the 1970s show and they wanted to keep the spirit of a brave, smart, fearless young woman who stood up for herself. “She wasn’t just a good girl…she had a little darkness in her,” said Savage of the new iteration.
Speaking of the original series, Pamela Sue Martin who starred as Nancy Drew in the 1970s iteration appears in the pilot and McMann had the opportunity to bond with her. McMann said Martin wrote her a letter and that when she read it, she cried and said that Martin told her to call her any time to hang out. “She’s the most lovely lady,” gushed McMann.
The series follows the titular Nancy Drew (McMann), a brilliant teenaged detective whose sense of self had come from solving mysteries in her hometown of Horseshoe Bay, Maine – until her mother’s untimely death derails Nancy’s college plans. Devastated by her mother’s passing, Nancy swears off crime-solving while crossing off the days until she can re-apply to college. But when a socialite is murdered, Nancy finds herself a prime suspect in the crime, along with a group of other teens present at the scene: Nancy’s nemesis from high school, George Fan (Lewis); a rich girl with a mysterious past, Bess Marvin (Jaizani); Nancy’s secret boyfriend, Ned “Nick” Nickerson (Kasim), and amiable burnout Ace (Saxon). The five of them must team up to clear their own names – encountering emotional entanglements and even more mysteries along the way. When a supernatural presence begins to haunt Nancy’s investigation, she discovers that the current crime has an astonishing connection to the unsolved murder of a local girl.
The series also stars Scott Wolf as Nancy’s widowed father, Carson Drew (although in the pilot, Freddie Prinze Jr. played her father, but Wolf later replaced him) as well as Alvina August as Detective Karen Hart (Alvina August).
Nancy Drew debuts after Riverdale on the CW October 9 at 9 PM. Comic-Con continues through July 21.