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The Hardy Boys: The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure DVD Review

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The Hardy Boys
Show & DVD Details

Director: Charles Haas / Writer: Jackson Gillis

Cast: Tim Considine (Frank Hardy), Tommy Kirk (Joe Hardy), Carole Ann Campbell (Iola Morton), Russ Conway (Fenton Hardy), Sarah Selby (Aunt Gertrude), Florenz Ames (Mr. Silas Applegate), Robert Foulk (Mr. Jackley), Arthur Shields (Boles), Donald MacDonald (Perry Robinson), Charles Cane (Sergeant), Frances Morris (Landlady)

20 Episodes: The Mickey Mouse Club: October 1, 1956 (An Introduction), The Stranger, A Real Case, The First Clue, The Fugitive, Applegate's Gold, Dig for Treasure, A Pirate's Chest, Boys in Trouble, Female Detective, Iola's Bravery, Footsteps in the Tower, The Prisoner Speaks, A Strange Confession, A Golden Clue, The Final Search, The Tower's Secret, Never Say Die, Boys in Danger, The Tower Treasure

Video and Audio; Bonus Materials: "From Dixon to Disney", "The Hardy Boys Unmasked", Galleries; Closing Thoughts

Running Time: 305 Minutes (5 hours, 5 minutes) / Rating: Not Rated
Disc Two: 139 minutes (117 - episodes, 3 - introduction, 19 - extras)
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Aspect Ratio), Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned / DVD Release Date: December 19, 2006
Originally Aired October 1 - October 26, 1956
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9); Suggested Retail Price: $32.99

REVIEW CONTENTS
Page 1: Set Overview, Packaging, and Episode Synopses
Page 2: Episode Synopses continued, Video & Audio, Bonus Features, Closing Thoughts

The courage of Iola (Carole Ann Campbell) gets tested in her nighttime excursion to Applegate's yard. Frank, Iola, Joe, and Mr. Applegate listen and look for clues. Mr. Hardy investigates upstairs.

DISC 2

11. "Iola's Bravery" (11:40) (Originally aired October 15, 1956)
Suspense builds as Iola's struggles to reclaim the tools are met with Applegate's efforts to scare off trespassers.

12. "Footsteps in the Tower" (11:41) (Originally aired October 16, 1956)
Mr. Hardy inspects the Applegate Mansion to make some sense of the frightening new turns taken at the scene.

13. "The Prisoner Speaks" (11:40) (Originally aired October 17, 1956)
As the boys' excitement runs higher than before, Mr. Hardy prepares to interrogate an apprehended suspect.

14. "A Strange Confession" (11:39) (Originally aired October 18, 1956)
Unable to get any insight from the suspect, Mr. Hardy encourages Applegate and Jackley to press charges against Applegate's old gardener Boles, while Frank and Joe rack their brains to help Perry.

15. "A Golden Clue" (11:39) (Originally aired October 19, 1956)
In the process of acquiring Boles' old pair of shoes, Frank and Joe make their greatest discovery yet.

Boles (Arthur Shields) isn't saying he is and isn't saying he isn't. Bedlam breaks out at the Applegate Mansion in "The Tower's Secret." These Hardy Boys aren't about to give up without a fight.

16. "The Final Search" (11:40) (Originally aired October 22, 1956)
The Hardy Boys' newly-obtained directions to the treasure lead them back to Applegate Mansion, along with an excited mob.

17. "The Tower's Secret" (11:40) (Originally aired October 23, 1956)
As the public frenzy continues, police assist in tearing apart the Applegate Mansion in search of the elusive treasure.

18. "Never Say Die" (11:39) (Originally aired October 24, 1956)
Refusing to give up on the treasure, Frank and Joe tail Boles in the hopes of finding a new lead.

19. "Boys in Danger" (11:40) (Originally aired October 25, 1956)
The Hardy Boys get very close to what they think might hold the treasure. They also get close to two baddies plotting to run off with it.

20. "The Tower Treasure" (11:39) (Originally aired October 26, 1956)
Endings shouldn't be ruined, especially not those belonging to mysteries. While there aren't many surprises, this trackside finale wraps things up in an exciting and satisfying fashion.

Tim Considine and Tommy Kirk address the camera as themselves in An Introduction to "The Hardy Boys." Perry's inside-out Triple-R Ranch t-shirt: hinted, unspoken character backstory or cost-cutting to the extreme?

VIDEO and AUDIO

The Hardy Boys is presented as it originally aired, in black & white and 1.33:1 fullscreen, matching the norms for 1950s television.
Picture quality is mostly pretty clean, clear, and detailed. There were some black lines on the screen at one point, a color spectrum popped up on the utmost portion another time, and I noticed some very slight and isolated incidences of moiré effect. Other than these brief, minor shortcomings, the video is as good as you'd hope for. The visuals are often on the dark side, but only as dark as one imagines they should be.

The soundtrack also meets one's high expectations for the Treasures line. Of course, you only get a two-channel Dolby Mono soundtrack in the original English language, but it is crisp and always discernible. You can tell that the equipment used to record sound on The Hardy Boys (or perhaps the filming environment) was more conducive to clean audio than what is on "The Mickey Mouse Club" itself. Obviously, it's not general DVD audio/video demo material, but it is demonstrative of properly-handled '50s television and the provided English subtitles are another nice touch.

Leonard Maltin introduces the two discs at the very soundstage where "The Hardy Boys" was filmed fifty years ago. Bill Cotter, author of "The Wonderful World of Disney Television", discusses the serial in "From Dixon to Disney." Tim Considine and Tommy Kirk today as they appear in "The Hardy Boys Unmasked."

BONUS FEATURES

Disc One opens, of course, with an introduction (3:05) by Treasures host/producer Leonard Maltin. He sets up the disc's contents, mentioning Season 2's returning Mouseketeers, discussing the serial format, and briefly commenting on Disney's The Hardy Boys.

The only other bonus on Disc 1 is "From Dixon to Disney" (13:28), which, as you'd guess, looks at the Hardy Boys' journey from literature to the Mickey Mouse Club. With comments from Leonard Maltin, author Bill Cotter, and Stratemeyer historian James Keeline, this succinct and informative featurette discusses Edward Stratemeyer's approach to juvenile literature and his company's aversion to Hollywood adaptation. The piece mostly covers what ensued once Walt Disney secured the rights (agreeing to some interesting morality clauses), touching upon casting the characters, differences from the book (and the rationale behind them), filming on a soundstage, viewer response, and Disney's merchandise. Though fast-moving and not as thorough as one might hope, this featurette serves as a terrific overview of the source material and Disney's televised treatment.

In Disc Two's intro (3:21), Maltin discusses all the Hardy Boys cast members as well as the series' fortes.

One of two galleries, "Paging the Hardy Boys" showcases some Disney-published Hardy Boys literature. Disc 1's Main Menu for Walt Disney Treasures: The Hardy Boys Disc 2's Main Menu for The Hardy Boys makes use of the pick and shovel.

"The Hardy Boys Unmasked" (18:45) finds Maltin hosting a spirited interview with stars Tim Considine and Tommy Kirk. It's a fun and friendly trip down memory lane as Kirk remembers much, Considine recalls little, and Maltin smiles a lot. The pair discuss their experiences as child actors at the Disney studio.
They cover their co-stars (including each other), the directors they worked with, and, not limiting themselves to their "Mickey Mouse Club" serials, the atmosphere of the Disney studio in the 1950s. It's great to be able to catch up with the on-screen brothers and witness their genuine reflections on something they made 50 years ago.

Finally, there are two photo galleries. Behind the Scenes with the Hardy Boys holds 46 stills, most of which are publicity photos and all but three of which are in black and white. Paging the Hardy Boys offers 15 stills from the serial's printed tie-in merchandise, including covers of coloring books, comic books, and Walt Disney Magazine issues.

Each disc's Main Menu has loud '50s-ish instrumentals accompanying basic still collages. Disc 1's selection screens are set against a backdrop of the Applegate Mansion, while Disc 2's opt for a simple gold and wood setting. Perhaps the most creative touch comes in the cursor, which on Disc 1 is a magnifying glass and on Disc 2 depicts a shovel and pick. As with Spin and Marty, there are a few minor errors among the episode titles.

When need be, Mr. Applegate can get tough with those Hardy Boys. Setting up the sequel "The Hardy Boys: The Mystery of the Stinky Shoe"...

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Many people think of vintage cartoons when they hear the name "Walt Disney", but The Hardy Boys shows that Walt (or more truthfully, the people working under Walt) were plenty proficient in live-action storytelling, even when it came to a serial that was buried in a daily TV program. Whether you're fond of the Hardy Boys books or a fan of Disney films from Walt's lifetime, "The Mickey Mouse Club"'s The Hardy Boys is sure to entertain you.
It may not quite have the universal appeal of the best Disney creations, but its strengths (like its compelling universe and the nostalgia factor) definitely overshadow its few shortcomings (such as cost-cutting and a fractured structure).

As a DVD, this Walt Disney Treasures set mostly satisfies. When compared to more voluminous seasons of longer shows, the list price seems a bit high for twenty 12-minute episodes. But the extra effort taken is apparent and it more than justifies the going rate. Picture and sound are very good, the full "Mickey Mouse Club" episode is a great bonus, and the handful of extras cover all the relevant territory in a highly interesting way. A more fluid playback option might have been appreciated and probably could have been easily achieved. Aside from this, it certainly would have been nice to get the follow-up serial The Mystery of Ghost Farm too. That would have removed any doubt to it eventually showing up on DVD and there would have been just enough space for both seasons. Of course, a third disc would have easily allowed for a more complete collection with both seasons, bonuses, and bits to spare. The Treasures' seemingly immobile format does seem to hinder its possibilities in some regards.

But while worth mentioning, such nitpicking doesn't detract from the overall value of this fine set, which offers pretty much the ultimate treatment to one of the most popular "Mickey Mouse Club" serials ever made.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com



The Book: The Tower Treasure by Franklin W. Dixon / More Hardy Boys Books

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REVIEW CONTENTS
Page 1: Set Overview, Packaging, and Episode Synopses
Page 2: Episode Synopses continued, Video & Audio, Bonus Features, Closing Thoughts

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Review posted March 2, 2007.