PaleyFest previews The CW’s ‘Nancy Drew’

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Image: Brian To for the Paley Center

*** Spoilers Ahead***

Imagine if “Veronica Mars,” “Riverdale,” and “Scooby-Doo” were all rolled into one show. Put a supernatural spin on it, and you’re looking at something close to the most recent iteration of “Nancy Drew.” The new CW show is set to debut on October 9. Having aired the pilot at SDCC 2019, audiences already have an idea of what’s to come. Gearing up for the big day, the cast and creative team joined fans at The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills for this year’s PaleyFest Fall TV Previews.

In attendance for the September 7 event was Alex Saxon (Ace), Kennedy McMann (Nancy Drew), Leah Lewis (George Fan), Maddison Jaizani (Bess Marvin), Scott Wolf (Carson Drew), Tunji Kasim (Ned ‘Nick’ Nickerson), Melinda Hsu Taylor (showrunner/executive producer), Noga Landau (creator/executive producer), and Stephanie Savage (executive producer).

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The Picture-Perfect Mystery

While it may be hard not to draw comparisons to “Veronica Mars,” the newest TV adaptation of the long-running mystery novel series brings a whole new twist to the “Nancy Drew” fans know. Just remember, this is Horseshoe Bay, not Neptune. While Mars and Drew are both savvy sleuths, living with their single fathers, and indulging in their curiosity, there are some major differences.

In Horseshoe Bay, mysteries are everywhere—and Nancy Drew loves following them. That is until her mother dies. Afterward, she doesn’t go searching anymore. The event prompts Drew to skip college and take a job working in a local restaurant called The Claw. It’s there that she’s paired with an unlikely crew. Imagine, as an adult, working together with people from high school who weren’t all in the same clique. As clashing personalities attempt to co-exist, secrets about each of them (and their relationships) are revealed.

As with every good murder mystery, both murder and mystery are necessary for the story to begin. With the introduction of the wealthy and handsome Ryan Hudson, fans also meet his wife, Tiffany Hudson. When Drew happens upon Tiffany’s dead body outside of The Claw, everyone inside the restaurant becomes a suspect. All eyes are on the town screw up, the ex-con, the city girl, and Nancy Drew.

The Silent Suspect

As more information comes to light about each of these characters and their past, Drew is forced to take a closer look at every one. That includes her love interest, Nick Nickerson. The two are seen from the beginning, entangled in an oh-so-steamy (secret) relationship. Yes, this is the “adult version” of “Nancy Drew,” as McMann pointed out during PaleyFest. Drew is still a brave heroine who takes risks in search of the truth, but those sexy similarities to “Riverdale” appear pretty early on in the first episode.

More secrets unravel as Drew discovers unknown details about Nick’s past—like the time he spent behind bars and what exactly put him there. While she does eventually make their relationship public, it doesn’t remove him from the suspect list; or anyone else for that matter. As fans learn, each of these characters is flawed, and they all have something to hide.

McMann said during PaleyFest that she likes her character because she’s not perfect. Drew is a young woman who is just trying to figure out who she is and how to deal with grief. As she and the rest of the squad navigate through life, there’s not much that the bunch will shy away from.

A Secret in Time

After the PaleyFest screening and panel Q&A, more about what to expect was revealed. Without giving too much away about the pilot episode, there were still a lot of announcements for the upcoming season.

One big differentiating factor of this version of “Nancy Drew” is that it is very much supernatural. Unlike past interpretations, or what you might expect in an episode of “Scooby-Doo,” there is a monster at the end of the story. Well, at the very least, a ghost. The creative team here has made “Nancy Drew” into somewhat of a horror show. Sure, the books hint at the supernatural but, in the end, the culprit always ends up being human. The producers say that other supernatural elements will indeed come into play on screen.

When the ghost of Lucy Sable turns out to be a real ghost, audiences will discover more buried secrets. There is a crucial scene that shows a flashback to Drew’s parents digging up a box. The contents inside have something to do with Lucy Sable. The show’s producers note that it’s an important flashback. They will return to that moment many times throughout the season, with new levels of understanding every time.

Spanning throughout the season will be a large mystery with smaller ones nested inside. Not even the cast knows who the real killer is. They all have different theories every time they get a new script.

“I don’t think Nancy did it,” jokes McCann during PaleyFest. Yes, that’s one theory that everyone is likely to agree on.