Nancy (Kennedy McMann) has always been drawn to detection — or maybe it’s more that detection was drawn to her

By Tom Gliatto
October 09, 2019 09:00 PM

This fun new series, which is at least the third TV incarnation of the teen detective known as Nancy Drew, is infected by a dank, near-Gothic level of adolescent anxiety — fans of Riverdale and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina will be happy.

Nancy (Kennedy McMann) has always been drawn to detection — or maybe it’s more that detection was drawn to her, in the way that dissastified dead people glommed onto Haley Joel Osment as a venting post for dark secrets. When she was a child, Nancy tells us in voiceover narration, “it was more than just a hobby— it was part of who I was.”

There’s one early case she never solved, though: One night she saw her parents out in the yard, shoveling up an old trunk from the damp earth. Her mother (who has since died)  told Nancy she had dreamed up the whole thing, and her father is played by Scott Wolf — an actor who seems too sensible and grounded to get mixed up in such murky, morose speculation. You don’t imagine he’d have the time even to listen to no-nonsense Veronica Mars tote up the evidence.

Robert Falconer/The CW

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Now working as waitress in a fog-shrouded seaside town called Horseshoe Bay — she’s killing time before she can escape to college — Nancy is also a suspect in a murder. Phone footage of the crime scene in the diner’s parking lot  reveals an amorphous shape  up beside a woman’s corpse. Could it be a ghost? If so, it probably belongs to Lucy Sable, a beauty queen who died shortly after being crowned Horseshoe Bay’s Sea Queen. Well, wouldn’t you?

The first two episodes do a nice job taunting us with the spectral Lucy while lining up the human suspects. These include just about everyone in town. The most nagging question, though, is who exactly is Nancy Drew? McMann looks a bit like Deborah Ann Wolf (Trueblood, Daredevil), but there’s something unfinished about this smart, slightly glum Nancy — you wish you could  give her a drop of Chloe Grace Moretz’s thoughtful vitality or Greta Gerwig’s smart vulnerability. Maybe the show will figure it all out.

Nancy Drew airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on the CW.

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