A Nancy Drew TV series has once again been put into the works. The news comes over a year after CBS decided not to pick up Drew, an adaptation inspired by the popular children's book series. Written by Doubt creators Joan Rater and Tony Phelan, it starred Sarah Shahi (Person of Interest, Chicago Fire) as an older, wiser version of the titular teen sleuth, who spent her adolescence solving mysteries — first in the fictional town of River Heights, and later in faraway destinations like France, Nairobi, and Japan.
In Drew, the character had been aged to a 30-something woman with a job as an NYPD detective, where she was said to investigate crimes "using her uncanny observational skills, all while navigating the complexities of life in a modern world." The series was not picked up at CBS and now the property has landed at NBC.
As reported by Variety, the new series has little in common with the original project. Rater and Phelan are still writing the show, but with an entirely new concept. Executive producer Dan Jinks, who developed the CBS version, is also still attached, and CBS Television Studios is producing. Shahi, however, is not currently involved. Rater told Deadline of the new direction:
“We did a pilot and we tried to forget about it but we couldn’t; we loved the characters so much. But we knew that we had to come up with a different way to go about it.”
The new premise will also pick up with an older Nancy — this time around her 40s or 50s — except now she's merely the author behind a famous female detective book series, which she penned around her youthful explorations. When she's thrust into a real-life murder mystery, she turns to her childhood best friends — and the inspiration for her novels — who still carry a grudge about the way she portrayed them all those years ago. Apparently, she took some creative liberties, always casting herself as the heroine and relegating her friends to the sidelines. Nancy Drew, then, will be about them putting aside their differences and pooling their strengths when Nancy needs them most.
The shift in perspective is interesting, especially since the roles are for middle-aged women, who don’t get nearly enough representation on television. But Phelan's description of the women's age being a "superpower" because "no one notices them" sounds off the mark, and while it's clear the duo is invested in the project, the fact that they've had to fight so hard to get it realized doesn't exactly bode well for its follow-through, especially in the wake of Doubt's cancellation after only one season.