Will the Real Santa Claus....

Original Air  Date: 12/18/77 on ABC (Season 2)
Cast: Pamela Sue Martin and William Schallert
Guest Stars: Dan O' Herlihy, Rick Springfield, John Ericson, William Campbell Jorge Moreno,John Roper, Walt Davis, Peter MacLean, Sparky Marcus, Missy Gold, Antony Carbone
Director: Michael Pataki
Rick's Character Name:
Ned Nickerson

Synopsis:  Rick Springfield guest stars as Ned Nickerson, Assistant District Attorney from Boston.
Someone, appearing to be Santa Claus is breaking into houses and stealing.  Ned helps Nancy solve the mystery.

Note: Rick replaced George O'Hanlon, Jr. as Ned, but this was his only appearance.

I thought this was a pretty good show back in the 70`s. I watched Nancy Drew as a child, before I knew who Rick was. I'm sure I must have seen this particular episode. It seems somewhat familiar to me. I like the "magic of Santa Claus" theme that's in the story. 

Nancy meets Ned Nickerson (Rick) for the first time, by surprise. She's up on a ladder decorating the tree and she begins to topple off, just as Ned has stuck his head in the door. He rushes over and catches her. Awwww�sweet! But the timing was a little odd to me, or something. It looked like the door was a loooong way from the corner of the room, but he managed to get over there rather quickly and catch her, as if the tree were 20 feet tall! LOL She lands right in his arms and he says, "I`ve never had a girl fall THAT hard for me. Not at first site anyway." Little does HE know! Yes, the Rick Springfield parts are precious! He looks so young in this one. Of course, he was a young guy then. Considering he was a fairly new actor at this time, I think he was pretty good. I've heard Rick tease & make negative remarks about his hairstyle from back in the 70's, but I beg to differ with him. I really liked that look on him, for that day and time. Definitely in style for the era. He's always had a great head of hair. I'm guessing his wardrobe was part of the clothing style back then too. Rick was wearing a long black jacket, and a bright yellow scarf through most of the show. WAY too much coverage if you ask me! (but it was wintertime, so I guess that's okay) I'd say that was much better than the last outfit he wears, in the last scene�.a very busy plaid suit. I'm glad to say it was gray and white and not something bright! Rick play a lawyer in this show. (the district attorney)

The story is based around an old man, who appears to be a bum. Some men are after him. He wanders into Nancy's dad's barn to catch some sleep for the night. The children find him in the hay sleeping, and are asking him questions. They end up being kind to the old guy, sneaking food out to him. 

A crooked Santa is on the loose, breaking into homes around the neighborhood, stealing coins and valuables. Ned and Nancy look over the evidence at one of the burglary scenes. 

Nancy is on a mission to find the crook now. She goes after dark to the Garlands' house, and sees a light on. She realizes they are supposed to be out of town. She prowls around (as the "Santa" is inside robbing the house). Nancy makes her way inside the house and uses their phone to call the police. She reports the suspected crime and tells them to hurry. The thief spots Nancy and they struggle, breaking a few things in the house. Nancy runs outside just as the cops arrive�.but the Santa has escaped. He goes to the barn where the "bum" is sleeping and hides the valuables behind a bail of hay, all the while quiet so as not to wake the bearded old man. 

Nancy explains to the cops that the crook was dressed like Santa, but he was wearing a "ghoulish" mask. They tell her they will find him, and that there's been a crime spree. Nancy goes home and finds that the kids are still up, hiding behind the breakfast bar with a jar of goodies. She picks them for information trying to find out what is up. They tell her that Santa is in the barn. She looks worried and follows them to the barn where they proceed to chat with "Santa" and give him the cookies. I thought it was cute when the kids tell him NOT to forget them on Christmas Eve. (also�I recognized that little boy, but cannot place where else I've seen him. And the little girl I think is Tracey Gold, who played in some sitcoms later on). 

The children leave and Nancy is left with the man. She accuses him of lying to the kids to get food. She then questions him about the mask and the red suit. He is clueless. He says his name is Griffin. He goes ONLY by Griffin. She asks if he knew about the crimes. He claims he DID see someone dressed as an "Old fashioned" Santa Claus, come to think of it. But he denies any involvement in the crimes. Just as she's asking him where he came from, the police come in. She tells them he's not the guy they want. They call him a transient. One cop finds the bag of stolen goods in the hay and gives Griffin an accusing eye. So they haul him off to jail. He is upset because Christmas is the next night and he has work to do. Nancy looks unhappy they arrested him. Outside she spots a car leaving that had been parked along the curb, as if someone had been spying on them. 

Nancy goes inside and quietly thinks the whole thing over. She gets these "feelings." She is on her way upstairs to wake up her dad when the phone rings. Her dad is seen in bed answering the phone. No one is there. Nancy barges into his room ranting about how they need to go bail out Griffin. She asks if she woke him up! He says it's okay, the phone ringing had woke him anyway, but there was no one on the line when he answered it. It is 3 AM. Scenes flash to the jail where Griffin is being held. He's seen with his eyes closed and there's this magical sounding music (like bells ringing), making you feel that HE is the one making this chain of events take place. It leads you to believe he has some type of "power." So Carson & Nancy Drew go and bail out Griffin in the middle of the night, after much pleading from Nancy that Griffin is innocent.
While at the jail, Carson questions Griffin. He's elusive, claiming he came from "up north." He has no ID & no last name. He tells Carson, "why, if I have none of those things, it means I don't exist?" He keeps saying things that lead them to sort of believe he IS the real Santa. They pay his bail and offer him a place to stay if he wishes. As they're all leaving, Griffin tells the guard in the hall Merry Christmas. Dad won't admit to Nancy that he's anything other than a nice old man. On the way out they are chatting with Griffin about where he might sleep for the night at their house. But they turn to look, and he's GONE. Vanished. 

Next scene Ned/Rick is discussing the whole ordeal. I just love his accent here! He says Griffin is on the run from someone. He's going on hunches. They debate over Griffin's innocence. Ned thinks he may be the thief. Nancy storms out saying she will prove he's innocent even if she has to prove he is in fact Santa Claus. The men are left exchanging glances at one another. Ned looks at her dad, smiles sweetly and says, (while blowing out his lips in exasperation) "do you think she's still taken with me?" Dad just looks up from the desk at him. They seem to have the expression that says, "Women!" 

One of the crooks is on the phone talking to his "man" about how Griffin was bailed out of jail. The first man, the one in the office, tells his guy, "get rid of him!" He doesn't want the millions in drug money to be ruined by this bum.

Griffin is at the mall and the kids are all drawn to him, leaving the mall Santa by himself. They absolutely LOVE him! Two employees gossip about how he was the man arrested for the burglaries. In the next minute, when the see the children flocking around him, they come up with a plan to USE him to draw in a crowd for their Christmas Eve party. So the man asks Griffin if he can please come. Griffin says he will, but cannot stay to the end. (he of course has presents to deliver that night!)

Nancy finds some clues, but she doesn't want Ned to think she's an amateur. She wants to be certain they hold up before saying anything to Ned, so she tells George what she found out. She had lifted a fingerprint off the Garland's doorknob the night of the crime. She goes to the barn to look for Griffin. But lo and behold�..the bad guy is there instead. Of course it is NOT Griffin. It's Mr. Cortez. (the farm help?) She basically tells him she KNOWS he's the crook. He is backing her into a corner in the barn, with a threatening look. Ned slips through the barn door just in time to see that he's about to attack Nancy. In one swift move he runs up on Cortez from behind, throwing him to the ground, and saving Nancy. Awww�Rick got to play the "hero!" The cops come in to haul Cortez off to jail (just in time too! Where were they 5 minutes ago?!). Nancy tells them about the fingerprints. One of the cops asks Nancy if she needs a ride. Ned says, ( STILL wearing that coat and scarf. LOL) "that's alright, I'll take care of her." She asks Ned, "how did you become cavalry?" He says, "I didn't want to look like an amateur." She surprises Ned by planting a kiss on him!!! He asks, "what was that for?" She says it was for saving her life. He says, (quite sexily I might add) "I'm gonna have to do that more often." Then he laughs this adorable laugh (which is where Rick, not Ned just jumps out of the character for me! Definitely a Rick laugh!) He tells her, "I gotta hand it to you. You proved Griffin was innocent, even if you didn't prove he was Santa Claus." 

Downtown, Nancy spots a suspicious car and jots down the plate number. She recognizes it from near the barn the night the cops got Griffin. Two men in the car talk, wondering how they'll get to Griffin to kill him. They fear that Griffin will tell Nancy, Carson and Ned what he saw and bust their plan wide open. 

Back at home, Nancy tells dad about a china doll she'd loved as a child that was in a store in New Hampshire. She explains that she's never seen another like it since. She said she'd always wanted it. Griffin has come in the front door and overheard the whole thing. Nancy and Griffin talk and he tells her how he appreciates what all she's done for him. She asks him who is after him. He won't tell�he simply kisses her cheek saying, "see you at the party," and leaves.
Later at the parade, the "bad" men are cleaning and loading guns so they can shoot Griffin during the town's Christmas parade. The parade is about to start. But Griffin is late and people are getting anxious. Griffin finally arrives, dressed in a Santa suit for the first time. He heads over to the float. Ned comes over and tells Nancy what he found out about a guy in NY who he thinks may be after Griffin. The parade starts and Nancy, Carson and Ned hop in a car that's in the procession. The bad guys watch through a window from above, waiting for the right moment in the parade, so they can shoot Griffin. 

When the parade stops for a second, Griffin sees the men through the wall with his powers/X-ray eyes (Hey, he's Santa Claus! He has special powers unknown to man). Griffin disappears. When they discover he's `missing,` Carson says they'll just have to go on without him. The shooters can't see Griffin now, and figure their sites are blocked. The "bad guy" says he'll just get `Drew and her old man first.' He starts shooting. They manage to dodge the bullets. The cops, Nancy, Carson and Ned run around the side of the building and find two men konked out and handcuffed together. It's the shooters. Ned says, "what happened up here!?" The cop says it must've been one of his men who caught them. 

A few minutes later�Nancy, Carson and Ned spot sleigh tracks in the snow. (magical music begins playing again) They also see hoof prints! Ned says "you don't really think�.?" And of course Nancy says, "sure why not!" The camera shows the tracks in the snow. They suddenly end as if SOMETHING took flight from there. Yep, Santa's sleigh. 

It's Christmas day at Nancy`s. Ned shows up bearing gifts and asking if he can spend time with George, Nancy and Carson. Now WHO could turn that face away on Christmas�or any other day through the year?! Ned is wearing that TACKY suit I mentioned earlier, the one with gray plaid pants and plaid jacket. Why is it that even the worst possible outfit STILL looks good (ok, not GOOD, but acceptable) on Rick?! He tells them what he's learned about the criminals. He says the cops are onto these guys and it's a break in busting the main guy behind the crime sprees. There are attempted murder charges on the 2 men. 

Nancy spots a package under the tree she didn't remember seeing there before. Since there isn't a name or card on the gift, she opens it up to see what it is. It's the china doll she'd dreamed of since she was a child. Inside was a small card that read: "For believing�Merry Christmas, Griffin." Nancy is obviously pleased. She says, "I don't think they're gonna find him." 

The show ends with Nancy smiling and holding the doll. `We Wish You A Merry Christmas' is playing. 

I think it's too bad that Nancy and Ned's little "romance" didn't continue into other Nancy Drew episodes. They were obviously taken with each other and made a really cute couple. The characters both had a head-strong personality, and I think their courtship would have had a lot of chemistry. It's a shame he didn't appear in a few more episodes. Of course, Nancy had "cases to crack" and she would have been totally distracted with Ned/Rick around. LOL This was a nice flashback for me, seeing this show. I used to have a complete collection of Nancy Drew books at one time, (and also the Hardy Boys) and I watched the show pretty regularly after school each day. What a treat all these years later, getting to see Rick guest starring with Nancy Drew!  - Kelley Pearson