Hulu's 'Hardy Boys' Preview the Family of Sleuths' Dark Origin Story
The Hardy boys have been around since 1927, but we've never known them quite like this.
After countless reimaginings and five different TV adaptations, long-time fans will finally get to see how Frank and Joe Hardy stumbled into sleuthing with Hulu's reboot of The Hardy Boys.
The series (all 13 episodes drop on Friday, December 4) follows 16-year-old Frank (Rohan Campbell) and 12-year-old Joe Hardy (Alexander Elliot) as they move to their parents' hometown of Bridgeport after a family tragedy. Their summer takes an abrupt turn when they discover their father, Fenton (Big Little Lies' James Tupper), has taken on an investigation with big family secrets.
Back to the beginning
This Hardy Boys reboot explores how the brothers first began their famed detective work. "It's all centered around the tragic death of their mother," Elliot tells TV Insider. "They're a happy family, and then after this huge family tragedy, their life completely changes. They move to this new town, new place, new people, and they're thrown into this whole mystery surrounding their mother. I feel like that's what makes it interesting: the mystery is personal."
Personal tragedy isn't the sort of plot readers may find in the original books, but the cast assures audiences that there is plenty of humor and adventure to be found as well. "I think it's important that we call it the origin story that it is," Campbell explains. "They need to know that every step of the way is fueled by that one incident and that darkness is met with some lightness as well. There are some comedic characters and some great relationships throughout the show."
A story for everyone
According to the cast, the new series will appeal to both old and new fans. "I'd say Frank is definitely sort of an homage to the 1940s, '50s Frank that I attached to in the vintage books," Campbell says.
"Frank is definitely catering to the old fans," Elliot agrees. "Joe is trying to create new fans because he's this spunky, rowdy kind of kid. He likes to have fun. I feel like he brings the adventure to the table, whereas Frank brings the mystery-solving."
With characters that have been around for over 90 years and the most recent TV adaptation airing in 1995, there are young people who may have missed The Hardy Boys' long-lived popularity. Tupper says many people under 20 years old have likely never heard of it. "We're giving rebirth to a series that kids have never been introduced to. My son didn't know anything about it. I started reading them to him, and he really loved them," he shares.
"In the original series, there's a sense of curiosity and adventurism. ... They have to have the courage to go and take the boat and get into the cave and swim underwater and do the things that make them into heroes," he adds. "That's what I took from it as a kid, and I think the series gets that."
Methods in mystery
Expect to see differences in the boys' sleuthing. "Frank is so analytical and patient," Campbell says. "[He's] always waiting for the right choice and doing his research. [Whereas] this version of Joe, he just acts and then thinks, and acts and then thinks–"
"He doesn't care about the consequences at all," Elliot confirms.
"There's one scene where [Frank] is just begging him to stay at home for like, five minutes," Campbell previews. "He's like, 'Please don't get into any trouble.'"
Whether calculated or impulsive, investigative skills run in the Hardy family. Tupper hopes Fenton, the boy's detective father, is an inspiration to his sons. "I'm not afraid of things, I'm not afraid of conflict, and I'm not afraid to figure things out with my mind as I work through it physically," he says of his character. "I always manage to figure out what it is — the weakness of my opponent — and exploit it in order to solve the clues that lead to the ultimate prize."
While each Hardy family member has their own, sometimes clashing, methods of solving mysteries, the brothers find ways to align their strengths. "Eventually, near the end, they realize that they both have a point," Campbell says. "They both have to come together to solve this huge mystery."
The Hardy Boys, Series Premiere, Friday, December 4, Hulu