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Hulu's The Hardy Boys is tinged with supernatural elements & '80s nostalgia, but still loves a good mystery

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Dec 3, 2020, 4:57 PM EST (Updated)

It was clear from the show’s gritty trailer that Hulu’s recent incarnation of The Hardy Boys would be different from the series of children’s mystery and adventure novels that were first published in 1927. And while it's true that the show isn’t your father’s (or your grandfather’s) Hardy Boys, the show does stay true to its roots while still providing a fresh take on the franchise.

SYFY WIRE had a chance to talk with Hardy Boys cast members Rohan Campbell (Frank Hardy), Alexander Elliot (Joe Hardy), and James Tupper (Fenton Hardy) about the show, including how it stacks up both genre-wise and to its source material.

“People who are into the supernatural and the sci-fi aspect of TV are going to find something in this show that they like,” Campbell told SYFY WIRE ahead of the series' Dec. 4 premiere. “We floated this question early on, where Jason turned to me and Alex and said, 'Wouldn’t it be fun to float this Is magic real? question.'"

Without going into spoiler territory, the actors hinted that the show provides an answer to that question, especially in the season finale. The supernatural is only one aspect of the series, however; just like the books, there is also a mystery to be solved in the show’s first season, one that has implications for the Hardy family as well as the entire world.

Intrigued? You can check out The Hardy Boys trailer here:

The trailer is, well, dark. It shows Frank and Joe Hardy moving to their parents’ small hometown of Bridgeport after something tragic happens in the city. While in Bridgeport, the brothers find out their dad, Detective Fenton Hardy, is investigating a case that has implications for them as well, and the two — with help from some new friends in town — end up doing some investigation of their own.   

While the show does have gritty elements, young and old alike will be able to watch and enjoy it. “I hope this is a show families get to watch together,” Campbell shares. “I hope it’ll bring will bring people closer, and people will have a nice little escape.”

Credit: Hulu

There’s another way the Hulu show is not like your grandfather’s Hardy Boys (though maybe your father’s, depending on how old you are). The show takes place in the 1980s. And while the series doesn’t lean into the '80s nostalgia as much as, say, Stranger Things, there’s still enough nods to the time period to scratch that '80s itch.

The younger actors enjoyed playing characters in that era as well (especially the wardrobe!) and Campbell, who plays 12-year-old Joe Hardy, also got to use a Walkman for the first time. “It's an iPod, but you got to put in a mini VHS in it,” Elliot says, jokingly trying to describe the device to others from his generation.

Credit: Hulu

But like the supernatural elements, the '80s touches are details, not the focus of the series; the heart of the show is about family, specifically how two brothers can depend on each other no matter what the world throws at them. In that way, the Hulu series remains true to the books.

“It’s offering a version of childhood where you have the courage to face your fears and move forward and solve a mystery,” Tupper says. “That’s what I hope kids take from it.”

And, of course, there’s that mystery to solve. Interested in cracking the case? You can investigate all 13 episodes of The Hardy Boys on Hulu starting Friday, Dec. 4.