‘The Hardy Boys’ brings mystery, nostalgia to Hulu

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Frank and Joe Hardy are back to solve more mysteries.

The classic sleuthing duo return to television in “The Hardy Boys,” premiering Friday on Hulu. The series follows Frank (Rohan Campbell) and younger brother Joe (Alexander Elliot) as they uncover sinister secrets in the small town of Bridgeport, where they’re staying for the summer with their Aunt Trudy (Bea Santos).

“I was born in a different generation, so sadly I didn’t read these books growing up,” says Elliot, 15. “But once I had gotten this role and looked into this whole legacy, I just feel super grateful that I’m able to represent this character that so many people grew up with.

“We cater to the old fans but our goal with this show is to also bring in new fans,” he says. “So after they watch this, they can go back and read the books and watch the show from the ’70s and be integrated into this whole world that all these people have built.”

The teens have been a pop culture staple for nearly a century. The “Hardy Boys” book series started in 1927, with various ghostwriters writing just under 200 volumes under the pseudonym Franklin W. Dixon.

Often paired with counterpart Nancy Drew, the story has since been adapted into video games, comic books and a slew of TV shows including animated series “The Hardy Boys” (on ABC in 1969) and “The Hardy Boys/ Nancy Drew mysteries” (on ABC in 1977, starring Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy as Frank and Joe Hardy and Pamela Sue Martin as Nancy Drew).

This latest version is set during the 1980s.

“I think it’s a perfect time … Before technology and before Google, so the boys really have to go figure it out themselves without any help,” says Campbell, 23, who grew up reading the book series and returned to it to prepare for the role.

“It was important to me that we give the fans what they wanted,” he says. “I dove straight into the books to try to create a version of Frank that everybody would remember and feel nostalgic about. Obviously it comes with a certain amount of pressure, but from what I’ve seen the fans saying — and I’ll be honest, I dove into some forums and stuff and read about what people are feeling — there’s a lot of positivity.”

Onscreen, Joe is the more rambunctious brother, while Frank is more analytical. Their sibling dynamic feels familiar, even though Elliot and Campbell didn’t meet until shortly before filming.

“We hadn’t really auditioned together,” says Elliot. “We met for the first time at the table read. We were both nervous because we were worried, like, ‘I don’t know who this guy is, he could be crazy!’ But we really hit it off and became close. We had dinner a bunch of times. We built that brotherly bond, and I feel like it shows on camera.”

Both stars are hoping that the show will appeal to audiences of all ages.

“I think it’s a show for Mom, Dad, and the kids and everything,” says Campbell. “I think we’ve created a world for people to get lost in.”

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