As YTV’s The Hardy Boys enters its final chapter, the show’s stars say they’re proud of the way the latest screen adaptation of the classic book series has bridged generations of fans since its 2020 debut.
“I remember scrolling down a few IMDb reviews and I saw a whole paragraph and it was this guy who went into so much detail about how he’s 60 years old and grew up reading the books and that he now gets to share it with his kids,” said 18-year-old Toronto actor Alexander Elliot, who plays Joe Hardy, the younger of the two titular teenage brothers and amateur mystery solvers.
“That kind of just melted my heart and the ability to reach every part of that legacy is really special.”
Rohan Campbell,the 25-year-old Alberta-bornactor who plays older brother Frank Hardy, said the show’s appeal — much like recent TV and film iterations of older stories and pop culture phenomena — comes down to nostalgia.
“I can’t imagine how cool it must be as a parent to be able to see your child experience something that you also experienced at their age, and share the joy you felt, it’s what comes to mind,” he said in an interview.
The show is inspired by the popular mystery book series that debuted nearly a century ago, written by various ghostwriters — including Canadian Leslie McFarlane — under the pseudonym Franklin W. Dixon.
The books have been adapted for TV before, but this version has been marketed as a darker spin on the classic tales set in the 1980s.
In the third and final season of The Hardy Boys, the brothers face another challenge in their fictional town of Bridgeport when they receive posthumous guidance from their grandmother in search of a powerful relic that can spell danger in the wrong hands.
Campbell said the tonal shift and the appeal to newer generations is similar to what he sees in movies like the recently released blockbuster “Barbie.”
“Any through line of communication between generations is so special,” he said. “Anything where the youth can sit down with the next generation above them and be joyful together, escape together and be in the same space is not really measurable.
“It kind of feels like you’re a piece of history in a weird way because 40 years from now, somebody else may pick up a project like ours and do a rendition on it…it feels really cool to be able to stamp the ‘Hardy Boys’ passport.”
Much like his co-star, Elliot says he developed a newfound love for the ’80s, including DeLorean cars and “Back to the Future” replays, during the show’s three-year run.
Elliot and Campbell say they’re grateful for the experience and the audiences they’ve gained over three seasons and they will carry that with them as the Canadian Screen Award-winning series ends.
“I grew up with these people and gained a second family,” said Campbell. “I don’t think I would have the confidence to move on and do the stuff I’ve done if it wasn’t for the space that the show gave me…it’s been really incredible.”