Saturday, January 2, 2021

The Hardy Boys Hulu Television Series

Adaptations are important, because they keep the original property viable and in the public's mind.  Adaptations may not be like the original books, but they are important to the continuing success of the property.  Adaptations do not damage the books.  The books will never change and will always be available to the fans who prefer them.

Unlike many fans of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, I view filmed adaptations with an open mind.  I don't expect them to be like the original books, and I'm not disappointed when they are different.  I guess this is because I understand that the adaptation has been adapted; it has been changed from its original form.  Most fans argue that the characters and premise should not be changed at all from the original stories.  To me, an adaptation is like an alternate reality to the original form.  

In early December, 13 episodes of Hulu's Hardy Boys series were made available.  You do have to subscribe to Hulu to see the shows.  However, if you are a new subscriber, you can get a free trial.

I am not going to attempt to summarize the plot of the show.  A single story arc spans the 13 episodes of the series.  I cannot summarize it without spoiling the story.

Frank Hardy is 16 years old, played by an actor who is 23.  Joe Hardy is 12 years old, played by an actor who is around 13 to 15 years old, depending on who you believe.

The main complaint by fans is the age difference.  I have no problem with the age difference.  Joe is an utter delight.  He's no slouch.  Joe is smart and does a lot of investigating on his own. 

Frank is the one to which I did not connect.  I like him fine, but I just don't particularly connect with him.   

The boys' friends are changed up a bit.  Chet is African American.  He still lives on a farm and drives a yellow truck called "The Queen."  Callie is Chet's girlfriend as the series opens, but she and Chet break up later.  Callie and Frank clearly like each other.  

Phil Cohen likes to eat, and his personality is more or less what Chet's was in the original books.  That messed with my mind at first, but I'm fine with it.

Biff is a girl who is near Joe's age.  She and Joe make a great team.

The Hardys move to Bridgeport during the first episode.  

This series is set in the 1980s.  The vehicles are from the 1980s, and the music used is from the 1980s.  The logo for the series is the Hardy Boys Casefiles logo, and the Casefiles series debuted during the 1980s, which is why I think it was used.

The show does include supernatural events, but it is nowhere near the level of what has happened in the Nancy Drew series.  Whether we like it or not, any show nowadays is likely to include something like that in order to make the show as interesting as possible to modern viewers.

The show does have some Easter eggs, like the cities of Franklin and Dixon.  I noticed the usage of bulletin boards and felt that they were a reference to the Nancy Drew games.  Also, "Waverly" shows up on a wall on a poster, and that is part of the name of one of the Nancy Drew games.

Someone online pointed out the usage of a song by New Order called "Blue Monday."  The cover of "Blue Monday" by Flunk was used in the 2007 Nancy Drew movie with Emma Roberts.

Episode #7 "Figure in Hiding" gives a good view of a partial set of Hardy Boys blue matte picture cover books.

While this version does make some significant changes from the books, it is much closer to the Hardy Boys book series than CW's Nancy Drew series is to the Nancy Drew book series.  In the CW Nancy Drew series, Nancy Drew has sexual relations with other characters, and this is a major departure from the books.  This Hardy Boys series has nothing of the sort, which should make it more palatable to fans.  Yes, it does have changes, but the changes are not like what happened with Nancy Drew.

I strongly encourage you to give this show a chance.  You might end up liking it.  I certainly did.  In fact, this is the first filmed version of the Hardy Boys that I have actually managed to watch all the way through.  I highly recommend this show.


dsingleton said...

Jennifer, I agree with you. After I accepted that this was different than the books, I truly enjoyed the series.

ADF said...

I ended up liking the show more than I thought I would, although they never did stll me on the age difference between Frank and Joe; I still think the show would've been better had they been closer in age. Also, Frank and Joe didn't interact very much during most episodes (although the moments when they did interact were, I though, the highlights of the show). I, too, thought Joe was more appealing than Frank, who took quite a while to grow on me. He just didn't "seem" like Frank Hardy to me for a long time. It wasn't until they started getting into the corrupt college plot and Frank got a chance to show off his smarts and academic skills that I started buying that this was Frank Hardy. Oddly enough, despite him being so young, I accepted Joe as Joe Hardy right away.

What I was struck by was how much this show seemed to be tailor-made for a Nancy Drew adaptation. I think they actually did a better job making a "Nancy Drew-like" show than the current Nancy Drew show did (at least in Season 1).

While I agree that adaptations are necessary, I also think it's possible for them to go too far; as an obvious example, I never, ever agreed with the planned 2016 CBS version of Nancy Drew which made her an adult NYC homicide detective solving Bess's murder. That was simply too far. The adaptation has to have more in common with the source material than just a main character who happens to share the same name. This Hardy Boys show was actually more faithful to the source material than I expected it to be, which was a real surprise considering I had gotten to the point where I thought the Hardy Boys would never be adapted to television again (I figured a show about two brothers--white brothers, at that--with the word "boys" right there in the title isn't nearly "woke" enough to suit modern tv producers). They didn't even go as far with the changes as I thought they would. Heck, the only thing they really "changed" was making Chet black (which I was fine with since I don't like the character in the first place), but then they proceeded to do essentially nothing with him throughout the show.

I also don't really understand why they needed to make Biff into Eliza"biff," when they could've just used Vanessa from the CaseFiles series (which they were obviously aware of, since they used the CaseFiles logo as the logo of the show) to give Joe a girl companion. And it's too bad they couldn't figure out a way to include Tony. But they definitely got Fenton right, and they age-corrected Gertrude--excuse me, Trudy--and made her a worthwhile character (although they had to kill off Laura to do it). Also, I'm not clear why Bayport had to become Bridgeport. At least the CW Nancy Drew show justified the change from River Heights to Horseshoe Bay by moving the setting from a river town to a bay in Maine. I'm not sure what going from Bayport to Bridgeport was supposed to accomplish.

Anyway. The show was fine, and I'm glad it exists, 'cause like I said earlier, I truly didn't think we'd ever see the Hardys onscreen again in this era of wokeness.

Jennifer White said...

I agree completely regarding the Nancy Drew New York detective show. That one was too much for me, for one simple reason. I am a fan of books which feature children and teenagers. Nancy Drew must not be an adult with adult problems. She needs to be under the age of 25, but preferably 20 or under. Otherwise, I'm not interested. The same goes for the Hardy Boys.

ADF said...

I think the CW show did the right thing with Nancy by setting her series at the end of her high school years/beginning of college. That hits the sweet spot of making her still youthful while also making her old enough to have credibility with adults as she navigates their world. It also gives a tv show time to use the actress for several years as the character grows up to young adulthood (one of the things I'm concerned about with the CW show is that all these COVID delays will cause us to lose valuable time with Kennedy McMahon as Nancy while she's still young enough to portray the character convincingly--one of my problems with Frank Hardy in the Hulu show, for instance, is that the actor is quite obviously NOT 16). The eternal problem with portraying these characters onscreen is how to cast the right young people to play the parts while they're still youthful enough to do so convincingly--and even then there's only a limited window of time in which it can be done.

The CW show's biggest misstep, to me, was putting the death of Nancy's mother so close in the recent past. That overloaded the show with Nancy and Carson's family drama, which, to me, took away from what I want in a Nancy Drew property. I don't tune in to Nancy Drew stories to watch her arguing with her father all the time. I didn't even mind the supernatural stuff (although I would've preferred it if they had kept that element more subtle and not gone so overboard with it), but I really didn't like the "Nancy vs. Carson" aspect to it.

Travis Ketchum said...

The Hardy Boys show is great! Thanks for the recommendation. My 12 year old daughter also loved it. She read about 75 percent of the Nancy Drew yellow covers and loved them. She does not like the new Nancy Drew show at all.