By Ian Wells
Right I’ve waited over a month now if you haven’t binged this yet what is wrong with you? If your a fan of any pop culture from the last forty years you will find something in this series. If your just a Netflix zombie who wouldn’t get all the references you will still find something in this series. Everything about it is on point from The Duffer Brothers and the team they’ve assembled. Writing, directing, producing, acting, music. Its got heart, suspense, humor. Everything you could ask for and plenty to keep you entertained. I latched onto it a month or so before its release. Its funny because in regular news outlets and entertainment reviews they were calling it a ‘sleeper hit.’ If like me you spent a fair amount of your time on CBR Stranger Things got plenty of air play before its release. Billed as a love letter to movies of the eighties. Particularly those of Steven Spielberg. It even has a beautiful Drew Struzan inspired poster by artist Kyle Lambert.
The first thing I noticed when I went to Netflix to watch the first episode was the episode titles. They are all ‘Chapter…’. So right away as a comic reader and Stephen King fan I’m in. It’s a little detail but it hooked me, maybe I’m simple minded? Stranger Things follows a very simple formula. A scenario that has been used countless times to great effect by the likes of Spielberg, King and Carpenter. Create a small fictitious town, in this case Hawkins, fill it with believable normal everyday characters and then add a paranormal threat.
The kids played by Finn Wolfhard (Mike), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas) and Noah Schnapp (Will) were billed as the stars of the show and rightfully so. Right from the first episode the chemistry from them is top notch. Apparently during auditions they read from Stand By Me to get them in the right mindset. They may not always be the main focus of attention during in episodes but throughout the series they remain the heart and soul. David Harbour is local sheriff Jim ‘Hop’ Hopper. He plays the role with the right levels of moodiness, brooding added with a touch of dark humor. He plays well off of Winona Ryder as the story develops and he also has a strong bond with the kids. Now Winona Ryder took a lot of stick back in the day for the whole shop lifting affair. It kind of got to the point where people forgot she could actually fucking act! You believe everything about her portrayal of grieving mother Joyce Byers. So does every range of emotion and does them all well. It’s not like she does mourning well and is then OTT on anger and tepid on acceptance. All of them just seem natural and well handled. It may get repetitive saying everyone delivers, but Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven) delivers. She is perfect as the strange girl in a strange town… oh with strange powers too and when she has to she turns the dial to menace. The same goes for the cast of older kids too. They have to deal with the paranormal goings on and real life teen issues and it is handled so well.
Now you might have to watch every episode twice. Once to follow the plot and one to catch all the references. No I’m kidding. The plot is fairly easy to follow. It doesn’t follow the modern trend of other Sci-fi shows being convoluted for convoluted sakes. There are a few moments when you think its twisting one way and you get a nice surprise as it twists another way. The opening to the series is a very X-Files feeling three minute scene. A scene that sets the tone right off the bat. It even had the location flash up in the white font. I know most TV shows use white font and have locations flash up on the screen, but seeing as those two shows are n the same genre it just gave you a warm feeling inside going into the first episode. I think its the era I became a nerd in but I fucking love a reference. In the first episode alone we have comic talk, specifically Uncanny X-Men #134 and Mr Fantastic. Dungeons and Dragons gets a lot of play and is key to the plot. The kids are always riding their bikes, just like in E.T. I can confess I’m twenty nine years old and I still ride my bike to and from work. When the weather is cold I have my hood up and I still wonder if I will ever fly on my bike. Being set in 1983 allows for lots of cool music to be used from The Clash and Joy Division. Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein are responsible for the original score to the series. Their use of synths give it a very Twin Peeks feel and there has been such interest in the OST it will be getting a release. The attention to detail on music especially is one of those things that makes it a pleasure to watch the show and adds to the all round enjoyment.
Finally another confession. Stranger Things took me back to a time when I didn’t have a care in the world or any idea about reality. In my mind I thought if I moved to America and a small town like Hawkins specifically then I was convinced something like this would happen to me. I thought it would be fun to have a childhood like Mike, Will, Dustin and Lucas or the kids in the Goonies or Elliot from E.T. In reality though I probably would’ve shit my pants!
About Ian Wells
Ian currently runs the THEBLOGOFCOMICSHOTTOPICS blog. Check him out on Twitter @IanWells87.
About Language of Bromance
Together Richard and Shawn formed the podcast The Language of Bromance and from there it has been nothing but fun. The duo laugh about things they go through, stories in the news and even getting serious discussing net neutrality along with other issues. Every so often their friendship turns to a bitter rivalry with their nerdiest creation the draft episodes. An original take on a best of or a top 10 list. The draft episodes are done like an NFL Draft 7 rounds where Richard and Shawn flip-flop picks on various topics.
To become a LOBarmy Contributed
If you are interested in writing an article for the LOBarmy Intelligent Reports please contact Richard and Shawn at EatTheBeaver@LanguageOfBromance.Com or reach out to us via twitter @LanguageOfBro.