Stranger Things - Give it a Watch
Over the past few weeks I kept hearing about a new Netflix Original Series, Stranger Things. So before I get into what I thought of the show specifically. I will give you all my philosophy on disembarking on the endeavor that is starting to watch a new show. My philosophy is simple... let the pilot episode do its job.
A pilot is generally created in order to sell the idea of a show to people. Sometime it's a rough pilot that typically only TV executives get to watch, and then it is re-filmed shot for shot, such as the Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia pilot. Other times its a great spectacle in order to pull you in further to the story. In either instance, the pilot episode's job is to introduce the characters, the premise, and like a great drug dealer, make you want more. With this being said, I go into each new show only planning to watch the pilot episode. If it does its job properly I will (naturally) want to watch the following episodes.
So, now back to Stranger Things. I had heard quite a bit about it, but everyone telling me about it had been purposefully vague about plot points and the like. Which I will attempt to do here, and leave very few spoilers.
I sat down one night last week with the intent to watch the first episode of this new show. Before I knew it, it was 4 AM and I had just wrapped up the entire first season of the show. Did I regret it? Only at the office the next morning, running on 3 hours of sleep.
Stranger Things plays like a love-child of Stephen King, Spielberg, John Carpenter, David Lynch, and a dash of every great coming-of-age film that is in existence. The first thing I immediately noticed while watching it were the kids, and how natural they were. I came to feel like these were my buddies from back in the day, I believed these kids were actually friends. The entire show had a very tangible feel to it, it's not only that it nails the nostalgia of the genre, but also the nostalgia of what it was like to actually be with the kids in 1983.
About 3/4 of the way through the first season of this show I start to realize that this is some of the best story-telling I've seen in recent years. The entire plot of Stranger Things is very tightly woven. While it's being woven the audience gets to experience several overarching stories, a conspiracy thriller, a paranormal investigation, as well as a John Hughes-esque coming of age film.
The kids in this movie are great, and the rest of the cast is great as well. The entire plot hinges upon a young boy's disappearance, and you're along for the ride with his mother (Wynona Ryder) as she pieces together the dots with the rest of the cast. Ryder plays the rolls perfectly as a devastated mother who has lost her youngest son and enlists the help of the town's Sheriff (David Harbour of The Newsroom) to help assist her in her search. All this evolves into an incredible, nostalgic story that teeters on the fringes of genre film of the 1980's.
Aside from a compelling and tightly woven story. Stranger Things isn't afraid to pay homage to the inspiration to come before it such as E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Stand By Me. While adhering to very specific archetypes of film genres it is obviously honoring and being inspired by, it also manages to entirely subvert those archetypes in interesting ways. Without going into too much detail, one such example of this is the redemption of a certain character who isn't too far off from your typical "attractive high school jock/jerk" in every high school drama of the 80's.
As a fan of basically all things 1980's, this show struck every proper chord with me. Enough so, that if it were a lady, we would already be on the honeymoon. So basically, what I'm saying, if anything, is go watch this show. Remember though, you will be mad at yourself if you don't have enough time to watch this series to completion.