In 2016, Netflix distributed a television series developed by The Duffer Brothers called, “Stranger Things.” It immediately became an instant hit among critics and Netflix users due to the show’s love letter to pop culture from The 1980’s, characters, setting, music among other details.
Stranger Things went on to earn numerous award nominations at The Golden Globes, The Primetime Emmy’s, Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards & The MTV Movie Awards. The latter award ceremony selected Millie Bobby Brown for her performance as Eleven and the picked the show as the first television series to in MTV Movie Awards history as they created a category related to television shows.
As a result surrounding critical acclaim, a second season aired in 2017 which also earned the same critical reception as it’s predecessor. A third season is currently in the process of filming with The Cast & Crew working their butts off as they attempt to bring back lightning in a bottle for the third time.
In response to Season 3 scheduled for a 2019 release date, I want to share much thoughts on one of my favorite TV shows. Besides Season 3, Millie Bobby Brown is gonna be in Godzilla: King Of Monsters, in a cinematic universe based on giant monsters, Finn Wolfhard signed up to voice Pugsley Addams in animated film of The Addams Family, David Harbour is now the new Hellboy in a reboot set to come out in January 2919, & Shawn Levy, who produced Stranger Things, is producing The Darkest Minds, which is suspiciously similar to The New Mutants from X-Men.
This review doesn’t feature any heavy pivotal SPOILERS related to tho article. If you’re new to Stranger Things, feel free to read this non-spoiler review. By the way, some SPOILERS are light, but not heavily detailed.
The Whole Season
Positive: The Main Cast including Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Caleb McLaughlin, Gaten Matarazzo, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery & Matthew Modine all did an excellent job for their respective performances.
The Duffer Brothers did an amazing job directing and writing Season 1.
In addition to developing the series, The Duffer Brothers did extensive research to recreate The 80’s in terms of architecture, clothing, culture and other bits and pieces.
Arc Words are: “Friends Don’t Lie.” This Lin’s is used as a recurring motif.
Songs from The 80’s are frequently used in certain episodes. One specific song is a favorite of Will’s as it factors in to the story. I would assume that The Duffer Brothers took notes from Adam Sandler’s use of 80’s music from his movies and Star-Lord’s Awesome Mix from Guardians Of The Galaxy.
The show contains a boatload of 80’s references ranging to film, television, fashion, music, culture, social cliques etc.
The show is primarily influenced by the works of Stephen King, Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter and other media from later decades.
Jim Hopper’s backstory is based on Joel from The Last Of Us. The Duffer Brothers confirmed that the video game is one of the main inspirations and also one of their favorite games. The Last Of Us also influenced Hugh Jackman’s Logan.
The reason why David Harbour (the new Hellboy) wanted to participate in Stranger Things, is because he’s a fan of Winona Ryder. His dreams finally came true.
Remember HBO’s Westworld featuring a character named Will who has a special connection to a woman? Both HBO & Netflix have shows that came out the same year directed by a sibling duo, a character named Will & a female who has a mysterious back story.
Season 1’s Story Arc is divided into three storylines involving Mike, Lucas & Dustin who befriends with Eleven as she shares a mental link with Will, Nancy & Jonathan team up to hunt down The Demogorgon after a friend of her’s has gone missing & Hopper & Joyce become suspicious about Will’s disappearance by going on a personal mission to find out where he went.
Character Development involving some of the lead characters like Eleven who learns to adapt to her surroundings such as her friendship with Mike grows, Nancy’s boyfriend Steve, also earns himself Character Development.
Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein composed music for the show. John Carpenter’s musical score was used a guide to build suspense similar to his works from Halloween, Escape From New York & The Thing.
The Demogorgon was brought to life with a combination of Practical Effects & Computer Animation.
Set Pieces we’re built by set decorators by bringing Hawkins, Indiana to life. Don’t forget The Upside Down as it was made from a combination of Set with major tweaks consisting of C.G.I.
Cinematography didn’t suffer from extensive use of Dutch Angles or Shaky Cam.
As the first season progresses, Mike & Eleven’s friendship becomes closer. They’re chemistry reminded me of Aelita & Jeremie’s relationship from Code Lyoko.
Negative: I don’t understand why Barb gets all the recognition from fans. She doesn’t actually factor or contribute to the plot. She’s the equivalent of cheap batteries you buy at a dollar store, which turns out they don’t work.
Product Placement shows several brands like Coca-Cola, Eggo’s, Pez, Pringles & Three Musketeers. Most of the products spotted are forgotten other than Coca-Cola & Eleven’s love for Eggo’s.
Chapter 1: The Vanishing Of Will Byers
Positive: The Opening Scene sets up The Tone for the series.
Not actually a spoiler, when Will is being stalked by The Demogorgon, it’s kinda similar to The Slender Man chasing his prey.
Dustin & Lucas bicker about Mirkwood used in either The Hobbit or The Lord Of The Rings. Sean Astin played Sam in Peter Jackson’s The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy. Plus, he went on to play Bob in the second season of Stranger Things.
Eleven’s introduction establishes a character trait which has something to do with replenishing energy. You know how Goku from Dragon Ball Z needs to regain his strength after using all his energy?
Someone dies in the first chapter. I can’t tell you who it is, you need to see for yourself.
Mike has a poster of John Carpenter’s The Thing located in a room where he and his friends play Dungeons & Dragons.
Dungeons & Dragons also used to reflect the characters acting like a specific character class in a fantasy role-playing game.
Chapter 2: The Weirdo From Maple Street
Positive: A Yoda action figure is shown in Mike’s room. Natalie Portman, who portrayed Padme in The Star Wars Prequel Trilogy, went on to spoof Stranger Things as a host on SNL as Eleven. Millie bears a striking resemblance to Natalie back when she was a kid.
Mike has a poster of The Dark Crystal in his room.
Jonathan has a poster of The Evil Dead.
Will’s favorite song is introduced as it plays an important role to the first season’s plot. I’ll give you a hint, it’s a song that has been used in works such as Iron Man 2, Rugrats Go Wild & Far Cry 4.
Chapter 3: Holly, Jolly
Positive: The title of Chapter 3 is a twofur referring to both a Christmas song & Holly, who’s the youngest sister of Mike & Nancy.
Someone dies in this episode. I refuse to spill the beans.
Shawn Levy directed Chapter 3.
The infamous Christmas Lights scene organically sets up The Tension, lacking a jump scare.
When Eleven explores Mike’s living room, it reminded me of Encino Man when Brendan Fraser’s character explores a living room after being frozen for countless centuries.
At one point, He-Man was shown on a television set when Eleven flips through channels.
Ronald Reagan’s voice is heard briefly as Eleven flips through channels.
One of the boys compares Eleven to Jean Grey/Phoenix from X-Men. X-Men: Age Of Apocalypse came out the same as Stranger Things. Coincidentally, both works are set in The 80’s.
Peter Gabriel’s cover version of David Bowie’s song, “Heroes” is played during a montage. I believe The Duffer Brothers specially chose the song in memory of the late musician.
We get a teeny tiny glimpse of The Demogorgen’s face.
Chapter 4: The Body
Positive: A “makeover scene” is an homage to E.T. The Extraterrestrial.
The title of Chapter 4 is a shout-out to Stephen King’s short story, Rob Reiner went on to direct Stand By Me as a film adaptation starring Will Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman & Jerry O’Connell.
A bully gets a taste of his own medicine. About gosh darn time!
When Nancy attends literature class, a teacher reads “Heart Of Darkness” Out loud in front of the class. For those who don’t know the book is about, George Lucas’s mentor and friend Francis Ford Coppola adapted it into an epic war film known as Apocalypse Now. Set in The Vietnam War about a soldier who’s tasked to assassinate rogue solider branded as a traitor to The U.S. Military.
A character calls a few people “fakers.” Faker is my favorite word, because I tend to use that word by labeling movies/tv shows I can’t stand.
A Plot Twist reveals the fate of an important figure.
A minor character reads Stephen King’s “Kujo.” Finn later signed on to portray Richie, a member of The Losers Club in the 2017 version of It.
A kid compares Eleven’s powers to Charles Xavier/Professor X.
Chapter 5: The Flea And The Acrobat
Positive: if you don’t get the title of Chapter 5, a recurring character fully explains the meaning.
Steve mentioned “All The Right Moves” starring Nancy’s favorite actor. I’ll give you a hint, he’s known for doing dangerous stunts and quite a couch jumper. By the way, Steve sings a Bob Segar song.
Joyce’s ex-husband Lonnie, visited Hawkins to attend a “funeral,” actually, he wanted to sign a “document” with Joyce’s approval.
The kids exploring in the woods as they walk on a train track, is an obvious nod to Stand By Me.
Eleven’s powers are further demonstrated in a flashback.
Someone gets injured as a result of a heated argument. This wasn’t played for laughs people.
For those who are comparing Nancy to Freddy Krueger’s archenemy who shares the same name as her, I can automatically picture Nancy as Lara Croft from Tomb Raider, with her equipment, traps and ponytail.
If you pause your TV, you get a good look at The Demogorgan’s appearance.
Chapter 6: The Monster
Positive: We finally get context what the meaning of “The Upside Down” really is after the boys often mentioned where it came from.
Eleven’s backstory factors in with a personal connection.
My favorite scene is when Eleven acquires a handful of Eggo’s. Wolverine’s daughter Laura/X-23 from Logan also did something similar to Eleven. You know the part when she eats Pringles without paying at a quick stop? I’m giving Eleven an Extra Point for making me chuckle.
Eleven gets a BA moment. (look up BA on the Urban Dictionary) I’ll give you a clue, it has something to do with a massive “drop.”
Lucas wears a bandanna and belt with pounces containing a variety of equipment, mirrors Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo.
A movie theater displays “All The Right Moves” starring Nancy’s favorite actor.
A flashback reveals how The Demogorgon came to our world.
Chapter 7: The Bathtub
Positive: The Stakes drastically rises as our heroes must band together if they want to find Will & try to find a way to defeat The Demogorgon.
A chase scene mirrors a famous chase scene from E.T. The Extraterrestrial.
John Carpenter’s The Thing is shown on a TV set.
Dustin called someone Lando, as an insult for betraying a close friend. Star Wars: Rouge One came out the same year.
A recurring character’s fate has been confirmed.
Chapter 8: The Upside Down
Positive: After eight chapters, the last one for Season 1 ties up loose ends, until Season 2 came along.
A heartwarming emotional scene relieves the dark atmosphere between Mike & Eleven, before going back to their mission.
A sad moment occurred and it managed to make me shed a few tears. If you’ve seen this episode, you probably understand why. I’ll give this dramatic scene a truckload of points for making my eyeballs flooded with water.
Without giving too much away, The Ending is bittersweet. Guess why?
The Climax intercuts between our heroes facing The Demogorgon & Brenner’s henchmen.
A hated character redeems himself/herself.
Hopper has a flashback about his past.
An important figure meets his/her fate. Can’t tell you the identity.
The last scene sets up Season 2 as we’ve yet to see what’s beyond The Upside Down.
The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!
Stranger Things: Season 1 is a tremendous hit among television viewers and critics. All the positive stuff listed from the whole series and eight chapters indicate why this is one of Netflix’s biggest hits outside of Marvel related shows such as Daredevil. If you’ve never seen Stranger Things, I strongly implore you to watch the entire thing before you begin Season 2.
I am so ready for Season 3 to happen. Please Duffer Brothers, don’t mess anything up!