Let’s stream some 80’s nostalgia: Our first impressions of Netflix’s Stranger Things

As I delved deeper and deeper into the mysterious series Stranger Things, I started to worry it was going to lose a lot of its charm as the mystery wore off. Let me tell you, it does not.

Noah Schnapp 'Will'
Noah Schnapp ‘Will’

Gripping is a word I try not to use lightly, but that is just what this show is. Even when the show isn’t paying attention to the main theme, it never seems to slow down. It always shows us something more, something new. Something 80’s.

As with my previous article, I had gone into Stranger Things with open arms and big expectations. Usually that’s a bad thing to do, especially when trying to be critical. I was finding ways to avoid TV Spots, behind the scenes looks, cast interviews. It hurt, but I avoided them. Well finally it’s out for everyone to enjoy, or endure, depending on how you perceive thriller and horror shows.

I will bring to light one thing I thought was going to be a struggle to get right. The children. Not many shows, or at least show directors, have been able to cast the right kids in the right roles. Leaving a foul mouth and ruining the source material. But here, they do it well.

Millie Bobby Brown who plays 'Eleven'
Millie Bobby Brown who plays ‘Eleven’

Sure, the start of the show is a bit wobbly and you’re really not sure if any of the main four are going to stick and make it believable enough. But when ‘Eleven’ enters the fray, played by Millie Bobbie Brown (Pictured Above) the show starts to toughen up harder than its initial foundation. It rides on her ability to make us believe. Without it, this show just would not work.

Mike, played by Finn Wolfhard puts in a great ‘Elliot’ type role, very much an existential of the beloved E.T. character, being the first and only real friend of the alienated and left behind Eleven. YES, someone has to say it. This entire show lays beautifully on homage to the groundwork laid back by The Extra Terrestrial from 1982.

Finn Wolfhard 'Mike' and Millie Bobby Brown 'Eleven'
Finn Wolfhard ‘Mike’ and Millie Bobby Brown ‘Eleven’
Side By Side Comparisons can get a little eerie.
Side By Side Comparisons can get a little eerie.

It took me back to my E.T. binge days so many times, purely due to the fact that Eleven is basically the same kind of special powered stranger to all of us watching. Mike even hides her away in his room, shows her his toy collection, teaches her how to speak. It’s many tropes have been done to death before since then, but it feels so fresh when played on screen here.

The supporting cast, including Mike’s friends Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and the goofy, semi toothless Duncan (Gaten Matarazzo) are the ‘Scully’s” of the show. They are the non-believers, the critics of our journey. It takes a lot for them to start trusting Mike’s new friend and her ability to help them find their missing pal Will (Noah Schnapp).

Stranger Things

The other characters of Jonathan and Nancy, played by Natalia Dyer & Charlie Heaton, are a great match together. The reason they finally meet up and form an unlikely bond, however, is a little on the clichéd side. Girl dates Jock, falls for weird guy who turns out to be nice wierd guy. But if we didn’t have any clichés, this show would not have gotten past the first BMX scene and the initially creepy rolling title sequence.

Nancy & Jon (Natalia Dyer & Charlie Heaton)
Nancy & Jon (Natalia Dyer & Charlie Heaton)

I absolutely love that one of the main female leads is named Nancy. I am quite sure that is a big nod to the 80’s horror movie Nightmare On Elm Street. There is so much homage paid to cinema of the past if you look close enough. Even down to trying to get Eleven to make the Millennium Falcon levitate.

A special mention also to David Harbour who plays Sheriff Hopper. I’ve never seen him outside of his usual roles as either a bad guy or a not so nice guy. It’s refreshing to see him shine here and grow so much in such a little time frame with his character in the show. I really do feel his pain every single time someone mentions his daughter.

David Harbour as 'Hopper'
David Harbour as ‘Hopper’

Sadly, Joyce Byers, played by Winona Ryder, doesn’t really get any type of character development other than being a crying, grieving mother thus far. Maybe she will get to do something more soon?  She really does play ‘crazy’ very well and for that I applaud her. I just want to see her out having an adventure with the rest of them rather than just sitting and staring at flashing lights.

Finally happy the power bills have been paid (Winona Ryder)
Finally happy the power bills have been paid (Winona Ryder)

As it stands, I am hooked. We are all hooked. I cannot wait for the final few episodes and I really cannot wait to see if this series keeps on going. Whether it’s with this already outstanding cast and story that Matt & Ross Duffer have given us, or we get many different story arches or slightly related chapters in the brilliant vein in which American Horror Story is told remains to be seen, however.

We can only wait and see how far or how much stranger things get (pun intended).

All 8 Episodes of Stranger Things are out now on Netflix

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