First impressions of Stranger Things, Episode 1:

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First impressions of Stranger Things, Episode 1:

  • I found episode 1 diverting and fun. It’s heavy on plot; a little light on character.
  • Like most of 80s pop-culture, this show is not subtle.
  • “Stranger Things” Is a bland, nebulous title. Stranger danger? Stranger than what? Things? “Could you hand me the things behind that other thing? No, the stranger things that are behind that thing.”
  • Shameless product placement that adds a thin, nostalgic, emotive layer for viewers of a certain age but adds no depth to the story? Difficult to tell at this point.
  • Lots of no-nonsense characters constantly emoting and reacting with intensity.
  • They did a whole lot in a very limited space building the character of the boy who is about to disappear. Well done, I thought. He is the one who confesses to what really happened with the dice-roll during the D&D gaming session. His quiet confession about being beaten by the demi-gorgon creature in the D&D game is a nice foreshadowing of what is about to happen to him on his way home on his bike.
  • I’m trying not to use the word “strange” when describing the strange things in this show. Or the word “things.”
  • Adults were sure stupid in the 80s, right? I’m glad adults are smarter these days… Right?
  • The child actors wield a very magnetic presence on the screen. I’m hoping they get rounded out more as the series progresses.
  • Why isn’t Sean Astin in this show? Well, it’s early yet…
  • I can’t decide whether or not the blatant 80s tropes are to establish the setting in a meaningful way or whether they are just checking boxes on a list of 80s references. (When are the Smurfs going to get screen time? Where are the Star Wars toys?)
  • We get a missing boy traded in for a telepathic, androgynous girl. The show seems to be heading in lots of directions at once. I hope these threads will be tied together more clearly by the end and not just left hanging for the sake of mysteriosity.
  • The strange girl with strange powers must have something to do with the strange, goopy, web-like, hive-structure substance that strangely….
  • Crap. I said “strange.” A lot.
  • In a post-LOST, post-X-Files, world, I’m worried that this show will ultimately be stringing viewers along on thin plot lines that never resolve… That’s something I hated about 80s and 90s TV.
  • The show is revealing too much right up front about the humanoid, gooshy, drippy, alien-like presence in the show. I’d prefer more suspense. I’m already getting the idea that I’ve seen all this before.

Actually, that’s not a bad place to stop for now: Haven’t I seen all this before? I hope the “stranger things” on this show actually end up being truly stranger than strange and not merely familiar-strange. Familiar-strange may be the perfect phrase for this show, but it is also an oxymoron.

I hope that, by the end of the season, When I ask “Haven’t I seen all this before?” I will be able to emphatically say a both “Yes!” and “No!”

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