It’s been a really, really long time since I was captivated by a television show the way that I was, and am, captivated by Stranger Things.
After hearing the whispers about ST at my job a few weeks ago and then scrolling by a few people discussing it on the trusty old Facebook machine, my wife and I decided to give the show a whirl last week…we were both fascinated from episode one.
The show, set in Indiana 1983, opens with a scientist frantically scurrying down the corridor of a dimly lit lab toward an elevator. It’s clear that he is trying to escape from something and you can tell by the tension-filled score that something bad is on its way. As he finally makes it into the elevator and the doors begin to close, it seems like he might make it; that is, of course, until he’s snatched up by something on the ceiling. Immediately, the action music stops and we’re transported to the basement of a suburban home where four pre-teen boys are engrossed in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign.
Mike, the Dungeon Master, unleashes a Demogorgon on the campaign made up of Will, Dustin and Lucas. Right before the group is about to face off with the demon, Mike’s mother calls down that it’s late and the boys have to go. As the boys go their separate ways on their bikes, young Will sees something in the woods near the power plant that makes him panic and veer off into the woods and later events lead us to realize why this particular episode is named “The Vanishing of Will Byers”.
What follows is how Will’s mom (played by Winona Ryder), his friends, the police chief, a mysterious girl named Eleven and a slew of others spend the rest of the season not only trying to find Will but also uncovering things that are far beyond their comprehension.
As someone who grew up in the 80’s, Stranger Things hits all the right chords. With mucho homages to Stephen King and Spielberg, the music of The Clash and Joy Division, the John Carpenter-ish theme and sounds and, of course, it wouldn’t be the 80’s without more wood paneled walls than you can feast your eyes on. The tension builds perfectly as the episodes move along and while there are people who say that it starts out slow, I think the pace is spot on. Not short on spooky moments, the show is also very heartfelt and genuine and the performances, especially from Winona Ryder and Millie Bobby Brown who plays Eleven, are superb.
Bring on Season two.
Stay gory, my friends.