Stranger_ThingsI have been waiting for a new show that I absolutely have to watch since Breaking Bad and Justified ended. I’m talking about that series where you say to yourself, “I’ll only watch one more episode” and the next thing you know it’s 2am—Stranger Things is THAT show.

The story centers on the search for Will Byers a missing boy in a small Indiana town. Set in 1983, Stranger Things has an unmistakable Spielberg vibe and Will’s circle of nerdy friends are reminiscent of the kids in E.T. and the band of outcasts in Stand By Me. The series is a genre mash-up that manages to combine mysterious experiments, government bad guys, teen angst and romance, superpowers, struggling adults, the intensity of childhood friendships, bullies and integrates it all seamlessly while keeping you on the edge of your seat.

Winona Ryder who first appeared on screen in Lucas another ‘80s film that features a socially awkward teen—are you sensing a theme here? is Will’s mom Joyce Byers. Her self-conscious intensity in the first episode is a bit off-putting but she settles in after that and turns in a fierce performance full of nervous energy, hope, and desperation as a mother barely holding it together to begin with, who summons all her strength to find her missing son.

Stranger Things is perfectly cast down to the clueless police officers but Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven an orphan girl who may hold the key to Will’s disappearance is a stand out. Her pivotal character doesn’t have many lines but one look from her expressive face and brown eyes can convey a range of emotions in seconds. And, Gaten Matarazzo with his missing front teeth is a laugh out loud funny scene-stealer as Dustin the boys’ lisping voice of reason.

Each episode moves along with just the right blend of action and character development and Stranger Things has the feel of an extended movie yet it never drags. Creators Matt and Ross Duffer clearly remember being teens and have a true love for misfit kids and ‘80s pop culture. This genuine knowledge and affection informs the series. It looks and feels like the ‘80s and the lack of cell phones and social media adds to the sense of suspense and paranoia that infuses the story.

The Duffer Brothers have taken from the best and created their own fantastic and addictive reality that is a must watch. You’ve been warned though. Once you start watching Stranger Things, you won’t be able to stop.

 

 

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