If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last while you probably have watched the Netflix series, Stranger Things. A supernatural horror TV series created by the Duffer Brothers and executive produced by Shawn Levy, it is based in Indiana during the 1980’s pop culture era. Released on July 15th this year, it took the die-hard Netflix bingers by storm leaving people sat in the corners of their rooms rocking back and forth waiting for the Duffer Brothers to announce a second series. The brothers have since told IGN that they are currently working on season 2 which is described as being themed similar to Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom. [*Insert obligatory spoiler warning for season one here*]
When it came to casting for this, we see Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers, mother of Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) and Will Byers (Noah Schnapp). Will soon becomes a big part of the series as he goes missing after a game of Dungeons & Dragons with his friends. Winona does an absolutely awesome job of playing the role as a grieving mother who appears to have gone a little loopy in the time her son has been missing, believing his spirit is talking to her through lights in her home. Jonathan of course tells her she is just in a state of shock and refusing to come to terms with the possible fate of 12 year old Will. Stranger things have happened though, maybe she isn’t barking up the wrong tree?
It’s later revealed she was barking up the completely right tree all along, Will is stuck between dimensions (The Upside Down) but is able to contact his mother by turning lights on and off in a sequence that she can make out to be words.
We also get to see Will’s best friends in this story, the ones he played 10+ hours of Dungeons & Dragons with before going missing. Dustin, who made the audience fall for his curly locks and unique little lisp caused by Cleidocranial Dysplasia, is a personal favorite of mine on screen and off with his adorable personality and huge love for his friends. He’s the funny one of the group, making jokes and being generally goofy. A favorite line of mine from the series being Dustin’s “Mike! I found the chocolate pudding!” Which makes him my sort of character, that is who I would be!
Then there is Lucas Sinclair the uptight “I’m not so sure about this” one of the gang. Lucas didn’t really capture much of my attention in this, but that could be because of Mike, El and Dustin having the more interesting role/personalities. He’s the sceptical one about their soon-to-be new friend ‘Eleven’ played by Millie Bobby Brown, a runaway girl who knows she is different from the rest and ends up being the key to solving the main story. Whilst out looking for Will on their own, they stumble across young Eleven later nicknamed El by Mike Wheeler played by Finn Wolfhard, who takes El under his wing and brings her to his family home where he hides her in his basement until they figure out what happened to the strange being. Mike (also goes by the alias Frog face) is what you’d call the ‘leader’ of the gang, he’s the boss and the brains. The dynamic between the four is played beautifully, the young actors having incredibly chemistry that strengthens with each episode.
My first impressions
Now I’ve covered the basics, here are my thoughts. The first thing that got me hooked on this show, urging me to give it a chance was the soundtrack, composed by Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein. It’s an eerie, spacey X-files cross Star Trek theme and you just knew from the start that if the series was anything like the title screen music, you were about to spend a solid 8 hours glued to the TV, zero chill here… it’s Netflix and energy drinks. This series got a huge 9.1 rating on IMDb which I feel is an accurate rating for my personal experience. In the first episode, right of the bat you’re dragged into the story full force when we witness a man dressed in lab coast run for the safety of an elevator in the Hawkins National Laboratory, frantically pressing the buttons but is quickly pulled by the mysterious force upwards as the doors close. We are then taken to Mike’s basement, during the game of Dungeons & Dragons… BOOM! Was that a troglodytes? No, it’s the Demogorgon! Or is it? We find out over eight wondrous hours of captivating television.
Giving the audience what they want
Stranger Things gave more than enough story line and excitement to have people begging the Duffer Brothers for more and have since announced a second series even showing us the names (see below) of the episodes. In season one, there were no annoying filler episodes, it was all relevant and gripping start to finish, as such, these dudes have got their work cut out for a second season, but I have no doubt they’re going to smash this one too. They clearly have a great understanding for what an audience wants which for me is the lack of filler episodes and not trailing off into some other irrelevant story just to make the series longer, it was short sweet and to the point. I can’t wait for the next one, the release of the episode titles fuelling my excitement: Madmax, The Boy Who Came Back To Life, The Pumpkin Patch, The Palace, The Storm, The Pollywog, The Secret Cabin, The Brain, and The Lost Brother. Make of them what you will, see if you can put your own theories in before 2017. I’m super excited!