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Posted on November 5, 2017

So I'm late to the party, but that can be a good thing. I can approach this pop culture monstrosity with a little less need to go along with the rowdy momentum of praise it has garnered to this point.

Stranger Things season one, episode one is a great little opening act. It does a good job of introducing the cast (although I struggle to remember one name other than Will's), their misfit status, the eighties setting, sheds as the go-to locale for evil whisking away the innocent, and the skeevy Steve, who so screams of the smarmy everyteen that was rampant in eighties movies.

The plot exploits some solid eighties tropes: evil government installations with nefarious happenings deep underground and only accessible by creepy elevators (Why not utilize the far more charming and fanciful escalator?), adults in creepy hazmat suits, icky entrails stuck fast to the wall that will likely be some sort of tear in reality that leads to a bad place, a strange girl on the lam, a cadre of social misfits who don't trust the adults to get the job of looking for their missing friend done, a nasty creature on the loose, and a lecherous teen boy who sneak into second-story bedrooms offering his services as a 'study buddy' to a girl who should be able to sniff out his defective soul.

I liked the first episode. It made me want to watch more. Good thing I plopped down $25 for the Target collection; love the faux VHS packaging. I also like that it's eight episodes. That doesn't intimidate me and feels like a good length. This single episode packs a lot of narrative in it, but it still unspools at a relaxed pace, not exactly breakneck like is the fashion in more modern shows and movies.

Random observations:

– Will, what were you thinking going into the shed? Nothing good ever happens in these dilapidated structures. I mean, any place with one dangling light bulb should scream to you it's not the ideal spot to offer sanctuary.

– I love that the boys get around on their bikes. That's what I did too at their age; although my pedaling took me on three-mile runs to pick up comics at the local convenience store every Tuesday without fail. I never had to ride past a questionable research facility on my way home at night. Two wheels gave me a lot of freedom, and I love how this is used here.

– Gotta feel sorry for the diner owner/cook, poor Toby of This Is Us fame, but I knew his fate was sealed as soon as he harbored Eleven.

– Is it wrong for me to wish that Steve winds up a meal for the mysterious creature in a later episode? My distaste for this teen and his ilk hearkens back to my own high school years and having to put up with such icky classmates who valued their smooth operator status over treating a girl the way they should be treated.

– Winona Ryder is excellent as Joyce and brings a submerged elegance to her role as a weathered mom working hard to raise two boys by herself. Her delightful eyes always got me when she was younger, and they're still big pools of deep charm even today.

My goal is to review an episode a week, but that may or may not happen. It all depends if we've cleared out enough of our other shows we watch on the DVR by Sunday. Anyway, my hope is to blog my thoughts about each episode. Maybe you'll find this of interest. Who knows, stranger things have happened.


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