Community Review: Stranger Things

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So I've been on holiday for the majority of July and during that time my Facebook feed has been going gaga over two things.

The first is Pokemon GO. Obviously.

The second is Stranger Things.

I started watching the show on the weekend. I'm a couple of episodes deep and I'm absolutely loving it so far. I grew up on movies like The Goonies, Stand By Me. I was obsessed with shows like The X-Files, American Gothic, etc — this kind of show covers a lot of nostalgia bases for me. I've heard a lot of complaints regarding the nostalgia thing: that Stranger Things is just a pastiche, it's style over substance, etc. After two eps I'm not really equipped to make any kind of judgement on that, but I don't have a problem with it, and I say this as someone who thinks Yooka-Laylee is a terrible idea. This show — in as much as I've watched — really stands on its own two feet. Great writing, great characters, great aesthetic. I just basically love it.

For the first time in a long time I'm obsessed with a television show.

How are you finding it so far?


    I've seen the first three episodes so far. I like the overall feel and very 80's vibe that the show gives off. However, I'm yet to get that real "it" moment that will escalate it from rather enjoyable to great.

    4 episodes in, and I have to watch it two at a time as it grabs me. Made me watch Super 8 again too as it seems a similar theme to this as well as those you listed.

    It's a highly enjoyable show, I seen the whole season over a weekend. I don't know how they would top it for another season. Heck, (mostly) everything Netflix touches turns to gold so here's hoping!

    I knew Stranger Things would be my bag from the promo's, but I was completely sold within the first 10 minutes of the show. I love the 80s throwback stuff, but it would be worth nothing if they didn't have characters worth a damn. But Stranger Things does, and they work hard at selling the characters very early on, so by the time the second and third episodes hit, you really, really care.

    The kid actors are great. I didn't hate ANY of them, and that's saying something. Kids can make or break a movie/TV show for me. The girl that plays El is amazing. She's like a little Natalie Portman running around the screen. Brilliant actress.

    Also Winona.

    Watched it all over the wknd, loved it. Growing up with movies like Gremlins and Goonies and reading Stephen King at an age I probably shouldn't have, it ticked all the boxes.

    Don't pretend this is not sponsored content Mark... Jesus!

    Stranger Things ads to either side of the article and Kotaku running a Stranger Things competition at the moment. You would have done better not to mention it if it is indeed just a coincidence that you decided to write about it in this post, because it stinks to high heaven.

      It's the hardest hard sell I've seen on a nominally third-person web site... ever, probably.

      Banner ads, fine. Side ads, also fine. Insertion of full-size clips for the show into almost every Kotaku article is really starting to stretch it... I've seen site popup videos over content, but I think this is the first time I have seen a video repeatedly injected INTO content.

      And now we get a review saying a staff writer s obsessed with it.

      I actually sort of believe that it's true - Mark is usually sincere - but the credibility of the review takes a major hit from how hard the show is being pushed by Kotaku.

      I'm getting something of the same vibe I get with Amway. The people who sell it are pushing it so ridiculously hard that I'm very tempted to dig my heels in and avoid it - even though (in this case) I am already paying for Netflix.

        You dont use adblock? What?

          I usually don't mind ads as it supports the site. I just think it was (a) cynical or (b) clueless of Mark to do a Community Review post on something that is so heavily advertised/promoted by the site.

            As someone who works in online advertising for the publishing industry, I'd say Mark doesn't have access to the ad campaigns that are booked to run on the site.
            Targeted advertising is something that is even harder to predict for all visitors to the site.
            I also doubt he has time to browse the site after every article he posts to check and see if it conflicts with ad content being delivered.

            I myself haven't seen a single online ad for Stranger Things. I saw the teaser on Netflix and watched everything in one sitting and so didn't need to search online (this is one of the reasons AdChoices has no reason to push me ads for Stranger Things).

            I'd chalk this up to coincidence.

            Awesome series by the way...I'm cautiously optimistic for the next season.

            Last edited 26/07/16 12:38 am

          I disable Adblock Plus)on a small number of sites which I think deserve some level of financial support. Kotaku is one of those. There are about a dozen such.

          Usually the sort of stunt Kotaku is pulling with Stranger Things would be reason to yank them from that list, but I'm expecting the saturation bombing to cease shortly. If Kotaku need signals that they're overdoing it, an explicit reply to a staff writer is going to have much more impact than one person turning on ABP for the site.

          Basically, what Zambayoshi says.

    There's a difference between Stranger Things and something like Super 8 that really got me. Stranger Things is definitely not set up like a tv show, it's a 7 hour movie, which worked perfectly for it. I think had it been longer, or even shorter, it would've been to it's detriment. However, they hit that sweet spot where things were played out almost perfectly, yet left with enough mystery to warrant a continuation.

    From Winona Ryders acting as the distraught mother, to David Harbour's brilliant turn as the disbelieving Sheriff whose world is slowly torn away, to the teens who live in a sort of 'between' area of disbelief and belief, to the children who really embrace the fantastical because of their childlike naivety, I felt Stranger Things nailed every single plotpoint it aimed its crosshairs at.

    Romances weren't overdone and shoved in your face, if anything they were left tantalisingly undersold and beautifully subtle, leaving scope for further exploration in future. The fact they were only truly barely explored sets up further possibility for the future and character exploration.

    Action, when it occurred was well earnt and well done. No extensive gore, PG13 at most, but still shocking enough to make you wince at times with the 'unseen' more effective than 'what was seen'. The Jaws effect in full swing, it was a delight to wonder 'what the bloody hell just happened????' In a day and age where everything is seen, where gratuitous cinema shows us every minute detail down to the sinews being torn from the human body in wonderful gory detail in movies and tv (thank you The Walking Dead...) it's fantastic to see a show embrace old sensibilities of ramping up tension this way for a great payoff.

    The mystery itself I wouldn't dare spoil but to say that it was at least 'original', when it could have veered into stock standard tropes, was a delight. I loved where they went with this. Very reminiscent of a popular series, you'll know the one when you see it, it really tickled my fancy and I loved the idea which leaves itself again, ripe for further exploration.

    And I loved the soundtrack. By god the soundtrack. Each song played during a poignant moment, each song carrying a meaning and each one significant to its moment. If the end of episode 3 doesn't leave you with an emotional moment, I don't know what will...

    All in all, I absolutely adored this show. If you loved the Amblin movies of the 80's, Steven Spielburg films, the best of the Stephen King books and movies, the best of the John Carpenter movies, you'll love Stranger Things. It's definitely not style over substance. It's an abundance of style, an abundance of substance and all mixed together in a fantastic package.

    Bring on season 2!

      Well you just saved me a whole lot of typing.

      Every one read this. He speaks the truth.

    Finished the show over the weekend. Really good stuff.

    Love the synth soundtrack. This show takes me back to Akira.

    This show is just what television needs; great acting with a strong narrative, I was enthralled!

    Thoroughly enjoyed - Binged the series in a lazy-day.

    Looking forward to Season 2!

    I thought this show was great, the kids made this show. Gaten Matarazzo, who play Dustin Henderson was awsome.

    My Mum and ai binge watched it yesterday. I was born late 80's and missed out on a lot of that stuff. To me it felt genuine.

    Also, who names their waffle brand eggos? Why not waffleos?

    Hold on a second - why is Yooka-Laylee a bad idea??

    On Topic I intend to check out Stranger Things after I make it through this season of Orange is the New Black which is outstanding

    I binged watched it over a couple nights and absolutely loved it. To me it reminded me a little of a cross between Super8 and Poltergeist. The creators of the show said their inspiration came from Silent Hill.

    Watched 2 episodes on thursday and enjoyed it, finished it off yesterday, loved the 80s stuff like someone else said it felt like a long movie not a series.

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