Overview: Stranger Things

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After a hiccup start, I finally got around to watching the full first season of hit TV show Stranger Things. For those not in the know, Stranger Things is a heavily 80s-inspired Netflix Original TV show which tells of a missing boy, a psychic girl with a mysterious past, and governmental research into other dimensions, and the effects these three things have on a lazy small town in America.

I need to address a few things first. The first thing is this is not a review, but more just a casual thoughts on the show, though I will give a score of what I thought of it at the end just to reflect my overall opinion of it.

The second thing is I have to admit there is a reason why its taken me so long to watch this series: I watched episodes 1 and 2 when they first came out and honestly, they didn’t grab me in the slightest. I had been told by all and sundry that this show would definitely appeal to me as it was like a love letter to all my favourite 80s films… which, let’s face it, are everyone’s favourite 80s film.

I would even go so far as to say I was an active detractor of it.

BUT…

Due to the fact a whole bunch of my friends are huge fans of it, I decided to give it another go. The one thing that annoyed me through my detracting comments of it, most people’s response was the same: wait til the third episode where it ramps up and becomes really interesting.

I hate this comment with a passion, and I hear it from people about Game of Thrones too, another show which I’d apparently love if I gave it a proper go. The thing is though, I’m a movie watcher, and if someone said to me that a film gets good in the last hour, I may not have the drive to sit through two hours of boredom for an exciting third act.

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This time though I gave it the opportunity to get better, and it did! Do I think it was good TV? Yes! Do I think it was innovative? No.

To clarify this comment, I’ll compare the series to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. Rowling is a genius not so much in the story she told, but with her capacity for taking traditional European fantasy and mythological tropes and compressing them into a story that creates a universe that is not only new, but just familiar enough for our current need for stagnant nostalgia to be satiated.

Stranger Things’ makers have done a similar thing, but with the languages and tropes of eighties cinema, and by setting it in the 80s really nailing the filmic amalgamation home. As I watched I received so many flavours of the 80s like Flight of the Navigator, Invaders From Mars, almost everything from Spielberg and Stand By Me… actually, heaps of visuals and thematic similarities were similar┬áto SBM.

I’m not saying the distilling of these things is a bad thing, I just think one can’t necessarily always detach themselves from the obvious influences… especially when one of the young female leads is a pretty good looky-likey for Mia Kirshner from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off!

On the subject of the cast, I was impressed with the kids playing the leads. They were great in their roles and at no point entered the realm of ‘annoying kids on TV’ syndrome. Particularly great was Millie Bobby Brown, who portrayal the pain of her characters abilities with a spectacular subtlety that even a more mature performer might struggle with. The other performance highlight was that of Sherriff Hopper by David Harbour: at first it appeared his character was going to be a cookie cutter small town cop character but he became endearing and an amazing character.

Then there’s Winona Ryder playing what could be Winona Ryder, but I love her and her insanity all the same.

One thing I did unabashedly love about this TV show was the synth soundtrack by Kyle Dixon, with a few pop songs here and there from the era. I love synth anyway, so this played straight into my affections… actually I grabbed the vinyl as soon as I could after my initial watch as it was the only thing I really liked about the show.

So a second season has been announced, but am I excited by it? Not really, but I’ll definitely give it a chance as I enjoyed this enough to give it a proper go. Will I actively pursue it if it is difficult to see? No. I’m not going to cry if I don’t see it.

Score: ***

Nerds of Oz: Week Ending 4th February 2017

Week Ending 4th February 2017
A few different things this week…

Blurays


Grabbed two new releases from Cinema Cult this week: John Waters’ hilarious Serial Mom and the snakey 70s flick Sssssss.

Comics


Nice bunch of comics this week. Some from my local comics shop and other off eBay, not many of them read, unfortunately!

Slayer Repentless #1 from Dark Horse Comics. I dig the band Slayer, so I couldn’t resist this.

Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77 #1 from DC Comics.

Justice League Vs Suicide Squad #6 from DC Comics.

Kamandi Challenge #1 from DC Comics.

Hulk #2 from Marvel Comics.

Infamous Iron Man #4 from Marvel Comics.

Inhumans Vs X-Men #3 from Marvel Comics.


Marvel’s Greatest Comics starring the Fantastic Four #94 from Marvel Comics. Written by Stan Lee with art by John Buscema, this comic reprints Fantastic Four issue 114 from 1971, and is an example, in both art and story, as to why modern comics will never hold up to Marvel’s heyday, and why classics are called ‘classics’. I’m not trying to be facetious there either: it’s not just about art and story. When Buscema drew a comic, every panel was laid out perfectly and the story always read true. There’s a cool back up story by Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby starring the Ant Man too.

READ! Marvel Two-in-One presents the Thing and the Black Widow #10 from Marvel Comics. From 1975 this Chris Claremont shined and Bob Brown drawn book . The Thing gets caught up in a terrorist plot that the Black Widow wouldn’t have had a chance thwarting by herself at all. It’s, sexist, and it the seventies.

READ! The New Mutants #3, 15, 17, 31, 36, 37, 85, 89, 91, 95, 96 and 97. In an effort to reclaim a full set of The New Mutants (I stupidly sold mine several years ago) I have picked up a bunch of issues. Even though none of them are necessarily favourite characters, I always really liked the comic… well, until the later issues when it turned into a badly drawn prequel to X-Force. The early ones with stories by Chris Claremont and art by the likes of Bob McLeod, Bill Sienkiewicz and Mary Wiltshire are so much better than the later ones written by Louise Simonson and art by Rob Liefled, which are just horrible.

Vinyl


Scored a cheap copy of Stranger Things Volume one on blue/ red vinyl. I’m not a great fan of the show, but I LOVED the soundtrack.

Video Games


Grabbed a copy of Fallout 4 for under 20 bucks, brand new! I’m not really big on RPGs so much, but for under 20 I’ll suffer along with it.

Board/ Card Games



I haven’t bought any new games in ages so I thought i’d give a few new ones a go!

Mars Attacks Tabletop Wargame has super simple rules for a super simple fella! I’ve always thought the Mars Attacks trading cards were awesome and the movie is a bit of a hoot, so I’m prepared to give this a full-tilt go!

I also grabbed a two pack of decks for Magic the Gathering. I loved this game when it first came out and thought I’d give this a go.