Stranger Things – Episodes 1&2

After a good build up to the airing of this new show, it was finally time to get stuck in. A rare moment when we both are watching the same show (and at the same time!).

Initial impressions are that this is extremely 80s, but in a good way. Some excellent music, plucking some of the best tunes from that era and blasting them out certainly adds to the effort to be transported back 20-odd years. There were plenty of other touches to add to the authenticity of the show and it came across as well produced and, so far at least, well scripted and planned.

The action starts pretty much straight away. A tight-nit group of friends playing D&D are split up on their way home and one gets taken by the, mostly unseen, beast that has escaped from a nearby “facility”.  This beast appears to have ability to teleport or something similar which makes it quite an adversary.

The rest of the episode is the fall out from the disappearance (hence the title of “The disappearance of Will Byers”). Winona Ryder has put in some good work so far as the mother of Will, becoming more and more frayed at the edges as the episode wears on. Even in the family predicament that the Byer’s are in it appears that they are a close family unit. This is being tested fully by this situation. Chief Hopper of the local police force is investigating. As usual the local law enforcement have a damaged, previously unreliable man at the helm. In this case Hopper has lost his daughter a few years ago (and by lost I mean she died), so he is a bit withdrawn, still dealing with the situation but deep down he cares and is a decent person and good cop.

Will’s friends, Mike, Lucas and Dustin, are determined to go out and search for him too but aren’t allowed to, by parental order. So, of course they do go out and look for their friend. They don’t end up finding him but they do find a girl, about the same age with a shaved head and a limited grasp of language and understanding of the world. As it turns out she is from the same place that the beast/monster came from. And as such we are probably lead to believe that she will be able to combat the power of the monster. Pure and innocent against evil and monstrous.

In an interesting moment, a flashback of Will and his mother shows her offering Will some tickets to join her at the cinema. The film that she has bought for them to go see? Poltergeist. Really? A couple of reasons behind my thinking that this is a little strange and a little ham fisted. Firstly, Poltergeist is quite a grown up film. I don’t know what rating it had in the US but over her in Blighty it was an 18 certificate. Not really a film to take your kids to. Secondly, Poltergeist is a film about a girl who is taken by strange beings/entities and taken to a parallel/other world. Sound familiar? If this is the case then it seems a little bit weak to add that in. And in Poltergeist Carol-Anne communicates with her parents through the TV, in Stranger Things is seems that Will is communicating with her mother through the telephone. Coincidence much?

So, the girl that they rescue and look after is being hunted by the scientists from the “facility”. They have already killed one person who was looking after her, in their pursuit of returning her to her original location so she is obviously a high value target. It also turns out that she recognises Will, which is strange as they shouldn’t have crossed paths. Also she, Eleven or Elle, has telekinetic powers. Pretty cool trick if you can do it. Can’t think how that is going to be useful in the future but I’m sure it will be.

After Will phoning home (one of a number of ET references throughout) Joyce experiences since strange occurrences with the electrical objects in her house. Lights flash and flicker, brighten and dim, stereos turn on and off, get louder. Then, in the climax, shut off completely. Is this Will’s doing?

There are a few story-lines working at the same time. Will missing, his mother and brother, Mike and his friends with El, Mike’s sister Nancy and Steve, Police Chief Hopper, the “Facility”  people and where these beings came from in the first place and where they have gone and went they have taken children.

Can’t wait for the next episode!

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