Hawkins, Indiana. 1983. A boy named Will goes missing on his way home from playing Dungeons and Dragons with his friends. At the same time, a young girl mysteriously appears who may have answers to his whereabouts. Meanwhile, a strange experimental lab is on the hunt for a possible monster who’s entered this dimension. It is up to Will’s three best friends to figure out the connection between all three so that they can find their friend.
The show’s 1980s setting is utilized brilliantly. Communicating with walkie talkies instead of texting. Kids playing with other kids instead of with their smart phones. Influence by imagination and not social media. Even the soundtrack features cool ’80s-style synthesizer music, and references to classic horror films including “The Evil Dead” and “The Thing” are sprinkled throughout. The ’80s isn’t just a backdrop; it serves as a vital tool in the storytelling.
The story doesn’t present anything fresh in the sci-fi genre – many of its aspects are borrowed from other sci-fi classics. But “Stranger Things” isn’t meant to be groundbreaking. It’s all about the execution. Each episode reveals just enough to keep you engaged while producing fully fleshed-out characters. I also loved the explanation of the monster and where it came from: It all made sense to me. Scary parts are scary. Funny parts are funny. And there’s heart. Lots and lots of heart. I was so hooked that I watched all eight episodes in two days.
Netflix has been producing some really solid TV recently (“Orange is the New Black,” “Master of None,” “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones”) and “Stranger Things” is easily my favorite of the bunch. I’m already counting the days until season two.
Final score: 10/10