Your New TV Obsession
"Six. Six people have been taken this week. This thing that took your son... We don't really understand it. But it's behavior is predictable. Like all animals, it eats. It will take more sons. More daughters. I want to save them. I want to save your son. But I can't do that. Not without your help." — Dr. Martin Brenner, "Stranger Things."
On July 15, Netflix released its latest series, "Stranger Things." It's a brisk eight episodes, none longer than 55 minutes, made for binge watching. In fact, it's the show of the summer, and one of the best shows of the year so far.
"Stranger Things" is set in 1983 in Hawkins, Indiana. After something goes wrong at a government laboratory in town, things begin to go wrong in town. A boy goes missing, people grow concerned and, well, strange things begin happening.
I won't ruin the plot here, because it's a joy that needs to be discovered through watching. But I will list a few things that make it excellent.
1. It nails the tone. Think "Super 8" with more moody, supernatural bite. This show was called a fusion of "E.T." and Stephen King by one critic, and that's apt. It's got a great moody vibe and it delivers a fascinating story.
2. It's got a great cast. Matthew Modine and Winona Rider are the big names, and both are good. But the lead here, David Harbour, is great. His Police Chief Hopper is one of the best characters in the show, and his emotional arc is among the most gratifying.
3. The show nailed its child-actor casting. And this is key. The show is built on, and revolves around, these kids. And casting kids can be difficult. But "Stranger Things" nailed it here in a big way. Special shout out to Millie Bobby Brown, as Eleven, who should be in consideration for a supporting actress Emmy.
4. It doesn't waste time. It's eight episodes, and it makes them all count. All the story pieces matter, and they come together in a great way.
5. It gets better the deeper you go. That's the mark of a great TV show. It doesn't peak too early. It's great the whole way through, building upon its story as it makes its way through the eight episodes.
If you haven't seen "Stranger Things," do yourself a favor and give it a try.