Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie
Who: “Stranger Things” is a science fiction-horror web television Netflix original series, always available on Netflix.
What: “Stranger Things,” created, written, directed and co-executive produced by the Duffer Brothers, as well as co-executive produced by Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen, stars Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Cara Buono, and Matthew Modine, with Noah Schnapp and Joe Keery in recurring roles. The first season focuses on the investigation into the disappearance of a young boy by his friends, older brother, and traumatized mother, as well as the local police chief, amid supernatural events occurring around the town, including the appearance of a psychokinetic girl who helps the missing boy’s friends in their own search.
When: The first season of the series was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on July 15, 2016.
Where: The action is set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, during the 1980s.
Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode via the link below – though it bears mentioning that Stranger Things may very well be the most popular and most requested panel/show to discuss since the inception of this humble little podcast.
How – as in How Was It?
The pilot/premiere rating scale:
***** – I HAVE TO WATCH EVERYTHING. HOLY SMOKES!
**** – Well, it certainly seems intriguing. I’m going to keep watching, but I see possible pitfalls in the premise.
*** – I will give it six episodes and see what happens. There are things I like, and things I don’t. We’ll see which “things” are allowed to flourish.
** – I will give it three episodes. Chances are, I’m mainly bored, but there is some intrigue or fascination that could hold it together. No matter how unlikely.
* – Pass on this one, guys. It’s a snoozer/not funny/not interesting/not my cup of tea… there are too many options to waste time on this one.
Stranger Things = 4.9, by average of the podcast panel.
The Hawkins National Laboratory ostensibly performs scientific research for the US Department of Energy but secretly performs experiments into the paranormal and supernatural, including those that involve human test subjects, which start to affect the unknowing residents of Hawkins in calamitous ways.
How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS
Do you follow our CPU! social media accounts? Did you ever see a posting or advertisement for panelists at large to join this panel? No, you didn’t. Because for the first time in CPU!’s history, I had enough regular panelists requesting this panel to form two panels. Some members even advocated actually forming two Stranger Things panels (that’s easy for them to say when they are not also the producer and editor of the podcast!). Be that as it may, Stranger Things was a runaway hit with the CPU! core, just as it was with the nationwide water cooler that is America when it was first released in summer 2016.
Really, what’s not to love? If you grew up in the 1980s, this show appeals to your sense of nostalgia. If you are older, this show and its youngest characters remind you of your adult children when they were young. If you are younger, the child stars and characters of the series are easy to relate to because they are timeless archetypes, amalgamations of similar characters that appear throughout the pop culture of the past thirty or forty years. In fact, the Duffer Brothers deftly pay homage to the atmosphere of the decade; the influences of auteurs on this scifi/horror drama such as Speilberg, Lucas, Scott, Carpenter, Craven, and others; and the appeal of the vintage and the tactile to an increasingly expanding group of disaffected post-millennials, who see bits of themselves in the Dungeons and Dragons playing boys or the quiet and scared yet powerful Eleven (Brown).
With that kind of popular appeal, I was afforded the opportunity to appreciate the luxury of demand and (fairly) select a sampling of those requesting to discuss Stranger Things to become this panel of CPU! faithful. The winners were Hilary and Kyle (most frequently appearing on our superhero/comic book adaptation panels), Chelsea and Rob (two of our Game of Thrones panelists), and Michael, who typically delights in our Looking Back series. A representative bunch, if I say so myself.
What’s more, this panel spent most of the chat gushing about this series’ first season. There was little bad or negative to say because everyone universally agreed that the creators and show-runners produced something of a zeitgeist – a character driven, nostalgia-rooted story that appeals to our basic fears and nightmares. The story is woven tightly with an organic and logical flow, the visual presence from art direction to cinematography is perfection, and the performances were no less than stellar – so much so that the entire cast won the Best Ensemble SAG award for television drama. If you are part of the Stranger Things fan club, this discussion will only serve to validate your commonly held adoration for this unlikely sleeper hit. Have I convinced you to listen via the embedded link below?
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Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Next Wednesday, we begin a new series with a brand new panel around the CPU! Water Cooler, namely “The Gilmore Girls Life” series, beginning with a Look Back at the original seven seasons of popular cult romantic dramedy Gilmore Girls, moderated by frequent panelist and increasingly more frequent moderator Kristen. Stay tuned!
The CPU! Stranger Things podcast panel essentially recommends this show to anyone who breathes – or, at least, watches and enjoys television. Period. The general consensus among the panelists is that this well crafted, well written, well directed, and well performed piece offers “something for everyone” and can appeal to young and old, man and woman, people who like science fiction and horror and people who do not, and everyone and everything in between. The only caution the panel would offer is that the program succeeds in providing some legitimate scares and moments of the disturbed or moments designed to unsettle the viewer. With proper forewarning, though, even the most squeamish or the most overactive imaginations among the viewing audience can find something to enjoy in this perfect nosh of creepy nostalgia.
THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW
Stranger Things was (readily) renewed for a second season, which will be released to the Netflix streaming library on October 31, 2017 – Halloween, of course. Our Stranger Things panel will reconvene some time thereafter to dissect Season Two, in or out of the Upside Down, and, as always, CPU! will stay abreast of and report all material Stranger Things coverage. Until then!