Note: I originally wrote this review after watching only the first five episodes, but after finishing the series I added an addendum to the end of the review.
I watched last years STRANGER THINGS as a going away party with NETFLIX. I've got too many streaming services as it is and honestly between Amazon Prime and Hulu I didn't need Netflix but it had this show so we watched and liked it.
Essentially it was Stephen King's IT mixed with ET and told in a slightly different way, but the similarities were definitely there. No shock that the Duffer Bros (the guys behind the show) wanted to do an adaption of IT but were turned down so instead they did their version of opening the first Burger King after not getting hired at McDonalds.
It was fresh and in a lot of ways it was better than IT at least until that story got a big budget adaption earlier this Fall.
After being a monster hit its no surprise NETFLIX brought the show back for a second season debuting on Halloween Weekend. We opted to take advantage of Netflix's offer of a free month to restore our service to watch the show.
We're 5 episodes into the season and I have to say so far it's a bit of a disappointment. It's as if they told their whole story last year and there wasn't much else to tell so for at least four episodes we're seeing things again as if they're for the first time.
One of the biggest peeves I have with weak writing is the concept of the character who is "Too Dumb To Live" -- this happens a lot in horror films. A character should know better. A character has been through something once already and when strange (stranger?) things happen again you'd think they would at least put two and two together or worry that something was happening again.
A few years ago I had a good friend diagnosed with Brain Cancer and one of the symptoms was nose bleeds. Now we all know that those can be caused by a variety of things not just brain cancer. You can get a nosebleed because your sinuses are too dry or a whole host of other reasons. But after this friend had apparently beaten the cancer and been diagnosed as "cancer free" you can imagine their concern the first time they got another nose bleed. Even though it was several years after being given a clean bill of health. It's a natural reaction. It's how even rational people would react.
Not so in some bad fiction. Characters stumble blindly into situations they should be wary of. Hell I don't remember 75% of what happened during Season One but even I thought "uh oh" when some things began to reappear. Not so with the characters in our drama. They seem as surprised this time around as they did the last time and that just doesn't ring true.
Since we're only a few episodes in there's a REAL chance it's going to pick up or create some situation that threatens our cast or even gives me a reason to keep watching but if this had been the first season I wouldn't be back for this one.
Oh yeah, and of course this being Hollywood there has to be some politics interjected at times. I'm so sick of Hollywood preaching to us. The whole group of freedom fighters in episode 5 (which, if you need to save time you could skip the whole of episode 5 and not miss a WHIT of anything important) who are out to get vengeance on the people who tortured Eleven while she was in government custody while robbing mini marts for food is so painfully diverse it makes me throw up a little in my mouth.
It's OK they rob the store you see, because the money is "insured" and they're actually only stealing from the billionaires that run the company. Yeah more of this. I won't get into my initial doubt that even the people who run Seven Eleven are Billionaires but the whole idea that they are somehow noble in their efforts because after all it's only insurance money. We all know insurance money comes from tree fairies and is not actually created based on the premiums paid by people who actually have jobs-- and said premiums go up for all of us because it's OK to rob corporations.
The plague of the 99% has hit Hawkins Indiana and it's hurt the story for it. I've only got 2 or 3 episodes left but unless something turns around quickly I won't be back for Season 3.
EDIT: Okay, I finished it and I wish I could say it redeemed itself. It did not. I go back to my original criticism-- after the first one there was no more story to tell. Period.
I don't care about Eleven's backstory because we already saw it in flashbacks in Season One. The fact that she still has family added little or nothing to the story other than making her much more unlikeable than in Season One.
And that seemed to be the theme this year-- let's get angry and let's get unlikeable. First and foremost the language from the kids is so over the top its ridiculous. They did manage the impossible, take the bully from S1 and turn him into Your Favorite Character this time around.
Winona Ryder ups the panicked mom role she brought in S1 except when she puts Will through the highest level of Torture and she doesn't look back. Sean Astin is introduced as pretty much the same character he was in THE GOONIES now grown up. Astin is the good guy this time around, and we're introduced to an all new bully character who seems downright criminal, it's a shame there are no competent police in Hawkins Indiana. Apparently no competent military or government either. In fact I'm not sure we saw ANY people in this town besides the main characters.
The first season was derivative of ET and Stevie King's IT-- this season is IT, Breakfast Club, Stand By Me and Pretty in Pink all mixed up together and what comes out plays more like fan fiction than professional writing.
Really disappointed in this season, glad I can cancel NetFlix again and not feel like I'm going to miss something.