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Admittedly, I don’t watch much television. I don’t watch many movies. It hasn’t always been like this, but I made a choice a few years ago to spend less time and money on leftist Hollywood and focus on more important things like faith, family, and productivity. There’s another benefit to my choice: I get to focus on greatness without trudging through the junk. My latest experience with greatness was Stranger Things 2, which I just wrapped up watching in two sittings.
No spoilers ahead. I hate it when there are spoilers in reviews.
If you watched and enjoyed Stranger Things, you’ll really enjoy the second set of nine episodes released Friday. If you haven’t watched the first, set aside time to do so now.
Rather than tell you why I enjoyed the second series so much, I’ll tell you what the Duffer brothers didn’t do that would have messed it up:
- They didn’t try to duplicate the magic of the first. Instead, they brought about a different story that didn’t attempt to match the style or pace of the first. If anything, the second was slower, a rarity in Hollywood that seems to think more is better.
- They didn’t get too clever. The (allegedly) easiest path to improve on an original series is to spice it up with attempts at cleverness such as dispelling assumptions from the previous or throwing in twists that contradict what you thought actually happened before. While there were the necessary flashbacks and two notable gaps from the first that were appropriately filled in the second, this series stood alone nicely.
- There were limited callbacks to the first. Not too many. Not too few. Most importantly, they all had meaning.
- They didn’t fit everyone into the same routines. Without spoiling it, I’ll say that characters shifted in prominence. They also shifted in their purposes within the story. This was especially refreshing since shows tend to put characters within their boxes from season to season. Stranger Things 2 kept things fresh.
There was one noticeable flaw, just for the sake of nitpicking. As an 80s period piece they do a great job of keeping it spot on except for one thing: Russians. Multiple characters referenced the “Russians.” In 1984, they would have referenced the “Soviets.” No huge deal, but the USSR was the enemy of the time, not Russia.
Lastly, it can’t be understated that the biggest strength of the series came from the very beginning when they picked the cast. Their choices were incredible across the board and they continued this trend with the new characters in 2. Sean Astin was particularly perfect.
The real challenge will come with trying to top their first two outings with a third installment. Two-in-a-row is tough when trying to achieve greatness with any television series, but they have the core necessary to make it happen. Can’t wait to binge again next year.
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