Suburban Tales VI: Stranger Things (2016)

March 29, 2017 | By

Once in a while I’ll review a TV series in spite of there being no digital or physical home video release to buy and own outright, and I deliberately waited for the excitement around Stranger Things to subside before I tasted Netflix’s 100% wholly owned show for myself.

I’d reviewed the Lakeshore Records soundtrack albums – available to buy digitally, on CD, and on vinyl – for Rue Morgue magazine in 2016, so part of the curiosity was in seeing how the amazing music by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein worked with the series, and as I state in my series review, it’s the glue that holds the show together; it’s hard to imagine another composer, let alone different musical approach, that would fit so well with this loving homage to 1980s PG-13 fantasy / sci-fi thrillers.

As I’ve written in prior blogs, Poltergeist (1982) reflected my childhood. It was a 1972-built neighbourhood, but we had a large park across the street, lots of front & backyard space, greenery, mature trees, new families in their starter homes (which in ’72 averaged just under $35,000, with an under $5,000 down-payment).

A few rare families had two cars, and neighbours tried to out-do the other, and when 28” Sony TVs were on sale, three of us idiots bought one for our families. Or rather my father did. Traffic was less heavy, so riding your bike to meet friends, heading to the park, and doing mischief was the norm, and parents weren’t over-protective.

Raccoons had yet to infiltrate North York, so the world’s most annoying rodent was less of a headache. Cellphones were non-existent, videogames exceptionally expensive, VCR’s around $1500. A bag of chips, a chocolate bar, or pack of gum cost 25 cents each, and a block of purple Ton O’ Gum was 10 cents (but tasted like crap after 20 seconds of chewing).

My mother went to neighbouring Tupperware parties, and I still have the green food containers with that folded pattern in Season 1, which l use to house spices. Unlike the kids in ST, I didn’t have Radio Shack Walkie-Talkies, but I had my own pair of budget units that I bought at Consumers Distributing, because any kind of electronic gear brought you a little closer to being a real spy.

It’s understandable why many have bonded with Stranger Things, and I’m a cynic by genetics, but if something is done well and isn’t screaming Isn’t This Too Cool to sell merchandise, I warm up to it. Unlike the films ST evokes and recombines into its 8-episode narrative, there’s far less merchandise than expected, which is maybe part of the Duffer brothers attempt to distance their creation from a fabricated pastiche: without toys and spin-off novels, the show is allowed to stand on its own. The hype that still surrounds ST is potent, but it’s not undeserving, which makes the wait for Season 2 tough, but manageable.

I’m still juggling & repositioning some posts because of scheduling, but coming shortly are the underwater 3D adventure film September Storm (1960), another set of Twilight Time titles, and a podcast.



Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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