First the bad news. Season four of stranger things (Netflix) is long. Seriously long. Epic, marathon, long coast to coast. In an age of streaming overload where you can barely keep up with 10 percent of the shows people insist you should watch, Stranger Things arrives like the party guest you know will never leave becomes. Sure, they brought nibbles and a nice bottle of red – but is it worth it?
Is it worth 13 hours? Previously, episodes of the hit ’80s sci-fi horror homage ran under an hour, like a standard television drama. Now episodes 1-6 hang around every 75 minutes, episode seven hits a 1 hour 38 testing period, while episode eight gives you a mild grace period at 1 hour 25. Episode nine, the finale, arrives at an exceptional 2 hours 30. That’s not’ even the last series is penultimate. Imagine how long the Season 5 finale will last. Thirteen hours? You could watch Dances With Wolves three times and still get a good look at the DVD extras.
The extraordinary thing is that it might be worth it (at least according to the evidence of the six episodes given to critics). It’s just wonderful to be back in Hawkins, Indiana, the 80’s movie capital where all your favorite high school movies were filmed, where the soundtrack is wall to wall of synth classics, and the fabric of the place is that seems to be made out of hot dogs and cheerleaders and Coca-Cola. Teen movies of the 1980s were often reminiscent of the simpler 1950s. Now we long for that candy hit of the 80’s, a time before America was poisoned by internal and external hate.
It’s been six months in Hawkins since the shiny new Starcourt Mall was leveled by a tentacled monster, but it’s been three years for us. This leaves episode one largely in nosedive montage mode as we desperately try to remember who’s who in an unfolding ensemble piece (thank goodness they kill characters regularly or we wouldn’t have a chance). Is the catch-up exhibition done elegantly? no Is it done with a heavenly eighties Arama aesthetic and Starpoint’s Object of My Desire on the soundtrack? You bet.
The gang is broken. Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) has been relocated to California with the Byers family, where, stripped of her superpowers, she undergoes classic treatment at the local high school, where a new girl is bullied by a mean girl. Dustin (Gate Matarazzo) and Mike (Finn Wolfhard) try to keep the Dungeons & Dragons dream alive, but have lost Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) to the basketball team and a desire not to be a bullied idiot. Burly policeman Jim Hopper (David Harbour) is arrested in Kamchatka at Gorbachev’s request. Winona Ryder’s Joyce Byers is now selling encyclopedias over the phone.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/tv/0/stranger-things-season-4-review-13-hours-1980s-americana-theme/ 1980s Americana sci-fi is irresistible – but parents be warned