Stranger Things, S3, Ep 5,6,7,8, Spoiler Review by Case Wright


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I am reviewing these four episodes as a block because only 25 minutes mattered combined.  In fact, the show rapidly devolved into gross out scenes, cartoonish hijinks, cartoonish Russians, and a terrible song and dance number duo….really.  The only way this season could get rave reviews is if the reviewer binged the show and was too tired to analyze it.  I get it- you’re around your friend(s), your girlfriend is virtual, and you can barely afford your Brooklyn apartment on your blogger salary; however, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be critical of a show that really should just go away.

I’m adding on to my review here to discuss what makes Stranger Things so terrible now.  This series was heavily influenced by Stephen King and likely Salem’s Lot because of the repeated Vampire monsters.  More importantly, season 1 was great for the same reason that Stephen King’s stories are great- It’s not about the monster in the house; it’s about how the people are living in house with a monster.  These are your neighbors and now have to deal with something beyond reality and that was exactly what Stranger Things Season 1 was about.  There is one other theme that make Stephen King’s stories terrifying: it’s not Randall Flagg, the Werewolves, The Clowns; it’s about people who are supposed to be caring for you, but in fact do not.  This theme is in nearly every Stephen King book and it was present in Stranger Things Season 1.  El called Evil Modine “Papa” even though he was an abusive kidnapper who didn’t think anything more about El than a piece of lab equipment.  The series now has left all those themes behind to become a husk.

The last four episodes broke discretely into three distinct and equally boring and poorly executed quests: 1) Joyce, Hop, Alexi, and Weirdo try to destroy the machine opening the gate. 2) Dustin, Erica, Steve, and Robin try to escape the bunker and annoy everyone. 3) The original gang drag El around so she can get her ass beat.

Episodes 4 – 7:  Joyce and Hop go through town looking for answers and end up kidnapping a Russian engineer – Alexi.  They take him to the creepy weird guy from last season and without any story arc Alexi is all in to help.  He gives them schematics to infiltrate the Starcourt Mall underground bunker and how to destroy the machine.  Why does Alexi do all this? Who knows?  It’s a good thing Alexi is so detailed because he dies later and it doesn’t matter.  But, we do get A LOT of corny banter and goofy car scenes:

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Hop steals this car in the most corny and unrealistic way possible.  It’s corny, but it makes up for it by being cartoonish and boring.  There are A LOT of scenes where they are driving around and mostly Joyce yells a lot at Hop and Hop yells at Joyce for roughly 38 times.  It’s really dull.  They manage to infiltrate the base eventually try to destroy the machine.  Do they make it?  We have to get through many many pratfalls to find out .. wakka wakka wakka.

Dustin, Erica, Steve, and Robin infiltrate the base…..and Steve and Robin get caught right away.  This could have been a great suspenseful plot point, but instead we get hijinks!!! A goofy Russian General who makes this face a lot:

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This “torture” sequence goes on for a long long long while and really goes nowhere, which is especially disappointing because there were a couple of episodes that had real suspense.  Instead now, we get this comic book torture guy:

It’s really goofy.  It’s like the Duffer Brothers couldn’t figure out if this show was horror, comedy, or just paint by numbers garbage.  Dustin manages to bust Robin and Steve out because that’s super believable after making Dustin the LEAST physical of the bunch for 2.8 seasons.

El and the gang start to battle with the least effective monster ever.  For a Big Bad Vampire monster, it can’t see very well, it has a vague agenda, and it’s unclear what can actually kill it until the penultimate episode, which sets up Hop’s likely death.  Yes, it looks gross:

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BUT it’s REALLY REALLY bad at finding and killing things that matter.

They, of course, manage to kill off the big bad, but that was never really in doubt.  What was amazing is how the writers derailed the story in favor of WACKINESS!

The “scary” general goofs around A LOT:

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So funny how it derails the suspense. Sigh.

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Above: a not funny joke was made. They laughed for a very long time.  The person on the right is Alexis.  He dies and it doesn’t matter.

The big fight with the big bad where Hop gets sacrificed: the show ruined itself.  It didn’t just go for wackiness; it stalled the epic last monster fight scene where everyone is about to die for a no kidding Song and Dance sequence- REALLY!

I remember when this song sequence started because I was young man with two newborns.  When it ended, I was sending my girls off to college.  The third picture? Yep, that’s a split screen singing moment.  It …. just….kept… going.  I was really rooting for the Monster.

Did the first four episodes give me hope? Yes, but that hope and good will was squandered by plain old corny scenes and cartoonish sequences.  Maybe, we all entered  the upside down because there is no way a third season like this should have made it to daylight without all laws of physics and reason being reversed.

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Stranger Things, S03,Ep4, Review By Case Wright


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Episode 4 had a lot going on.  It’s like the show doesn’t know how to maintain suspense from one episode to the next.  The previous episode had nothin goin on and this one was like 10 pound sausage in a 5 pound bag.  This is actually a pretty good season and the creators know that they peaked in the first season because of the incessant flashback clips to season 1.

We open with Heather and Mullet-Renfield setting up her parents to be disgustingly consumed/converted by the Monster Vampire- It’s Gross!  Of course, after following the NXIVM case, maybe we should let the Vampire Monster win?  Are we really that great that ya know we DESERVE to live.

This season is all about breaking up, reuniting, and moving on.  Dustin is breaking away and making older friends.  I’m pretty sure that Will is about to come out- Good for Him and good for the show!

Speaking of Dustin, he, Robin, and Steve are trying really hard to infiltrate the Russian mall area and they recruit Erica (Sister of Lucas) to do it.  I gotta write that she was a scene stealer.  It’s clear to me that she could be a huge star.  Erica fits through the air vents, which are actually normal sized- Good work set department.  When they enter the secret room, they hit a BAD button and they accidentally go DEEP underground.

Hop and Joyce are on the hunt for information and they get it by beating the snot out of a very smarmy Mayor (Carey Elwes) we learn that he was on the take with the Russians, the Russians own the mall, and they are buying up most of the town.  Evil Mall, Evil Russians, Evil Food Court!

The kids get back together to do battle with Mullet-Renfield.  They surmise that because the creature likes cold, they will lock Mullet-Renfield in the pool sauna.  And…. it kinda works?  They manage to activate Mullet-Guy into a vampire drone, but El, unlike previous seasons, gets her ass beat.  It’s brutal.  She does throw Mullet-guy through a wall, but why do this anyway?  Did they really need to prove his guilt?  They could’ve just followed him back to his evil lair and he wouldn’t have known they were on them.  The problem they all took their stupid pills off camera. Kids yesterday?

It would seem that we have reached a major Arc Spin-around.  It would make sense for all the heroes to lose a lot soon.  Hop will probably lose his job, Mullet-Renfield has amassed an army for the Sticky Vampire Monster, The Russians are evilling, and Dustin, Robin, Erica and Steve are going down a mineshaft.

Side plot: Creeper and Nancy get fired from the paper by the converted Editor, but she will keep pursuing the story …. for some reason.  Nancy, why not just go to community college? What are wasting your time for?  Is this Barb guilt?

It’s looking grim, BUT this is a good thing.  This season is actually keeping my interest and has real suspense even if the episodes themselves are uneven.  I’m not sure the series deserves another season yet; so, I’m hoping they give some closure this season.

 

Stranger Things, S3, Ep 3, The Case of The Missing Lifeguard, Review by Case Wright


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This review will be fairly brief because the episode could’ve been condensed to about 10 minutes- I am being generous.  I’m not saying this was a filler episode, but Joanne’s called and wants their batting back! HIYO!!!! Craft Burn!

This show is starting to use the time sequences that were common in Saw; it’s hard to tell the order of events.

What Happened?

Robin figured out the Russian code and then Dustin, Robin, and Steve stakeout the mall and….accomplish nothing.

Hop is angry at Joyce and rants at her because she stood him up to do SCIENCE and figure out why everything is demagnetized and….it leads nowhere.

Hop and Joyce decide to search the old lab….and Hop gets his ass beaten by the Choking Russian Guy! HA! Some things did happen, but most weren’t that Strange and really didn’t move the plot forward. So…. Shrugs.

Max and El go searching for the lifeguard Mullet-Renfield kidnapped and they find her at …. home.  Well, this was kinda cool.  The monster made her all Stepford Wife and she proceeds to beat up her parents to serve them up for processing.  Mullet-Renfield also appears to be the eyes for the Vampire Monster….just like AHEM… Renfield was for Dracula! BOOM!

This particular episode was more than forgettable, it was unnecessary.  Hopefully, the next one will be better.

 

 

 

Stranger Things S3 Ep2, The Mall Rats, Review by Case Wright


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I was right again!!! Stranger Things is a VAMPIRE show!!! No one else got that! Season 1- I proved that the show was a Vampire show. This season continues that theme with a Renfield! See my old review HERE!!!

Vampires especially Dracula uses a Renfield as a familiar.  These are people who are quasi-vampires who do the bidding of the Vampire and bring them victims and assist them in their lives.  This is seen in Dracula, Salem’s Lot, What We Do in The Shadows, and Stranger Things Season 3.

This episode is all about change and entropy.  In the previous episode, Mullet-Guy was pulled down into the steel mill.  In this episode, we learn that this was to make Mullet-guy into a familiar to the New Nosferatu!

If you’re not convinced that the new big bad is a Vampire:

  1. Lives in a dark crypt. ✔
  2. Kills small animals to live. ✔
  3. Takes a familiar. ✔
  4. Has familiar bring it a pretty victim. ✔
  5. Familiar is hypnotized. ✔
  6. Vampire moves from small animals to human victims. ✔

What we got here is a case of a Sci-Fi Nosferatu!!!

The big bad is feeding on rats and later has Mullet-Guy bring him a pretty victim to feed upon and likely enslave just like Lucy was enslaved by Dracula in Bram Stokers.  The vampire story also explains the Winona Ryder casting because she was in the Bram Stoker Dracula film. Also, Mullet-guy is now dizzy and sick when he’s exposed to sunlight! HEARD IT HERE FIRST!!!! *Spikes Ball* *Touchdown Dance*

Mike takes Hops lecture seriously and he starts lying to El.  Then, El and Mike break up.  Big Whoop.  Don’t Care.  Lucas and his girlfriend are much more interesting characters anyway.  They have wit and drama.  Mike and El’s relationship is basically a one-note in dullsville.

Steve, Robin, and Dustin have decoded the Russian message sort of.  I’m actually coming to the belief that neck breaking Russian guy is in the upside down and they are trying to get back to the real world.  Also, that the melted Russians from the first episode are actually the Big Bad from Season 2 and Season 3.  The experiment fused them and now they are a combined angry monster vampire.

The episode ends as said before with Mullet-Renfield bringing the Monster a pretty victim. Just like in Dracula!

 

Stranger Things, S3, Ep1, Suzie, Do you copy?, Review By Case Wright, (Dir. Matt and Ross Duffer)


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And…..We’re Back!

This series is special to me. It’s the first I ever reviewed for this site.  It was awesome- Read Here

I have watched every episode of this series.  The first season was epic and even engendered a ride at Universal Studios.  Season 2 was a show that was aired on Netflix with Sean Astin.  This season has a new big bad who looks a lot like last years big bad. So….I hope it’s better than last year’s terribleness.  This episode opened with a bit of meh, but better than Season Two’s sophomore slump.  I’m guessing that it will be kinda of fun to watch.  In any case, I write for an entertainment blog, so this is happening!

Cold Open: The Russians are trying to open the gate and they are EVIL!  One guy goes full on Ivan Drago (Rocky IV) and lifts a guy by the neck and chokes hims to death! Their experiment apparently releases the smoke monster again and he’s pissed at Hawkins!

Our older heroes are really not doing well.  Nancy is a gopher at a sexist newspaper.  Jake Busey is one of the reporters.  I’m not sure if Jake knew this was a role or if he thought, “I’ve always wanted to work at a newspaper in a dying town!” and just ran with it.  Creeper has found his niche working as a creepy photographer for a creepy newspaper.  We’re better off without elitist journalists anyway.  All Hail The Bloggers!!!!

Steve is working at the mall at a terrible ice cream shop and striking out with every girl in Indiana.  I suppose this is possible.  He wears a dorky outfit, but he’s still Steve.  I kinda doubted this whole constant rejection he’s getting.  I think it’s the writers were  thinking that the moment good looking people leave high school, they are nobody.  This doesn’t make sense because IRL beautiful people make tons of money as actors and generally do pretty well getting dates.  It takes me out of it a little.

The gang is all about their hormones.  Mike and El are constantly making out and disrespecting Hop, which I really can’t stand.  Hop is troubled by and turns to his unrequited love Joyce who tells him to get to get all kumbaya and I just can’t watch.  This comes to a head at the end of the episode where Hop loses it and I’m hoping he smacks Mike around- in a nice way.

Dustin returned from science camp and he built a Radio Tower to speak with his girlfriend in Utah.  Everyone keeps acting totally shocked that Dustin could have a girlfriend.  This came across as mean and dickish to me.  I mean Dustin isn’t Brad Pitt, but he’s smart and nice.  Anywho, they erect the radio tower and Dustin can’t reach her, giving his girlfriend claim a “My girlfriend is in Canada” feel to it. To my Canadian readers, we down south have been claiming that you were our girlfriends for generations.  I know this sounds weird, but here we are.   He does pick up a signal from the Russians and they are trying to open their own gate to evil town.

Ok, Cara Buono is at the pool as is Mullet-guy.  Mullet-guy is now the lifeguard and they going to have an affair.  This all seems to be ready to go, but the smoke monster is taking up space in the abandoned Steel Mill and eats him or something.  Why a Steel Mill?  Well, the Smoke Monster is really into depressed real estate and factories can be converted into lofts for the hipster set.  It’s really forward thinking on Smokey’s part.

I would say this episode is a bit clunky, but good.  Is it the thrill ride of the first season? NO NO NO, but honestly what is?!  Stranger Things season 1 was a television event up there with The Stand, Shogun, or It.  In fact, it was never meant to be a recurring series until the last minute, but hey it’s better than watching re-runs of Parks and Rec.

See you soon for ep 2!!!

 

 

 

Stranger Things S2 Ep 9, The Gate; Alt Title: RE-U-NITED…..


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Cold Open: Reunited and it feels so good….Reunited… Yep, El is back in the arms of Mike whom she’ll rip in half when she catches him cheating with some rando floozy in college. But for now,  Reunited and it feels so good….. Mike is all pissed at Hop and they end up hugging.  Awwww.  El meets Max and doesn’t shake her hand. Max is in a tough spot: on the one hand she has a psycho Carrie-esque whack job who wants to explode her and the other is a terrible trash household. Poor Max.  They believe El can close the gate, but there are 100s of Demagorgans in their way.

Cara Buono is taking a bubble bath and Ted is asleep downstairs.  Ted, you are sad…sad man.  Then, Mullet-Guy arrives and flirts with Cara Buono and I just had flashbacks to my High School years.  They weren’t all bad.

They are planning on taking El to close the gate.  They take E-Will to the cabin to burn the evil out of E-Will.  Later, Steve easily breaks up with Nancy.  Pretty Awesome!

Hop and El do some catching up and Hop explains that he feels like some kind of a black hole, sucking up everything and destroying it – I can relate.  They head into the distance to the Castle…. I mean government facility.  There’s a brief moment where Dustin gets Steve to put the Demagorgan into the fridge because I suppose they want to make stock later…. Pro Tip: Low and Slow with lots of sage!

Steve and the gang decide to head into the caves to enter the lab ….  Well, about Team Steve….. Mullet-Guy arrives and decides to beat up Lucas.  Then, he beats up Steve….A LOT, until Max puts a dart in his neck and Steve remains knocked out on the floor.  Poor Steve.

Joyce, Creeper, and Nancy arrive at the cabin and try to cook the monster out of E-Will.  He gets some black veins and tries to strangle his mom to stop the purification.

The Lab:  El and Hop arrive to do battle.   They find Reiser and he’s dying.  They go down further and arrive at the opening.  Hop goes in and shoots a bunch of Demagorgons.

Meanwhile: Steve leads the way down the caves.  There’s a bit of comic relief and they find the center of the caves and drench it in gasoline and torch it.

It’s all very smash cut!!!

The shadow leaves E-will and goes into the sky.

El and Hop go down into the bowels of the gate and face off against the Shadow Monster.

Dustin meets up with Dart again….Reunited and it feels so good….

El tries again to shut down the shadow monster’s gate, channeling her anger.  El digs deep and focuses her rage.  I would just think of the Seahawks v Patriots….Just give the ball to Marshawn for Pete’s SAKE!!!!!  El wins! We Win! The gate is closed and the shadow monster is dead. Woohoo!

The Lab is all locked up, shut down, and the government got embarrassed by the Bearded Creeper in the Bathrobe…yep that one.

Reiser got Hop a birth certificate for El.  The show ends with a prom of sorts and Creeper is videotaping.  I really hope no one looks on the other tapes. YIPE!

The prom is hopping.  Man, they must have quite the budget! Time After Time plays and Lucas and Max dance.  Dustin gets shot down….A LOT! It’s alright, Dustin. Nancy dances with him.  Hey Dustin, she has pretty low standards lately; you might have a shot.

The parents: Hop and Joyce hug quietly outside reminiscing and grieving the ones they lost.

El and Mike dance to The Police’s stalker song- I’ll be watching you.  Everyone gets kissed, except for Dustin.  The school spins upside down with the Shadow Monster looking down.  Maybe, it’s the Shadow Monster’s turn to be Nancy’s Boyfriend.

So, Gentle Readers….Thus concludes another Stranger Things season.  I’ll keep writing more in 2018 and not just in the fall. This has been a lot of fun and very cathartic for me.  Cheers and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! HAPPY HANUKKAH! And, I’ll even give a good year….this time.

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Stranger Things: S2 Ep 8 – The Mind Flayer Alt Title: Bob, Try Swiping Left


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Cold Open: We’re back in the evil lab and the monsters are coming up to attack. There are three of them and they are breaking through the glass.  It’s very reminiscent of the pilot, but that was good.  Hop and the other lab people are fleeing and getting eaten… a lot.

The monsters cut the power off in the building and Bob the Brain really needs to learn how to Swipe Left.

Max’s parents have arrive and see that Max is gone, whilst Mullet-Guy puts cologne on his junk.  I realize that Mullet-Guy’s dad went to my father’s school of parenting.

The boys are looking for …. something and are arguing. Steve hears something.  Team Steve!  He’s actually interesting this season.  They realize that the Demagorgon went back to the lab.

The evil lab – Reiser, Hop, Joyce and the rest are trapped in the lab and need to reset the computers to unlock the door.  Bob aims to sacrifice himself and reboot the computers with his knowledge of Basic.  Poor Bob.  Bob is down in the basement and it’s mildly entertaining.  He gets the power back on, but it’s still locked.  They are really trying to build some suspense…trying.

Paul Reiser tells them to go and he’ll stay behind and watch their exit.  Jeez, everyone is sacrificing themselves this episode; I wonder if I get to do something heroic in the finale?  Paul guides Bob, but a broom drops and the demagorgon gives chase.  Bob sees Joyce one last time, and then the monsters tear him apart as Joyce watches- helpless to save him.

They make it back to Joyce’s place and she’s a wreck.  They devise a plan to attack the hive mind leader.  My hope is that involves not renewing the show, but season 3 just got greenlit….so I’ll be doing this again.  They decide to put E-Will into a shed … as you do… because that will disorient him and leave E-Will to become susceptible to revealing the Shadow Monster’s weakness…for some reason.

They wake E-Will and has a conniption fit.  Joyce, Creeper, and Mike try to jog E-Will’s memory with a lot of boring stories so that his consciousness will emerge.  Then, they realize E-Will is using Morse Code.  It’s kinda cute and kinda boring- Coring TM.  A phone rings giving up their position.  BUMMER!!! The Demagorgons start to circle the party.  Then, one is thrown into the house …. dead. It’s El!! She’s back from the big city and all punked out.

This episode was like having a fling with an Ex.

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