Note: Normally I write my reviews in my The Good, The Bad and The Verdict format. But, being a bit bored with that routine I decided to go a different way.
And, here there be spoilers. Naturally.
The third season of Stranger Things breaks the series mold in a bad way.
I fired up the latest entry in Netflix’s Amblin and King homage July 4 and binged the whole thing in an evening. Now that the haze of watching that much television in one night and into the wee morning hours of July 5 has cleared, I can say it was a comedown for a show that has penetrated popular culture all over the world.
We return to Hawkins, Indiana, around a year after the events of season two. In the real world the kids who have played the characters since 2016 have grown up and, on the show, Eleven, Max, Dustin, Mike Et al. have aged too. Kids games have given way to relationships, struggles to let go and the consternation of parents.
It is this last area where the season’s first flaw comes into focus. In parts one and two Chief Jim Hopper was the small-town-big-city exiled cop who subverted the trope of authorities not knowing what was going on in films of the era. He got along with kids, deftly navigated the government and helped fight monsters.
Here his development drives straight off of a cliff and into a fiery explosion.
The same guy is petty, harasses children, is toxic around those he is romantically interested in and loses fights with most of the antagonists. It could be the case the writers were trying to develop his consternation at his new daughter and her growth, but it was terribly done. A douche frat brother is a close approximation.
Mmmm … No Bop
I did enjoy the synth-infused score in earlier seasons and the careful use of songs from the period. This season does not have the same caution and placement.
NEARLY. EVERY. SINGLE. SCENE. is set to some sort of music. I could not stand this and felt like someone from Suicide Squad’s editing bay must have infiltrated the set. To be fair I do realize that things from the period often had music in many scenes, but we are living in 2019, not 1980. Things can be updated to reflect modern sensibilities and are allowed to shed the poor parts of the past.
The show has its faults, but there were some solid aspects too. Lucas’s sister has a larger role, Steve’s new friend/potential love interest played by Maya Hawke is a welcome slice of diversity to the proceedings and the split, Empire Strikes Back story structure is entertaining. There needs to be more of this and less songs and Shitty Hopper mucking up the narrative and ruining what I found entertaining.
If you liked the first two seasons of this show, you will find this season to be OK.
It is not great, parts of it will sicken and annoy you, but there is enough of a foundation here to improve upon for part four. Assuming they listen, that is.
Oh, and kill Hopper. At least one major character from the beginning should die and with the way he was written this year, it might as well be the chief.