Tuesday, July 19, 2016

TV: NETFLIX's next great program

WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S hit US screens in 1989, PORKY'S in March 1982 and ANNIE in June 1982.  Lionel Richie's hit single "Hello" was released February 13, 1984.  Why does it matter?


In the episode "Lainey Loves Lionel," first aired Feburary 10th, THE GOLDBERGS name checks all, more than name checks.  After discussing WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S, they have Adam and his friend buy tickets to ANNIE while planning to sneak into PORKY'S as Barry tries to devise the perfect Valentine's Day gift for Lainey with help from the video for Lionel's "Hello."

This episode's events were all supposed to take place in the same week.

See the problem?

Fortunately, STRANGER THINGS is more firmly rooted in the 80s.

What's that?

The latest must-stream NETFLIX series.

For eight strong episodes, a sci-fi story set in the 80s unfold and involves like nothing since HOUSE OF CARDS.

A group of young boys finish playing a round of Dungeon and Dragons and Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) heads home only to encounter some sort of faceless creature.

The next morning his mother Joyce (Winona Ryder) is telling her son Charlie (Jonathan Byers) to wake up his brother Will.

With Will missing, Joyce refuses to give up looking or accept easy answers.

And his friends Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) head off on their own search helped by Elle (Millie Bobby Brown).

Add in a haunted and wrecked chief of police Jim (David Harbour) and a government conspiracy of some form and the intrigue doesn't let up.

Even at the end of the eight episode run, when it appears everything has been tied up, a new loose end emerges.

Sci-fi is very hard to do -- look at all the crash and burns on SYFY, for example.

But NETFLIX has pulled it off.

A huge deal of credit goes to show runners Matt and Ross Duffer as well as to Chris Trujillo, William G. Davis and Jess Royal who've done an amazing job with the look of the show.

But you can't forget the cast.

One natural and real performance after another.

Topped off by Winona Ryder and David Harbour.

Harbour's been dwelling in supporting roles for some time.  Chief Jim Hopper is his first chance to run with a lead and he more than delivers.  We're talking Emmy quality work here.


Her acting choices in scene after scene are inspired and surprising, reminding one and all why she became a star to begin with.

And STRANGER THINGS is a strong reminder that NETFLIX -- with DAREDEVIL, HOUSE OF CARDS, JESSICA JONES, SENSE8, GRACE & FRANKIE, FULLER HOUSE and more -- is beginning the 'channel' you need.

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