Friday, July 26, 2019

Stranger Things: Was the 3rd Time as Charming?

Series Name/Year: Stranger Things (2016-)
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror
Length: Season 3, 8 Episodes, Run-time range of 50-60 min. per episode, Season Finale 77 min.
Rating: TV-14
Production/Distribution: 21 Laps Entertainment, Monkey Massacre, Netflix
Directors: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer, Shawn Levy, Uta Briesewitz
Writers: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer, William Bridges, Kate Trefey, Paul Dichter, Curtis Gwinn
Actors: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Cara Buono, Joe Keery, Noah Schnapp, Sadie Sink, Dacre Montgomery, Paul Reiser, Sean Astin, Joe Chrest, Randy Havens, Maya Hawke, Brett Gelman, Priah Ferguson, Jake Busey, Cary Elwes, Michael Park, Alec Utgoff, Andrey Ivchenko

For Season One Info Click Here.
For Season Two Info Click Here.

Official Season 3 Synopsis: Summer brings new jobs and budding romance. But the mood shifts when Dustin's radio picks up a Russian broadcast, and Will senses something is wrong.

The love affair with the nostalgia-rich and pop culture laced Stranger Things is still going strong.

Season 2 of Netflix’s flagship series ended on such a positive note. Surely things in Hawkins might finally get back to normal, right? Without getting spoilery or specific, if you’ve watched the second season finale all the way through, there was quite literally a massive foreshadowing there. The Upside Down and its denizens weren’t through with our Party of adventurers.

I have been waiting only semi-patiently from that very moment until Season 3’s release. Alas, I wasn’t able to binge the new episodes right away – but I didn’t mind. I had to take a brief detour to watch the first two seasons again because my daughter finally wanted to watch the series with me. It was a struggle to not watch ahead, let me tell you. I was dodging internet spoilers left and right. Now I’m sitting on my hands to try and avoid posting any of my own. Fie on those funny memes.

On to the nitty-gritty.

The third season isn’t too far removed from prior installments. We find our characters split in a few new ways, each dealing with their own set of issues. Paths merge and diverge in interesting ways – each with their own adventure element to add to the overall story. Some of the main themes explored deal with the younger characters beginning to grow up, relationships, puberty, feeling odd-man-out, teen rebellion, the struggles of being female in a male-driven workplace, coping with loss, and trying to move on from the grim shadows of the Upside Down.

Now throw in a dose of Cold War paranoia on top of the emerging ‘mall rat’ culture of the mid-80s, and some heavy influence by movies such as The Terminator (1984), and maybe shades of The Thing (1982).

This season is a bit gorier than prior episodes have been, but it’s still generally in the TV-14 or PG-13 age range. It seems to be sliding a little closer to the R Rated edge of the category, however.  The practical effects really delivered a punch in that department. There were a few moments that I was very thankful that I don’t have a weak stomach. My daughter had to look away a few times – but, in fairness, this was also her first foray into ‘horror.’ Where CGI was involved, this season certainly didn’t skimp. The visuals were stunning, as usual.

I loved the new additions to the cast with characters such as Robin at Scoops Ahoy, played by Maya Hawke (Little Women, Ladyworld, Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood) and the mayor, played by Cary Elwes (Sugar Mountain, Don't Sleep, Ghost Light). I also enjoyed the fact that we got to see a little more of some characters that have been on the peripheral a bit. Lucas Sinclair’s sister, Erica, played by Priah Ferguson (Perfectville, Mercy Street, The Oath) had me in stitches. We also get a little bit of a deeper peek into some of our returning characters’ backstories.

Will there be a season 4?

I certainly hope so. There are burning questions that need answering after the ending of this season. I don’t think we have anything to worry about in that department, however. Producer and director Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, Real Steel, The Darkest Minds) told Collider that “Season Four is definitely happening.” Netflix just hasn’t announced the renewal officially yet. They’ve been a little slow to release trailers for new content lately so this delay doesn’t surprise or alarm me much.

I can’t wait for the next trip into this stranger world. Until then, I’ll just have to make do with the theme song as my ringtone. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score (Average forFull Series) – 93%
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score (Season 3) – 89%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score (Average for Full Series) – 90%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score (Season 3) – 85%
Metascore – none
Metacritic User Score – none
IMDB Score – 8.9/10
CinemaScore – none

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 5/5

P.S.  - There is an additional scene during the credits. 

P.S. Again - Once you've watched the episode, call the below number. Caution that this may be a SPOILER if you haven't already finished the season before you call it.  (Applicable phone carrier rates may apply - this is a real number.) 

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