The first two episodes feel particularly pumped up before the storytelling of the Duffer Brothers and company settles into its rhythm. Even then, there are detours and subplots that could easily be dropped or cut, killing time as the show unveils the Upside Down’s latest peril and what could be done to stop it.
Of course, those who are completely in love with the show might decide there aren’t too many good things, and “Stranger Things” – now set in 1986 – rewards them with a new assortment of references and twists. pop culture homages, from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” to “ET the Extra-Terrestrial” to “The Silence of the Lambs” (yes, the movie wasn’t released until 1991, but never mind). There are also new faces with gender underpinnings, among them Robert Englund, aka Freddy Krueger.
Lavishly produced, the fourth season also seems to up the ante when it comes to cruelty and intimidation, taking advantage of the vulnerability of its corny characters. At the same time, the soap opera elements of relationships have begun to feel a little played out, or perhaps just overshadowed by the terrible dangers facing children and even the world.
In what appears to be an effort to spread the hype (and subscriber satisfaction) over a longer period, Netflix has announced that it will be holding back the two climactic episodes until July, creating another cliffhanger before viewers can’t wait. learn each other’s ultimate destiny. As it stands, these seven chapters total almost nine hours. Therefore, anyone planning a weekend binge should budget accordingly.
Nearly six years after its premiere, “Stranger Things” has carved out a place in the pop culture firmament that has helped elevate Netflix, so it’s understandable, if not logical, that the service and the filmmakers want to extend its run. .
That said, it certainly wouldn’t have hurt to rush “Things” a bit. Because while there’s a fine line between Hawkins and Upside Down, from a narrative standpoint, the portal separating epic from exaggeration can be just as narrow.
“Stranger Things” premieres the first part of its fourth season May 27 on Netflix.