Note: This is my take on Stranger Things Season 3 based on four episodes of the season. I like what I see so far, but there are some subtle changes and some glaring changes that make the show different.
Was it intentional or part of the creative mindset to make the show a walking brand. Needless to say, ST3 has more brand placements than a NASCAR vehicle. Part of it is because Starcourt Mall is choked with retro stores. The Gap, Walden Books, Sears, and Burger King. It's unavoidable. In other cases ST3 is shameless in their attempts to show off brands. A close up on Coca-Cola New. The Seven-Eleven store. Mike saying "Do you want some M&M's?" Every company wants their merch front and center. Season 1 and 2 of ST had very little product placements (minus the Eggos). Looks like Netflix has finally decided to sell their franchise out.
HEY DID YOU KNOW THIS IS FROM THE 80's?:
One of the core reasons that everyone loves this series is because it is flamboyant with 80's culture. Season three doubles down on that. If it looks loud and 80's ish then it needs to be front and center. Every episode needs at least three 80's rock anthems. Every brand and color needs to feel like a unicorn puked Twizzlers on it. We get it, that was youth culture back then. But the question is, "Is the 80's culture act as a lazy replacement for atmosphere and mood." It looks great, even if the rip-off of the Terminator looked a bit cheesy.
DEVELOPING THE VILLAIN:
Obviously, you can't have the same method of evil for the upside down world as the past two seasons. The Mind Flayer is now using rat guts to form his earthly body. Now it's making slaves out of normal citizens. Very Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It's a cool twist on the monster and I hope it ends with some huge fireworks. Some of the other villains include the rifle toting Russian thugs and the scheming mayor. These characters are one-sided cartoons. The mayor (played by Cary Elwes) might as well sit on bags of cash and twirl his mustache. The Russians stick out like a sore thumb. I guess when your show gets too big it's time to pull out the bizarre characters.
OUR HEROES & PUBERTY:
The kids are back. Eleven and Mike like making out. Will feels like a third wheel. Dustin is obsessed over conspiracies. Lucas and Max represent how WOKE Netflix is (though they don't make a big deal out of it, which is refreshing). Nancy is living in a male driven work world. Meanwhile, Steve Harrington is the only character who got less mature from previous seasons. He gave up his cool and bullying ways to hanging out with Dustin and scooping ice cream. Netflix is definitely trying to have more fun with these people and it shows. Giving them whacky conspiracies involving Russians to uncover seems to do the trick. It crosses the line of silly at times, but it never lacks in fun. This season focuses less on horror and fear and more on whacky conspiracies. Meanwhile, Hopper seems more like an abusive drunk in this season. I actually want to call CPS on him. Finally, Winona Ryder learns that magnets don't work and she gets unnaturally obsessed with it. I guess you have to give her some plot as she is the most notable actress out of the bunch.
THE BEST PARTS
I always liked how Netflix could marry the 80's and wild science fiction throw backs, but with enough horror to make Stephen King proud. This series has always been a love letter to the horror and science fiction masters of the past. In season three they are really trying to experiment with these elements. Some of them seem silly, while others are just good mindless fun. It's a coming of age season so we expect lots of drama from the kids. I just hope that the villains don't disappoint.
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