Not-so-strange 80s yearning will have you yawning
The once promising 'Stranger Things' breaks the golden rule of 80s popcorn franchises - third time's a dud
Stranger Things season one was the surprise nostalgia-fest that kept on giving. The Duffer Brothers’s love letter to 80s pop culture rejuvenated the career of Winona Ryder, spawned the best friend Barb meme and conjured with our untapped wistfulness for ET-era Steven Spielberg. It even made Dungeons and Dragons cool again.
But the only nostalgia you’ll feel watching Stranger Things 3 (Netflix) is for the novelty and wide-eyed pizazz of the 2016 original (and, to a lesser extent, its carbon copy 2017 follow-up). From Return of the Jedi to the final Back to the Future, the golden rule of 80s popcorn franchises was that instalment number three was always the limpest. So it proves here, as the Duffers recycle their now well-worn bag of retro references to increasingly underwhelming effect.
Over-familiarity is the biggest issue in an eight-part series that refuses to stray from the Goonies-meets-Stephen King formula. It’s the countdown to July 4 1985, and we’re back once more in Hawkins, Indiana, where our winningly nerdy (if slightly older) cast of small-town kids – clairvoyant Eleven, pudding-haired Will and Mike, preppy Nancy, etc – are again drawn into a struggle with evil from another dimension...