Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, January 16, 2017

Catch-Up Theater opens the door to Stranger Things and Jessica Jones

This past Friday the 13th, my sister and I watched the perfect programming, the last four episodes of Netflix's Stranger Things. For those unfamiliar with this online series, it takes places in a small town in Indiana during the latter half of 1983 and begins with an experiment gone wrong at a nearby lab which leads to the disappearance of a young boy named Will Byers.

Will's disappearance is only the start of the weirdness as more folks go missing, bizarre creatures have been spotted and a newcomer,a girl called Eleven(or El for short) is being hunted by dangerous people.

 These challenges encourage three generations to seek answers, such as Will's mother Joyce(Winona Ryder), a frazzled single parent, moody sheriff Jim Hopper(David Harbour), distraught teens Nancy and Jonathan(Natalia Dyer and Charlie Heaton) and Will's circle of D&D playing buddies Mike,Dustin and Lucas(Finn Wolfhard,Gaten Matazzo and Caleb McLaughlin)

To tell anymore would ruin the fun and while this show has been out there for awhile, I'll do my best not to spoil stuff(some of the videos included in this post are a tad spoilery in spots,so you have been warned!).

What I can safely say is that Stranger Things has truly pulled off a pop culture hat trick; while rift with various references to other genre fare, this is a wholly original story with characters that are fully fleshed and allowed time to develop and grow.

Part of the reason for this success is the writing. The Duffer Brothers,who created this series and wrote and directed most of the episodes, really have a handle for organic storytelling. In other words, the 1980s weren't used as a diorama for them to play-act with stick figures in here. If this had been a book(and yes, these fellas know their Stephen King), it would be one of those great reads that hooks you from page one and doesn't let you go until the end:

While I have several favorite characters on the show such as Joyce,Nancy's missing friend Barb(who I hope does reappear in season two) and Dustin, the top of that list belongs to Eleven, brilliantly played by Milly Bobby Brown.

I know what they say about child actors but this role would be a complex one even for an adult. A girl raised like an experimental animal with incredible psychic powers yet unable to speak in complete sentences, Eleven slowly yet surely becomes the emotional core of the story.

Granted, there are a number of emotional focal points within the plot(especially Jim Hopper's past memories of his daughter) but El's  struggle to find her place in the world is at times heartfelt and menacing,which can also be seen as the overall tone of ST. Eleven is the ultimate outsider whose humanity is what truly keeps the threat of the Upside Down at bay:

As I mentioned earlier, there is a second season in the works and how long they can make Stranger Things last is going to be the real cliffhanger here. It's not just the kids growing up or filming schedule conflicts that might hamper the show's future.

Again, it's all about the writing and I sincerely hope that the Duffer Brothers know when to say when, story wise.  Meanwhile, both my sister and I are joyous to have shared this entertainment experience together and we may even re-watch ST at some point(my sis definitely wants to see that Stranger Things SNL skit again in order to really appreciate that parody):

 My next foray into Catch-Up Theater may be a solo one as I head for Marvel's Jessica Jones on Netflix. This show, along other Marvel properties on that streaming service, is meant to be much darker in content than typical comic book fare and judging by the first episode alone, this is not PG-13 fare.

Kristen Ritter stars as the title character, a private investigator with super  poewers who is recovering from a terrifying past experience with a deadly telepath named Kilgrave(David Tennant). Jessica is mostly going through the motions of her life but when her former nemesis returns, she had to find a way to defeat him once and for all.

This story is not the usual moody comic book anti-hero tale, particularly since it's dealing with the emotional aftermath that women have to deal with from abusive situations, which makes it all too fitting to watch in times like these. Since the show is 13 episodes long, it may take me awhile to get though it but I have no doubt that this is a journey worth taking and then some:

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