Stranger Things

Stranger Things- The Netflix Series That is Taking the World by Storm

While ET, It, The Thing, The Goonies, and Ghostbusters remain at the heart of the popular show, blending science fiction, horror, drama, and thrills, Vol 1 of Season 4 of Stranger Things is brimming with 1970s and 1980s pop culture references.

Stranger Things Season 4 Episode 1 dropped on Netflix just a few weeks ago. It has the entire internet talking about it and looking for Vecna in dark places and singing Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill.’ Season 4 promises Stranger Things’ most ambitious season ever, with seven episodes already completed. It’s about to get much bigger, with two massive feature-length episodes — dubbed Season 4 Volume 2 – on the way.

According to one of the creators, the last episode features more FX shots than the third season. The creator made quite a statement with Season 3 of the spooky programme, which featured a giant gloopy creature called the Mind Flayer, numerous individuals melting down to become part of it, and the mega Starcourt mall battle.

About Stranger Things

Stranger Things
Credit: Polygon

The Stranger Things is a popular American science fiction television series developed by the Duffer Brothers. In coordination with Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen, the brothers act as showrunners and executive producers. The first season premiered on Netflix on July 15, 2016, followed by the second, third, and fourth seasons in October 2017, July 2019, and May and July 2022, respectively. In February 2022, the series got into a renewal for a fifth and final season.

The series is set on the backdrop of the 1980s in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. It centres on investigating a young boy’s disappearance amid supernatural events in the town, including the appearance of a girl with psychokinetic abilities and their connection to an alternate reality known as the Upside Down. The show features a large ensemble cast.

The Duffer Brothers created Stranger Things as a blend of investigative drama and supernatural themes depicted with horror, science fantasy, and childlike affections. The Duffer Brothers set the series backdrop in the 1980s, using pop culture references and themes and directorial elements inspired by Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, Stephen King, and H. P. Lovecraft. They also drew inspiration from Cold War experiments and real-life conspiracy theories concerning covert government experiments. Stranger Things has gained critical acclaim for its characterization, atmosphere, acting, soundtrack, directing, screenplay, and homages to 1980s cinema, and has generated record viewership on Netflix. It earned a nomination for Golden several awards.

Seasons of the Show

Stranger Things Season 3
Credit: Polygon

The first season started in November 1983, when an Upside Down entity kidnaps Will Byers. Joyce, Will’s mother, and Jim Hopper, the town’s police chief, are looking for him. At the same time, Eleven, a young psychokinetic girl, breaks free from the laboratory and aids Will’s pals, Mike, Dustin, and Lucas, in their search for Will. It released on July 15, 2016.

The second season began in October 1984, a year later. Will got a rescual, but only a few people know the circumstances. When Will’s friends and family discover that beings from the Upside Down are still impacting him, they realize that the Upside Down poses a wider threat to their universe. It released on October 27, 2017.

The third season sets few months after, in the days building up to the 1985 Fourth of July celebration. The new Starcourt Mall has focused on Hawkins’ residents’ attention, driving most other businesses out of business. While still trying to care for Joyce, Hopper gets increasingly concerned about Eleven and Mike’s friendship. Unbeknownst to the community, a secret Soviet laboratory beneath Starcourt is working to open the portal to the Upside Down, allowing Upside Down entities to possess individuals in Hawkins and creating a new terror to deal with. It released on July 4, 2019.

The fourth season sets in April 1986, some months later. Joyce, Will, Eleven (now Jane Hopper), and Jonathan have relocated to the town of Lenora, California. Eleven struggles to acclimatize and is tormented at school. Meanwhile, a new Upside Down monster murders several high school kids in Hawkins. It released on May 27, 2022.

Stranger Things: Writing and Production

The Duffer Brothers
Credit: Blog

Matt and Ross Duffer, also known as the Duffer Brothers, are the creators of Stranger Things. The two had just finished developing and producing their 2015 film Hidden, in which they attempted to imitate M. Night Shyamalan’s approach.

The picture, however, did not receive a broad distribution due to changes at Warner Bros., its distributor, and the Duffer Brothers were unclear about their future. Surprisingly, television producer Donald De Line called them, impressed by Hidden’s story, and gave them the chance to work alongside Shyamalan on episodes of Wayward Pines. During the creation of the episode, Shyamalan taught the brothers that they would feel ready to produce their television series when they finished.

The Duffer Brothers

The Duffer Brothers wrote a pilot episode script that was almost identical to the series’ actual pilot episode and a 20-page pitch book to help the show find a network. They pitched the story to about fifteen cable networks, all of whom rejected it because they felt a plot centred on children as leading characters would not work, requesting that it be made into a children’s series or that the children are removed entirely. So instead, the focus is placed on Hopper’s paranormal investigation.

Dan Cohen presented the script to Shawn Levy in early 2015. They then invited the Duffer Brothers to their office and purchased the series’ rights, granting the brothers full authorship. After viewing the pilot, Netflix purchased the entire season for an undisclosed sum; the series was then confirmed for a 2016 release by Netflix in early April 2015. According to the Duffer Brothers, when they proposed Netflix, the company had already been renowned for its original programming in shows like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black. In addition, they had well-known producers behind them and were ready to start giving rising producers like them a chance. So the brothers began writing the series and hired executive producers Levy and Cohen to begin casting and filming.

Naming It Montauk

Montauk was the initial title of the series. Montauk, New York, and other Long Island places were the scene at the time. The name emerged in several real-life conspiracy theories about covert government experiments. The brothers picked Montauk because it had more Spielberg ties, as it was utilized as the fictional setting of Amity Island in the film Jaws.

The brothers thought they could now do things to the town of Hawkins, such as quarantine it, that they couldn’t do with a real location after deciding to modify the series’ plot to occur in fictional town of Hawkins. They had to emerge with a new title for the series under the instruction of Netflix’s Ted Sarandos due to the shift in location so that they could begin marketing it to the general public. The brothers began by considering the typeface and appearance of Stephen King’s Firestarter novel and came up with a huge list of potential replacements. Stranger Things came about because it sounded similar to another King novel, Needful Things, though Matt admitted that there is much ‘heated disagreements’ regarding the ultimate title.

The Duffer Brothers used imagery, video, and music from great 1970s and 1980s films to pitch the series. Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon from the electronic band Survive wrote the Stranger Things original score. In homage to 1980s musicians and film composers such as Jean-Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Goblin, John Carpenter, Giorgio Moroder, and Fabio Frizzi, it makes considerable use of synthesizers.

Stranger Things: Casting the Pivotal Characters

Stranger Things Cast
Credit: NME

Winona Ryder and David Harbour came in as Joyce and the unidentified chief of police, respectively, in the series, which premiered in June 2015. Carmen Cuba, the brothers’ casting director, recommended Ryder for the character of Joyce, which the two were immediately drawn to due to her prominence in 1980s films. Ryder could “wretch up the emotional urgency while finding nuances and nuance and multiple sides of Joyce,” according to Levy.

The show’s numerous stories required Ryder to play Joyce as if “she’s out of her mind, but she’s kind of onto something,” and the producers had faith in her ability to pull off the tricky character, according to Ryder. The Duffer Brothers had previously expressed interest in Harbour, who had primarily played villains in smaller roles before Stranger Things. They felt he had been “waiting too long for this opportunity” to play a lead, while Harbour was enthralled by the script and the opportunity to play “a broken, flawed, anti-hero character.”

  • Finn Wolfhard as Mike,
  • Millie Bobby Brown in an unspecified role,
  • Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin,
  • Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas,
  • Natalia Dyer as Nancy, and
  • Charlie Heaton as Jonathan joined the cast two months later
  • Cara Buono joined the cast as Karen in September 2015, followed by Matthew Modine as Martin Brenner a month later.
  • Noah Schnapp as Will, Shannon Purser as Barbara “Barb” Holland, Joe Keery as Steve Harrington, and Ross Partridge as Lonnie are recurring cast members.

Kid Roles

Actors auditioning for kid roles read lines from the film Stand by Me. The Duffer Brothers estimated that they auditioned over a thousand children for the roles. They remarked that Wolfhard was already “a movie geek” of films from the 1980s and could easily fill the character. Matarazzo’s audition was significantly more authentic than most of the other audition tapes. As casting began immediately after the show’s approval by Netflix and script finalization, some of the performers’ interpretations of the parts reflect in the script.

For example, the young actors playing Will and his buddies came after finalizing the first script, and subsequent scripts has elements from these players. According to the brothers, Modine provided major input on the character of Dr Brenner, whom they had not fully fleshed out before because he was the most difficult character to write for due to his sparse appearances in the story.

Visual Effects

Visual Effects
Credit: AnimationExpress

Film grain adds to the footage to generate the aging impression. The creators acquired it by scanning film stock from the 1980s. The Duffer Brothers intended the series to be frightening but not necessarily violent or graphic. To avoid using computer-generated effects for the monster and other portions of the series and instead use actual effects, the brothers developed an animatronic to play the Demogorgon.

On the other hand, the six-month filming schedule left them with little time to plan. There was short of time to test practical effects for certain images. They chose a middle ground by using built props, including one for the monster, whenever possible. However, computer effects implied for other times. These include situations when the creature smashes through a wall. The creators finished the first season’s post-production the week before being up on Netflix.

Release

The first season consists of eight one-hour episodes published in Ultra HD 4K on Netflix worldwide on July 15, 2016. On October 27, 2017, the second season, consisting of nine episodes, emerged in HDR. The third season, which consists of eight episodes, premiered on July 4, 2019. On September 30, 2019, Netflix made an announcement that the show has a renewal for a fourth season. it later was to release in two volumes, Volume 1 on May 27 and Volume 2 on July 1, 2022.

Reception and Viewership

Stranger Things Scene
Credit: Netflix

Symphony Technology Group produced data for the season based on consumers using software on their phones. This counts television viewing by recognizing a program’s sound. Netflix did not initially publish subscriber viewership stats for their original shows. However, according to Symphony, Stranger Things averaged 14.07 million adults. Adults between the ages of 18 and 49 in the United States during its first 35 days on the air.

Stranger Things was the third most-watched season of Netflix original content in the United States. It came after the first season of Fuller House and the fourth season of Orange Is the New Black. In addition, Stranger Things “hooked” viewers by the second episode of the first season. This was according to Netflix research from September 2016. It implied that the second episode was “the first instalment to cause at least 70% of viewers to watch that episode. They completed the whole first season of the show.”

Netflix said that the show’s third season has surpassed viewing records. It has 40.7 million households enjoying the show in its initial four days. Additionally, there was 18.2 million watching the entire series in that timeframe. In addition, 64 million households watched the third season in its first month. It broke the previous record for the most-watched original Netflix series.

Conclusion

Stranger Things has almost 5 million fans on the social networking platform TV Time. It makes it the most followed TV show in the app’s history. Although Netflix has yet to confirm if Stranger Things will go for a fifth season, showrunners and executive producers Matt and Ross Duffer have spoken up about the show’s future. They recently revealed that season four would not be the final season. The end isn’t what it appears to be! For fans, this is fantastic news. So, here’s to Season 5!

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