REVIEW: “Stranger Things” – it’s like ’80’s Spielberg…but from the future!

netflix stranger things poster

What happens if you take some of the great Hollywood adventure films of the ’80’s, and mash them up with a good dollop of Stephen King and a bit of Twilight Zone? You get Stranger Things, the new series from Netflix.

Oddly, I hadn’t been paying too much attention to this one until I saw the “Coming Soon” alert when I went into my Netflix account. I say oddly because if this show was aimed at anyone, it was aimed squarely at me. ‘Me’ in the sense of someone who:

1) Spent their teenage years in the ’80’s;

2) Watched a lot of sci-fi, and horror, and Spielberg (well, who didn’t?), and;

3) Read Stephen King (well, not me, but I watched the movies and TV series).

I watched the trailer, nodded to myself, added it to my Watch List, and waited for the alert. Finally, on July 15, the series dropped and we fired it up. And didn’t stop until it was done.

Here’s why… Continue reading

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REVISITING… “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”: Dawn, Redux

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (henceforth BTVS) has been ‘family viewing’ for myself, my wife, and my two daughters since it first aired. Back in the days of ‘appointment TV’ we would gather around the television (well, the computer monitor, as I was illegally downloading episodes to keep up – sorry, but I do own all the DVD sets and quite a bit of merchandise, so…). Later, it was the series we would pull out every 2 years or so and watch ‘Best ofs’, or a particular season. Then, maybe 4 years ago, we stopped.

We were sated. We were more than sated, we were oozing BTVS from every pore like a family of overeaters at a buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner. Watching BTVS had become painful and a little sad.

So, when in late 2015 we decided to give it another go, from Season One to Seven, without skipping an episode, we went in tentatively, completely prepared to pull out before the end of “Welcome to the Hellmouth”, pretend nothing had happened, and move along.

However, to our surprise, it was an absolute joy again. Our BTVS hearts were emptier than we realised, and we were indeed ready to have them filled once more. There have been laughs, and tears, and there have been surprises as well, things we never felt even after so many viewings. Chief amongst them was our unexpected love of Dawn. Yup, you heard that right. Dawn. She’s actually pretty great. And before you walk away, shaking your head and muttering, “They’re lost to us.”, let me explain. Continue reading

REVIEW: “The Walking Dead” S6 PT1: an opportunity lost

So, half way through the ‘season’ (what is a season in “The Walking Dead” universe, anyway?), and it’s a case of what could have been.

“The Walking Dead” (TWD, henceforth) is at it’s best when it’s less about the terror of the undead and more about the horror of the living themselves. When the writers use the show’s milieu as a cypher to explore humanity’s inhumanity, as well as its ability to rise above, TWD moves beyond it’s genre constraints. Characters are allowed to engage with the Big Questions, and the show resonates with pathos.

So what went wrong in Season 6? Continue reading