Stranger Things:
Stranger Things is an eight-episode science fiction/1980s nostalgia orgy on the Netflix channel.
i was not especially looking forward to watching Stranger Things but after it came out everybody in the world couldn't seem to stop jerking off about it, so i guess i have to see what all the fuss is about.

Stranger Things is a show about Remember The 1980s!?!
or, possibly, a show about This Is What The 1980s Was for millennial viewers who don't know.
i am a 1990s kid. i was born in 1981, but, the parts of my life that mattered all happened in the 1990s, pretty much.
but, i was still aware enough to have a sense of the 1980s zeitgeist.
pop culture has rendered the 1980s as shoulder-pads, Devo and cocaine but, for kids, mostly it was just playing outside and dicks at school calling you queer.
in that regard, Stranger Things rings true.

Stranger Things is a show about a bunch of nerdy misfit kids, because every movie about the 1980s is about a bunch of nerdy misfit kids
one of these misfits goes missing one day and his friends set off to find him.
instead, they end up finding a pubescent girl with superpowers.
the girl was part of some kind of government experiment to read the minds of Russians by giving LSD to pregnant women, stealing their babies and dunking them in water tanks.
the experiment was working pretty well until the government discovered a portal to a neatherrealm.
this neatherrealm has the topography of our world, but it is inhabited by monsters.
you can go back and forth between the realms through portals scattered throughout the town.
anyways, this super-powered girl decided to break out of the government facility one day and she meets this gang of misfits and she goes to live with them.
the gang of misfits and the magic girl start investigating what happened to their missing friend while simultaneously one of the misfits' sisters also starts investigating the disappearance of her own friend, in between having boy trouble.
also the town sheriff is investigating the situation, and Wynona Rider.
eventually, they all learn about the existence of the neatherrealm and the monster that eats people and the government conspiracy and instead of, i don't know, calling the press or bringing in the Army, the sheriff decides to go into the neatherrealm to fight the monster himself with Wynona Rider and this gang of kids as backup.
eventually, the magical girl ends up exploding the monster with her mind, but she ends up blowing herself up, too.
the misfits were able to rescue their missing friend, though. the end.

i liked Stranger Things more then i thought i would.
i didn't like Steven Spielberg all that much when he was making movies when i was a kid and i didn't think i would like people flagrantly ripping him off today.
but, whereas moves about the 1980s that were made in the 1980s suffer from shitty pacing and plot loopholes, Stranger Things benefits from the fact that sometime in the twenty-first century, people finally figured out how to tell a story.
what sells the show, though, is the characters.
the pubescent children who are the show's main cast are charming and endearing, which is no easy feat as children on TV are almost always insufferable.
you start to care about these fictional children, though, and become invested in their well-being in a way that most other series are unable to do.
for being a story well told, for having likable main characters, for capturing the feel and sensibility of the decade with just enough 1980s nostalgia to be interesting without being gimicky, Stranger Things earns a 7.7/10.

The Night Of:
The Night Of is an eight-episode crime drama from the people at HBO.
i had never heard of The Night Of, i assume it came out while the PSE and i were on our Great Adventure and it didn't make a big enough splash to get into the limited realm of things i am aware of, but, one day several months ago i called my old high school friend Mice who works at HBO now, and he said it was good.
i don't know, maybe he gets paid for everybody he gets to subscribe to HBO?
i just stole it off the internet like everything else.

i didn't know what to expect with The Night Of except that based on the name, i thought it would likely be a police procedural.
maybe HBO trying capitalized on the True Detective momentum they had a few years back before they boloxed it up with Season Two.
i was not far off the mark.
The Night Of turned out to be just one long, eight-hour episode of Law And Order: SVU.
to HBO's credit, it as probably the best damned episode of Law And Order: SVU ever made, but that doesn't really say all that much.

The Night Of is the story of a Pakistani kid who goes out one night, had a really awesome adventure with a girl he just met then wakes up the next morning to find her brutally stabbed to death.
over the seven episodes that follow the kid gets himself a schlubby lawyer and acclimates to life in Riker's Island where he becomes more and more of a scumbag.
the series starts off with the audience assuming the Pakistani kid is innocent because he looks like a nice boy and because the camera lingers on a shaddy-looking Black dude right before the murder happens, but, over the course of the rest of series they give you more information about just what a scumbag the Pakistani kid really is until you're ready to find out at the end that, yeah, he butchered the woman.
but they also introduce plenty of other evidence that might point to other suspects.
if i were on the jury there would be more then enough reasonable doubt for me to not convict, but then, i have a hard time convicting just about anybody.
reasonable doubt is huge.
anyways, by the end of the season the jury deadlocks and the kid ends up walking free.
only now he's got tattoos on his neck and a crack addiction from his time in prison, so nobody wins in this story.

there was more to The Night Of then just wondering if a Pakistani kid murdered a girl.
there was a surprisingly expansive B-story about the kid's schlubby lawyer dealing with really bad eczema on his feet.
the show devoted maybe as much as twenty percent of airtime to the guy going to different doctors, trying different treatments, talking about his problem with other characters and having other characters give him dirty looks because of his problem.
there was even a part where he went to a support group for people with eczema on two separate occasions.
i can't imagine that that's a thing in real life, but i suppose they can have support groups for just about anything.
and then there was a not-insignificant C-story about the same schlubby lawyer trying to decide whether or not he wants to adopt a cat.

for making some weird-but-not-bad storytelling choices, for being a compelling story that gets you engaged, for being a story about the grinding and cruel nature of the criminal justice system and for being the best damned episode of Law And Order: SVU that i've ever seen, and all that that implies, The Night Of earns an 8.3/10.

//[ab irato ad astra]
.

September 2017

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