In Brief

Stranger Things season two teaser hints at closure for Barb fans

Newly released trailer also marks reappearance of Eleven - taking part in a waffle-stealing rampage

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Warning: spoilers for season one below

A new teaser clip for the second season of Netflix's hit series Stranger Things discusses the fate of one popular character and the mysterious reappearance of another.

The clip, released for Halloween, is presented as a news bulletin on the local television station 5 WIYZ Hawkins, Indiana. Real-life newsreader Brenda Wood reports on a story about the disappearance of teenager Barb (Shannon Purser), the geeky and sensible school friend of Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer).

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Barb was cautiously supportive of Nancy's growing popularity and new boyfriend, Steve, in the first season of Stranger Things. But when she agreed to drive Nancy to a party at Steve's house, she was left alone in the pool and attacked by the Monster.

While many fans hoped Barb had just disappeared temporarily and would reappear in the series, a later episode showed Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) communicating with Barb's rotting corpse.

The incident provoked widespread anguish for fans of the lovable underdog and a social media campaign #Justiceforbarb was launched. 

Writers Matt and Ross Duffer responded to the outcry, insisting Barb would not be forgotten and that there would be some sort of justice for the character and closure for fans in season two. It seems they've gone some way to making good on their promise with the new clip.

In the news broadcast, Wood reports on the disappearance of Barb, noting that her "closest friend" Nancy could not be reached for comment. She also says Barb's friends described her as very loyal and "the kind of girl who notices if you're wearing a new bra".

Later, Wood mentions a search for a little girl, who we discover is Eleven. She is said to have robbed Bradley's Big Buy market and escaped with a haul of Eggo waffles. The story also reports paranormal activity, including flying shopping trolleys.

Stranger Things became an almost overnight hit for Netflix this summer and excitement is mounting for the new series. The Hollywood Reporter says a number new characters will be joining the show, including Sadie Sink as Max, a tough but wary girl, while Dacre Montgomery plays her brother Billy, a charismatic student with a violent nature.

James Cameron's work will be among the inspiration for the new season, reports Entertainment Weekly. Pointing to Aliens and Terminator 2, the Duffer brothers say they will try to capture "a little bit of the magic of his work".

Stranger Things season 2: what can we expect?

24 October

Warning: contains spoilers for season one of Stranger Things

Stranger Things has been one of the hits of the summer viewing season and a new series is already in the pipeline – so what can fans expect as the Duffer Brothers look for inspiration in mid-eighties pop culture.

Netflix's supernatural sci-fi drama, which stars Winona Ryder. Matthew Modine and David Harbour, follows the aftermath of a child's disappearance, setting up a trail of clues that lead to secret government facilities, conspiracies and unexplained phenomena.

The first season captivated fans, with series creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, finding just the right balance between nostalgia, horror and good old-fashioned mystery.

At the moment, there is no release date for series two, but the show is expected to return before July 2017. 

Fans were given a hint as to what might happen in Hawkins when the Duffers spoke to IGN, suggesting things will get "darker and weirder".

The brothers have taken their inspiration for the season two from the films of 1984, they said.

"It was just a great year for pop culture," Matt said. "Ghostbusters just came out, Temple of Doom, Karate Kid, Gremlins - it was an awesome year for cinema so we're trying, hopefully, to capture a little bit of the magic of those films."

While we look back fondly on films such as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, he continued, at the time they were disturbing and traumatised some kids.

"Not saying that we want to traumatise children," he added, "just that we want to get a little darker and weirder."

The brothers also gave some clues about the fate of two key characters, scientist Dr Martin Brenner (Modine) and high-school student Barbara (Shannon Purser), who both appeared to come to unfortunate ends in season one.

Barbara, it seems, will not be returning. "But Barb will not be forgotten," said Matt. "We'll make sure there's some justice for Barb."

Brenner, however, might be luckier. He was a villain in the show and seemed to meet his comeuppance when he was attacked by the monster - although we didn't actually see him die.

"If that was his death, that would be very unsatisfying," said the brothers. "There's a possibility of seeing him again."

As for young heroine Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), who sacrificed herself to save her friends, the Duffers told Variety we can expect to see more of her. "Obviously something happened to her when she destroyed and killed that monster and we don't know where she went," Matt said. 

Season two could also explore the effects being in the Upside Down parallel universe had on missing boy Will Byers (Noah Schnapp). "It's had some kind of effect on him, both emotionally and perhaps physically," added the writer. "The idea is he's escaped this nightmare place, but has he really?"

And in more good news for fans, the Duffer Brothers also hinted that the show could continue beyond a second season, saying: "We have an ending that we want to get to and I guess the question is just how long to we need to get there."

Is Stranger Things the best thing on TV right now?

2 August

Stranger Things, Netflix’s eerie homage to 1980s sci-fi, Steven Spielberg and Stephen King, has become the surprise hit of the summer.

Critics call it the best thing on the streaming site and a second series already in the works. So what's the secret to its success?

Created by Matt and Ross Duffer, Stranger Things is set in small-town Indiana in 1983 and tells the story of a child who goes missing, leading to an investigation of mysterious government facilities and supernatural phenomena.

It stars 1980s screen queen Winona Ryder as the mother of the missing boy, along with David Harbour as the local police chief, Millie Bobby Brown as a little girl with psychokinetic abilities and Matthew Modine as one of the chief scientists at the scientific facility.

While it might seem to be full of X-Files style cliches about shadowy government conspiracies and unexplained phenomena, critics and fans have gone wild about the show.

A YouTube reviewer from Mother's Basement says Stranger Things is "a better 80s movie than most 80s movies". How does it do this?

Detail is important. Almost immediately, the show "transports viewers to a time, place, and feeling," says Nathan Mattise on Ars Tecnica. There are cultural references such as vinyl records and cassette tapes, single-speed bikes, AV Club devotees with ham radios and walkie-talkies and Dungeons & Dragons battles.

But while the setting is old and the show does fall into some tropes, continues the critic, the characters are new and Stranger Things embraces modern filmmaking luxuries and a great synth soundtrack to keep things new.

"Reboots be damned, this is how to do nostalgia," he adds.

There's one additional bit of success to note, concludes Mattise, the reassurance that "the Netflix production model can lead to great, original stories".

Actually, the acting is of "variable quality", the writing is often "painfully on the nose" and the story "sometimes seems to exist solely to nod toward the 80s movies", but somehow it works, says Todd VanDerWerff on Vox. He watched all eight hours of Stranger Things within a 24-hour period and when it was over, wanted to "go back and start over from the very beginning".

Even if the Duffers have nothing more interesting to say than: "We love '80s movies", he continues, "they convey their affection for said movies so enthusiastically that you can’t help but be swept up by the whole thing in the end".

Yes, Stranger Things is "the best new show on Netflix so far this year", says Chris Plante on The Verge. It won't be to everyone's taste, "but I am glad to have another show that actually likes both its characters and the human race".

Ben Travers on Indiewire, however, says Stranger Things "ends up feeling more like an imitation of a modern movie paying homage to the 80s than an authentic ode to 80s films". He feels it's more like an homage to JJ Abrams Super 8 - itself an homage to Spielberg - than a genuine homage.

"The films 'Stranger Things' honors transcended their genres. This seems happy to propitiate them," concludes Travers.

 Stranger things: what is it about?

19 July

Television viewers and critics are hailing Netflix's new supernatural thriller Stranger Things as the television event of the summer.

Equal parts Stephen King and Steven Spielberg, the story follows a trio of plucky nerds in 1980s small-town Indiana who set out in search their missing friend, Will. As the trail goes deeper, they stumble across an almost-mute girl calling herself Eleven who appears to possess mysterious telekinetic powers and could hold the secret to their pal's disappearance. 

Meanwhile, Will's mother, Joyce, played by Winona Ryder, is convinced her son is trying to communicate with her via electricity, leading the town to suspect she has gone crazy - but then she starts experiencing horrifying supernatural visions.

When the local sheriff runs up against a top-secret government research facility that doesn't seem too keen on his search for the missing boy, solving the mystery behind Will's disappearance becomes a race against time.

The eight episodes run into each other like a film, making the show fiendishly addictive. Producer Shawn Levy told the London Evening Standard he would be "amazed" if viewers could resist binge-watching the whole series. "If they can watch an episode every several days, we've probably failed," he said.

With a John Carpenter-inspired synth score and references to everything from ET to Stand By Me, Stranger Things "is an ode to all things 80s", adds Kate Abbott in The Guardian. It also wins "ultimate nostalgia points" for starring 1980s "It Girl" Ryder.

With a Ghostbusters reboot in cinemas and a remake of Jumanji in the works, there's definitely a "wave of nostalgia at the moment for a certain kind of family-friendly horror", says Tristram Fane Saunders in the Daily Telegraph. Enter the "brilliant" Stranger Things, a "stylish" take on 1980s sci-fi and horror. "Once you've been drawn into it, there's no turning back," he writes.

But Stranger Things is more than just an exercise in nostalgia, claims Daniel Fienberg in the Hollywood Reporter. The show is a "satisfying, spooky and carefully arced mystery" in its own right, with some unexpectedly strong juvenile performances and a comeback for Ryder.

Sure, "geeking out over shared pop culture experiences is part of why Stranger Things works", the critic admits, but the show also "weaves a good yarn that keeps you guessing" and "avoids becoming trapped or bogged down in mythology".

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