• Welcome to Talking Time's third iteration! If you would like to register for an account, or have already registered but have not yet been confirmed, please read the following:

    1. The CAPTCHA key's answer is "Percy"
    2. Once you've completed the registration process please email us from the email you used for registration at percyreghelper@gmail.com and include the username you used for registration

    Once you have completed these steps, Moderation Staff will be able to get your account approved.

  • TT staff acknowledge that there is a backlog of new accounts that await confirmation.

    Unfortunately, we are putting new registrations on hold for a short time.

    We do not expect this delay to extend beyond the first of November 2020, and we ask you for your patience in this matter.

    ~TT Moderation Staff

Stranger Things Season 4: Netflix breaks habit of canceling things after 3 seasons, presumably to distract from... you know.

Purple

(She/Her)
So I am halfway through season 4 of Stranger Things, which is a thing we have for some reason, and... it really sucks?

Like, I think we can all broadly agree that the first season was honestly pretty darn good, but the second season was just kind of a soulless retread that started to really show the cracks in everything and... OK I actually kinda liked season 3 since it kinda went in a weird direction with what movies to riff of and doubled down on Steve's totally-peaked-in-high-school-and-is-now-a-weird-wholesome-dork-who-hangs-out-with-kids deal.

But, yeah, I'm kinda hating everything about season 4 here. And spoilers abound I guess.

Really quickly, we jump in with our tradition of referencing a conspicuously copyrighted D&D monster being fought in a D&D session before a vaguely similar monster from another dimension shows up and we call it that as a nickname, and this time it's freaking Vecna. OK you don't fight Vecna. Vecna is not in the monster manual, he's a dead guy in the backstory for a campaign setting.

Also, we're going from "hey here's a spooky alternate dimension full of weird unknowable freaky monsters" to "here's some guy. He goes mwahaha and kinda does the Freddy Krueger thing" and that is... just such an astounding step down. Plus he lives in a big church surrounded by bats and keeps manifesting grandfather clocks. This is a super lame villain (also "mwahaha I specifically murder people with PTSD" kinda leaves a bad taste in my mouth).

Also? Before we jump into that first D&D session the protagonists' new GM is going on a big tirade against the whole Satanic Panic thing, but like... OK literally the last three times these kids got together and had a big D&D campaign going, something close enough to get nicknamed appropriately to the monster they were building up as a really particularly scary thing to fight wandered over from another dimension to mess with them, and I dunno, if that happened to me I wouldn't dismiss the whole Satanic monster summoning propaganda out of hand, and maybe consider switching over to like Runequest or GURPs or something.

Also we're still totally doing the whole thing where every girl is just naturally mortal enemies with every other girl which is kind of a big pet peeve of mine.

Also the kids have all become weird gangly teens with terrible haircuts and mostly seem to have turned into huge jerks, which really kinda destroys the whole Kids On Bikes appeal, and also makes me wonder if it's even still the '80s.

And then there's the elephant in the room I feel kinda bad for even pointing out but... Millie Bobby Brown can't act. This has always been the case, but real early on it worked out because hey she's playing the weird psychic science lab escapey with no real world experience, and being all shy and cryptic and unemotive worked, but here we've kind of advanced to the point where she's largely playing a normal semi-awkward girl in high school dealing with arbitrary Mean Girls and relationship angst, and it is... really really hard to ignore.

Plus there's kind of the same issue that's been persistent since the first season where they went from having 3 different storylines each with a different vibe for the three age ranges of characters to just kind of a jumbled mess where half the cast isn't particularly involved in the plot at all and the other half are all dealing with the same thing, with the same tone but arbitrarily split into random mini-groups. Actually hell now that I think about it it's really just Robin and Max dealing with stuff and everyone else is just kinda puttering around the background so far.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
I wondered if I should watch S3 and S4, with S4 coming out, having stopped in the middle of S2, because...dunno, I remember it being really bad.

But I guess not. In the end, while I know S1 to be good quality, even that one wasn't really for me. It went too dark, too horror-y too fasr for me. I wanted more of the relaxed 80s atmosphere, with kids playing D&D, and maybe being regular kids, for an episode or two. But I remember there being nearly nothing of that. I miss slower paced TV, but I'm digressing.

In any case, thanks for the warning.
 

SpoonyBard

A Bard Named SPOONY
(He/Him)
Man that's bumming me out. S1 was really dang good, but maybe too much for it's own good? Wasn't the original pitch for the series an anthology type thing where each season would be a new story and cast, but S1 did super gangbusters for Netflix so top brass went 'no you're just making more of this'? Or is all that just a bunch of rumor that's been accepted as fact?
 
I actually rly enjoyed this season of television. :) Found it fun to watch. Okay, many of the non-Indiana parts are not so good. The (seven so far) episodes are one hour and ten minutes long which is nothing compared to the terrible Korean television show I am watching right now with twenty one hour twenty minute episodes. (I could stop watching that one, sure; I won't) I will never rewatch a season of television so I was favorably disposed to this for the one time I will watch it.

I do agree about the Satanic Panic stuff. Frankly doesn't seem fair of the narrative to demonize the villain teen for assuming the last guy to be seen with a violently murdered girl was involved and then the next time he sees this guy, something pretty suspicious and terrifying happens. Yes, yes, he's a party to unforgivable violence and torture but maybe that wouldn't have happened if the hero teens simply incorporated him into their adventure squad... His brain's not fully developed. He's a twenty-six year old teenager.

SO stressed out that Winona Ryder was that bad at her phone job. Glad she just took a break from it to do a c-plot in which see seems inexplicably aware she'll be fine!
 

zonetrope

(he/him)
I stopped after season 2, but all I know about this season is that it has made "Running Up That Hill" more famous, which makes me very happy.
 

Tegan

𝑬𝑿▰▰▰▰▰▱▱▱
(She/Her)
I kinda liked it, but it has some serious shortcomings; namely that the episodes are way, way too long and spread fairly thin and the two most notable new characters, Eddie and Argyle, are incredibly annoying (Argyle especially, who absolutely does not fit the show at all and drags everyone around him down by association. I used to like Jonathan). Always great to see more Steve and especially Robin though.

Also, Lucas's job on the show is to be wrong and have to apologize, and if they were going to retread that character arc for the fourth time I'm glad they at least got it over with in the first couple of episodes. As soon as I saw that he was now on the basketball team in the premiere I just groaned out loud.

Also, if you're going to have a villain that's straight-up Freddy Kreuger, you can't have him be a dream invader guy and give him the finger razors and namedrop Freddy Kreuger and have actual Freddy Kreuger as a guest star in one episode. Like, take one thing off.

(also it's weird that they call him Vecna instead of like... asking him what his name is)
 

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
(He/Him)
I thought it was pretty great, though that is subject to revision depending on how it finishes up in the final couple of episodes. And that the episodes are too long. It would have been better as 9 45-50 minute episodes than 7 hour + ones.

I disagree with most of the specific criticisms as well. The Vecna thing is . . . whatever. Just like all the other D&D monster names for the bad guys, its a shorthand for the viewer (and characters) to understand the monster. Whether it works for a person or feels cheap, it is the same thing its always been.

While I expect we have not learned everything we will about Vecna, I think he works. Especially because this season's Hawkins story is going for a slasher vibe. He's an evil inverse of Eleven. I guess it would be somewhat disappointing if he didn't have any further goal than to just kill people because evil, but seeing as how this season, for good or ill, seems to be trying provide narrative connection for the Eleven lab stuff and the Upside Down, I expect we will learn more about his motivations in the last couple of episodes.

About the kids, their actions make a lot of sense for an elementary/middle school friend group now in high school, and separated by half of it moving away. High schoolers are, by and large, jerks. They are acting like teenagers. Especially as best friends from years before start to develop new interests and new friends.

Specifically Eleven, and MBB, I don't have a problem with her performance at all. She's still playing the weird science lab escapee. The fact that she has been in the real world for what, 2 or 3 years in show time now doesn't change the fact that she was raised in that lab and is still a largely unsocialized, traumatized girl. She desperately wants to be a normal girl, and I thought MBB did a good job portraying both sides of that.

Plus, more Murray. Murray's great.

I like the Robin/Nancy team up. Maybe that is what the pairing should be, rather than Nancy/Jonathan or Nancy/Steve.
 

Tegan

𝑬𝑿▰▰▰▰▰▱▱▱
(She/Her)
Oh since I was so negative I do wanna call out one thing I really liked: the Lite Brite scene. It's a clever callback to one of the most memorable moments of the first season in a way that's very iterative without feeling like it's retreading old ground.
 
I don't like Stranger Things, and I make a point to avoid the show. But it doesn't really sit right with me to make a thread dedicated to trashing it. Not when people obviously still like and enjoy it. I'm all for registering dissent (it's one of my favorite pastimes!) but this seems like A Bit Much.
 

Purple

(She/Her)
Well I didn't make the thread for EVERYONE to bash it, I just personally don't really have much positive to say this season, but yeah, I should edit the title to be more neutral.

Man that's bumming me out. S1 was really dang good, but maybe too much for it's own good? Wasn't the original pitch for the series an anthology type thing where each season would be a new story and cast, but S1 did super gangbusters for Netflix so top brass went 'no you're just making more of this'? Or is all that just a bunch of rumor that's been accepted as fact?
It's not even a rumor. It's just what... literally every single person on earth who watched the first season idly said they should proceed to do because they seemed to have a really good creative team, cast, and vibe, but there clearly wasn't anything else worth exploring in the aftermath of the story they'd told.

Which, you know, became EXTRA apparent when season 2 had literally no new ideas and just retread season 1 completely.
Also, if you're going to have a villain that's straight-up Freddy Kreuger, you can't have him be a dream invader guy and give him the finger razors and namedrop Freddy Kreuger and have actual Freddy Kreuger as a guest star in one episode. Like, take one thing off.

(also it's weird that they call him Vecna instead of like... asking him what his name is)
RIGHT!?
And also, RIGHT!?
And also, retroactively saying "oh actually Terror Joes from Spookum Land have been invading this small town for at least 50 years, well before any super unethical government psychic programs lead to a Hell Hole for them to leak through!" is kind of just... totally undermining the foundation of the whole show up to that point? And following that up with "anyway I, a Good Government Psychic Weirdo Org Guy, am here to power up your psychic weirdo powers so you can fight this new bad guy!" is just... really gross? Like, hey, sure is a good thing in retrospect we had this black ops child torture center to make psychic super soldiers, or else we'd have no recourse against this Freddy Krueger who was here before we got here!

I disagree with most of the specific criticisms as well. The Vecna thing is . . . whatever. Just like all the other D&D monster names for the bad guys, its a shorthand for the viewer (and characters) to understand the monster. Whether it works for a person or feels cheap, it is the same thing its always been.
I mean, I've always seen it more as a pandering to the RPG nerds thing/really obvious product placement, which lands somewhere on the spectrum between "I have in fact been successfully pandered to" and "wow this is really tacky" but like... this really isn't a well to return to every season. You do it once, and sure, using the name of the last deep cut from the monster manual, nobody's ever going to use it in a sentence otherwise monster for this actual monster you know nothing about is sensible.

You do it a second time, and it says "so we're doing this whole thing again" which is... kind of OK when you're just literally retreading the whole season.

You do it a THIRD time, and OK, this is getting pretty weird, but at least we have a nice lampshading moment with that little "uh, you do realize these aren't literally the monsters from the game so looking up their weaknesses in the book would make no sense?" exchange.

Here though? Like... it'd be one thing if you wanted to make it a tradition they've formalized and there was a scene of them going "uh, OK we haven't played in a while, but what was it we last fought just to keep this going?" But instead it's like "hey, new GM with a complex about being blamed for summoning demons? The girl you were hitting on was murdered by the NPC you personally created" (which seems to be the weird way they're wedging Vecna in as something-to-actually-fight-in-game?) which just seems needlessly traumatizing? Like... why on earth would they call this guy anything other than Freddy Krueger? Or if you really need to keep it D&D themed, "the wizard?"

And... OK the actual answer is product placement, but you can't like, have it be a guy whose missing a hand and an eye and they find that out and name him accordingly or something?
About the kids, their actions make a lot of sense for an elementary/middle school friend group now in high school, and separated by half of it moving away. High schoolers are, by and large, jerks. They are acting like teenagers. Especially as best friends from years before start to develop new interests and new friends.
Sure? But I still don't particularly want a bunch of jerks as protagonists (which... honestly isn't a problem because that whole generation kind of isn't relevant this season), and part of what made the show initially refreshing was all the teens being weirdly level-headed and willing to put stuff aside because hey, killer monsters.
Specifically Eleven, and MBB, I don't have a problem with her performance at all. She's still playing the weird science lab escapee. The fact that she has been in the real world for what, 2 or 3 years in show time now doesn't change the fact that she was raised in that lab and is still a largely unsocialized, traumatized girl. She desperately wants to be a normal girl, and I thought MBB did a good job portraying both sides of that.
Eh, again, I don't want to harp on it, but I feel like she's always had this very... overwhelmed and shy kid just kinda getting shoved on stage and not really into it vibe that feels more authentic than an-acting-choice. And that actually worked for the character early on, but it really doesn't now and that stage fright still feels present.
Plus, more Murray. Murray's great.

I like the Robin/Nancy team up. Maybe that is what the pairing should be, rather than Nancy/Jonathan or Nancy/Steve.
Yeah. It's not enough to make me like it but Murray and Robin are really really trying their best to carry the whole season between them. I wish I could include Steve in that, because his whole the-popular-jock-the-girl-is-dating-instead-of-this-guy turned surprisingly-decent-guy-it-turns-out turned the-weird-dorky-guy-who-peaked-in-high-school-but-is-great-with-kids thing was hands down the best thing about seasons 2 and 3, but he really isn't particularly in the show here.

And speaking of the Robin/Nancy team-up, it bugs me that they felt compelled to have a little "hey, I am not at all interested in your ex so you shouldn't see me as a threat" bit. Like, yeah writers, I know you have this weird idea about all girls being in this natural state of antagonism towards each other, but I thought you got some strong notes about that after season 2?
 
It's fine to dislike or even hate pop culture products and post about it. That's what posting's for!
I stopped after season 2, but all I know about this season is that it has made "Running Up That Hill" more famous, which makes me very happy.
Really well-used here, too. Well, hard to fuck up.
 

Purple

(She/Her)
OK, having now finished this season, or at least, hit the "continued in July" screen and woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow that sucked!

So OK! To recap!

- Of the 4 kids who were our initial main viewpoint: One kinda just became a huge jerk (and I guess the writers also declared him secretly gay?) one is still kinda weird and creepy from before, one kinda straight up AFKed for most of it to set up an "old friends vs. new friend" conflict that kinda just didn't happen, and... well Dustin's fine, but between the lot of them barely anyone got any screen time and nobody had any particular impact on anything.
- 11 had a weird dealing with Mean Girls thing that didn't particularly go anywhere beyond kind of setting up an excuse to very literally rehash her backstory which mostly sets up WOW, which I'll get to.
- Team Teen has long since broken up but Jonathan has somehow become even more creepy and also a stoner and also not really in the show, Nancy actually advances the plot here and there by trying to solve a groovy mystery, Steve remains The Best from previously accumulated points but kinda spends the whole season waiting in the car while other characters go check things out, and Barb remains a real fan favorite while unfortunately also remaining very very dead.
- Team adult gets totally freaking sidelined this season and basically all their screen time taken over by Murray Vs. The USSR and that is absolutely by no means a complaint.
- Team New Kids meanwhile consists of Max, having realized she's too cool to be hanging around with these weird gangly jerk-teens and instead spending the season listening to that one song everyone likes and uh... filming the Fear Street movies? Erica wins at D&D and then forgets to be in the rest of the season. Suzie hacks a thing which... did that actually remember to go anywhere? And Robin properly ascends the throne of being Girl Steve and making things at least a bit watchable when it isn't being Murray Vs. The USSR. There's also 2 new kids introduced this season but they suck and don't do anything.

That's a lot of... characters not particularly being in the show, honestly. Most of the actual runtime here is spent building up the big villain, largely in scenes that don't actually involve any of the characters we care about. Oh and also this like... D plot? wherein some jerk is trying to lynch people for the crime of playing D&D but failing to even be in the same state as them more often than not.

But yeah, the big cliffhanger we go out on reveals that "Vecna," the scenery chewing off-brand Freddy Krueger who keeps killing people by crunching their bones up in a way that feels like it's directly ripping off a popular J-horror movie but I can't recall which, is actually the Original Weird Psychic Kid, who has a SUPER DUMB cartoon villain backstory where when he was a kid he realized that poisonous spiders are totally badass because they can kill like anything and also that he had psychic powers which he could totally use to kill rabbits and members of his family, but then he ran out of MP and got abducted by Evil Government Psychic Research Guy, who put a psychic limiter in his neck so that he couldn't continue being a serial killing cartoon villain... but then still let him hang out with the other psychic kids (who he should look a lot older than than he does?), unsupervised, allowing him to ask 11 to just yank out the limiter, at which point he that-one-scene-in-Akira'd everyone but her, and then she got mad and shoved him into hell, and then he turned into Swamp Thing and turned hell into Spooky Monster Land, and this is the true secret origin of everything in the show ever, and then he sat around for like... 8 years? not doing anything, and we literally have all the characters asking how this at all fits with the whole "mindflayer" big bad they already had going, and then he just arbitrarily decided to start Fredy Krueger/J-horror-ing random teens with PTSD because???

I guess the important takeaway though is that evil psychic experimenter abuse dad was in the right all along and 11 is actually triply responsible for every bad thing that has happened to anyone ever (but we ARE retconning her personally having Akira'd a hallway full of goons).
 

Adrenaline

Post Reader
(He/Him)
I finished watching the released episodes last night. I am enjoying this season. Terrible pacing. Absolutely awful. But otherwise it's been fun.

Also, you can totally use Vecna as a villain in your D&D campaign if you want to *cough cough*
 
Top