So recently I finally got around to starting to watch the latest season of Stranger Things. (I have not, of course, finished it yet; in fact, at the time of this writing, I’ve only seen two episodes. I remain a Level 1 Binge Watcher.) Now, as per usual with Stranger Things, my wife is paying absolutely no attention to it, although she may glance at the screen from time to time when it plays a song she recognizes from the 1980s, such as:
- “Running up that Hill”, by Kate Bush
- “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” by Dead or Alive
- “Rock Me Amadeus” by Falco
- “Tarzan Boy” by Baltimora
If this list gives you the idea that watching Stranger Things is a lot like watching MTV in the 1980s, only with less Martha Quinn, you’re not far off. Despite all the 80s music, though, my wife just won’t watch the show*, and so I can never do a proper “Not A Review” of it. Stranger Things 4 is no exception; and because she wasn’t paying any attention to it, when I later complained about the D&D game that they played in the first episode, I first had to describe it to her. This is unlike another show where I complained about the D&D game that they played. That earlier show was Jesse, a tepid Chrstina Applegate vehicle that we used to watch, which had this one episode where Christina Applegate’s character—Jesse, of course—participate in a D&D game as a low-level newbie. I don’t remember the details or whose game it was or anything. All I remember is that Jesse got in an argument with one of the other players afterwards, which went something like this:
Other Character: (voices some complaint about Jesse’s first-level elf or whatever it was)
Jesse: “Hey, I saved your ass during the banshee attack!”
Me (to wife): “Pffft. A banshee would wipe the floor with a first-level elf.”
All right, back to the first episode of Stranger Things 4. In one of the plotlines of this episode, two of the main characters are looking for a replacement player in their D&D campaign, and after being rejected by everyone they approach (including the members of the chess club!) they finally recruit their friend’s young sister, Erica, who—when the Dungeon Master scornfully asks if her character is a Level 1 Dwarf—responds, “My name is Lady Applejack, and I’m a chaotic good, half-elf rogue, Level 14. And I will sneak behind any monster you throw my way, and stab them in the back with my poison-soaked kukri.” Later on in the episode, when Lady Applejack and one other character are the last two standing against the lich Vecna—a famous D&D villain with whom, of course, I am familiar—she rolls a 20 on her hit dice, and the Dungeon Master announces that it’s a critical hit, and Vecna goes down to defeat. Got all that? Now imagine me reciting it to my wife.
Wife: (eyes begin to glaze over)
Hey, these are important background details, you know! Once those were out of the way, I could level my actual complaints, which were:
Me: “They didn’t have a ‘Rogue’ class in D&D in 1986. They had a Thief**. And they also didn’t have critical hits. Hitting with a 20 was just like hitting with any other roll***.”
Wife: “Maybe you shouldn’t watch programs where they’re playing D&D …”
So anyway, yeah, I don’t have the slightest problem with dimensional rifts or monsters from the Upside-Down or Eleven telekinetically flipping vans or whatever. But heaven forfend you should do something anachronistic in D&D****, because I’ll complain about it to anyone who’s willing to listen. And many who aren’t.
* This may be because of the show’s tendency to have people get eaten, torn to pieces, crumpled up like used tinfoil, or turned into goo.
** The Thief class didn’t become the Rogue class until D&D Third Edition was released in 2000.
*** Critical hits were introduced into D&D in 1995.
**** I could maybe let it slide that the Dungeon Master made up critical hit house rules for his campaign—after all, I made up house rules for variable damage in the old Marvel Superheroes RPG, because it’s always more fun when you don’t know exactly how much it’s going to hurt when the Hulk punches you—but Erika’s Rogue character came from outside the campaign, so the DM would have been, like, “You mean a thief?”
7 thoughts on “Not A Review Of “Stranger Things 4””
I’m running out of good shows to stream. I know that Stranger Things is popular, but it looks to be aimed at a YA audience. I’ll have to try an episode. Getting desperate.
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You’re not wrong about the YA vibe on “Stranger Things”, although, much like the Harry Potter series, it has gotten considerably darker as the kids have gotten older. Nobody takes show recommendations from me because I’m notorious for watching just about anything, but depending on what streaming services you have, here are some ones that we’ve watched that both my wife and I liked! 😀 Most of these are old shows that we just got around to watching over the course of the pandemic …
― “Carnival Row” on Amazon Prime (sadly, there has not yet been a second season to wrap up the dangling plot threads from the first season)
― “Upload” on Amazon Prime
― “Mad Men” on AMC+ (or Amazon Prime, I think, with commercials)
― “Halt and Catch Fire” on AMC+ (I’ve been telling everyone to watch this particular show, which is probably my favorite of all time, since it’s full of late 80s/early 90s computer hardware and references)
― “The Wire” on HBO Max
― “Westworld” on HBO Max
― “Killing Eve” on Hulu (this is what we’re watching now)
I can’t believe I didn’t notice such a glaring anachronism! I started playing AD&D in the mid-eighties and my first character was a Thief.
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My very first character was of course a magic-user, but my most infamous character by far was a halfling thief named Bertram Nubly who dual-wielded daggers and was notorious for having folded himself up inside a portable hole in order to escape death by falling from a great height after killing a wyvern who had grabbed him and flown off with him … 😁
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Nice. I have just finished watching 4th season. I have written similarities between stranger things and stephen king books. Do read and share your comments. https://gobookmart.com/connection-of-stranger-things-to-stephen-kings-books/