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In the hands of its directors, the Duffer Brothers, Stranger Things is at turns touching (when it explores teenage love and friendship) and harrowing (when it follows the creature that turns out to be terrorizing the town).
Yes, this show lives in the past, but it isn't stuck there. Where, say, Fuller House or The X-Files ask if you remember your old life, Stranger Things reminds you of what it's like to be alive right now.
"'Stranger Things' ends up being an entertaining and impassioned throwback to the time when friendly aliens were all the craze, but there's a consistent sense that a far more imaginative and daring series hiding behind the monsters."
From time to time in the early episodes it does feel as though Stranger Things is only a gratuitous reference or two away from tipping over into uninspired pastiche, but it has enough ballast to keep righting itself.