STRANGER THINGS –– We finished all eight episodes of Netflix’s Stranger Things Friday night – their third season- and have to say, this cycle was astonishingly well done. The first season still ranks among their best ever and though season two was a bit stagnant, a true return to form was indeed Season three.
Everyone is looking a lot older and bit awkward if you ask me, especially the lads. Millie Bobby Brown, as Eleven, the one with the telekinetic powers, still astounds and is without question, the breakout star of the show. There are several new characters introduced, most notably Maya Hawke (the daughter of Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke) who is just sensational.
Though Season 3 draws upon the highlights of their two previous cycles, it’s just exceptionally well done. The Duffer Brothers (the creators) deserve all the praise being heaped on them.
I also have to say that the detailed production (Sam Goody bags everywhere) and the terrific period-music are just irresistible.
David Harbour is still the connective tissue to the whole deal. As the sheriff of Hawkins, Indiana, he displays just a terrific sense of awe and authority. Without revealing any plot points, the final scene where Harbour and Joyce finally rendezvous with the kids in the Starcourt Mall is just sensation. The scene actually opens up the final episode.
Journeyman actor Harbour, with terrific stints on everything, including a memorable turn on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, is just a total standout.
Ted Sarando’s Netflix which is reluctant to release literally any information on their shows and ratings just had to boast about this one: A record 26.4 million U.S. viewers watched the third season of Netflix’s hit show Stranger Things over the July 4 holiday weekend, about 17% higher than the debut of season two, according to Nielsen.
“Compared to the second season, ‘Stranger Things 3’ was an even bigger hit,” Nielsen said in a press release. “Not only did its viewership increase compared to the previous season, it’s also the most watched Netflix original series we’ve ever analyzed. The season’s release on the long holiday weekend proved fruitful, as viewers were able to leverage their time off from work and dive back into the newest episodes of the cultural phenomenon.”
The data and measurement firm said around 824,000 U.S. viewers had finished all eight episodes in the series when it was released on July 4.
Season 3 leaves its audience with a number of questions. There was a rumor going around last week that there will be no Season four. C’mon … of course there will be.
YESTERDAY AGAIN — OK, we loved Yesterday. Didn’t care for those initial trailers that asked: Imagine a world without The Beatles. Again, that didn’t seem like even a remote possibility. But, the movie’s a hit; and, it’s a charmer.
Read colleague Roger Friedman’s (Showbiz 411) take on the phenomena: Danny Boyle’s clever, charming “Yesterday” crossed $40 million this week, after 13 days in release. Universal has major hit as Boyle and screenwriter Richard Curtis hit the sweet spot on this one.
The Beatles and their execs, like Jeff Jones, have to be thrilled, too. Even though their $5 million license must seem small now, the project has kicked the group back onto the charts with little effort.
Currently four Beatles albums are on the iTunes top 100: “Abbey Road,” the red and the blue greatest hits double albums, and the 2015 remixed “1” great hits. On amazon, “Abbey Road” is at 19, one notch above the “Yesterday” soundtrack, and the vinyl for “Sgt. Pepper” is also in the top 100, as well as the red greatest hits albums.
Mind you, the Beatles broke up in 1970.
So now we wait for 50th anniversary instructions on “Abbey Road,” which celebrates its big birthday on September 26th.
PS: It’s funny; the only thing you don’t get on the “Yesterday” soundtrack is the version of “Hey Jude” playing over the end credits. For that you must buy either the Beatles “blue” greatest hits, the famed American “Hey Jude” album (which I adore), or “Past Masters.”
“Hey Jude” is the Beatles’ third most streamed song on Spotify, right behind “Here Comes the Sun” (way out front) and “Let it Be.”
SHORT TAKES — Listen to Ray K’s podcast on social-influencer Wendy Stuart Kaplan: https://www.iheart.com/podcast/966-big-fat-american-45910410/episode/ray-the-k-with-wendy-stuart-46805446/?fbclid=IwAR0dpb71_rufHPPgMiXDMAxZJxh5t5OJ9A_34AuhtLFBV0ilnHSRGZE9cVg… SIGHTING: 12-year old wunderkind Kjersti Long and PR-pasha David Salidor at The Westin Hotel in midtown. Her debut album, Stronger Than You Think I Am, is officially released this Friday on Broadway Records … Music executive Gary LeMel, who was behind the biggest soundtrack ever with The Bodyguard, has passed at age 80. A well-regarded music executive, LeMel had his own singing career, releasing albums distributed on Blue Note, Concord and Atlantic. Also passing: Lauren Valencia, who managed My Chemical Romance and Grimes. She passed last week from cancer … Another great scoop from Roger Friedman via Baz Bamigboye: Two time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz has secretly been filming scenes for “Bond 25,” in London, reprising his evil Blofeld villain from “Spectre,” aka Bond 24. This scoop was delivered by the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye exclusively, then immediately stolen by every outlet possible. Deadline.com was a real culprit. (I don’t understand why they always do that!)
But it was the estimable Baz who reported that Waltz was seen waltzing around Pinewood Studios. When he was spotted, Mr. W. put his finger to his lips and said, “You didn’t see me.” Well, Blofeld lost his eye in “Spectre” so maybe Waltz had a reason to believe he’d get away with it. Donald Pleasance, Max von Sydow and Telly Savalas were the actors who previously played Blofeld in past Bond films. Each was memorable. Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson are certainly doubling down on villains for 25. They already have Oscar winner Rami Malek as their main bad guy, although no one knows who he plays or the course of his character. But now we’ve got two Oscar winners trying to bring down James Bond. Of course, all I want to know is who is singing the opening song. I was first to report about Adele’s “Skyfall” several years ago. I didn’t much care for Sam Smith’s “Spectre” song even though it won the Oscar. Everyone wants Adele to return, but I hope it’s someone new– maybe Sting, or Annie Lennox, or even Chrissie Hynde. They are classics. The biggest mistake is bringing in a real newbie, like Billie Eilish. The Bond song is a big deal! Maybe Little Nas X can adapt “Old Town Road” for James!
Anyway, great scoop from Baz for the Daily Mail. We learn from the greats … We had a major blackout in NYC last night (30 hours). We were on a Metro-North train back from Katonah, of all places, and made it back home safe and sound. NYC … you gotta love it!
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Bruce Goldberg; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Race Taylor; Cody & Chloe; Steve Van Zandt; Zach Martin; Les Schwartz; Marion Perkins; Beth Wernick; Scott Shannon; and, CHIP.