Summary: A mysterious monster of some sort is loose in the town of Hawkins. Will Byers encounters it and goes missing. The Hawkins police chief, Hopper starts to investigate. Will's friends Mike, Lucas and Dustin go looking for him themselves. They discover a mysterious girl who is on the run from a government group.
The Good: This was a very easy episode of television to enjoy. The plot was simple and easy to follow, the characters well-defined right off the bat and the premise very interesting. In a world filled with complex TV shows this can feel like a breath of fresh air for some.
The one big thing this show accomplishes is in its setting. The 80s timeline is recreated perfectly with lots of brilliant touches like the dungeons and dragons game, the phone, the references to comic books and more. The tone is conveyed so brilliantly that it's easy to get caught up in the world and to just enjoy what you're seeing. The simplistic plotline also pays off in this way because it closely resembles the kind of story that would be used back in the 80s. This kind of retro TV show is rare to find and because of that it has seen massive success. I definitely have to applaud the creators for making a show that so perfectly gives the target audience something they never even knew they wanted.
I also heavily enjoyed the pacing of this show. It manages to feel like a TV show with its pacing while also moving fast enough to feel like a movie. This is a wonderful blend of 2 different types of pacing that makes the show very enjoyable. Honestly without the quick pacing that also allows the scenes to breathe, this episode probably wouldn't be anywhere near as fun.
I also liked the kid characters in the show, which is a rare treat. They weren't annoying and were rather energetic and fun in a very good way. It's a rare gem to find likeable kid characters and hopefully they remain this way. They appear to be the main characters so if they become annoying, the show will become much worse by default.
The opening sequence was phenomenal too. It was very chilling and tense to see whatever the heck that monster was in glimpses. Will running away from it was also genuinely tense and had me engaged right from the start. The scene was very good at getting me right into the show and intrigued for the duration of the episode.
The Bad: There were some problems though. The show is simplistic but that does make it feel a touch predictable. The episode was already riddled with clichés like the mysterious girl with magic powers, the existence of an evil monster, the drunk and aggressive cop who is smarter than he looks, etc. This does take me out of the experience a little to have lots of crutches in the story.
The characters are likeable but very stereotypical. There isn't a single interesting character and I feel like I already know everything about all of the characters. I'm solely invested for the story and the characters just feel like they are there to amplify the story. That prevents the show from reaching the next level of emotional engagement. It's fun to watch but it won't be memorable or even something I'll want to watch again. It just seems like another show which I will enjoy watching scene-by-scene, but it won't ever exceed expectations.
The Unknown: Several questions from this episode.
What was that monster that attacked Will? Where did Will go? Is he still alive? With this show being what it is, I assume he's still alive.
Who is the mysterious girl? Why is she called Eleven? What is with her powers? Why do the government people want her? What were they doing with her?
What was that slime in the hallway? What secrets is Hawkins hiding?
What was that thing that Hopper saw in the shed? Was it where the monster took Will?
What was with the phone call? Who was it that was talking to Joyce?
Best Moment: The opening sequence was excellent and instantly engaging.
Character of the Episode: Nobody really stood out. I will pick Hopper for providing the best lines.
Conclusion: If you're looking for something special, my first impressions say you won't find it here. What you will probably find is a perfectly fine TV show that will be enjoyable enough to watch. There isn't much wrong with this show and I did enjoy it but it does seem completely ordinary.