It's odd to call these "TV shows," as they have so little in common with the sort of thing that the term brings to mind. But anyway:
Jim Geraghty of National Review described the fourth and unfortunately not final "season" (see, even that word is not really applicable) of Stranger Things this way, and it's pretty much my own view:
Credit the Duffer brothers and their creative team for being willing to experiment with a popular show: making much longer episodes, darkening the tone and stepping into indisputable horror-movie territory, leaving the main setting of Hawkins for long stretches, and willing to put characters like Max, Eleven, Lucas, and Steve into new emotional territory. The characters remain as likeable, relatable, and fun to watch as ever. But not everything worked, and what was once this charming, ’80s-nostaglia-filled, suspenseful story of a seemingly ordinary small town with a scary monster lurking offscreen now increasingly resembles one of those overstuffed, explosion-filled summer blockbusters at the multiplex. Bigger isn’t always better, but that ominous closing scene suggests the fifth and final season will be the biggest yet.
That last sentence is the reason for my "unfortunately" above. In my opinion the first season was by far the best.
I'll put in another sort-of-good word for the show. My ten- and twelve-year-old grandsons have watched it (all four), and in some ways I wish they hadn't. It really has gone into "indisputable horror-movie territory." And I have other not-insignificant reservations about their exposure to it. Nevertheless, attempting to look on the bright side, as is always my inclination, I think something C.S. Lewis said about fairy tales is relevant:
A far more serious attack on the fairy tale as children's literature comes from those who do not wish children to be frightened.... They may mean (1) that we must not do anything likely to give the child those haunting, disabling, pathological fears against which ordinary courage is helpless: in fact, phobias. His mind must, if possible, be kept clear of things he can't bear to think of. Or they may mean (2) that we must try to keep out of his mind the knowledge that he is born into a world of death, violence, wounds, adventure, heroism and cowardice, good and evil. If they mean the first I agree with them: but not if they mean the second. The second would indeed be to give children a false impression and feed them on escapism in the bad sense. There is something ludicrous in the idea of so educating a generation which is born to the Ogpu and the atomic bomb. Since it is so likely that they will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker.
Stranger Things is full of heroism, love, and self-sacrifice. If my grandchildren are going to see horror movies, I can at least say for this one that it gives them examples of real, difficult virtue resisting real evil.
I recently signed up for the AMC+ streaming service for the sole purpose of seeing two shows: the final season of Better Call Saul and the first (maybe only) season of Dark Winds, which is based on the novels of Tony Hillerman. These, as you probably know, are detective novels set among the Navajo people and featuring two Navajo policemen, Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. I'm a great fan of those books and was very much looking forward to this series.
I'm sorry to say that I found it disappointing. Not bad, but disappointing. To go into a lot of detail would be of interest only to those who love the books as much as I do. But to sum it up: I didn't think the principal characters were faithful to the book. Leaphorn, for instance, is given a son, though in the book he and his beloved wife Emma are childless. And I didn't care for the fact that the plot, only loosely based on a Hillerman book (Listening Woman), threw together people and situations that develop only over a long period in the fictional world. That's a defensible choice, given that the creators probably have no guarantee that they will get more than one shot. Still, it sacrifices a lot of deep character development. I'm tempted to go on but will leave it that.
Nevertheless, if there is another season, I'll probably watch it. Though I plan to cancel AMC+ as soon as Better Call Saul is over.
In anticipation of the latter, I watched season 5 of Saul. If you liked Breaking Bad, but haven't been watching Saul, you really, really should. (It's a prequel to BB.) Especially in the first several seasons it doesn't have the sensational and gripping quality of BB, but as not-very-ethical lawyer Jimmy McGill is slowly transformed into drug cartel lawyer Saul Goodman, the two worlds draw closer and closer together.
The producers have put together this great little ten-minute film in the style of a network TV exposé that gives an excellent overview of the series without revealing anything major.
There was a gap of a week or so between the end of Dark Winds and the release of new episodes of Saul. In the meantime, out of curiosity and for lack of anything more promising, my wife and I watched the first episode of a new AMC sci-fi series called Moonhaven. The title refers to an utterly implausible colony on the moon, which is an earth-like (but better) environment on a large part of the moon, and a near-utopian community established there under the guidance of an AI entity call IO. I'm not going to recommend it, though my wife and I have, as too often happens, gotten hooked enough to want to find out what happens.
This community seems to have leapt through some horrible 1970s California time-warp and is full of the most smug and manipulative post-hippie New Age gurus you can imagine. Back on earth, things are really bad (wars, environmental disaster, the usual). And the community, under the direction of IO, is supposed to be discovering how to solve the human problem and to take the solution back to earth. Their slogan is "The Future Is Better." No. The future is insufferable, if they are it.