Imagine having a stew that you really enjoyed and then the next time, someone tried to top it by adding more things you liked into the mixed. It isn't the same...but sometimes it's tasty and filling on its own. That's the case here. There is so clearly NOTHING original about STRANGER THINGS that the folks behind it purposely decided to play up that fact as a positive thing!
And it works. The plot is basically the kids from STAND BY ME and ET teaming up with the title girl from FIRESTARTER to take on John Carpenter's version of THE THING. It's all stirred together by twin writer/producers Ross and Matt Duffer, neither of whose names I had never even heard before last night. As I understand it, they weren't even born until 1984 but there show is set in 1983. Risky but they succeed.
The photography is excellent with some gorgeous autumn shots throughout. The music, while appropriately matched to many scenes, is mostly modern and thus anachronistic.
The pacing seems a bit off at times and might have been better served as six episodes but the characters are mostly compelling so you don't ever really regret the chance to spend more time with them.
The missing boy himself is essentially a maguffin, leading to alliances, friendships, estrangements and adventures amongst the others throughout in several ongoing plotlines.