Stranger Things season 4 will be here in exactly one week on May 27, and while it’s not the final season of the show (that’s the already-greenlit season 5), it sure is acting like one.
Netflix’s recently cut-down blog site, Tudum, is reporting that Stranger Things season 4 will be nine “supersized” episodes. We’ve seen that before, but usually the increase isn’t that much, 5-15 minutes extra, maybe most of the time.
Not true for Strange Things. These are monsters. We have:
- Episodes 1 through six at about an hour and 15 minutes each, on average
- Episode 7 at 1 hour, 38 minutes
- Episode 8 at 1 hour, 25 minutes
- Episode 9 at 2 hours, 30 minutes
So yes, we have practically literal movie-size episodes coming with a blockbuster-length grand finale for season 4. On top of that, these episodes have a budget of $30 million each. Granted, some of that is going into the cast salaries, as everyone has gotten raises over the years, but a lot of it will be special effects, as the need for those has increased the more troublesome monsters the series has faced.
So is this…good? I posed the question to my Twitter followers and the results were split.
I’ve previously made the observation that in the current era of entertainment that many of us may sit down and binge eight, 50 minute episodes of a TV show in a given day, but if some new non-superhero movie asks us to spend 2 hours and 20 minutes watching it, some how that feels exhausting.
To me, it’s about pacing. 13 hours total for a season is not especially long, but 75-90 minute episodes capped with a 2.5 hour finale seems like it could be overwhelming if it’s not hugely engaging. I guess it’s like, would you rather read a 500 page book that’s 50 chapters long, or 15 chapters? It may be the same, length and same content, but it may just be easier to get through broken down into more bite-size chunks.
I do agree that ultimately all that matters is “are they good episodes?” but it still does feel like a strange decision. Sometimes with shows, even Netflix in particular, I don’t really love booting up a season of something and seeing that every episode is 58 minutes long, and I’m kind of more excited when it’s 38-43 minutes instead. Again, bite-size chunks. May be a matter of preference, but blocking out 2.5 hours for a single episode of Stranger Things does feel like it may push the patience of some fans. And it’s not even the series finale! Can’t wait for uh what, a five hour episode to end season 5?
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Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series and The Earthborn Trilogy.