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Critics praise "Stranger Things 2"

The return of "Stranger Things"

"Stranger Things 2" dropped on Netflix Friday, reuniting fans with the kids of Hawkins, Indiana on Halloween 1984 -- one year after Season 1. The reviews for the second season of "Stranger Things" are in, and critics are mostly saying it's a fun ride. 

The second season received a 93 percent "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, just a few points down from its 96 percent rating for Season 1. 

Frazier Moore of the Associated Press said fans can expect much of the same magic they enjoyed in Season 1. "The many ingredients that made the series an instant sensation with its debut in July 2016 remain in evidence: icky monsters and an alternate reality, technology gone wild amid government mischief, childhood innocence and teenage passions, the state of adulthood with its pressures and pitfalls, and all of it viewed through the soft-focus rear-view mirror of nostalgia (the series takes place in a small Indiana town in the 1980s)," he wrote. "It's a masterful creation by the somewhat enigmatically dubbed Duffer Brothers."

Duffer Brothers on inspiration behind Netflix's "Stranger Things"

James Poniewozik of the New York Times even said Season 2 is perhaps a little too much like Season 1 and can be slightly derivative, but admitted, "It's a still a good time, it's nicely paced at nine episodes and it blends the suspense of '80s horror with the heart of an '80s teen romance. It may be last year's Halloween candy, repackaged. That doesn't mean it can't still be sweet."

Jen Chaney of Vulture gave it high praise, saying it "might even exceed" expectations. She wrote: "Though it takes two or three episodes for the various story lines to fully kick into gear, 'Stranger Things 2' is a suspenseful, thoroughly satisfying follow-up that goes to emotionally deeper places than its predecessor did. In a way, it's even a surprise of sorts: When a second season was announced all the way back in August 2016, I'm not sure that anyone expected it to be this good." She added that Season 2's references to Season 1 show continuity rather than laziness. 

Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone said that to its merit, "The new season is darker." He explained, "For all the geek bravado of 'Stranger Things,' it's that sense of trauma that makes it something special ... That's the real power of 'Stranger Things' – once you come into contact with the monsters, even if you escape from the Upside Down, you might not be able to come all the way back home."

Maureen Ryan of Variety said the first few episodes are "clunky," but "the show's core cast remains an extremely versatile and effective ensemble, and once the story kicks into a higher gear about halfway through the nine-episode season, a lot of the old magic returns." She also praised performances by Winona Ryder and Noah Schnapp. 

Erik Adams of A.V. Club said "Stranger Things 2" has "plenty of power up its sleeve" but also called the scripts "lumpy" and the show "uneven." He ultimately gave Season 2 a "B" grade. 

Darren Franich of Entertainment Weekly gave "Stranger Things 2" a "C" and said Season 2 "ripped off" Season 1. He also called the first half of the season "pointlessly overlong, quarter-baked" and five straight hours of pure unfiltered Netflix bloat. 

If you haven't started watching "Stranger Things 2" yet, here's what you need to know about Season 2.