, 30 tweets, 10 min read Read on Twitter
I have started watching #StrangerThings3 and, holy crap, there are Russians in it! Suffice it to say, I have questions. And exclamations. Many, many exclamations. It looks like a thread is coming. Feel free to stop me, Twitter.
Comrade Dyatlov before he became criminally reckless.
The very opening scene, with 80s Bond flick music, tells me this is gonna be spectacular in the most horrible way. This series has been so faithful to the 80s, it now pays homage to how we looked in your imagination then
The opening shot is the classic 3 Stock Evil Russkies: the Boss, the Heavy and the Background Drone You Won't Notice But Who Makes Me Cringe. Let's dig in... The boss is Major General in what may be either Air Force or KGB border troops. He's so far pretty unremarkable
Ah, 3 more stock Russkies have appeared: the Disheveled Mumbler, the I Guess Some of Them Were Sexy and Another Cringy Background Drone... Let me explain why the Drones are grating my eyes with a cheese grater. They are completely out of uniform.
Generally, the only places a Soviet soldier would appear in without a uniform hat would be the bathhouse, the canteen or a badly made American 1980s film, normally featuring Rambo. Also, they appear to be rather old to be privates, another typical 80s Hollywood Russians thing.
Also, Soviet privates weren't armed with pistols. But OK, let's assume these are KGB troops, just to humor you. Which they aren't because uniformed KGB troops were border guards. And didn't wear the same uniform. Damn it, I am only like 10 seconds into this thing and my brain...
This is where @clmazin would have made sure there was a Leningrad Porcelain Factory teacup in the shot. Or a Soviet Army tin mug. But creators of #StrangerThings, who agonize over every single period T-shirt, didn't even bother to make Russian inscriptions on switchboard dials.
I can't get over Comrade General. What military branch is he a general of? The Air Force would have sky blue border on the shoulder bars. These kind of look like post-Soviet-era Russian Space Force. But they are purple? What the hell is it? The USSR Glorious Upside Down Division?
You wanted men speaking in actual Russian, #ChernobylHBO critics? Here, gorge yourselves! Here is a clearly Bulgarian/Romanian/Serbian man doing his very damn best. Are you satisfied, Twitter? Are you entertained? ARE YOU?
As we watch This Thing That Would Have Like Totally Happened in the 1980s USSR, let's talk a bit about the glorious tradition of the Hollywood Soviet Heavy...
For whatever reason, Hollywood always felt obliged to include a ridiculously over the top heavy when Soviets were a part of the plot. Seen here as a glorious Swede in his non-Drago incarnation, the Soviet Heavy is always muscular, growling, and rarely actually Russian.
Hey, remember Sergeant Kourov from Rambo III? Remember this freaking guy? And how about Colonel Unnecessarily Evil from Indiana Jones and Soviet Socialist Republic of Bad Movie Making? That dude, too... I think the Stranger Things guy will die in a rather gross death
Back to our regularly scheduled strangulation. Which, as you all know, was standard punishment for scientific workplace mishap as per Article 14.23 ЩЧЪ of the Glorious Ukrainian SSR Communist Russkie Criminal Code of Vodka... Wait, what? Is this guy wearing a POCKET PROTECTOR?
And an ID tag with his picture on it? What the hell is this, did General Vodka miss an obvious American spy here? As if his being handsome wasn't a dead giveaway... BTW, the actor who plays the General is an actual Russian. His screen name is John Vodka. I am not kidding.
Another real Russian. Worship at this series' feet, internet. And forget about the fact that this military reply could not be uttered by a civilian, unless he was trying to mock General Vodka. The penalty for which in the real USSR was, you guessed it, one-handed strangulation!
I love the authentic shoulderbars of a Senior Sergeant of the Deadly Russian Proletarian Troops of Fictional Purple-Shoulderbarred Military Branch of the Order of Boris Badenov. These are amazing, and all Soviet Heavies had to wear them by Stalin's actual decree, signed in blood.
Do you love the hats? Bet you did. Rest assured, they are genuine. But I was looking at that sign on the left. This is what happens when you type "No Entrance Without Permission. Restricted Government Facility" into Google Translate, complete with English-style capitalization
This landscape! Will Eleven have to travel here to drop a ring into a mountain at some point? The song in the background is "From the Taiga to the British Seas the Red Army is the Strongest." The final words are "we all must go indomitably into the final deadly battle"
I am exhausted, Twitter. This is just the opening scene! OK, I will continue this (after my drive across the border back to the States) but only if the thread generates, like, a lot of likes/retweets. Otherwise it might not be worth the effort. What is #StrangerThings doing here?
(Also, the next scene is teenagers kissing, which is as American as Soviets one-handedly strangling each other. This show's commitment to fiercely one-sided realism is commendable... OK, then, I will break now.)
So, what do you think? Should I continue analyzing the Russians on the show?
Incidentally, do you think #ChernobylHBO would have been improved if Craig Mazin let #StangerThings3 writers guest-write an episode? Considering how many catastrophic errors some of the characters committed, every scene would have been littered with one-handedly strangled bodies.
Comrade Fomin: It must have been burned concrete!
Comrade Shcherbina [cocks his head inquisitively, picks Fomin up by his neck]: Ah, but there you've made a mistake, Comrade Fomin.
Fomin [struggles vainly to catch breath]: Urgle-gurgle
Shcherbina: For I know much about concrete!
OK, back to not-yet-strangled Soviet men. Here is what happens when you hire actual Russian speakers to act small parts but not actual Russian writers to write the lines (as The Americans did, BTW). Enjoy your accent-free Google-translated monologue that makes zero sense.
But, hey, the man is at least wearing proper sergeant shoulderbars this time... of Soviet infantry. I am still pretty confused on who actually runs this installation: the Air Force (comrade general), the Army (this radio dude here) or the Invented Purple-Striped Strangler Troops
No, I am not complaining that the phrase about a trip to China is nonsensical. I know it's code. I am complaining about it being clumsily translated into Russian. Imagine it being pronounced in English as "Is a not bad sound to travel to China." Code or not, it sucks.
This brings us to the end of Ep 1: Enter the One-Handed Strangler. Have to say the main character performed very well in the episode. The look, the menace, the purple shoulder bars. I'd do an entire series just about him, in which he says zero words. Just stranglestranglestrangle
Glukhov: You won't give us fans, so we dig naked.
Gen. Pikalov [looks inquisitively, picks Glukhov up by his neck]: But you're less protected now!
Glukhov [struggles for breath]: We... urgle-gurgle... are still wearing the fucking hats.
Pikalov (squeezes): So I see...
I will continue with the next episode later tonight, if there is enough interest. Please, tell me there are more stranglings coming! This is now officially a Soviet Army Cinematic Asphyxiation fan account.
A somewhat shorter Episode 2 review here. Get ready for a Russian lesson!
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