Whether you came of age in the Reagan Era or not, Netflix’s October 27 launch of Stranger Things 2 should go straight to the top of your binge list this weekend.

The nine-episode second season of the Duffer Brothers-created horror-ish series smartly avoids the pitfalls of wanting to fix something that is far from broken, as I say in my video review above. At the same time, not resting on its considerable SAG Award-winning laurels, the series embraces the strongest sequel tradition of the likes of Terminator 2 and the Empire Strikes Back and spices it up while also playing to its strengths.

Picking up on October 28, 1984 and about a year after the spooky Upside Down was unleashed on sleepy Hawkins, IN, Stranger Things 2 isn’t shy about showing it has a bigger budget than last year. Yet, the show led by Winona Ryder and David Harbour still spotlights the core relationships that made the first season such a surprisingly satisfying word-of-mouth hit.

In that vein, the whole gang of Ryder as single mom Joyce Byers, Harbour as huffing and puffing police Chief Jim Hopper, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Noah Schnapp and Finn Wolfhard is back. When it comes to range and growth, Millie Bobby Brown proves that her resonating performance as Eleven in Season 1 was a sign of a star, not a one-hit wonder. Adding to the core cast in the best sense of the intention are a seemingly villainous Paul Reiser, a straight-out-of-Lost Boys Dacre Montgomery, Brett Gelman, Sadie Sink and Sean Astin.

You’ll have to jump in the video time machine and watch my review of ST2 for more of my take on the new Halloween-themed season. But without give away spoilers, I will says that that the search for Barb is on; there is even more love for the films of John Carpenter, which always works for me; plus another great performance from ever-stronger Charlie Heaton as Joyce’s awkward and eldest son Jonathan. Also, Joe Kerry’s Steve has gone from being a reformed snotty jerk of a boyfriend to Natalia Dyer’s Nancy to a real grownup in a world or at least a town gone crazy again.

Or, to quote Chief Hopper from ST2: “It’s not like it was before, it’s grown.” Amen.

Click on my review above and see what I mean. Will you be getting all 1980s on Friday when Stranger Things returns?