The new season of “Stranger Things” is inspired by a Chevy Chase cult comedy

“I’ll have a steak sandwich, and a steak sandwich. Put it on Underhill.”
“I’ll have a steak sandwich, and a steak sandwich. Put it on Underhill.”
Image: Universal Pictures
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Stranger Things, an E.T. meets Stand by Me meets Alien mashup of classic 1980s films, wears its pop culture references on its sleeve. Never one for subtlety, the Netflix series literally cast Mikey from The Goonies (Sean Astin) in its second season. So now that it has nearly exhausted the inventory of 1980s sci-fi and coming-of-age tales to use as inspiration, Stranger Things is turning to a comedy icon of the decade: Chevy Chase.

In an interview with Variety, actor David Harbour, who’s nominated for an Emmy this year for his role as policeman Jim Hopper in the Netflix show, said the upcoming third season was influenced by the 1985 cult comedy Fletch, which starred Chase as a Los Angeles Times reporter who infiltrates a country club and dons many whacky disguises to uncover a conspiracy.

[Stranger Things creators] The Duffers are so specific each year with the movies, and Fletch is one movie we get to play around and have some fun with this season, which you wouldn’t expect from Stranger Things,” Harbour said.

Though lesser known than 1980s comedies such as Airplane! and CaddyshackFletch has earned a cult following, mostly for its abundance of quotable lines, as well as Chase’s goofy performance. Chase, a former Saturday Night Live cast member and mainstay of the National Lampoon movies, said it was his favorite role, since he came up with many of his character’s quips on the fly.

How the spirit of Fletch will live on in Stranger Things—which got pretty dark and serious in the second season—remains to be seen. Harbour did tell the Hollywood Reporter last week that the third season of the hit series “takes a lot of risks.”

It’s not a bad idea. The sci-fi adventure show experienced a common malady in its second year: the dreaded sophomore slump. While still largely entertaining, the second season of Stranger Things lacked the spark of its first season, which premiered in 2016 and quickly became a global phenomenon for its lovable cast of kids and relatively light-hearted 1980s-inspired horror mystery. Perhaps Irwin “Fletch” Fletcher will provide the creative spark Stranger Things needs to return to the heights of its debut season.