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Montauk was a television drama concept created by the Duffer Brothers, and the original iteration of their hit Netflix show Stranger Things. This early version has much in common with Things, but differs in various ways; most notably, it was planned to be set in Montauk, Long Island rather than the fictional Hawkins, Indiana.

The Duffers produced a script for the show's first episode, which contains much of the same material as The Vanishing of Will Byers. The brothers also created a mock-up Stephen King-style booklet, used in pitches to television networks to help illustrate the intended tone and feel of the series.[1]

Differences from Stranger Things

Story differences

Setting

The most notable and obvious difference between Stranger Things and its original incarnation is the setting. The Duffer Brothers originally wanted the show to take place in Montauk, Long Island (and for the show to correspondingly be titled Montauk) because they desired to recapture the "coastal-town Amity feel" in Jaws.[2]Furthermore, the pilot is clearly heavily influenced by the books of Preston B. Nichols, such as The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time, which was also set in Montauk. Stranger Things and his books cover a great deal of common ground, such as monsters, portals and children with psychic powers.

The setting was changed to the fictional Indiana town of Hawkins due to production reasons, filming in Atlanta. The Duffers would warm to this decision, as Atlanta felt more like "Anywhere, USA" and reminded them of their childhoods in North Carolina. Ross Duffer said they were also "excited" by the change for another reason; since Hawkins is "this little fictional world that we've made up, we can do stuff that didn't happen in real life".[2]

Story elements

While it is clear the pilot would evolve into "The Vanishing of Will Byers", the script also contains similar scenes to "The Weirdo on Maple Street". The script puts emphasis on some kind of electrical storm which has yet to be seen in the show. The Monster's victims originally bled from the nose and ears when in contact with it, in a similar fashion to Eleven bleeding when she exercises her powers. The script also suggests multiple monsters were planned for the first season.

Character differences

Due to the setting change and the actors cast, some characters had to be re-written. One of the most altered characters was Joyce Byers. Originally, Joyce would have a Long Island accent, wear too much make-up, and be a lot more aggressive. When Winona Ryder was cast, the Duffers decided to instead base her character on Roy Neary in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.[3] Steve Harrington was also changed drastically from the pilot script. Due to Joe Keery's portrayal being more likable than the Duffers had planned, they rewrote his character from being a complete jerk to a guy being in the wrong crowd who eventually changes.[4] Terry Ives was originally male, implied to be a conspiracy theorist, and had no direct connection to the lab, its experiments or Eleven. Dr. Brenner doesn't appear in the pilot script, with three agents taking his place - however, his introduction was likely planned later in the season.

Other changes were more subtle. Originally, Mike would have a birthmark on his cheek which bullies would tease him about. Mike would also have a crush on classmate Jennifer Hayes. Lucas' original surname was Conley, and he originally had a crush on Nancy. Nancy also seemed to be less compliant, sneaking out instead of staying home. Eleven was thought out as being more feral, being described as “more like an animal than a child.” The script's descriptions of each character's appearance were more or less disregarded.

Trivia

  • While Stranger Things takes place in early November of 1983, the original script takes place in early October of 1980. One of the reasons the year was changed to 1983 is because it was a year before the film Red Dawn was released, which focused on Cold War paranoia.[5]
    • However, the second season will take place during October, albeit around Halloween.
  • It is possible the Duffer Brothers have re-incorporated their early concept of an electrical storm into the second season, as hinted at by the episode titled “The Storm” and the Super Bowl teaser.
  • Camp Hero (or the Montauk Air Force Station ) was built to originally be a coastal defense station disguised as a fishing village.
    • It is also where an alleged series of secret experiments were conducted by the US government. These experiments involved developing psychological warfare techniques and time travel. These allegations are believed to have originated from the book The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time, which the author, Preston B. Nichols, claimed to have recovered repressed memories of his involvement in the experiments.
  • When Mike talks to his father, he is trying to watch CHiPS, which was a TV series that originally aired from September 15, 1977, to May 1, 1983. A near identical scene appears in "The Vanishing of Will Byers", with Ted trying to watch Knight Rider instead. This change likely occurred due to the show's shift from 1980 to 1983.
  • In the show, before Will leaves to go home, he tells Mike he rolled a seven and that his character was defeated by the Demogorgon. This scene is absent from the script.
  • Also in the show, Will wanted Dustin's X-Men 134, while in the script he wanted Dustin's Uncanny X-Men 269. This would've been an anachronism, as that issue was released on October 10, 1990.
  • The boys having a policy about “using reflections” could be a reference to how the Upside Down is a “dark reflection” of the real world. However, this concept was dropped and isn't in the show.
  • Hopper's fan-favorite line, “Mornings are for coffee and contemplation,” is not in the script.
  • Before the boys were called to the principal's office, they are sitting in the science classroom where Mr. Clarke mentions the TV series Cosmos and quotes Carl Sagan.
    • Cosmos: A Personal Voyage was a thirteen-part TV series partially written by Carl Sagan that originally aired from September 28 – December 21, 1980.
  • When Benny is introduced, the script says “Benny Hammond”, however when he later tells Eleven his name, as well as when Connie Frazier says his name , it says “Benny Henderson.” This is either an error, or indicative that the Duffers had not yet settled on Benny's full name. It's worth noting that Dustin's surname is also "Henderson"; it's possible that Benny and Dustin were originally planned to be part of the same family.

External Links

Montauk Pilot written by the Duffer Brothers

References

  1. "Netflix Orders Mystery Series 'Montauk'"The Hollywood Reporter. April 2, 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Stranger Things’ Duffer Brothers on ’80s Cinema, Fighting Over Kid Actors, and How They Cast Winona Ryder" Vulture.July 15,2016.
  3. "The Stranger Things creators want some scares with their Spielberg" A.V. Club. July 13, 2016.
  4. "‘Stranger Things’ Finale: Duffer Brothers Talk Cliffhangers, Death and Season 2]" Variety. July 18, 2016.
  5. "'Stranger Things': How Two Brothers Created Summer's Biggest TV Hit" Rolling Stone. August 3, 2017.
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