The way you know a show is trendy is when fans want certain characters to go off and have their own adventures. Most of the time, this comes out as fan fiction. But every so often, someone on YouTube picks up the threads of a season and remixes them into a trailer for the show that might have been. Game of Thrones had this happen several times. So it's perhaps not surprising Stranger Things, which is close in popularity, now has spawned a Hopper, P.I. video, proving that the Sheriff of Hawkins deserves his own cops and robbers spinoff.
It helped that Stranger Things Season 3 was chock full of 1980s-era cops and robbers TV show references. In the season premiere, for instance, Hopper is seen trying to watch Magnum P.I. Tom Selleck is heard reciting lines from the show's famous pilot scene: 'Work the lock. Work the lock. Don’t look at the dogs."
Then, there's Hopper's floral shirt, a nod to another cop series, the famous Miami Vice. It's also part of the joke about the car Hopper steals during the scene at 7-Eleven. The Vice team was all about the convertibles. Magnum also drove a convertible — a bright red Ferrari.
Check out the mashup all those references created in Hopper, P.I.
"Also starring Joyce Byers as Wheelbarrow and Murray Bauman as Himself" is also a priceless nod to the world of ridiculous police nicknames, as well as the occasional guest star who always played themselves.
The best part, though, is how many of these shots look like they should come out of a 1980s-era TV show. All the video does is recut them into a 4:3 frame and take the HD crispness down to a VHS level of not-so-crisp. The scenes at the carnival look like something out of a "last scene before the final commercial break" shootout. Even the shot of Hopper with the Burger King bag looks like a perfectly-framed shot of the nonchalant detective on the go with his lunch.
But the real reason this works is that it cuts out a specific part of the show's DNA: the children. Stranger Things has always been a show where the kids are stars. David Harbour, Winona Ryder, and the rest of the adults are there to anchor the kids, but also step out of the frame and let them carry it.
Seeing what the show could (and should) be without the nerdy kids who make it possible is a reminder of how talented these actors are. If the Duffers wanted to, they could make a few Hopper, P.I. shorts starring just the adults and have a hit on their hands.
It's good to have a tribute to David Harbour's character as well, since Hopper's fate is, at this point, unknown. Though many fans hope "the American" the Russians have is indeed Hopper, no one knows for sure.
If Harbour does not come back for Stranger Things Season 4, at least fans will always have Hopper, P.I. to fall back on.