Then we had a 32 second promo.
And now — here’s the nearly 3-minute trailer!
This week’s episode of Bates Motel was all about marijuana.
No sooner has Norma (Vera Farmiga) recovered from finding the decaying corpse of Deputy Shelby in her bed then she’s having to deal with the hippies openly smoking weed out on the motel’s porch. Now, I have to admit that some of my best friends are hippies but, for the most, they’re a lot more charming than the Bates Motel hippies. The Bates Motel hippies are all incredibly dirty and rather rude. Even worse, one of them has a guitar and insists on both playing and singing The Goo Goo Dolls’ “Slide” during all hours of the night. Seriously, I thought Dylan (Max Thieriot) ran off the guitar-playing hippie last episode. Maybe he came back.
However, as one of the hippies explains to Norma, the town’s entire economy is pretty much dependent on that huge marijuana farm in the woods. So, the hippies can pretty much do anything they want without having to worry about being strung up in the town square and being set on fire. In one of my favorite moments from last night’s episode, Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell) drives up to the motel, calmly glances at the pot-smoking hippies, and then pretty much ignores them for the rest of his visit.
One of the hippies takes a liking to Emma (Olivia Cooke) and gives her a pot cupcake. To the show’s credit, Emma doesn’t have a melodramatic freak-out or anything else that we’ve come to expect from television whenever a character tries drugs for the first time. Instead, she gets rather realistically spacey and paranoid. Hilariously, Emma’s stoned paranoia isn’t all that different from Norma’s natural paranoia.
Speaking of which, this week’s episode was also dominated by Vera Farmiga and her performance as Norma Bates. Throughout this season, Farmiga has proven that she’s an actress who knows just how much scenery she can chew before losing credibility. One the joys of this show is watching Farmiga continually take Norma to the edge of becoming a caricature and then pulling back at just the right moment. Last night, we got to see Norma confront one of the annoying hippies about “smoking a doobie” on the motel’s front porch and physically attack a sleazy real estate agent for refusing to help her sell the motel. And, of course, we can’t forget about the tres creepy scene where she climbs into bed with Norman (Freddie Highmore).
Norman, as always, is having issues of his own. After having a dream about drowning Bradley (Nicola Peltz), he writes a short story about it. Ms. Watson (Keegan Connor Tracy) is so impressed by the story that she volunteers to help Norman edit it. When Norman tells her that he’s not sure if his mother would approve, Ms. Watson tells Norman that maybe they don’t need to tell his mother. In fact, maybe it can just be their little secret. As Ms. Watson talks to Norman, it becomes apparent that she’s interested in more than just being his teacher.
This leads, of course, to an interesting question. Is there anyone in the town of White Pine Bay who isn’t crazy?
No wonder Jake loves this place! Yes, despite having checked out of the motel, Jake Abernathy (the wonderfully creepy Jere Burns) is still around. First he sends Norma flowers and then, at the end of the episode, he pops up in the back seat of her car and tells her that if she doesn’t pay him $150,000, he’s going to kill both her and her sons, therefore setting us up for next week’s season finale.
If there’s been a reoccurring theme running through my reviews of Bates Motel, it’s that this is a show that has struggled to define itself. This first season has been spent trying to find a consistent theme and tone. Over the past 9 episodes, whenever Bates Motel has attempted to be a straightforward thriller, the show has struggled. However, when the show has accepted the inherent oddness of being a weekly prequel to Psycho, Bates Motel has succeeded. Bates Motel is a show that benefits from going over the top. Perhaps that’s why I enjoyed this week’s episode, Underwater, as much as I did. Underwater was Bates Motel at its over the top best.
Last night’s episode of Bates Motel featured Norma (Vera Farmiga) trying to flirt her way to prosperity and out of trouble, Norman (Freddie Highmore) dealing with a therapist, Emma’s Dad (Ian Hart) waxing poetic about taxidermy, Dylan (Max Thieriot) pulling a gun on a pushy hippie, and Jake (Jere Burns) being brilliantly sleazy. It was a lot of fun and a definite improvement over last week’s dour episode.
For those of us who are still invested in the idea of this show being a prequel to Psycho, last night’s episode was important because it opened with Norman learning about taxidermy from Emma’s dad, Will. Norman is getting his poor dog stuffed and mounted and, no offense to any taxidermists out there, but it’s all a bit creepy. No wonder that, when Norma drops her son off at Will’s shop, she tells him that she’s not sure if Norman should be spending all of his time with dead things. Despite the fact that Will points out that taxidermy makes Norman happy, I can actually see Norma’s point. No mother looking forward to someday being able to play with her grandchildren is going to be happy about seeing her son taking up taxidermy or ventriloquism.
However, that’s the least of Norma’s problems. Despite her attempts to first flirt with and then blackmail Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell), Romero refuses to use his influence to help Norma get a seat on the town’s planning commission. Instead, Romero, in that wonderful way that Nestor Carbonell has of being enigmatically threatening, tells her, “We’re not friends.”
Even worse, Norma can’t get Jake to leave the motel. In one of the best scenes of the entire first season, Norma follows Jake when Jake drives out to Deputy Shelby’s boat. (Or was it Keith’s boat? Sometimes, I have a hard time keeping all the dead perverts of Bates Motel straight.) When Jake discovers Norma watching him, Norma attempts to convince him that she hasn’t been following him. Speaking in a chillingly child-like voice, Jake replies, “Where’d you hide it?” (“It” being that sex slave who was last seen running off into the woods.) Norma finally finds the strength to order Jake out of her motel and, despite the fact that Jake leaves, it’s pretty obvious that he’s not gone.
Meanwhile, at the high school, poor Emma is hiding in the girls room stall and using her inhaler (which brought back a lot of asthmatic memories for me) when she overhears a group of mean girls talking about how weird Norman is and how there’s no way Bradley (Nicola Peltz) would ever sleep with him. This leads to Emma stepping out of the stall and telling them that Bradley did just that. Words get back to Bradley, Bradley gets mad at Norman, and Norman ends up up having a mini-breakdown at school. This leads to two scenes, a hilarious one where Norman and Norma attend a meeting with a therapist and a truly touching one in which Emma apologizes to Norman and tells him that she likes him. Awwwwwwwwwwww! Seriously, Norman and Emma are such a cute couple that it’s really a shame that one of them is destined to grow up to be a cross-dressing voyeuristic serial killer.
Finally, Dylan and Remo go on a road trip to pick up some hippies to work at the marijuana farm. One of the hippies is a really obnoxious guy with a guitar and I spent the last half of the show worried that he was going to be a new regular character. However, fortunately, he got on Dylan’s nerves so Dylan pulled a gun and left the guy and his guitar on the side of the road. Yay, Dylan!
Since it first started two months ago, Bates Motel is a show that has struggled to find an identity. That, in itself, is not surprising. Few succesful TV shows look the same during their final season as they did during their first. I recently rewatched the pilot episode of Lost and I was surprised at how different it felt from the show that Lost eventually became. The fact that Bates Motel is struggling to find itself is not surprising. What is surprising is just how different Bates Motel can feel from week to week. Whereas last week’s episode felt a bit forced and melodramatic, this week’s episode felt a lot more self-aware. This week’s episode was deliberately over-the-top and campy, in a way that acknowledged how ludicrous the series can occasionally be without ever descending to self-parody. Bates Motel has already been renewed for a second season and hopefully, season 2 will look a lot like last night’s episode.
Here’s the latest trailer for the sixth season of True Blood.
The previous season of True Blood ended with Russell dead, Bill merging with Lillith, and all Hell breaking loose. Though a lot of viewers have complained about season 5, I enjoyed both watching and reviewing it. I look forward to doing the same for season 6.
I also look forward to Eric and Alcide. Yum!
Season 6 of True Blood premieres on Sunday, June 16th.
Last night, as the world froze outside, I battled insomnia by watching yet another old episode of California Dreams.
Why Was I Watching It?
Last night, Texas was hit by a cold front. So, there I was, wide awake at 3 in the morning, curled up on the couch in my beloved Pirates t-shirt and panties and shivering as the wind howled and the temperature outside plunged into the low 30s. I figured that maybe watching something silly on YouTube would help me get a little sleep. So, I figured why not watch a show from sunny, always warm California?
Unfortunately, as I’ve explained in my previous California Dreams-related posts, there aren’t any old episodes of Saved By The Bell: The New Class on YouTube so I had to watch California Dreams instead.
What Was It About?
It’s flu season in California. Instead of doing the smart thing and staying home and resting, the very sick Tony (William James Jones) continues to go to school and work. Fortunately, Tony’s girlfriend Sam (Jennie Kwan) is from China and therefore, using typical California Dreams logic, is capable of brewing a magical tea.
Meanwhile, the economics teacher at Pacific Coast High School is handing out $500 to his students and demanding that they use it to start a successful business. While Jake (Australia’s Jay Anthony Franke) and Mark (Aaron Jackson) struggle to sell music lessons, Sly (Michael Cade), Tiffany (Kelly Packard), and Lorena (Diana Uribe) go into business selling Sam’s magic tea. However, their greed angers Sam’s ancestors.
Naturally, lessons are learned.
The commercial shoot was amusing. Anyone who has ever appeared in a student film will be able to relate to it. I especially liked the fact that Tiffany’s response to Tony’s direction was to repeat the line in the exact same way as before.
I liked the way that Jake’s student delivered the line, “A public debut might be a bit premature…”
What Did Not Work?
Wow, California Dreams — ethnic stereotype much?
I have to admit that I’m a bit confused about PCHS. In some episodes, it’s portrayed as being this school where there’s little to no discipline and the student body is absurdly powerful. And then, in an episode like this one, it’s suddenly full of teachers who just randomly hand out money, demand that their students start and run a successful business, and sentence people to summer school on a whim.
As well, you have to wonder how the teacher could punish Jake and Mark for not charging for their lessons while then giving Sam an A just because she was pretty much forced, by a random set of circumstances, into doing the right thing. I mean, how exactly is that integrity?
Seriously, California must have a really powerful teachers union.
“Oh my God! Just like me!” Moments
Back when I was in college, I had a role in a student film where I was required to spend a lot of time in bed while wearing a black negligee. The script didn’t call for me to cough but I did so anyway because I felt that’s what my character would do in that situation. ”Lisa, don’t cough,” the director said. I glared back at him and said, “Well, excuse the fuck outta me for trying to give a good performance.” Everyone laughed and assumed I was joking so I just went with it.
Back in the 90s, you could do a lot with $500.
Really, Bates Motel?
After all that build-up and all the dramatic cliffhangers, that’s how you resolve the Deputy Shelby subplot?
Last week’s episode of Bates Motel ended with the evil Deputy Shelby (Mike Vogel) getting shot by Dylan (Max Thieriot) and ending up lying dead at the feet of Norma (Vera Farmiga) and Norman (Freddie Highmore). How, we wondered, would the Bates Family get out of this one? How would they handle the suspicions of Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell)? How could they possibly get anyone to believe what had happened, especially since Shelby’s sex slave had disappeared into the woods?
Well, that was all resolved in the episode’s first five minutes. Romero showed up, believed everything that Norma told him, and agreed to help cover up the truth. Problem solved.
Oh, and the missing sex slave?
Well, who knows?
To be honest, nobody seems to be too concerned about her.
Despite the fact that the rest of the episode was actually pretty well-done, it was all overshadowed by the anti-climatic resolution of the whole Shelby subplot. (Or, as it was referred to in this episode, “The Deputy Shelby scandal.”) So far, Dylan, Norman, and Norma have — individually and together — murdered four people and they’ve managed to rather easily get away with it despite the fact that they live in a town where criminals are burned alive in the town square.
(Are we ever going to hear about that again?)
Anyway, once Romero let the Bates Family off the hook, Bates Motel got back to normal. In preparation for the grand opening of the Bates Motel, Norma attempted to pass out some brochures at a few local businesses but was told that nobody wanted anything to do with the Bates Motel because of the “Deputy Shelby scandal.” I have to say that I laughed out loud when I heard that phrase. I just imagined people driving by the Bates Motel and saying, “Did you hear about the Deputy Shelby scandal?”
However, there is a glimmer of sordid hope on the horizon when a guy named Jake (played by Jere Burns) shows up at the motel. As Jake explains, he had a standing reservation with the motel’s former owner for a block a rooms every few weeks. It’s pretty obvious from the first minute Jake shows up that he’s evil and creepy but Norma needs the money…
Meanwhile, Norman has perhaps the worst week of his life. He discovers a stray dog and starts feeding it. He even names it Juno. (At first, I assumed that he had named it after the Ellen Page movie but I doubt Norma would have allowed him to see that film.) Then, Bradley (Nicola Paltz) rejects him, explaining that their sexual encounter was a one time thing. An upset Norman walks back to the motel and arrives just in time to see Juno get run over by a passing car!
Picking up his dead dog, Norman announces that he’s going to see Emma’s father the taxidermist and that’s where this episode ends.
There was a lot to like in last night’s episode. Jere Burns gave an appropriately creepy performance as Jake and Vera Farmiga continues to find the perfect balance between melodrama and camp. However, the rather convenient resolution of the “Deputy Shelby scandal” overshadowed the entire episode. Normally, I enjoy the melodramatic shifts on tone that have come to define Bates Motel but, during last night’s episode, it was all just a bit too much.
(Warning: Spoilers Ahead)
Ever since Bates Motel began, one of the central questions has been just who was responsible for the death of Norman’s father. The implication from the start was that Norma (Vera Farmiga) was responsible. After all, the series began with Norman (Freddie Highmore) finding his father’s body and Norma responding rather calmly to the whole situation. It was Norma who insisted on leaving town, buying a motel, and starting a new life. For the past five episodes, it’s Norma who has been the dramatic and manipulative one while Norman has apparently been the one struggling to live a normal life while dealing with his overbearing mother.
In short, it was easy to assume that Norma was responsible.
That said, there has always been a number of viewers who have suspected that Norman would turn out to be the actual murderer. When the show started, I was one of them. However, I have to admit that, as Bates Motel progressed, I found myself so caught up in all the other subplots — like the return of Dylan (Max Thieriot) and the creepy Deputy Shelby (Mike Vogel) with his sex slave — that I forgot that there actually was any mystery about the death of Mr. Bates. I figured it would be one of those plot points that would forever be left open to interpretation.
It turns out I was wrong because last night, the mystery was solved. As Norma explained to Dylan, Mr. Bates was murdered by Norman.
And, with that explanation, Bates Motel suddenly made a lot more sense.
In the past, Bates Motel has often struggled to define itself. Last night, however, Bates Motel finally had an identity. Bates Motel is now a show about a mother trying to protect the world from her son and her son from himself. With that one revelation, Norma went from villain to sympathetic character and Norman became a lot more creepier.
It’ll be interesting to see how this development will play out over the rest of the series. Should we be worried about Emma (Olivia Cooke) or the oddly-named Bradley (Nicola Peltz)?
While last night’s episode was dominated by the truth about the death of Mr. Bates, it was also memorable for the fate of Deputy Shelby (Mike Vogel). After discovering that his sex slave was at the motel, Shelby went on a rampage before finally being shot and killed by Dylan. Last night’s episode ended with the Bates family staring down at Shelby’s dead body.
How much you want to bet that next week’s episode will feature Shelby being dumped in a nearby swamp?
Last night, I watched yet another episode of the mid-90s sitcom, California Dreams. That episode was entitled Boyz R Us.
And yes, it was a very special episode.
Why Was I Watching It?
As I’ve explained in my previous California Dreams-related posts, I’ve been watching episodes of this 90s sitcom because all of the episodes of Saved By The Bell: The New Class have been yanked off of YouTube.
This was actually the third time I had watched the Boyz R Us episode. I previously watched it last week with my BFF Evelyn after we saw Tyler Perry’s Temptation. However, the next day was a busy one and I didn’t get a chance to write about it. Therefore, in order to maintain the integrity of this feature, I rewatched Boyz R Us yesterday so that I could honestly say that it was what Lisa Marie watched last night.
What Was It About?
In this episode, we discover that Tony (William James Jones) is from “the hood.” This isn’t surprising since, in the world according to mediocre sitcoms, every single black man on the planet was born in the hood just so he could eventually leave, befriend a bunch of white people, and then be accused of “selling out” in a very special episode.
Tony’s cousin, Darren, drops by for a visit and explains to Tony that “Some changes are going down in the hood.” When an old friend of Tony’s is crippled by gang members, Tony is forced to choose between being a snitch and going to the police or seeking violent revenge on his own.
Meanwhile, the other members of the California Dreams are all broke and get jobs delivering singing telegrams. To be honest, compared to what’s happening in the hood, the problems of a bunch of affluent white teenagers seem rather trivial indeed.
Incidentally, I was born in Oak Cliff, Texas which is the Dallas version of the hood. Just saying…
(Of course, my mom also got us all out of there when I was 14 months old and I wouldn’t know a real gangsta if he came up and stared straight at me but that said, I’m still technically from the hood.)
In some of the other episodes that I’ve seen, William James Jones had a tendency to overact. However, I thought he did a pretty good job in this episode. If he went over-the-top, that was largely because the episode itself — with its heavy combination of melodrama and messaging — didn’t leave him much choice. In this episode, Jones embraced the melodrama and good for him.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate and respect the fact that the show was made with the best of intentions. (Though you do have to wonder just how many real-life gang members would have been spending their Saturday morning watching California Dreams…) However, the appeal of this episode really is that it’s so over-the-top and melodramatic.
For 22 minutes, everything with Tony is a drama. Every phone call he gets is bad news and you get the feeling that the other Dreams are starting to dread the prospect of being anywhere near him. And then, at the end of the episode, Tony manages to not only convince Darren not to throw his life away but also rallies the entire community to finally stand up to the gang culture. You can argue that the episode’s resolution isn’t all that realistic (for one thing, nobody seems to have considered that at least one of the two gang members would probably have had a weapon of his own) but that’s part of the appeal.
Also, was it just me or did it seem that the California Dreams were personally arresting the two gangstas at the end of the episode?
What Did Not Work?
Two words: Singing telegram.
The singing telegram subplot would have been weak under normal circumstances but when coupled with all of the melodrama and heavy messaging of the main plot, it looked even weaker. Seriously, do the California Dreams not have parents to borrow money from?
I’m also found myself wondering if their final client specifically told Sly, “I want a group of teenagers dressed like keystone cops to sing to my girlfriend.”
Finally, the show’s writers missed a golden opportunity to have Jake announce, “Jake Summers doesn’t do silent film buffoonery.”
“Oh my God! Just like me!” Moments
“I just want to know what its like to poor!” That sounds like something I’d say while attempting to be cute.
“Two years is a long time to be gone from the hood…”