BATES MOTEL Recap: “Meltdown”

by     Posted Yesterday

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Though every episode of Bates Motel features a certain amount of damp and gloom, “Meltdown” was a particularly dark hour.  White Pine Bay seems to be in the midst of a very rainy week, and that darkness (the interior of Dylan’s office, the Bates’ home, characters only seeming to move around at night) was an integral part of of “Meltdown’s” tone, and a reflection of the inner lives of those on screen.  Things are at a low point, and to steal a line from Game of Thrones: “the night is dark and full of terrors.”  Hit the jump for why “everything has changed.”

BATES MOTEL Recap: “Presumed Innocent”

by     Posted 8 days ago

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Bates Motel has reached a point this season where it’s teetering on the precipice.  There are three episodes left now until the end of the season, but “Presumed Innocent” was too early to start the descent into what is sure to be the madness leading up to that finale.  So instead, it had a touch of strange world building, and then spent a lot of time loitering around the jail while Norman and Cody were being questioned.  Ultimately, even its final reveal didn’t reveal much.  For a season that has basically been on fire since its start, “Presumed Innocent” felt like like little more than stalling.  Hit the jump for what we did learn, and what it could mean.

BATES MOTEL Recap: “Plunge”

by     Posted 15 days ago

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In “Plunge,” Bates Motel starts the complicated unraveling of Norman.  There have been hints that have burst through the placid surface of how Norman would develop into the man known from Psycho, but the series has shown great restraint in keeping his weirdness present, without making it the only thing.  The expansion into the town of White Pine Bay continued this hour, with Dylan learning more about the business he’s a part of, and Norma making a play for the city council.  But the most shocking thing about Norman’s contribution to his own story this week was how it wasn’t shocking at all.  In a town like White Pine Bay, his actions (and reactions) should barely register.  Still, it makes his desire for anonymity that much harder.  Hit the jump for why, judging by the company you keep, I know all I need to know.

A&E Renews BATES MOTEL For a Third Season

by     Posted 16 days ago

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Halfway through its second season, Bates Motel has been renewed by A&E for another ten episode run.  The engrossing and underrated drama was developed by Carlton Cuse (Lost) and Kerry Ehrin (Friday Night Lights), and acts as a prequel of sorts to the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho.

The series’ greatest strength has been creating a world that leads up to, but isn’t dependent, on the story on which it is partially based.  Actually, scratch that — the series’ greatest strength is the Emmy-nominated Vera Farmiga, who plays Norma Bates.  Farmiga’s Norma is crafty, vulnerable, and hypnotic to watch — she’s completely unpredictable as the character and in the way Norma is portrayed.  Hit the jump for more on the series (spoiler-free), and its current ratings. 

BATES MOTEL Recap: “The Escape Artist”

by     Posted 22 days ago

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There were a few things that needed to happen for Bates Motel, even with such a limited number of episodes per season, for it to be able to continue.  Since there’s an obvious endpoint down the line, the question becomes how to expand upon the story in a believable way (for this crazy landscape, anyway).  But, also in a narratively satisfying way, one that pays homage to that eventual end, and that has its own, separate stories beforehand.  “The Escape Artist” was an episode that beefed up on everything that wasn’t about Norma and Norman’s relationship, which was a welcomed departure story-wise, but emotionally, made the episode less haunting than usual.  Hit the jump for more.

BATES MOTEL Recap: “Check-Out”

by     Posted 29 days ago

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Bates Motel‘s “Check-Out” was an episode about consequence.  The series has done a great job of weaving everything together, so that every action has a repercussion somewhere in the causal web of White Pine Bay.  It makes for tight narratives, but it could also lead to the problem of an over-reliance on coincidence and convenience.  Instead, Bates Motel embraces that and turns it into a motif, where every “coincidence” seems manifested from the sinister atmosphere of the location.  And instead of being a convenience, it’s a horror.  Hit the jump for why you can check-out, but you can never leave …

Olivia Cooke Talks BATES MOTEL, Season 1 Surprises, Emma’s Relationship Statuses, Love Interests, Scares, and Murders, Plus THE QUIET ONES and OUIJA

by     Posted 30 days ago

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After the explosive events that occurred in the first season of Bates Motel, things are only going to keep getting tougher and more dangerous for Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) and his mother, Norma (Vera Farmiga), especially with the economic livelihood of the motel being threatened. On top of that, Dylan’s (Max Thieriot) business is in a precarious position, Norma’s brother (Kenny Johnson) is in town, and there are new love interests for the characters.

During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, actress Olivia Cooke (who plays quirky teenager Emma Decody) talked about what most surprised her about Emma’s journey in Season 1, what she most enjoys about playing this character, how anxious she is to get tidbits of information about what’s to come, the status of Emma’s friendship with Norman, how close Emma is getting to Norma, what Emma’s new love interest will be like, that Emma will have a scare involving her Cystic Fibrosis, and that she’d love to see Emma caught up in a murder.  She also talked about her work in the upcoming feature films The Quiet Ones, a horror movie about a university physics professor who assembles a team to help create a poltergeist, and the thriller Ouija.  Check out what she had to say after the jump, and be aware that they are some spoilers. 

BATES MOTEL Recap: “Caleb”

by     Posted 36 days ago

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After cleaning house to start the season, Bates Motel began building up some new tensions and difficulties for Norma and Norman, as well as expanding the scope of White Pine Bay.  What makes Bates Motel more than just a sequel to Psycho is how it has cribbed enough Twin Peaks-like atmosphere to create its own shadowy story, suggesting that the boundaries of the motel are only one part of this much larger tale.  But as Norma and Norman venture out into the town and begin meeting more new characters, the show has stayed true to its twisted heart, never leaving things with the Bates quiet for long.  Hit the jump for more.

BATES MOTEL Recap: “Shadow of a Doubt”

by     Posted 43 days ago

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So far this season, Bates Motel has been sticking closely by its theme of “what lies beneath.  Nothing is as it seems.  But even aside from the quirks of the people and the place of White Pine Bay, the show’s causal web is also one that is full of surprises, because it’s so narratively dense.  This season, everyone is connected in a way we haven’t seen before, and the show’s expansion of the world has created a revolving door of characters: when one dies off, another one (who is somehow related) comes in to take their place (although the gender balance has gotten off).  Hit the jump for why “I haven’t been in the basement for days!”

BATES MOTEL Recap: “Gone But Not Forgotten”

by     Posted 51 days ago

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Last year, Bates Motel proved itself a surprisingly strange and hypnotic entry to the TV landscape.  Not only did the series find a way to be much more than just a prequel to the Hitchcock film, but the performances (particularly by Vera Farmiga as Norma Bates) were unlike anything else.  Bates Motel also created a unique setting — modern, yet a throwback — and expanded the world of White Pine Bay beyond the motel and its infamous inhabitants.  “Gone But Not Forgotten” picked up right where the show left off last year with its mysterious and potentially damning finale, but in its typical way, ultimately wriggled away from what seemed to be the obvious truth.  Hit the jump for why “this is the road that’s going to ruin our lives.”

Vera Farmiga and Executive Producer Kerry Ehrin Talk BATES MOTEL, Returning for Season 2, Norma’s Possible Love Interest and Plans for Season 3

by     Posted 52 days ago

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Bates Motel is returning to A&E for Season 2 on March 3rd.  After the explosive events of the first season, things are only going to get tougher and more dangerous for Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) and his mother, Norma (Vera Farmiga), especially with the economic livelihood of the motel being threatened.  The series also stars Max Thieriot, Nestor Carbonell, Olivia Cooke and Nicola Peltz.

During this recent interview to promote the show’s premiere, actress Vera Farmiga and executive producer/writer Kerry Ehrin talked about returning for Season 2, the luxury of a continuing series, the possibility of a love interest for Norma, getting to learn more about Norma’s backstory this season, the process for doing such emotional scenes, how Norma’s brother will change the dynamic, whether Farmiga might ever direct an episode, and how the door will definitely be open for a third season.  Check out what they had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers

Watch Two Teaser Trailers for BATES MOTEL Season 2

by     Posted 99 days ago

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A&E’s Bates Motel is getting ready to open up for a second season, and the network has released a couple of fittingly creepy teaser trailers in anticipation of the premiere.  For those unaware, the show is a prequel adaptation of Psycho and follows a young Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) as he opens a motel with his mother (Vera Farmiga) in a small, secret-filled town.  The first season was quite entertaining and Farmiga’s performance as Norma Bates is spectacular, so I’m interested to see where the show goes in this year’s batch of episodes.  The season finale definitely set things up for a serious shift in dynamic between the characters.

Hit the jump to watch the two teaser trailers.  Season two of Bates Motel kicks off March 3rd on A&E.

Year in Review: Allison’s Top 10 New TV Series of 2013

by     Posted 123 days ago

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Whether you subscribe to the idea of a “Second Golden Age” of television or not, there’s no denying that 2013 was a great year for TV.  Outstanding, even, because for all of the trash there were so many treasures.  Hit the jump for the first batch of treasure: a look back at the best new series from this year (in no particular order, and miniseries are saved for another list), which are all worth binge-watching to catch up with in preparation for their second seasons in 2014, if you haven’t indulged already.

Fan-Made Teaser Trailer for BATES MOTEL Season Two [UPDATED]

by     Posted 198 days ago

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Just in time for Halloween, a teaser trailer for the second season of A&E’s Psycho prequel series Bates Motel has landed online.  The first season introduced a young Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) who, with his odd mother (Vera Farmiga), moved to the mysterious town of White Pine Bay, Oregon and purchased a rundown motel.  Run by executive producers Carlton Cuse (Lost) and Kerry Ehrin (Friday Night Lights), the first season was a tad uneven overall, but the good mostly outweighed the bad.  Farmiga’s performance as Norma Bates is wonderfully strange and unsettling, and Cuse and Ehrin have set up an interesting mythology for the town of White Pine Bay that extends beyond the future psychopath Norman Bates.  The season ended on a fascinating note, and I’m interested to see how things progress in the new episodes.  This teaser offers just a tiny taste, as we see Norman nonchalantly working on some taxidermy.  What a sweet boy.

Hit the jump to check out the teaser.  Bates Motel will return to A&E sometime in 2014. [Update: We've been informed that this teaser is not official and is apparently fan-made. Carry on.]

BATES MOTEL: Season One Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 213 days ago

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It’s hard to believe that Psycho actually qualifies as a franchise, mostly because everything after the immortal original was a steaming pile of cow flop.  Three theatrical sequels, one aborted TV pilot, the well-intentioned but ultimately pointless Gus Van Sant thing… it hasn’t been an easy ride for Norman Bates and his mother. Until now.

Bates Motel starts out feeling like a terrible gimmick, covering Norman’s (Freddie Highmore) formative years in what initially promises to be a one-trick pony.  Instead, the show serves up a meaty cocktail of American Gothic, as Mrs. Bates (Vera Farmiga) buys a quiet hotel with her young son in hopes of escaping a very checkered past.  Naturally, things go from bad to worse as the hotel’s old owner shows up, the local sheriff (Nestor Carbonell) pops in to ask awkward questions, and bodies both real and metaphorical start getting dumped in out-of-the-way places.   Hit the jump for my full review of Bates Motel season one on Blu-ray.

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