Sunday, June 2, 2013
TV REVIEW: BATES MOTEL - SEASON 1 REVIEW
Note: I apologize to any regular readers (if I have those, please comment and let me know!) who were reading my episode-specific reviews and wondered what happened. My real-life job has been taking it's toll on me, but now that I've temporarily rejoined the ranks of the unemployed, I have much more time for blog posts! Instead of covering the last two episodes in separate posts, I figured I'd condense them into this general overview of the first season.
Man, what a weird show.
And not weird in the Twin Peaks "what's going on?" way. More like this show came from some Bizarro universe where people had iPhones in the 1950's, everyone spoke in the cheesiest way possible, and having ten or so characters (each with their own side-plots) is seen as a good idea.
I've come to accept that Bates Motel is not a Psycho show. It's this Bizarro universe soap opera that happens to have some characters from the Psycho universe in it. That's probably the biggest detriment to my interest in the show, since I was really looking forward to an in-depth probe into the mind of Norman Bates and a look at the domineering figure of his mother. While the show flirts with that here and there, you can tell that's not what the creators are interested in. They spend way more time on all the mysterious goings-on that envelope the town Norman and his mother have moved to. The Bates clan just happen to be pawns in that game.
The show started off quite well, but by the end of the season, it has devolved into this wacky composite that feels completely unfocused. There are cadres of characters that are either inconsequential or downright annoying. It doesn't help that absolutely no one is giving a performance worth serious discussion. If at least one of the cast members was shining, it'd help elevate the show a bit. Alas, everyone is slumming it.
But then there's that Bizarro quality about the show that actually makes it watchable. The way people deliver lines like, "I killed my dog!" come off as unintentionally humorous. I'm not arguing that Bates Motel falls into the much-coveted arena of "so bad it's good" fare like Troll 2 and Plan 9 from Outer Space, but it's bad quality does have this spark of oddness to it that keeps you watching. I wish this were some other show besides a Psycho prequel because I think I'd like it a whole lot more.
The show is plagued by hackneyed writing and extraneous plots, but the way that those are executed with such earnest make the show strangely involving. It's not so much like watching a trainwreck as it is watching fundamentalist Christian children speaking in tongues: you know it's crazy and wrong but because they are committed to it, it actually draws you in.
By the end of the season, the big overarching plot (which has nothing to do with the relationship between Norma Bates and her son) seems to have been settled in a pretty unspectacular way. While I'm not hopeful for season two, there is an element of morbid curiosity that plagues me. There's also a chance that things could start to get focused more on the two main characters, but with worthless characters like Dylan and his crime doings around, I can't hold my breath.
At this point, the show has lowered my expectations of it greatly, and maybe that works in its favor, but it is disappointing since the idea of a Psycho prequel show does have a lot of promise. I guess I'll just have to accept this show from whatever dimension it jumped out of and see if it can top itself with its own brand of sincere wackiness. It'll be hard to beat Norma's cry of, "I murdered the crap out of him!" and Norman yelling about not having any black socks.