Flashback: My “Red Wedding” Reaction

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Before I had my wisdom teeth surgery, I binged on Game of Thrones like so many Americans do on the daily. However, before embarking on my journey to the medieval lands of Westeros and Essos, Twitter spoiled something that I would come to know (and hate) as “The Red Wedding,” from Season 3, Episode 9’s now-imfamous episode, “The Rains of Castamere.” Knowing the spoiler, I thought I was ready for the brutal massacre of some of our beloved characters, but, alas, I was still caught off guard. Here is the series of events that transpired, reenacted by my friends…

First, I realized that I was about to watch “The Red Wedding” episode. Clearly, I was excited.

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Then, the scene came. I noticed a guard in the background close and lock the hall doors. What’s gonna happen?

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Then, the killing started.

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Followed by more killing.

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By the end of it, I didn’t know how to express my emotions. The result looked a little like this:

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But, when I finally finished my tantrum and calmed down, I realized how great of an episode it truly was.

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Flashback: Shows I’ve Dropped

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Once Upon a Time: From Adam Horowitz comes this reimagining of our favorite storybook characters, conveniently living in the isolated town of Storybrooke, Maine. While I enjoyed its first season and its writers many allusions to their previous work on Lost (the clock being stuck at 8:15, the Apollo candy bars, etc.), the second season was a runaway train from the get-go. The writers added too many characters to a show – and since they decided to combine the fairy tale realm with all literature in general, their options were seemingly limitless. I did, however, like the introduction of Captain Hook, who brought a nice spin on the infamous character. However, by writing characters like Mulan and Lancelot into the plot, the writers overstepped their “fairy tale” boundaries. In the last episode I saw, ABC decided to give Jorge Garcia, a Lost alumnus, another job as the Giant. The special effects were just too ridiculous and I finally came to realize how bad of an actress Jennifer Morrison is on this show – her talents were much more appreciated on House, M.D.. From what I’ve heard, the show had a great season second season finale because of another mind-bending cliffhanger, but I don’t think I have it in me to watch twelve more episodes of uncomfortable mother/daughter moments between Snow White and her same-age daughter, Emma.

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Bates Motel: In my opinion, this show has the greatest ratio of most hype to biggest flop that I’ve ever experienced as a television viewer. Promotions for this Psycho prequel were everywhere – in newspapers, on billboards, and even in movie theaters. Where show runner Carlton Cuse, another former Lost writer, went wrong was making this prequel modern. When you think about the original Alfred Hitchcock film, the majority of the fear generated from the film comes from its grainy, black and white lens and its haunting soundtrack. The A&E show has neither. While Vera Farmiga plays the part of Norma perfectly, Freddie Highmore lacks the necessary acting abilities to compare to his counterpart, Anthony Perkins. At least he isn’t becoming one of those reckless child stars, like his contemporary Amanda Bynes.

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Da Vinci’s Demons: I think I made it through two and half episodes of Starz’ newest period drama before realizing I didn’t care for any of the characters, whatsoever. Where this show went wrong was trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. On any given day, you can find a special on the Renaissance or da Vinci somewhere in your local listings, but this show tried to over fictionalize the prominent historical figure to the point that he just could not have done all the things he does (i.e. two-handed swordfights while solving an age-old mystery…while intoxicated). Also, if I had a nickel for every time Leonardo got high in the two and a half episodes I saw, I would be able to buy many packs of gum…like, many packs.

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The Killing: Although I made this my Netflix Pick last week, I just finished the first season this morning and I do not feel confident in my ability to see the second season through. I am getting sick of the pointless red herrings and even sicker of the Larson family crying about their dead daughter. Again, I get where the show is trying to go with showing a side of a murder that most shows ignore, but it’s a bit much after seeing Mitch cry every five seconds. Also, I cannot comprehend why the badass Linden would even want to marry her fiancé in Sonoma. He’s a total sketch ball (and I thought he was going to be Rosie’s killer). On that note, I don’t even know if I know who the killer is or not. I mean, I think we’ve all established that the Councilman did it – he did use the screen name Orpheus after all – but the final scenes of the finale make you wonder if it was him or not. I did not sign up for “Who Killed Rosie Larson? A Two Season Saga,” I thought it was one and done. Now, I guess, critics are raving about the third season, as Linden and Holder get assigned to a new case. Maybe I’ll just pick up from this season so I can get rid of the Larson family once and for all.

Have you dropped any shows? Comment below on which one and why! Maybe you can even make a joke out of it – your call.

Checking Out of BATES MOTEL

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After the first four episodes of Bates Motel, I have lost any hopes of it being a quality, reliable show. I will, however, keep it as a guilty pleasure because of writer Carlton Cuse, who co-wrote and produced for Lost.

For starters, the acting is lacking. Freddie Highmore can barely hide his British accent in his role of the wildly disturbed Norman Bates. Next, Vera Farmiga, who was terrific in The Departed, is just not believable as the twisted, dark Norma Bates. It’s hard for these two to live up to the epic Hitchcock story, Psycho, but the creators should have put some more thought into their casting without throwing away a great opportunity.

Next, the choice to make this a contemporary prequel killed the show’s chances of having the terror-effect that Psycho did. Specifically, we saw Norma being arrested in last night’s episode based off of DNA evidence – something that the original Norman Bates could never have been caught on. Also, the lack of cell phone communication is especially important to the plot of Psycho, as Marion Crane, played by Janet Leigh, has no means of being traced by the police to the motel room.

Another thing that has turned me off from this show is the side plot about the Asian sex ring. A lot of shows and movies try to play on this whole creepy-yet-exotic theme (FlashForward and Sherlock to name a few) and it just never fully makes sense. Having the characters try to decipher Chinese characters just seems like a waste of my time.

However, I will continue to watch the show to find out how Norman Bates meets his inevitable fate of killing his beloved mother.

In last night’s episode, we were introduced to who I believe will be the most important character in the show: Emma’s father. Earlier in the season, we saw Emma’s dad’s shop, which was full of stuffed game, like deer, squirrels, and owls. In Hitchcock’s Psycho, Norman’s office is furnished with these animals and he tells his guests that taxidermy is his favorite hobby. So somehow, Emma’s father will have leave a disturbing impact on the boy, which will facilitate his transition into the psycho killer he is doomed to become.

So for now, I will temporarily check out of the Bates Motel as far as looking at the show with an analytic eye. But, hey, there is always time for it to turn around.

BATES MOTEL Premiere

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Last night, A&E premiered its highly anticipated series Bates Motel with a bang. Or should I say, with a slash.

The show is being referred to as a contemporary prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 horror thriller Psycho, meaning that it is set in present day, but still chronicles the early years of the infamous Norman Bates and his mother, Norma.

While the audience knows the inevitable fate of both of these characters, the storytelling of how they get there is reminiscent of ABC’s Once Upon a Time, which chronicles the backstories to all our favorite fairy tale characters.

And it’s no surprise that these two shows coincide with one another. Carlton Cuse, the co-showrunner for Bates Motel worked with Once Upon a Time’s Adam Horowitz on the writing of ABC’s phenomenon Lost.

The series opens on a teenage Norman Bates, played by Freddie Highmore (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), mysteriously stumbling upon his father’s dead body. His mother Norma, played by Vera Farmiga (The Departed), decides to move the two of them to a gothic styled home with an accompanying motel in California.

Quickly, the townspeople come to understand that the Bates’ are different. Norma continuously guilts her son into spending time with her and he ultimately succumbs to her self-pity.

In the first episode, we see Norman’s first taste of blood as his mother slashes a bugler that was once the owner of the home. They stash the body in one of the not-yet-infamous motel room showers when the police come knocking. The sheriff, played by Nestor Carbornell (Lost) is suspicious of Bates’ whereas his deputy, played by Mike Vogel (Cloverfield) is keen on Norman’s young mother. After a few moments of suspense, the officers leave without finding the slain victim.

In typical Lost fashion, the episode ended with a cliff hanger of an unidentified person (guesses are that it’s a female) shackled to a chair, receiving injections to their already punctured arms.

Judging from the pilot, the show should be able to keep a consistent fan base. Both the older generation who remembers seeing Psycho in theaters, as well as the younger generation that is fascinated with horror shows like AMC’s The Walking Dead and FX’s American Horror Story will appreciate the show’s cold, detached characters.

The set eerily matches up with Hitchcock’s 1960 production, as well as the external conflict of the creation of a new highway that would isolate their newly-purchased motel. Highmore, too, looks (and acts) like a young Anthony Perkins, who played the adult Norman Bates in the 1960 film.

Over the past few months, A&E, a channel known for their reality phenomenon Duck Dynasty, has been highly promoting the series. With spots in Regal Cinema’s “First Look” features, as well as paid-for promotion tweets, they are putting out all the stops to make this a sort of cultural revamp.

The show has aired three episodes so far, each better than the last. The show really is going for a Lost meets Once Upon a Time feel with the large ensemble cast in a small town that nobody leaves. The constant twists and head-scratching cliffhangers truly make this a must watch show for the spring season.

Be sure to check into the Bates Motel, Monday nights at 10pm only on A&E.