The One Hundred and Seventy-First Post: The One I Wrote While Under The Thrall of Insomnia

I can’t sleep and I don’t know if it’s because of more mounting frustrations with work – to which I can only blame myself this time – or the fact that there is a raging thunderstorm outside right now. As I write this, it’s 6 AM and I usually get up at 10:30. So if I were to feel tired right now, I could go back to sleep and get a decent nap in. Since I don’t see that happening any time soon, I guess this would be a good time as any to make some recommendations for a show that I am watching. Maybe if I bore myself enough, I can get back to bed.

Bates Motel
is trying really hard to be a re-boot of the popular Psycho franchise. Normally, I enjoy re-boots – I like a show that can take a known franchise or series and have me look at it in a new light (BSG comes to mind). Here’s the problem that I keep running into with Bates Motel: It’s set in the wrong era. Norman Bates shouldn’t have to deal with cell phones, modern teen angst and sex. I know that humanizing the killer is all the rage now-a-days, but not Norman Bates. What made him so successful in both the novel and the Psycho is that we had no idea beyond “Mother” what motivated him to kill. Yes, Norman Bates is based heavily off of Ed Gein and Lord knows we don’t know everything that went on in his head. In this day and age where serial killers are glamorized and even idolized (yeesh), the idea of Norman Bates: the quiet guy with an interesting side hobby trope doesn’t really fly… especially when the whole town appears to be as corrupt as D.C.

OK – this is going to turn into an “I Would Have Done It Differently”. If you don’t like this, I apologize and feel free to turn off your computer. This is the process of boring myself to sleep.

Here’s how I would have done it and I can sum it up in just two words: period piece.

Period pieces work and work well – Downton Abbey and Mad Men are two great examples. There is no reason why Bates Motel shouldn’t be any different. Bates Motel explores Norman as a young, sensitive man being pushed into the monster role (as we assume thus far) by his over-domineering mother – who doesn’t really comes off as all that domineering thus far (I speak from experience). The show can still do that, but we need to keep a lot of the things the same – mostly, the time frame. We need to have it taking place earlier than the movie Psycho – if this is going to be an exploration of what makes Norman Bates howl in the moonlight, and by omission, what could push the average viewer to join him – the audience needs to see The Quiet Young Man on the verge of breaking. We know what’s going to happen when a car pulls up and a blonde woman steps out of it. That should be the final scene in the series – Janet Leigh stepping out of her car and a fade to black and white. The series up to that point should revolve around Norman’s inner struggle. From when he comes back home after being ‘away’ – never mentioned beyond a vague wave of the hand and ‘fatigue’ – we should see Norman making himself busy in getting the hotel ready for customers… and always in the background, we hear a voice telling Norman that’s he’s not right… he’s a filthy degenerate… letting those whores use that hotel, use his business (and you can read into that whatever you want, kids) to make their money… that he needs to get himself right. If we’re going to do this, we need to see the world through his eyes. Mother not only needs to be heard from the attic, but she needs to be seen stomping around in the house never giving him a moment’s peace. We can have people come and go to the hotel to give us brief flashes of an outsider’s perspective (not too often, lest we get reminded that Norman’s crazy to start with and loses some sympathy), but in the end, it’s just a man with his mother on one side and his crumbling sanity on the other.

Then again – no one listens to me… except Mother.

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