January 8, 2014

Blu-ray Essentials: Bates Motel (TV, 2013)

Bates Motel: Season One (2013)
Universal Studios
Price: Currently $22.99 on Amazon (click pic above to order)
50 GB Blu-ray disc
2 Disc Set
UV Copy
Digital Copy (Download)
VC-1 (22.02 Mbps)
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
English SDH
Region: A, B

As Horror TV Shows go, most of them are fairly bland to us; sure, the Grimm's and Supernatural's of the world are fun, and have some great things about them, but in the end, they're safe shows created to cater to as broad of an audience as possible. Nothing wrong with that, sometimes that's just what we're in the mood for.

For the most part though, we do prefer our shows to play it straight. We'll take absorbing drama, a forward-moving narrative, and some shocking twists/developments any time over the more pedestrian "case of the week" type of fare. A show like Bates Motel gives us just that, and so much more.

A modern day prequel to Psycho (and thus, the legend of Norman Bates), Bates Motel is a pretty straightforward Thriller/Suspense vehicle about an odd teenager and his Mother who movie to a quiet Oregon town, buy an old motel, and get sucked into the surrounding community's drama and seedy goings-on. Sex trafficking, pot farming, murder, rape, sexual deviance... it seems as if everyone in town is creepier or more dysfunctional than the not-yet-psycho, Norman. Add two mentally unstable people to the chaos of those troubled surroundings, and you have the makings of a pretty compelling story.

Bates Motel is honestly every bit as much Norma's story as it is Norman's; sure, we know that she ends up dead, and Norman ends up dressing up like her and killing women unfortunate enough to rent a room at his creepy motel, but for now, his mommy issues are front and present and dominate the plot. His mommy, for the record, is pretty bat-shit nuts, and aside from being controlling and mentally abusive to her son, she seems to have no issue with murdering people.

Freddie Highmore is great as Norman, but it's really Vera Farmiga that makes the show; her Norma Bates is a character for the ages, and for most of the first season, we forgot that Norman was a burgeoning maniac, because we were waiting to see what crazy shit his nut-bag of a Mother was going to do next.

That's really what makes the show so great. Aside from being well made, and boasting a really solid cast, we already know where the story of Norman Bates is heading, and now we get to see exactly what happened in his life that lead him to the point of being the Serial Killer that we all know an love/fear.

How can you not love that? 

You just know she has to die at some point, right?
It's a brand new TV Show, so it's bound to be crisp and clean on Blu-ray, right? It's shot digitally, there are no visible artifacts to be found (at least not to our untrained eyes), the blacks are deep as they should be, and everything pops with natural perfection. This BD set looks gorgeous, as well it should.

His creepiness is so crisp and detailed in HD.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix offered on these discs is crisp and sharp, and feels almost like its a cinematic effort. The score is fantastic and sounds great in this lossless format, and even the hum of the Bates Motel neon sign is deep and warm. Those with a proper surround sound system should be happy with this effort.

Ordering a pizza? Now?!?
The Special Features on this two-disc set aren't anything all that great or compelling, although the Paley Fest panel with the Cast & Crew was a fun and interesting watch. The Manga cards were a neat touch too.

We bought this BD to own the show, so the lack of extras don't bother us all that much in this case.
  • Deleted Scenes (5 on each disc)
  • Previews- Blu-ray/DVD previews for Grimm, Defiance, The Best of Hitchcock, and a few other TV Shows & Movies.
  • The Paley Center Panel Discussion with the Cast and Creative Team
  • Manga Cards- Actual cardboard replicas of the book pages that Norman finds under the carpet.
Is Jere Burns ever not awesome?
A solid show that does the legend of Norman Bates and his Mother more justice than we expected it to, Bates Motel is a must-see for genre fans. It's a solid Drama with enough Horror through lines to keep things nice and tense. It's bloody, too. Maybe not Hannibal bloody, but it gets the visceral job done in its own, more subtle way.

The 2nd Season of Bates Motel premieres on March 3rd, so now is the perfect time to catch up with the show if you missed out on it the first time around. It's definitely worth your time.

The ladies of Bates Motel, Season One: Vera, Olivia, Nicola, and Keegan. They're hot, and they all have unconventional names, which kinda makes them even hotter.


  1. Unrelated but I"m somewhat surprised you haven't mentioned these yet:


  2. Oh, never fear, HWK. We will be mentioning "those" as soon as the first ep. of True Detective airs.

    And technically, we did alreay mention them on our Twitter :)