What to watch and listen to this week: 'Bates Motel,' Trevor Noah stand-up special, Archive 81 podcast
Watch this week
Bates Motel, 10 p.m., A&E: The fifth and final season of the Psycho prequel series begins Monday, with Freddie Highmore back as a teenage Norman Bates. The season begins two years after Norma's death, but with Norman still struggling from blackouts and his "Mother" alter ego threatening to take him over completely. A half-hour recap of Season 4 airs at 9:30 p.m.
Trevor Noah: Afraid of the Dark, 3 a.m., Netflix: The Daily Show host Trevor Noah brings his stand-up special to Netflix, which was taped at the Beacon Theatre in New York. Noah hilariously takes on the absurdity of colonialism, the challenges a black James Bond might face and reliving a drink in Scotland.
American Masters: Maya Angelou, 8 p.m., PBS: This special profiles Dr. Maya Angelou, a poet, singer, dancer and civil rights activist who's best know for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. The documentary traces her early years in the 1930s South, her writing career and friendship with Malcolm X with archival photos and video and interviews with some of her friends.
Major Crimes, 9 p.m., TNT: The midseason premiere has been a long time coming for fans of the crime drama series. Unfortunately, that Andy Flynn cliffhanger won't be addressed in the first episode, according to the episode's synopsis.
SERIES PREMIERE: The Blacklist: Redemption, 10 p.m., NBC: The premiere of this The Blacklist spinoff series sees ex-operative Tom Keen (Ryan Eggold) recruited by a mercenary chief (Framke Janssen) to help rescue a CIA agent.
SERIES PREMIERE: Sun Records, 10 p.m., CMT: Sun Records founder Sam Phillips (Chad Michael Murray) helps shape the musical careers of iconic entertainers such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. The new series on CMT explores the musical influences that shaped these men on the way to superstardom and is based on the musical Million Dollar Quartet.
I'm probably not the only one who needs a break from the daily grind of news and politics. I currently have a lengthy list of podcasts to listen to, and at least a third of them take on current events. I'll get to those eventually, but this week I need a escape into a fictional audio drama.
It seems Archive 81 has been hanging out on my to-listen list for a while, but I'm so glad I started it now. It's an unsettling found-footage style podcast series and seems to draw inspiration from the soft horror of ‘90s TV shows.
The series from Marc Sollinger and Daniel Powell is about the arrival of archivist Dan (Powell), who starts a new job cataloging old cassette tape records made by the Housing Historical Committee of New York State. Part of Dan's job is to keep his tape recording on at all times while he listens to tapes of interviews between Melody Pendras (Amelia Kidd) and tenants of a mysterious apartment building. The use of cassette tapes is a throwback to classic horror. Nothing's scarier than creepy voices and noises on a cassette or VHS tape.
The episodes end with Dan's journalist friend Mark imploring the listeners to help him find Dan, who apparently went missing several months ago.
The story is a simple,classic horror tale yet doesn't feel cliche or like something you've already heard. There's no narrator, so the podcast uses the raw tapes to let the listener deduce what's really going on.
If you're into modern radio dramas — or, like me, need a break from the daily news cycle — check out Archive 81 on iTunes, Stitcher and archive81.com.
Contact Chelsea Tatham at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @chelseatatham.