Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Law & Order SVU “Bedtime” Recap & Review

All photos from NBC

Law & Order “Bedtime” is not an episode that will put you to sleep, although it does seem like the guest stars came from executive producer Neal Baer’s dreams or fantasies. The episode featured stars from decades past: Ann-Margret, Morgan Fairchild, Susan Anton, and Jaclyn Smith. Ann-Margret was downright creepy in her role (I mean that in a complementary way). Her gaping mouth (when asked if she’d give a DNA swab) almost sent me screaming from the room. She was almost too convincingly nutty in her scenes with the SVU detectives. The episode was also a study in what can happen when too many cosmetic procedures ruin a nice face (but I don't have Ann-Margret in this group since she has never looked the same after her fall from a stage in 1971). OK, Morgan Fairchild looked fabulous.

Maybe I am watching too many crime shows, but I knew exactly how this was going to end the minute that Susan Delzio opened her door and wouldn’t let the detectives into her home. In fact, at one point, I found myself yelling out to Benson and Stabler “Hey! Check to see if Delzio had been a blonde!” and “Hey! Have you noticed that Delzio is a common thread in the Cutler murder!” etc. etc. It was a shame that they let the “Bedtime Butcher” story get resolved too early as it was very interesting, and afterwards the show spiraled into an almost humorous, "campy" tone after the Butcher was nabbed. I also believe that airing SVU at 10 PM now means they can show scenes like the Benson “boob grab, ” which may have offended delicate eyes at 9 PM. (I am wondering if they got a stand-in breast for that scene.) It was nice to see Mariska acting in an undercover scene where her undercover disguise was not an evening gown or slinky dress (she did a nice job in that scene, by the way).

Since I watched this episode immediately after watching the season opener of Law & Order Criminal Intent, it was almost impossible for me to take “Bedtime” seriously. But "campy" can still be enjoyable!

Here is the recap:
Detectives Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) are called to the scene of the murder of Jane Whitmore, who was found dead in her bed. ME Warner (Tamara Tunie) puts the time of death between 9-11 PM. Whitmore was raped, and also is marked with an “X” cut into her cheek. She appears to be a journalist, and her computer seems to be missing.

The detectives speak with her boss who has nothing but good things to say about Jane, and she loved to go undercover for dangerous assignments. Jane pitched her a story about Morris Austibau, a hedge fund manager who bilked millions from investors. She had not talked to Jane in a while, but Jane emailed her saying she was going to meet up with Austibau.

At Eternal Peace Mortuary, Morris is working a pet cremation service, and he says he turned his life around through pet therapy. He called Jane a bitch, saying she lied and took advantage of him, she threw himself at him and when she found he was on the up and up, she dumped him. She just called him one more time and asked him for the address of Harmony Home where he was assigned after prison , which he says is a “pit.” The detectives wonder if she was trying to check them out.

At Harmony House, the detectives talk with the manager who says Jane was a resident for 10 days and says she was a nut job, getting into people’s faces. She would bring in her groceries but he never saw her eat.

Benson and Stabler check out her cupboard and while doing so another woman comes in an yells at them. Stabler shows her his badge and she says it is a fake. She says the food hers and Jane’s. Her name is Francine. They tell her Jane is dead, and Francine says people did not trust Jane as she did not fit in there. She mentions a problem with a grabby jerk who works there and what you need to do with him to get what you want or need, and the last time she saw Jane she was off to see him.

Back at the SVU precinct, Captain Don Cragen (Dann Florek ) is looking over the file of Ned Bogden (William Atherton) who is the senior benefits administrator for public assistance. There are no complaints in his file and has many commendations. Cragen worries if they take a swing at Bogden and miss it will be their asses on a plate. Benson says, “So we won’t miss.”

At the Welfare Benefits Bureau, Benson is there undercover talking with Bogden as a person with troubles who has nowhere to go. He says she is lucky she found him. He has her fill out some forms and gets up from his chair and goes to his door, closing the blinds. He moves right behind her and moves in close to her. When she worries about everything going through OK, he tells her to do everything he says and he will guarantee it. He touches her shoulders and rubs her, moving down her arm. When she asks about filling in her employer he tells her to jot down her last job, and as she says the words “Special….Victims…” his hand moves to grab her breast and she finished the sentence, “Unit.. Did I not mention that?” as she pulls his arm off her, pulls it behind him and cuffs him. He says, “You’re a cop” and Benson replies, “And you…are a creep!”

With Bogden in interrogation with Stabler and Benson , Cragen and Dr. Huang (B.D. Wong) watch from the observation room. He tries to explain that women are coming on to him. Benson mentions his hand on her breast and he says she moved the wrong way. They show her photos of Jane’s body and he seems appalled. They tell him they think that Jane was going to expose him to the world, and he says that is fiction. Meanwhile, Cragen asks Huang if the M.O. sounds familiar, and Huang says he’s not the first to disfigure a victim. But Cragen seems to remember something, saying Bogden is the first in 30 years to carve an X into a woman’s cheek, and he goes off to check out something. While Cragen is checking, Benson and Stabler continue question Bogden, but Cragen says to himself, “I know who you are, you son of a bitch.”

Later, Cragen has Benson Stabler and Huang together and tells them about the "Bedtime Butcher” who was responsible for 5 murders in the mid-1970s with the same MO. Cragen’s buddy Albert Cayman worked day and night on the case and never nailed him. While Cayman is now dead, he left a ton of evidence and files.

Benson and Stabler go through the old files which show that the Bedtime Butcher killed first in 1973 and his last was in 1976, and Cragen says Bogden got hired at his current job in 1976, 3 months after the last woman was murdered. They wonder if he got his thrill from women at his job. There was no DNA from the old files but they will get whatever they have to Warner. Huang thinks that Bogden would confess if tricked into it; he thinks each one of his victims were not picked randomly and they had set him off. If they find the connection to each victim, Bogden may crack.

Later, Benson and Stabler go over the old victims of the Bedtime Butcher with Bogden: Gloria Kelly, who he worked for tending bar in 1973 and she fired him; Elizabeth Giles, where he was a substitute teacher for her daughter in 1974; Anne Witherspoon, murdered in 1975, who won a post doc that Bogden applied for; Emily Cutler, murdered in 1976, who lived in a luxury building nearby; Catherine Price, also in 1976 where they both ran in a road running club together. Bogden gets irate and says their whole case falls apart if one link snaps, and he says he does not know Emily Cutler as in April 1976 he was in Cheyenne Wyoming at a men’s retreat and he can prove it. But ME Warner enters, asking if he can prove he didn’t leave dandruff all over Jane’s body. Stabler lunges for Bogden’s jacket and grabs it, and when Bogden objects, Stabler tells him he is in his custody and he can do whatever he wants. Warner takes a sample from the jacket and leaves the room. Benson says, “You’re cooked. See you in Sing-Sing.” As she walks out, Bogden yells that he had sex with her but he didn’t kill her and didn’t kill any of them.

In the lab, Warner shows that the Bogden’s DNA matches what was found on Jane’s body. She also found flakes on the other victim’s clothing. When Stabler says "case closed," Warner says “Almost” and asks if they checked his alibi for Emily Cutler yet. She thinks he WAS in Cheyenne, as there was no dandruff from Bogden on Emily’s clothes. She adds there is no way he could have killed her, as Emily was a redhead and she found one blonde hair on her nightgown that is degraded but she can tell that it is female, meaning Emily was killed by a woman.

Later, in the squad room, Benson gets a call saying the Bogden is being arraigned as the Bedtime Butcher and is going down hard – with the exception of the murder of Emily Cutler. Benson says she never would have pegged a woman for the killing, and Stabler quips, “Try missing an anniversary.” Cragen comes in with information on women in Emily’s life, all connected by her husband Cal Cutler who owned Cal’s Corral, the “Mattress Maestro”. As they watch his corny commercials, they go over the files which speak to problems with the Cutler marriage. When they decide to speak with Cutler, Cragen tells them to take a shovel, Cal died in a drunken driving accident soon after his wife’s murder. But Benson sees the name Susan Delzio in the file, the patrol cop who responded to every one of the calls to the Cutler household.

At Susan Delzio’s (Jaclyn Smith) apartment, she steps out into the hall as she has painters working inside converting a bedroom into a studio. They asked her about Cutler, who she said was a jerk that had strange girlfriends, some who threatened Emily. He told the officers to just get the girls out and not to file charges. She doesn’t have her memo books anymore with their names but said each time she showed up it was a new girl, each girl was blonde and always built – except for the last call. It came in from the TV studio, one of the blondes came in and slapped Mrs. Cutler. Besides Emily, there was another woman at the shoot – older, bossy, knew who everyone was – it was Cal Cutler’s agent, Maude Monahan.

At Maude’s, she says Cal as her client and she says she liked Emily but this was business, the customers wanted to see blondes and she could supply them. She doesn’t recall who attacked Emily. She picked out three of the nuttiest blondes, Jenny Coswold, Claire Lockton, and Rita Wills.

At SVU, Delzio says Jenny put the flowerpot through the Cutler’s front window. We then see the detectives speak with Jenny (Susan Anton) who is at a kid’s birthday party, who says she was young and stupid. Cal promised he would leave his wife and then he dumped her. Delzio goes on to Claire, who said Cal begged her not to arrest her; she dropped a firebomb down the Cutler mail slot. We then see the detectives speak with Claire (Morgan Fairchild) was works at a law firm. She says she hated Emily and Cal said Emily made her write a letter dumping her so she put something down his mail slot that she knew he wouldn’t forget. Delzio then speaks about Rita Wills, who barged into the studio and slapped Mrs. Cutler. The detectives then speak with Rita Wills, who says the bitch was keeping them apart, so she went over there, and had a few “pops” beforehand. She said he loved sweet talk. As the scenes jump between all these ladies, some have regrets, some, like Rita, says those commercials were her big break. They all agree to a DNA swab.

Back at the SVU precinct, Delzio says that Jenny spit at her, Claire was in tears, and Rita slapped her after she slapped Mrs. Cutler. Huang says they were all physically volatile and emotionally immature – a scary combination, and obsessive love lead to rejection can lead to explosive consequences. But Cragen says none of these woman has committed a crime since. Stabler says he’s vote is for Rita as she is “cuckoo for cocoa puffs” and Benson wonders about Jenny, who is obsessed, and Huang agrees. Delzio thinks it is Rita. Warner comes in and says that she analyzed a swatch from the mattress and came up with a different blood type, and the DNA is a perfect match to….(she doesn’t finish).

The next we see, Stabler and Benson are at Rita’s door, and she is clearly had a few too many to drink. She steps outside, and they accuse her of killing Emily Cutler. When she turns and says the conversation is over, Stabler moves to arrest her and Rita breaks the martini glass she is holding and shoves it toward Stabler as she screams. She suddenly gets calm an apologizes as they take her away.

In SVU interrogation with a cup of coffee, Rita continues to apologize. She says when she has a few drinks she can get crazy. She denies killing Emily, and then she reaches for her flask and pours some liquor into her coffee. She says Cal loved her and he was trying to figure out a way to stash some money and marry her. They tell her a woman killed Emily and DNA says it was her as her DNA was at the crime scene. She says she can explain the blood on the bed. Cal was desperate to find a way to let her go, and said he needed her help and if she did it they could be together. They started drinking and gave in… and she made love to him in their bed. Cal wanted Emily to come in on them, but then her “friend” came early – her period – and she bled all over the sheets and soaked into the mattress and Emily never came home. Rita says Cal wanted to throw the sheets away but she saved the sheet because she loved them, and tells them to check her apartment.

Benson and Stabler get to Rita’s apartment, and they find what looks like a shrine to Cal with everything she kept on Cal. Stabler sees a picture with Die Bitch Die written by Emily, and Benson finds a diary making comments about Emily going away. Stabler finds the bloody sheets. Benson finds a note where she says she killed for Cal and she should burn for him, it was just before Cal was burned in the car crash.

Benson and Stabler tell Cragen what they found, and Cragen wants them to get a full confession. They bring in the diary and question Rita and Stabler reads part of it back to her. She says it is not what they think. She denies killing Emily, she says she killed her baby, she found out she was pregnant two weeks after Emily was killed and could not wait to tell Cal. But he was not thrilled at the news and told her to get rid of IT. She didn’t want to have an abortion but she got an infection in her uterus and found she could never have another child. The Cal said it was God’s plan and then he said it was over. She wanted him to suffer like she suffered, and she admits that she killed Cal. She said she wanted to meet him one last time and he met her in a crummy bar and got him drunk, they were both smashed and then she tried to get him to change his mind about them and he got in his car and left, she never saw him again. She said she killed him because he got so drunk she should have taken his keys. She says she loved him so much.

Later, ME Warner tells Benson and Stabler that Rita is telling the truth, Warner shows her findings agree with the original 1976 autopsy that “the deceased” was killed while in the car crash and then burned in the ensuing fire. When Stabler says they disturbed Cal for nothing, Warner says they didn’t disturb Cal at all, because this body is not Cal. This man was no taller than 5’8” and Cal was 6’2”. The man in the coffin was James Rogers, a prison transient. It seems Cutler faked his own death. Warner suggests they talk to the person who was the last one to release Rogers on that day.

Back at SVU, Delzio is walking with Benson, commenting they seem intent to get her back on the force. Benson says they have a few more questions on the Emily Cutler case- like why she killed her and why she faked Cal’s death. But Delzio asks if this is a joke and says Benson is making a serious mistake. The next we see of Delzio she is in interrogation, rattling off her accomplishments. But Benson says she was a rookie 35 years ago, and reminds her that she said when she met Cal she had stars in her eyes. She denies being involved with him, and Benson shows her a younger picture of Delzio when she had blonde hair. But Benson continues to press her, saying she tried to make everyone think Emily was killed by the Bedtime Butcher, and then made Cal believe he was going down for the murder and convinced him he was a suspect and the only way out was to fake his own death. Benson tells her that James Rogers was killed in the car crash. She asks Benson where is Cal, calling her a dumb bitch. Stabler comes into the room, saying that Cal is in her apartment, the one she would not let them into because painters were inside. Stabler lets Cal into the room and Delzio runs toward him. He looks badly burned, Stabler saying that the car didn’t burn up as planned and Cal went down there to drench it in gasoline. Benson says life together became a life sentence. Benson asks why Cal would stay, when Delzio murdered his wife. Delzio says Cal really was going to leave Emily, Delzio went to get his things and she wasn’t supposed to be there and she flew into a rage and it just happened, and she breaks down into Cal’s arms, adding that he forgave her and she loves him since the day she met him and they just wanted to get together forever. Benson says forever just ended, and begins to pull them apart as Delzio says “no…no.” Benson reads Delzio her rights and takes her away, and Stabler stands in the interrogation room with Cal as they watch, as we fade to black.

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Trish said...

Who played Cal Cutler? It looked like the guy who played Joshua Lewis on "The Guiding Light," but I haven't found that actor credited.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. Got a bit confused whether the creepy govt administrator was actually charged or not.

Esaul said...

I should learn not to take the Tylenol that puts me to sleep while watching this. Although I stayed a wake the whole time...I was just really really confused. Gonna have to catch a repeat of the episode now. xD

Anonymous said...

This was an interesting episode. I wish that there could be one episode where Benson and Stabler go undercover and the perp doesn't immediately reveal his complicity to them. Like that one episode where Stabler goes undercover as a drug dealer and actually has to spend more than a few minutes in before uncovering the bad guy.

John K. said...

Since you had to go through the dialogue to write the recap, how many times did they use the term, "bitch"? I lost count, but I believe it was 10+. The series has been upping the term since "Unstable," but it hasn't been as used as this one episode.

Wonder if the writers have something to say. Hmmm. (Insert sarcasm tag.)

Forgive if double post, as my first comment was eaten.

Jojo said...

John K. - I didn't actually notice the "bitch" thing, must have started to get used to it. I did notice Stabler called the guy an asswipe. Anyway at least the writers have stopped using "cluster" which they seemed a little obsessed with for a while there!

"Maybe I am watching too many crime shows, but I knew exactly how this was going to end the minute that Susan Delzio opened her door and wouldn’t let the detectives into her home."

Couldn't agree more. Halfway through I was madly hoping that I was wrong and it wasn't actually that predictable. And Ann-Margaret's Rita was seriously nutty, she did an awesome job.

LOL at you wondering if the boob-grab was a 'stand-in breast'! That didn't actually cross my mind. Without going back and analysing Mariska's breasts, I would hazard a guess that it wouldn't be because it wasn't really a totally necessary thing to script so if Mariska wasn't comfortable with that, they probably could have changed it to another way of showing him sleazing on her. He was feeling her up pretty fully anyway.

I have to also admit that I giggled when when Rita said her "friend" came early and Stabler very seriously asked "What friend" and Benson had to clue him in on the euphemism.

No Munch, no Fin? Plenty of Cragen/Huang/Warner though. Was weird without seeing any legal aspect of it, but I didn't like that ADA so probably just as well.

Jachelle said...

As you said ATL&O, campy can be good. However, the entire episode was a bit too much and as you did, I figured out it was Jaclyn Smith's character who killed Emily Cutler in the first scene as well. I enjoyed seeing Morgan Fairchild, Jaclyn Smith, Racquel Welch and Susan Anton again. I grew up watching Charlie's Angels and shows like that. I thought they all looked fantastic. Those Hollywood types just don't age.
The entire episode was worth watching for me for the one scene where Benson tells Bogdon her last employer is Special.Victims.Unit. I bust out laughing and I don't do that much with SVU. Just made me love Mariska and Benson even more.

Jachelle said...

By the way, ATL&O, I forgot to say thank you for your well-written and thorough recaps and news posts. I appreciate all the work you put into them I'm glad you are getting some well-deserved recognition in things like the TV Guide Law & Order 20th Year Special Issue and now on CNN. Congratulations. =D

All Things Law and Order said...

Jachelle, thanks for the nice comments! Chris

All Things Law and Order said...

Trish - sorry it too so long to respond. You are right, it was Robert Newman who was on Guiding Light

John K. said...

You're right about the cluster thing, Jojo, and how that finally went away. (They should have used clusterfark in the first place, which had the same meaning but funny enough to get away with the meaning.)

To me, if you use "bitch" like 10 times, it's either you can't think of another word, though, the episode also used "slut" and "whore," or something else. I don't mind if it's used properly and/or rarely, but anymore, SVU is tipping its hand too much with it.

Speaking of ass wipe, it reminds me that Kim used it toward the end of her first stint. It didn't seem becoming of an A.D.A., well, to me, anyway. Oh, well, lazy writers.

Shelly said...

I'm chuckling at this discussion of "language" because it reminds me of L&Os early days. The TV landscape was so completely different then and the idea of hearing certain words on TV was new, even in the 10 p.m. hour. Now they're common, but at the time, hearing someone say son of a bitch, etal, was either rare or not done. To the best of my memory, L&O was the first place I heard a lot of these words on network TV. Now they're up against shows on cable that can get away with a lot more (using the traditional phrase instead of ass wipe, for example), but because it's still network TV, they have to be careful to a degree.

I don't know, I just find it amusing... lol...

Shelly said...

Oops, I forgot to say anything about the episode itself...

It was kinda fun, and All Things, you're right, "campy" is a good word to describe it. I guess I'm a little slow though. I didn't think twice about Kelly Garrett, er Susan (sorry, having a Charlie's Angels flashback) not letting them into her apt. They didn't really ask and her reasoning made sense at the time. They probably wish they hadn't gone into Rita's, as creepy doesn't begin to describe it. But nicely done by the set designers, and nice use of things from Ann-Margret's past.

After all the serious eps they've done lately, it was nice to see one just a bit lighter for a change.

All Things, do we know why Fin and Munch (esp Munchkin) have been used so sparingly at times this year? Does it have to do with show finances or are the actors working on other things?

Thanks All Things for the review...

All Things Law and Order said...

You know Shelly I have wondered about Munch being misssing - and sometimes Fin - but have heard nothing about either of them to explain it. I thought maybe the show was trying to save some $$$, maybe they don't have to pay the actor if they don't appear in the episode?

As far as all the other comments on the language, it seems someone calls Olivia a bitch at least once a week. The word is getting overused and has long since lost its impact on the show because of it.

Jojo said...

"it seems someone calls Olivia a bitch at least once a week".

That's so true, and made me laugh just then because in last weeks episode Olivia herself said something on the lines of "You think I'm a bitch, don't you? Well you're not the first".

It's interesting to read your post Shelly about how networks seem to be getting away with so much more on the language front. Interesting because I find it a little ironic that they seem to be getting away with so much less in every other aspect, because someone will inevitably find something politically incorrect and file a complaint. Sort of like how the Cookie Monster on Sesame Street has eaten cookies for his whole life, and now claims that cookies are a 'sometimes food' because it was a bad influence for children. It's especially true of anything G-rated, there seems to be more and more censoring for those types of shows.

Or perhaps it is entirely my imagination.

Mike said...

Is it me, or has Mariska's acting been improving? I mean it wasn't bad to start with, it seems she is getting better and better with these last few episodes. She's amazing. :)

Anonymous said...

She might be compensating for the really bad writing on the show. Sort of like how someone who is blind can sometimes have enhanced hearing. In order to make the show even watchable, she has to go above and beyond her usually good performances.

John K. said...

It is an interesting discussion, especially in light of the Janet Reno/Michael Moriarty lulz. And while the Mothership's early days dealt in murder, the language was more crafty about it. Sometimes, censorship isn't necessary a bad thing, as it can allow the creative juices flowing. As for no boundaries, well, look at a modern SVU and the lack of intellectual quality as to why that doesn't work as well.

Or, perhaps, in today's standards, the television has caught up with our current culture. As All Things said, "someone calls Olivia 'bitch' every week."

Either way, it's a discussion that should be said. 10:00 PM with the langauge, I don't have as many issues with. It's when it gets all visual, like Benson's boot-licking scene in "Shadow," then that's quite different.

And right on with the last commenter on how a good performance can compensate for bad writing. It's a staple of modern L&O, for better or worse.

Jason Rule said...

1) Was the Robert Newman in the films the same guy at the end with heavy makeup? Either that or they somehow managed to resurrect Peter Boyle (which would have been awesome).

2) Belzer, Marrow, and Florek have all been working on a film recently, and I think that Belzer has the leading role or A lead role, so that's where he is possibly. Shame, it was Munch who got me interested in SVU, actually.

All Things Law and Order said...


1. I thi Robert Newman did both as there wasn't a second actor's name listed in the credits for that role.

2, in case anyone is interested, the folm they are working on is called Santorini Blue and it is currently listed as being in post production, with a June 2010 release date.

Sugar Snaps said...

ok one thing that i didn't quite grasp is...does Cal actually want to live with Delzio? Or was he just blackmailed into and just stayed. but i guess in the episode he did seem like he truly cared for her...but can anyone clear that up for me? Thank you

Idealist.Anonymous said...

Who played Emily Cutler in the old Mattress Maestro commercials on the Law & Order SVU "Bedtime" Episode? Because it looks like Rachel McAdams. Watch the commercials up close, in both commercials Emily Cutler looks like Rachel McAdams.

Amy Foxley said...

I liked this episode and always watch it in reruns. It's fun seeing all the starlets from the 70's. Frankly, I think Jaclyn Smith looks just as beautiful as she did back then, and DOESN'T appear to have had a lot, or any, cosmetic surgery, unlike the other ladies.
I also wanted to tell you how much I appreciate all the time and work you put into your reviews and recaps. I always read them. Thank you!