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Bates Motel Series Premiere Review
I went into the premiere of Bates Motel with high expectations having been a big fan of Psycho since I watched it freshman year at SUNY Brockport. Heck, I even enjoyed the 80's campy sequels. So does this new interpretation of Norman Bates work?
The series is brought to you by Carlton Cuse (Lost) and Kerry Ehrin (Friday Night Lights.) It stars Freddie Highmore (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) as Norman Bates and Vera Farmiga (Source Code) as his mother Norma in her formidable years before she became a skeleton in a window.
After the death of his father, Norman and his mother move into the scariest house alive and take ownership of the Seafairer Motel. Kudos to the producers for using the same house. There was a great shot near the beginning of the episode where Norman was staring at his mother in the window. That shot would have been meaningless instead of iconic if they did a full reboot and redid the house. Of course, she was in her underwear, teasing the sexual tension between the two that was prevalent in Psycho IV.
There are some differences from the continuity of the movies. They have obviously updated the time period, as we see Norman listening to music on a smart phone. Also, Norman has a brother, which was never mentioned in the movies.
Vera Farmiga does an excellent job of playing Norma as a mother who wants to be the only woman in her son's life. Freddie Highmore also is excellent as Norman, and even looks a bit like Anthony Perkins. I can see the relationship between these two actors developing into one of the most intriguing on television.
The rape/murder scene is hard to watch, but we begin to see where Norman gets his psychological (and butcher knife) problems from. He also learns from his mother how to clean up a murder scene. This will be the most talked about scene of the show, but I think it is the most important to the character development. Great job by the writers.
The only issue I had with the episode was the boat scene. First off, how did they get a dead body on to a boat that clearly isn't theirs. Second, they just slowly row out in the lake and have a long conversation. You would think they would want to dump the body and get the hell out of there. Third, they have a light turned on as they are dumping the body.
Overall, this is an outstanding re-imagination of Norman Bates and the Psycho legacy. The series should be enjoyable for everyone even if you never saw the original movie.
9 out of 10