Monday nights are looking a lot better for horror lovers like me, especially with A&E’s premiere of the Bates Motel created and written by Anthony Cipriano, directed by Tucker Gates, and produced by Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin. Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) and his mother, Norma Louise Bates (Vera Farmiga) are starting a new life after the death of Norman’s father. They have a motel to run in good old White Pine Bay. But this is not your normal family and this contemporary prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 Hit Psycho, will allow us to explore why little Norman becomes a cold blooded killer. Meet me after the jump.
Something wakes Norman, a noise? He goes looking for his parents and finds his dad sprawled out on the floor, dead. His mother is taking a shower and when Norman tells to hurry that something is wrong with dad, she takes her good old time; turtles move faster. Later we see Norman and his mom driving to their new home. The area where this show is filmed is Aldergrove British Columbia, Canada and the view is stunning. The motel is not. It’s old and run down. But when Norma opens the front door to the house, which is located behind the motel, and we get a look at that familiar staircase we are sent through a time warp, and I swear I expected to see Alfred Hitchcock make a cameo appearance.
To understand the child, look at the parents. Vera Farmiga as Norma Louise speaks volumes with just her expression. We watch as she goes from happy to control freak at the blink of an eye. When Norman comes home excited about a great opportunity at the new school, she becomes angry and makes Norman feel guilty for wanting to join the track team. It’s a scene that you feel has been played many times before between mother and child. There is another son, but we only know this through a conversation Norma has on the phone. The older son is upset because Norma Louise took Norman and moved away without telling him. From the call, we get that there is bad blood between the older son and Mom.
This is a bright, but very shy 17 year old, and yet while waiting for the bus, a group of cute teenage girls led by Bradley Martin (Nicola Peltz) take an immediate liking to Norman and drive him to school. At school, Norman is questioned by his teacher, Miss Watson (Keegan Connor Tracy). Norman is smart, but his grades don’t show it, and she suspects that’s it’s due to the constant moving from place to place. Later that night, the girls stop by and ask Norman to go to the library with them, but Mother says “No way” and shuts the door. Norman is angry, sneaks out the bedroom window, and goes to a party with the girls. While at the party, Bradley who is dating Richard Slymore (Richard Harmon) flirts with Norman.
Things are not going well for Norma Louise. She finds out that there are plans to build a bypass, which will take away her business. A former owner, wants the Bates out of his house. This was his family’s property but it was lost to the bank and for some reason he’s taking it out on the new owners. Norma Louise tells him to hit the road. He leaves, but later breaks into the house. Things go from bad to worse. Norman finds a book with disturbing pictures and for some strange reason the local Sheriff, Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) and the deputy, Zack Shelby (Mike Vogel) like to visit at two in the morning?
It’s really hard to get rid of a body, and Norma Louise and Norman might need a few tips from Dexter. I see some potential with this show and I hope it succeeds where others have failed. With Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore as the main characters, it just might.