Bates Motel: "Had me hooked from the first episode."
This early version of Norman Bates is a long way from becoming the ultimately unhinged Norman Bates from the Psycho movie though, and you don't have to be a fan of the original movie to enjoy Bates Motel. The show does include some clever and interesting details which fans of the movie will recognise, however, such as the beginnings of Norman's interest in taxidermy, and of course his complex relationship with his mother, Norma Bates.
Perhaps the danger with doing a show about a character who goes on to become a psycho killer is that you could potentially alienate some viewers by having a main character who it's difficult to sympathise with. However, at this stage in his life Norman, although already showing signs for concern with his mental state, is nevertheless a largely likeable character. Actor Freddie Highmore is the perfect choice to play Norman, and helped by some talented writers he does a superb job or portraying the deep and complex nature of Norman Bates' character. He also infuses the perfect balance of edginess and vulnerability into Norman, with the overall result being a character who you cheer for even when his psychological problems surface.
But this isn't a one man show, and the other key players in Norman's life are likewise cleverly written and brilliantly portrayed by a strong cast of actors and actresses. Vera Farmiga does a superb job as Norma Bates, Norman's loving but overly protective and occasionally creepy mother, and Norman's older and more street-wise half-brother, Dylan Masset, is expertly portrayed by Max Thieriot.
In fact the entire cast produce consistently excellent acting performances, and are assisted by the type of scripts and plots actors presumably dream of. This is also a show with classicly evil villains, and one small personal criticism is that perhaps in some cases they kill off the bad guys just a little too soon for my tastes. To be fair though, just when Norma and Norman, or Dylan, or Sheriff Romero, have taken care of one bad guy, another equally memorable villain arrives on the scene to cause more troubles for Norman and Norma, and the residents of White Pine Bay.
Bates Motel had me intrigued right from the first episode and from then on pretty much every episode has you on the edge of your seat with suspense and tension. As you'd expect given the original inspiration, there are also a few grisly violent scenes along the way but for the most part, the drama comes from the tension and anticipation of these explosively dramatic events. Several episodes finish with a cliff hanger ending or with the revelation of a significant plot development, and Bates Motel is presented as an ongoing tale, rather than each episode being an individual story.
In summary, Bates Motel is a TV show where the end result is stronger than the sum of it's already strong individual elements. The acting, plot-lines and overall creepy and mysterious atmosphere all combine to produce an excellent show which you could quite easily binge watch, and a show which more people need to know about.
Check out clips, interviews and more on the official Bates Motel webpage:
Bates Motel webpage
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