Director Alfred Hitchcock was the master of the thriller. The film Psycho was one of his best known films. Taking it on, even in the small screen form, is a risky proposition due to its iconic status. It is different (a prequel, set in modern times) yet the same. A series about the events that lead to a young, mentally unstable boy becoming a serial killer in adulthood. An adult man who had the mummified corpse of his mother in his house for many years. All very interesting material in the right hands – actors, directors and writers. Some parts of this A&E series are great (creepiness of the sets, writing) while others are less so (surprisingly the acting of the usually steady Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore, who you can both see acting a lot). Still makes for an interesting watch.
The series starts with Norman Bates (played by Freddie Highmore) as a 15-year-old who has a very close relationship with his mother Norma (played by Vera Farmiga). The two have moved to a small town in Oregon to start life anew. Norma is a widow and to support herself and her son she has purchased a rather run down motel. Now despite the fact that they are in a new town and want a fresh start their dark secrets follow them. Norman strange behaviour begins to surface making his mother rather nervous as she seems to know what is going on despite the fact that he remains clueless. Danger looms as murder, secrets, strange behaviour, local villains and overall creepiness begin to surface.
The reason this series works because of the great acting and tight script. Emmy and Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air, The Departed) is the glue that holds it all together in her turn as Norman’s mother, Norma. She chews up the scenery with the best of them as Norma Bates. You don’t know whether to blame her for her son’s damaged psyche or feel sorry for her. Mother and son are close…too close.
Small-town dynamics and dysfunction are the keys to Bates Motel. That plus Norman’s growing psychosis. After an uneventful summer together Norman and his mother begin their bumpy life once again. Norman starts back at school, not that he wants to. That lasts one day after he runs home after suffering a hallucination. Norman agrees that he can be home schooled and will take over as the manager of their motel.
As time goes on Norman’s sick nature becomes something that even his mother can no longer ignore. Her growing closeness with her other son Dylan (played by Max Thierot) makes Norman irrationally jealous. His mental state becomes more and more precarious. With Norma’s estranged brother Caleb (played by Kenny Johnson) thrown into the mix and incriminating evidence against some of the richest and most influential people in town which they don’t want to get out, White Pine Bay becomes quite a hub of activity in the five seasons of Bates Motel.
- Deleted Scenes
- A Broken Psyche: Creating Norma-N
- Gag Reel
- Bates Motel: Closed for Business
- Bates Motel: The Checkout
- Bates Motel: After Hours – Season 2 Premiere
- Origins of a Psycho: Inside Bates Hotel
- Bates Motel: After Hours – Season 2 Finale
- Paley Center Panel Discussion With Cast and Creative Team