He’s baaaaccckkkk… Norman Bates has returned to our lives, and this time, in a TV series called “Bates Motel“ that premieres on A&E Monday, March 18 at 10/9c.
This contemporary prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” takes us into the psyche of young Norman Bates, played by Freddie Highmore in a role that’s sure to make us forget his sweet-kid characters in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “August Rush.”
The first six minutes of the show — which you can watch at the bottom of this post (though I believe the video has a short shelf-life and might vanish into thin air after the show airs Monday night – UPDATE: Yep, the video is a done deal, so I removed it) — reveals the early threads of Norman’s twisted relationship with his mother, Norma, played by the brilliant Vera Farmiga. Here’s the trailer…
After a tragedy involving her husband — about which we never quite get the full story — Norma buys an old motel on the outskirts of the idyllic coastal town of White Pine Bay. As the two attempt to seek a fresh start there, they learn that the town isn’t quite what it seems, and the locals aren’t so quick to let them in on their secrets. But as we already know, the locals probably haven’t dealt with anyone like the Bates before.
Look, this show has some mighty big shoes to fill. I think we’re going to have to detach ourselves a bit from Hitchcock’s “Psycho” (because no one can do Hitchcock like Hitchcock) and view “Bates Motel” on its own merits. Based on the trailer and first six minutes, I can’t wait until Monday’s premiere, and A&E had so much faith in the show that they chose to skip a pilot and instead ordered a 10-episode first season.
The show is moody, has an iconic backstory, and the casting couldn’t be more brilliant. Freddie Highmore even looks like a young Anthony Perkins (and already I’m comparing it to “Psycho” – yeah, I’ll need some time to process this). As Farmiga said in this behind-the-scenes featurette, “We’re not remaking ‘Psycho,’ we’re using it as an inspiration.”
The chilling house and bleak setting appears to be plucked from the “Psycho” set and dropped into this show. In reality, the famous Bates home and motel were recreated for the show at the former Jackman Landfill site in south Aldergrove, British Columbia. As the house is a character unto itself, I’m glad they didn’t shirk on the setting. Just seeing it on a screen is creepy enough; the cast and crew must have experienced a few chills stepping onto the set.
Other cast members include Max Thieriot, Nicola Peltz, Olivia Cooke, Jere Burns, and Mike Vogel.
“Bates Motel” is produced by Universal Television for A&E Network, and has some major TV royalty delivering the goods — Carlton Cuse (“Lost”) and Kerry Ehrin (“Friday Night Lights”) serve as executive producers for Carlton Cuse Productions.