The last entry in the Psycho series was released in 1998 and wasn’t very well received. It’s no wonder it took 15 years to revisit the Bates homestead. Granted, it wasn’t a continuation of the original storyline started by Alfred Hitchcock in 1960. It was Gus Van Sant’s shot-by-shot remake starring Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche in the roles played by Anthony Hopkins and Janet Leigh. It’s still the last we saw of Norman Bates, who many would consider the Granddaddy of Slasher anti-heroes.
Just like the 1998 revision of Psycho, A & E’s Bates Motel aims to re-tell the story of Norman Bates. This time it’s from childhood and gives us insight into the events that pushed poor Norman over the edge. As each episode unfolds, we see that the signs were there from the beginning. Mother smothers her son in an attempt to protect him from himself and others. Norman deals with his anxieties and anger issues in unhealthy ways that will haunt him for the rest of his tragic life.
Bates Motel keeps audiences addicted as it moves from one depressing story arc to the next. It’s as if the entire Bates family is destined from the beginning to suffer for some wrong they committed many years ago. For lack of a better way of putting it, theirs is a legacy of suffering, bad decisions, and bad luck. Everywhere they go, misery follows them.
Vera Farmiga does a wonderful job as Norma Bates. She’s at the same time conniving, vindictive, fragile, and sympathetic. Farmiga does a great job jumping from one extreme emotion to another. She also knows how to add humor to her portrayal of the character.
Freddie Highmore is frighteningly great in the role of Norman Bates. You can see him growing into the tragic psychotic we all know and pity in the Psycho movies. He does a great job emulating some of the mannerisms Anthony Perkins’ created for the character. Some might say Highmore plays crazy a little too good (Haha!).
My only complaint with Bates Motel is the location move they did from Fairvale, California to White Pine Bay, Oregon. I’m not entirely sure what the writers and producers were thinking when they moved locales, but it just seems pointless and troublesome to me. The entire time I’m watching the show, I can’t stop thinking about the unnecessary change.
If Bates Motel was to have a rating, I would say it would be PG-13. There’s nothing too graphic in it. However, it does contain grisly images, adult language, adult situations, and violence.
Bates Motel is presented in 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.78: 1) and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 or Dolby Digital 2.0. The video is crisp, clean, and easy on the eyes. The surround sound does a fabulous job setting the viewer down in the middle of the disturbing world of Norman Bates.
There are a couple interesting special features found in the Bates Motel Season One Blu-ray set. It contains deleted scenes. The Paley Center Panel Discussion with the cast and creative team is also included.
Bates Motel Season One is recommended for fans of television shows that blend the elements of thrillers and dramas with a nice helping of black humor. If you’re a fan of the Psycho movies, don’t be afraid. The show pays homage to the films and is very respectful of them. This collection contains all 10 episodes and runs around 7 hours and 15 minutes. You might want to block out a solid 7 hours before you even watch the first episode. Once you start watching it, you won’t be able to stop.