On March 18th A&E will premiere its new drama series, Bates Motel, which serves as a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. As you can imagine, it revolves around Norman Bates and his mother, Norma who buys the motel after a tragic incident. The Daily Quirk was privy to a press screener of the premiere episode courtesy of A&E and it certainly did not disappoint this Hitchcock fanatic. The series decided not to take us back to the 60’s when the original movie was made, instead it takes a pseudo retro style with the costuming of mother and son. Additionally, the infamous house behind the motel also serves as a flashback but the townspeople and modern electronics do pop up to remind us that they are living in the new millennia.
Starring in the lead role as Norman Bates is Freddie Highmore, who at 21 years old is already a veteran actor. You may remember him from his roles in Finding Neverland, August Rush, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Golden Compass, among others. I’m jealous of this guy already. Why, you ask? His past roles and this current one clearly prove he is a talented young man (his American accent is impressive – Freddie’s English) and he obviously has strong ties to Johnny Depp. My heart hurts. As for his performance as Norman, from what I’ve seen he has accomplished the impressionable yet fiercely protective man portion of his character but the creep factor isn’t there in episode one. I imagine this will develop with the series because his mommy issues are just beginning.
Speaking of mother, the incomparable Vera Farmiga plays Norma Bates. If you aren’t already familiar with Ms. Farmiga, but you really should be, her most notable role was opposite George Clooney in Up in the Air. She also starred in Source Code, Orphan, Autumn in New York, Henry’s Crime, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, etc. She is a phenomenal actress that brings just the right amount of intensity to a character we’re just getting to know. I can’t wait to see what quirks they give Norma not to mention her darkness that goes on to form the notorious Norman Bates. Vera Farmiga is the perfect actress to bring this soon to be infamous character to life that in Hitchcock’s world was merely a dead woman in a basement.
As for the rest of the cast we have Max Thieriot, Nicola Peltz, and Olivia Cooke as Norman’s classmates and friends. Keegan Connor Tracy plays his language arts teacher Miss Watson, check out our interview with Keegan here. Mike Vogel and Nestor Carbonell are the county sheriffs in their neck of the woods. I think I detected a little flirtation between Norma and the deputy, we’ll see if that recurs in upcoming episodes.
If the screener showed me anything it is that this show will not be short on surprises or violence, so be prepared for the Hitchcock experience every week. I figure it will get creepier and more suspenseful every episode. I am waiting with breath that is baited. Don’t forget to check back here for recaps and commentary starting Monday March 18th and welcome to the Bates Motel. [Insert Psycho music here]