Page 1 of 3
There are familiar shadows here, but it doesn't take long for Bates Motel to zap the mystery out of Hitchcock's original narrative....
Universal / 466 Minutes / 2013 / Unrated / Street Date: September 17, 2013
This new take on the background and development of everybody’s favorite wingnut Norman Bates is painfully and devastatingly normal. By converting the oblique shadowplay of the Anthony Hopkins character in Psycho and turning him into a fully-formed protagonist of a primetime melodrama, the fun is all but completely zapped from any blurred edges or conflicted headspaces that might have been part of ol’ Norm’s unique place in horror storytelling.
Freddie Highmore does his best to inhabit the conflicted title character, and Vera Farmiga has devilish fun with her take on Norman’s mother, but after a fairly intriguing pilot episode, the show veers distinctly into humdrum territory. The denizens of White Pine Bay, Oregon – this series’ main setting – aren’t exactly the most normal people you’re going to meet, but their antics go from bizarre to predictable as soon as the newness of the show wears off.
If you’re of the mind that every legendary character is implicitly deserving of an investigative backstory, there’s certainly a lot of fodder on Bates Motel: Season One. It’s technically quite capable as a Blu-ray release, and with the current TV lineup as bland as it is, off-beat fare like this has distinct theoretical merit. But this Psycho fan found the ins and outs of Norman Bates’ personal life to be anathema to Hitch’s vague and terrifying narrative constructs. If you want questions about backstory answered, turn to Bates Motel; if you want to stick with simply scaring yourself shitless, watch your Psycho BD again.