Posted by Rande Iaboni on March 18, 2013 at 10:30 am
As a very outspoken fan of the horror genre, I couldn’t be happier that with the success of ‘The Walking Dead,’ more networks are taking huge risks and producing edgier and scarier material for the masses. If you want proof just check out Fox’s ‘The Following’ or NBC’s upcoming ‘Hannibal,’ or how about A&E’s ‘Bates Motel,’ which premieres tonight, Monday, March 18th at 10pm! Now I know, this is the MOVIE Banter, but trust me this definitely qualifies. For those of you that haven’t heard, ‘Bates Motel’ is a prequel to the Alfred Hitchock classic ‘Psycho.’ So, with the premiere just hours away and early reviews trickling in, should you set your DVR for tonight? Let’s discuss.
Now diehard fans of the original ‘Psycho’ at first appeared very apprehensive (and at times negative) when this prequel was announced. I mean how can you mess with the classics? Well people often forget that the film boasted 2 sequels (titled Psycho II and III respectively), and was also remade by Gus Van Sant in 1998 (which was a total failure I might add). So let’s be real here, despite the poor quality of all of these additions they never negatively affected the original, it is still a classic. So we can move passed that fear right now.
But how do you make a prequel when we already know how the story ends? I mean if you have seen ‘Psycho,’ you know just where Norman Bates and his mother Norma end up. Well the creators of ‘Bates Motel,’ (exec producer of ‘Lost’ and writer of ‘Friday Night Lights’) have found a creative way around that. This series does not take place in the 1940’s, which if following the proper timeframe of ‘Psycho’ is when Norman would be a teenager, it instead places the story in modern times. That’s right, Norman will be texting and attending keg parties in this series, much to the dismay of his overprotective and jealous mother. While it may confuse fans of the original, it is a neat trick to avoid making the show too predictable. Technically, we know that Norman will become a psycho, but because this is set in a different time frame this isn’t an exact prequel, more of an inspired re-telling of the story.
Well how do you cast these iconic roles? By casting actors who have proven they can pull their own weight in the past. Early reviews suggest that both Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga as Norman and Norma respectively are a true dynamic duo here. This obviously comes as no surprise as these are well-respected actors with impressive resumes as proof. Throw in a slew of new characters to keep the show fresh like Mike Vogel as a deputy, Nestor Carbonell as the town sheriff, or Nicola Peltz as the pretty girl in school who takes an interest in Norman, and you have a cast worth watching.
Now, I must confess, some of the early reviews do possess a shared complaint, where exactly is this show headed? The plot/direction seems a bit misguided and confused. Granted, this is just in the early stages of its 10-episode first season, so perhaps the show becomes clearer as time goes on. My thoughts on this are that in the beginning the network will feel the need to hook audiences not with its clear vision and compelling storytelling but with dark and twisted imagery. You can say A&E is selling out for this reason, but others may realize its smart marketing. Get the viewers glued to the screen first, get to the true message of the show later.
So should you watch ‘Bates Motel’ this evening? I would say a resounding yes. Is this going to be the next ‘Walking Dead’? I really don’t know, but you will never know until you give it a full chance! Fans of genre material out there must support shows like this because it can only lead to more bloody goodness on our TV screens for the future. So yes A&E, I will be watching, just please don’t let me down!