Hey TV.com, Should I Watch A&E's Psycho-prequel, Bates Motel?

Sequels are SO Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. Prequels are the hot new thing, as origin stories tell us how things got to where we are now. And everyone knows that younger versions of familiar characters wiggle their ways into the brains of trend-setting teen audiences through cuteness and familiarity (Muppet Babies is obviously the bestest example). The latest old story to get the youthful treatment is Psycho via A&E's new drama Bates Motel, which follows a teenage Norman Bates as he and his mama open up a hotel and prove all of Freud's theories to be true. But is it worth watching? I've seen the first three episodes and I'm here to answer your questions that I made up for you.


Bates Motel? What is this, some sort of Psycho prequel?

Uhhhh, duh, that's what I said in the first paragraph! Bates Motel rewinds things to Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore, grown up since Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) when he's 17 years old, immediately following the death of his father. Nothing says grieving like opening up a scary hotel in a small town, so mom Norma (Vera Farmiga) buys one and moves Norman out to White Pine Bay, where everyone is up in everyone else's business. The sereis also spends a lot of time with Norman at his new high school, where his peculiar demeanor and mysterious past instantly ingratiates him with both the cool chicks and the nerdy chicks. But obviously the big draw here is Norman's unusual relationship with his mother, which is kind of creepy and gross and could mess with his social development. I mean, this kid may grow up to be kind of... troubled.

Who's responsible for Bates Motel? 

The show was created by Anthony Cipriano, whose credits don't really lead anywhere spectacular yet. But the big name on Bates Motel's resume is executive producer and showrunner Carlton Cuse, best known as one half of the showrunning team from ABC's Lost (the tall guy with reddish brown hair, not the short guy with the shaved head). Also running the show by committee is Kerry Ehrin, who last dealt with teenage murderers on Friday Night Lights.

When can I check out Bates Motel?

Bates Motel debuts on Monday, March 18 at 10pm on A&E. BUT if you are impatient you can watch it on some On-Demand services, like Comcast.


Who's the target audience for Bates Motel?
 

Do you like shows about f'd up people? Then this might be for you. Down with learning how serial killers get their start? Sure, fire it up. We'll see how far things go with the high-school aspect of the series, but it could draw in a younger audience of gothy types, too.

What are the good things about Bates Motel?

The source material is obviously stellar; beyond that, we're dealing with a different person in young Norman Bates, and there's lots of room for exploration in the relationship with his mother. But what really gives Bates Motel a unique flavor is its inherent creepiness—and when it's at its best, we're talking a Twin Peaks kind of creepiness and not an American Horror Story kind of creepiness. Whether it's the way Norma brushes her son's hand in one moment or the way she screams at him the next, watching them together is icky more than it is comforting. And witnessing Norman take those messed-up signals from his mom and project them onto his relationships with other women is worthy of a few cringes, too. Highmore's cautious performance as the young Norman is either perfect for the role or a bit underplayed. Farmiga is solid as Norma. 


And what about the bad things about Bates Motel?

Bates Motel probably would have been better off as a limited-run miniseries, given that we know how this thing ends. Despite the creepiness and death in the pilot episode, the first hour is largely boring and full of only partially effective scenes, as the writing dips into mediocre territory. If you ask me, there's a lot in the pilot that could've either been cut or embellished. Later episodes add another family member and spin the story into his world, which detracts from what we all came to see: NORMAN KILLING ANIMALS! There are occasional lapses in credible judgment as Norma and Norman don't behave in rational ways, even for a crazy mom and her psycho son. But one of series' oddest creative choices is that it's set in modern times, as is evidenced by Norman pulling out his iPhone to send and receive texts or snap a photo. Why not set it in the '40s or '50s, when the Norman Bates we know would have been a teen? 


So should I tune into Bates Motel?

If you have all the time in the world and you also have a dark side, then you'll probably enjoy it. But there's a lot of other television out there that's much better, and you're likely to miss out on very little if you do skip it, as I don't think this well be a show that everyone's talking about. Bates Motel just doesn't go much beyond average, but it's good enough to pass the time. In summary: It's okay. 


Can I see a trailer?

Sure!




What beverage should I pair with Bates Motel if I choose to watch it?

Something creepy. You know, like tea.




Bates Motel premieres Monday, March 18 at 10pm on A&E.
Comments (54)
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It's a prequel but it takes place in present day?
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Yeah, kinda weird. So maybe it works?
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yes it does :(
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No it doesn't.
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yes it does(take place in present day)!!!!
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Freddie Highmore. The most underrated actor of the last 20 years. Will I watch it? you bet
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I'll try it, but wish it was not set in modern day; wish it was in the 40's- 50's, when "movie" Norman was a teen.
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Watched it. I found it a bit clunky in parts. The school relationships need to be worked on. The main characters and their relationship is the most interesting part in the episode, if you've watched the films you will probably have some idea that this will be a screwed up relationship - this episode shows that there might be 2 psycho's in the family.
Overall 7 out of 10 for me. i'd give it 3 episodes before deciding to keep on my watchlist
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Huh, I just watched the first episode and actually thought it was pretty good. The whole atmosphere is very creepy, even though some people might get turned off by the eff'd up relationship between Norman and his mom. The two main actors blew me away though, so I definitely think I'll keep watching.
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This looks Freakin AWESOME! I hope this makes 10 seasons because I want to see all the messed up stuff they could come up with that lil ol Norman can do as a Teenager. Man the potential this show has, it could be one of the all time greats if done correctly and I have no idea what correctly is but I hope they do at A&E because it looks promising and the interviews with the guys working on the show look great and they really seem to have a vision of where to take the show. Good luck A&E, I hope you hit a Home Run with this one.
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Do you like shows about f'd up people? Yes.
Down with learning how serial killers get their start? For sure.

If I don't catch tonight, I'll be sure to catch the repeat because you know how these stations are.
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Just watched the pilot, thought it was fantastic. It kind of feels a little light at times, but that works to its benefit to shock the viewer, in that it often goes darker than you expect (like the kitchen scene, in the pilot). Freddie Highmore is just the right amount of creepy, and, so far, there are just enough disturbing Oedipal undertones in the script. Not too over the top, though; there's still room for us to root for Norman. Looking forward to future episodes.
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Actually looking forward to this one. Big fan of the original movie and even thought the sequels were interesting. Cable channels also have been stepping it up with their horror offerings, so hopefully this doesn't disappoint. The only thing I'm a little iffy on is the modern-day setting. Young Norman Bates in the 50s has a more creative air about it.
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its not just cable, nbc will be airing hannibal in april which is based around the book. also fox have the following.
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I'm looking forward to Hannibal, but The Following continues to be a disappointment.
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It is kind of a weird premise to watch a thriller (or something supposed to be thrilling) but you know how it ends (ie Psycho the movie)... I realise that is the essence of prequel but can't see that many will want to watch this - not me that's for sure... the obvious mummy issues boy angle puts me off immediately

But the Hannibal prequel, for some reason appears a lot more appealing in spite of being on NBC which is a downer but hey, they can't get it all wrong (or can they?)
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How does this article not start with the word "no"?
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Because then you wouldn't read all of it. Obviously.
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Any fans of the original movie series should enjoy the show. Although they are messing with the timeline, they do a great job of making the setting sort of lost in time.
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I am giving this a chance based on the fact, from what I understand, it is a ten episode series like an extended mini series. I believe A&E is following FX's model with AHS, so if there is an interesting story they would think about renewing it. Afterall, there is a time frame they are working with here. I am not sure how old that Norman Bates actually was in the original Psycho, but mid twenties seemed to be the age range.
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I would love this as a miniseries, but it just seems to have a lot working against it. Setting it in the present day is a major downfall for the show. It will just feel disjointed. And I'm not sure how far you can really stretch it out - and the high school side of things sounds stupid. Studios listen up, sometimes we don't need prequels. Sometimes we can just accept that villains are villains and we don't need to see how they came to be that way.

It will also suffer as a series as we all know where it is going, so some of the surprise and mystery is evaporated, and we all know where the characters will end up. I'm not sure many people will want to devote a number of years into a story where they have already read the last chapter.

And the other problem I can see is in its dark, twisted, evil premise. While those types of shows generally struggle to get huge audiences, in order for this show to deliver and be true to its source material, it NEEDS to be very creepy and disturbed, and take a few pointers from something like American Horror Story. And it sounds, based on your description, that this is not as twisted and dark as it should be, which disappoints me. This is based off an Alfred Hitchcock movie after all. It needs to be creepy!

But, the cast is great. Freddie Highmore could pull the character off and Vera Farmiga is a brilliant actress, so I will give it a chance. I just don't have high hopes. I hope to be proving wrong.
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I've seen the pilot online this morning & I'm a fan of the 60's Psycho. I'm quite disoriented after this first episode. It looks as if they(the producers) want us to root for the Bates, which is quite an unexpected premise to start from. Mother & son are broken already but it isn't possible to dislike them with all the bad stuff going on in their lives. If the point of the show's to make us accept Norman's behaviour in Psycho, I'll scream WOOOOOT????? Not sure it's gonna last & pretty sure it's better like this. BTW, the whole cast's great, I just hope that they aren't gonna tell us that the Motel changed them & turned them cuckoo which'd defo be blah!!!!!
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Is it unexpected? I mean, we're sort of invited to spend the back half of Psycho rooting for Norman. It's one of the movie's perverse pleasures, the sudden switch in protagonists.
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If it were a mini-series, I would definitely watch. But I just don't think I have the patience to watch a show with a main character that I really can't love for all of the obvious reasons for more than just a season. So, it'll be a pass for me.
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they set it in modern times because it works on other shows like Sherlock for example
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it might work on Sherlock, whereas it seems forced & pointless here
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One thing it has working for it is that it's based on Psycho. That's enough to get me to check it out once... but it has at least a couple things working against it off the top of my head. I'm tired of bandwagon prequels & I'm not enthusiastic about enduring some ongoing mother/son sexual tension on screen. I'll watch it to see if I'm entertained, but on the surface it smells like nothing more than the product of a network corporate suit circle jerk.
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the mother/son relationship is as abusive as anyother son/overprotective mother relationship, at least in the pilot
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I could see why they chose it to be in this timeframe; it is all about the quick and gadget-based yuppie lifestyle. If you set it in the '60's now, you lose that up- and coming feeling that is so present in Psycho itself and fmakes it feel outdated rather than forward.

That said (speculated), I don't know if I'll watch this. It could be good, but it is also inherently creepy in sort of the wrong way. It would indeed probably work better as a miniseries, and I don't know how comfortable I'd be watching this for entertainment considering how deeply disturbing it really is. I would, however, like it if they explored the whole is-it-a-fantasy-or-did-it-happen angle that left readers dangling in the book.
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it ain't that creepy & frankly it's hard imagining that the main characters we see in this will become the monsters portrayed in Psycho
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The promos looked interesting, but now I'm asking myself, "Do I really want to watch a weekly series about the world's creepiest mother/son relationship?"

The biggest WTF for me is that it's described as part Friday Night Lights. ... For real?
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it has nothing to do with FNL and it isn't that creepy
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he tailer is absolutly amazing!
all ways loved the whole norman bates thing,but the movies are to old now(im just 21)
so realy hhope that this will work out great.

they could realy give e deep depth to norman
a movie is just max 2hours ,in a serie you have a full season to tell yre story :Dlike it
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Movies are too old for what?
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just for vieuwing ,im not gonna wacth a black white movie,when im totaly hookt on full hd or tv hd :)
so its nice to have a tv series like bates motel for the younger generation.
if it stays good,we would have more seasons and you can realy give a person more depth in a series than in a movie.
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Please reconsider. Way too many classic movies in black and white that you need to see. Don't get sucked in by the laziness of our generation to explore the past. You can watch that B&W in full hd.
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I think a bloody mary is kind of an appropriate drink. Maybe with a little more Worcestershire sauce to make it darker.
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No, you need a chocolate based cocktail, with a lot of chocolate sauce dribbled on the top - overflowing even, given that that is what they used for blood in the shower scene.
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Yeah, but given what else chocolate looks like I didn't want to go down that road.
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i might have given it a try if it was set b4 the psycho movies (which are set in the 60s) but based on you discription and looking at these still shots it looks kind of lame
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This is so sad..I had very high expectation..I will try it anyway
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I think it looks kinda good, defo gonna check it out.
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It doesn't sound like something I'd like, but I'll give it a try nonetheless.
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Give it a try! Then read my review! Then tell me why I'm right or wrong! Tell your friends to do the same! ;)
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Yeah me too sounds like some sicko made this show. I'll be suprsied if it sticks around. Not something I want to watch.
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Sounds like a boring premise for a show. I was going to predict a quick cancellation, but I have no idea what "A & E" is, so I have no idea if they do quick cancellations.
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Freddie Highmore could be a younger Anthony Perkins. Well cast.
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How many episodes in before Norman tries on one of Mom's dresses?
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she'll have to be dead before it happens, so I guess we're a long way from seeing this onscreen
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Tea is not creepy! I resent that!
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I second his resentment!!
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I dunno, good actors but apart from that this sounds like a bit of a dud. I'll leave this one alone for now. If I hear some good buzz later on then who knows.
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