The much discussed Bates Motel debuted on March 19, 2013. A&E’s excursion into the twisted world of a Psycho in the making, I was one of the 4.6 million viewers that watched. The show takes us back to the beginning and fills in the memory holes of how momma, Norma Bates, brought her family to White Pine Bay. I kept an open mind and found that the show offered a tantalizing and imaginative backstory as to how the conundrum we affectionately call “Our Little Normie,” got to be such a perv.
Whether “Norman” is a punster’s take on “Normal,” he is anything but. However, in witnessing the events in his life unfold, we have no questions as to why he veered across the double yellow line in the middle of the road. Even if there were no homicidal toys hiding in his attic at inception, it’s assured that the woman he calls mom would certainly have had them waiting under the old Christmas tree on his 1st birthday. I’ll state here that Vera Farmiga plays that part just right. She is so spot on in her portrayal of the matriarch of this unholy dynasty that I skittered between sympathy and wanting to throttle her with the satiny pink ribbons of my ballet shoes—mostly the latter I will confess.
The script kept us scooting along with plenty of twists, turns, and totally unexpected violence. Blood abounded and begged us to ask, “Just how much blood is there in a human body and why does it have to stain so badly?” Maybe it’s God’s way of controlling the sociopathic need to off people that get on our last nerve, but He also invented carpet cutters to get us out of certain discovery.
Freddie Highmore is just a standout as the offspring of this Psycho-ess. Does the apple fall far from the tree? Well, that’s an interesting question and one that raises its ugly viperish head. There is that very uncomfortable peeking at his mother through that bedroom window when she’s undressing. Was it just natural curiosity? Or the inkling that some of the hardwiring is one circuit short? And who knew the slender youth was a babe magnet? The glut of nubile girls getting a feel for sitting on his lap required them taking a ticket for that privilege. I can only imagine whether they will continue to be as compliant when asked to assume the positions delineated in that book he found hidden under that rug. Couldn’t the sketch artist have better spent his time rendering drawings of flowers and trees? I suppose not. It’s hard to duct tape and harness a begonia.
I was very impressed by this first outing. It was sort of like the test drive and I found myself wanting to talk to the dealership about making it a permanent situation. That’s my way of saying that I do intend to check out the subsequent adventures. I’m betting the mayhem spirals as far down the spout and into the sewer as Janet Leigh’s blood did in that infamous shower scene.
I think this is a case of successfully taking on a classic. The key? Creativity, ingenuity, perfect casting and a smart script. In other words, if you’re going on a picnic, you’d better be bringing some potato salad of your own. Bates Motel did big time. It’s great fun!
If you missed the first episode, check it out: