Wednesday, April 3, 2013

TV Watch: Norman, Is That You? "Bates Motel"

Being a hardcore Alfred Hitchcock fan and having yet another spin-off made of my favorite Hitchcock film "Psycho" as usual, my curiosity was piqued, yet my dread was building...let's face it, no other Hitchcock masterpiece has been ripped off, paid homage to or had as many sequels or related projects made based on it than the king "Psycho".

With pretty much all of it being disastrous! OK all of it with the exception, of "Psycho 3" with the late great Anthony Perkins, which was genuinely disturbing and had religious imagery that Mr. Hitchcock would have been proud to call his own.

Now, what to say about "Bates Motel" a prequel of Norman Bate's formative years BKMC (before killing Marion Crane) - the fact that it is set in modern times, for me is a little distracting, but the essence of the story and characters are there, so I will give that part a pass.

Also on the plus side we should all be grateful Gus Van Sant has no part in this (the biggest and most horrible blemish on his resume a shot by shot remake of "Psycho") which as a huge fan I went to out of morbid was awful and really should have killed the careers of the the two leads (which seem finally dead now) being void of talent and charisma Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche.

Freddie Highmore & Vera Farmiga
That can not be said for this multiple take on Norman Bates and his Mother Norma...Freddie Highmore as Norman and Vera Farmiga as Norma are very talented, capable actors with charisma to burn. Oedipus didn't see his mother coming either...FYI.

Of course this is the central relationship to the story, and Norman seems like a fairly well adjusted young man despite his Mother's overbearing, control freak ways...until around episode three, yep we are starting to see the cracks in Norman's veneer...the more his Mother uses and abuses him and the more things in their world become unraveled, the more young Norman does too.

It does not help that our youthful Norman has some help pushing him, other than his "psycho" Mother, in the form of an equally unbalanced half brother named Dylan expertly played by Max Theiriot.

What do I think of the show overall? Other than the distraction of having it set in modern times, I am intrigued from week to week, the show plays to fans of the great film that was "Psycho" and is a stand alone for the uninitiated. Hey, it's been keeping me interested....and is the best use of the source material since the original and third sequel, let's face it no one will ever be Alfred Hitchcock, but they can at least do an honorable homage and not crap all over a classic like Gus Van Sant....

"Bates Motel' airs on A&E at 10pm on Mondays

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