It seems like the story of Norman Bates of Psycho fame has been done to death. Still A&E thought there was life in the old boy yet so they have opted for a ten part mini-series titled Bates Motel.It will show the back story of why Norman turned out as he did, and also the story of Mama Norma. At first glance this appears to be a really cheesy idea, but wait! The co-stars of this series are Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore. These are two actors I would watch in anything and in this series they are spectacular.
The show starts with Norman (Highmore) discovering his father Sam dead on the garage floor. He immediately tells his mother Norma (Farmiga) who is strangely unmoved by this event. Six months later Mama and son are packed up and moving from Arizona to a small town on the Pacific coast named White Pine Bay. Norma has purchased a home and motel and plans for her and Norman to start a new life.
The setting of the show is in the present and the locale of the small coastal town adds to the flavor of the story. Norman is a high school student and two of his immediate best friends are the beautiful and popular Bradley (Nicola Peltz) and the sickly and needy Emma (Olivia Cooke). Norman and his mother also quickly meet the town's law enforcement officers, Sheriff Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) and his deputy Zach Shelby (Mitch Vogel).
The show starts off with a bang and never slows down. Each episode adds new flavor to the weirdness of the characters and the drama of the plot. It is all worth watching just for the actors but you could also have less talented actors and you would still want to watch it for the storyline. Having both good actors and the intriguing plot make it a program you won't want to miss.
Farmiga is captivating as Norma. She makes this lady sexy, smart, conniving and endearing. Few actresses could have made this part as complex and controlled as she has, but her talent knows no bounds so it seems natural that Norma be as off-putting and appealing as she is in Farmiga's hands.
Highmore's performance is just as complex. He gives Norman a sense of normalcy that is contradicted at every turn by subtle flaws in his character. You never know what Norman is going to do but Highmore makes each move fitting for the circumstances.
The third most important actor to the show is Carbonell. This man projects the soul of a vulture as Romero. He is always lurking, watching and calculating. There is something inherently evil and dangerous in his demeanor and odds are he is going to be a major player in the upcoming events.
Bates Motel will draw you in from the first scene. It is certainly a well made, well acted show that puts other television dramas to shame. Norman Bates may be part of American lore but the Bates Motelseries makes everything about him new again. Don't miss this show! Alfred Hitchcock would be proud.
Bates Motel premieres Monday, March 18 at 10PM on A&E.
Jackie K Cooper