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The Arrow Reviews: Bates Motel, Episode #1

03.19.2013by: The Arrow

EPISODE 1: First You Dream, Then You Die

CHECKING IN: After a sour event, hottie Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga) and her 17 years old son Norman (Freddie Highmore) move into a new house, one that comes with a Motel that they aim to run. Things go to hell real fast...

THE ROOM: I'm a big fan of Alfred Hitchcock's PSYCHO (no comment on that pointless remake) and the sequels that followed it. PSYCHO II was as good as the original in its own rights, the underrated PSYCHO III acted like a nutty and bleakly funny love letter to the original and PSYCHO 4: THE BEGINNING (which also explored young Norman's special upbringing) was better than it should have been. I even watched the 1987 TV Pilot BATES MOTEL, which acted as a follow up to PSYCHO III. If I remember correctly, it was more of a comedy and wasn't too good, hence why it never went further than the pilot stage. But we don't have to worry about that jive with this new rendition of BATES MOTEL (produced by Carlton Cuse/Lost and Kerry Ehrin/Friday Night Lights) since A&E has already ordered 10 episodes of it. And after seeing the first one, I can understand why. 

First You Dream, Then You Die was all about setting us up for the macabre fun times to come. It introduced us to the mother and son duo of Norman and Norma Bates and before they could get too comfortable in their new digs, a couple of curve balls were tossed their way, forcing them into some pretty dark corners while at the same time revealing to us to some degree what kind of people we're dealing with. There was definitely more than meets the eye when it came to Norma and Norman, the show hinted at that brilliantly, and anybody that's seen the movies knows where this story will eventually go. But it's this show's version of the HOW that we don't know. I personally found the dread filled seeds that were planted here to be tantalizing to say the least (all about the last frames... I have my theories). I can't wait to witness how topsy-turvy the rabbit holes is! I already know how deep it goes...

Now a show of this ilk needs a pair of bulldog balls to hit us where it counts and I'm happy to report that this one was all good in that department. There was one happening here that made it very clear to me that it won't be afraid to push the envelope and make me uncomfortable. Good! It's called Bates Motel not Sesame Street. Keep it up! Now even though the show was modernized, meaning that it was set in the present day with IPhones and such, the bulk of it had a timeless feel to it. Norman and Norma's clothes looked dated, old movies were often playing on TV and the story was set in a small town, or at the run down Motel/classic PSYCHO house. So yeah it took place in the present, but more often than none, it didn't feel like it. I have a hunch that they're gonna milk the small town angle in order to provoke our two leads and influence them in the dire directions they're supposed to go. Maybe like a less strange Twin Peaks? And if that is the case, I am all for it. 

Performance wise you couldn't have asked for a better cast. Vera Farmiga as Norman's mother was everything that character should be: sexy, controlling, neurotic, self involved and sweet yet with a mean streak. The character screamed nuanced and I am looking forward in getting to know Miss Bates some more as the show clocks forward. As for Freddie Highmore, I dug that he did his own thing with the Norman part (he didn't try to emulate Anthony Perkins) while at the same time managing to convey the essence of the character: harmless on the outside, pretty damn warped on the inside. Basically the perfect predator since you'll never see him coming. He was also less awkward than I thought he would be. This Norman had Mack-Daddy written all over him! I'm gonna start calling him LLCN from now on. The Ladies Love Cool Norman!

So in closing, I usually don't follow TV series. I actually don't watch TV period unless it's a hockey game, or disposable stuff like Family Guy, I simply don't have the time. But being the Psycho fan that I am, I had to give this one a shot and yes I am now hooked lined and bitch-slapped by this gloomy looking show (the cinematography was aces here btw) that oozed of shit is gonna get real freaking ugly soon! I'll make the room in my pitiful life to watch all 10 episodes of this bad boy. The question is, will you?



Extra Tidbit: You guys pick up on the horror winks? Like peeps called Carpenter and Romero? Cute!

Every time I go to Universal Studios, I am always in awe when I see the Psycho house. Have been since I was a kid...



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