‘Psycho’ Prequel ‘Bates Motel’ Premieres

Let’s Get to Know Norman Better

Freddie Highmore, Vera Farmiga/Bates Motel

An admitted Criminal Minds addict — especially when it comes to Mandy Patinkin/Jason Gideon-era episodes — I spend a fair amount of time watching repeats on basic-cable network A&E, one of several pay channels that syndicate the CBS crime procedural. As a result of my habit, I’ve been exposed to an avalanche of adverts recently for A&E’s latest scripted original series, Bates Motel, which finally debuts tonight, March 18, at 10pm ET. And, yes, I’m looking forward to checking out the suspense drama because the commercials certainly do make the newcomer look plenty creepy and intense.

Set in the present, oddly enough, Bates Motel takes mousy-but-deadly Norman Bates — the infamous central character made famous by Anthony Perkins in the classic 1960 Alfred Hitchcock movie Psycho — and shows viewers what he might have been like as a teenager. Young Norman (Brit Freddie Highmore, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ), seemingly still sane or just very good at hiding his true self, is raised by his doting single mother Norma (Vera Farmiga, The Departed) after the possibly suspicious death of his father. Their lives don’t assume quite the macabre tenor expected, however, until they move to a new town to start over, in part by establishing the Bates Motel. Uh-oh. Things can only go downhill from there.

The series itself has a great deal of upward potential, however, thanks to the lurid appeal of the notoriously twisted main character, the solidly talented cast in lead roles (I especially love Farmiga in almost everything I’ve ever seen her in, which is a lot), and the top-notch team behind it. Background notables include Carlton Cuse of Lost and Kerry Ehrin of Friday Night Lights, both executive producers. Although A&E only has ten episodes of Bates Motel scheduled for the first season, I imagine they’ll be enough to please fans if executed well and decent ratings lead to another season.

Bates Motel will air Mondays on A&E at 10pm ET

Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga/Bates Motel photo courtesy of A&E

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