Bates Motel: You Should Check-in Immediately—Television

It’s as if Alfred Hitchcock said to the producers of “Bates Motel,” “Make me proud.” He needn’t have worried. Full-fledged entertainment doesn’t get any better than A&E’s “Bates Motel.”   “Bates” is creepily disturbing on every conceivable level–I haven’t gotten this much pleasure from a television series since the first season of “Lost.”

Bates Motel” is a sort-of prequel to “Psycho”…set in today’s times, not yesteryear. That might cause a little confusion at the beginning, but the rest of the story is so compelling and the acting so good, it’s a teeny, tiny hiccup.Bates motel 1

Freddie Highmore as Norman and Vera Farmiga as Norma Bates are absolutely fantastic as son and mother. Highmore, so adorable in “Finding Neverland” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” is all grown up and sensational as Freddie. Perfectly cast, there aren’t enough words to describe how good he is. Highmore conveys fragility, innocence and toughness in just the right tones. Episode 3, “What’s Wrong With Norman,” by Jacob Clifton, gives Highmore the opportunity to shine and boy, does he. At one point he keeps asking himself over and over, “What’s wrong with me?” It’s heart-breaking and eerie at the same time.  While his performance is strictly his own, it is easy to picture him turning into Anthony Perkins’ Norman. Farmiga’s Norma is a little more showy, but she never goes over the top with the character. Farmiga is able to keep an air of mystery about her. That mysteriousness turns into chemistry with every male actor with whom she interacts.

Carleton Cruse, one of “Bates’” executive producers as well as one of its writers, was also a writer and executive producer for “Lost,” so he knows all about weirdness and how to keep an audience interested. Of course what also makes “Bates” so compelling is that we know how it all ends, but the characters don’t. That gives “Bates Motel” a tinge of impending doom and sadness. We understand that no matter how hard Norman tries to make friends and be “normal,” it won’t happen for him. It’s no small feat that the writers, directors and most especially, the actors, make us hope in spite of ourselves.

In a television year full of new kinky killers and killings–“Cult,” “The Following” and “Hannibal”–“Bates Motel “stands head and shoulders above them all. It is not to be missed.

4 nuggets out of 4

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  2. The Returned: They’ll be Back and So Will You—TV | Joan's Nuggets Says:

    […] you’re a fan of the creepy…if you enjoyed “Bates Motel” and “Lost”…then “The Returned” (“Les revenants”)  is the show you […]


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