In 1960 Anthony Perkins uttered the fateful words “a boy’s best friend is his mother.” It was then audiences should have been tipped off to the crazy twists still to come that would make Alfred Hitchock’s “Psycho” an instant classic. Yet what while much has been made about Perkins’ Norman Bates character in the decades since the film’s release, the question of what caused his descent into madness was never explored…until now.
Tonight A&E is set to debut “Bates Motel,” a new drama that explores Bates’ teenage years growing up at the titular motel with his mother Norma. Taking on young Norman is Freddie Highmore, who audiences first met as in 2004’s “Finding Neverland” opposite Johnny Depp. Highmore is an interesting choice for Norman, but one that critics seem to really be enjoying as evident by the first round of reviews.
“Highmore’s sympathetic and vulnerable take on Norman fittingly honors and then amplifies Anthony Perkins’s original role.” – Hank Stuever, The Washington Post
“Highmore is just right as Norman. He’s got a retro face, which can travel from smirky to furtive to frightened without much bluster. You can see his innocence starting to darken.” Matthew Gilbert, The Boston Globe
Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga (“The Departed,” “Up In The Air”) is also winning praise for her portrayal of Norman’s mother. Protective by equally manipulative, Norma is a force in her own right, but one that (of course) ultimately will be her undoing. However the weird minds games she plays with Norman are fascinating to watch on screen and it really does give viewers insight into their often times creepy relationship.
The whole concept of “Bates Motel” is actually genius. It’s literally a pseudo-prequel that happens in modern times which lets it live in its own space and outside the shadow of its big screen counterpart. Brought to TV by Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin, the series couldn’t be in any better hands.
If Cuse and Ehrin’s names sound familiar, it’s because they are associated two of modern TV’s most well-crafted series. Cuse helped his longtime friend Damon Lindelof guide “Lost” for six stunning seasons and Ehrin worked alongside Peter Berg and Jason Katims on the equally amazing Emmy winning drama “Friday Night Lights.” Seeing these two forces come together is very refreshing and something you should tune in for every week.
“Bates Motel” debuts tonight at 10 p.m. EST on A&E.