I can’t even remember how I came across Bate’s Motel but somewhere on the web I spotted it and decided to give it a watch. As of yet there’s no date for when the series will air in the UK but I’m sure you’ll find ways to watch it as I did. It takes a rather unusual premise for a tv show as we already know what’s going to happen at the end. It follows mother and son Norma and Norman Bates as they take over a motel. You will know the Bates’ as the murdering duo from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and the show tells the story of how they ended up one of the characters we know from the film. Despite it being a prequel it is still set in the modern day, however, which seems an attempt to attract a younger audience to the series.
The first episode of the show grabs you by the throat. It throws it all it has at you straight away with murder, rape and all round psychosis, once you watch that it’s hard not to get drawn into the series. The casting of the show is, perhaps, its greatest triumph Freddie Highmore is perfect for the young Norman Bates with an otherworldly innocence about his face that at once seems as sweet as pie and as nuts as, well, a bag of Nobby’s. He’s persistently on form through the season’s ten episode run and brings sympathy to a character which really shouldn’t have a huge amount. Also good is Olivia Cooke who plays Emma Decody, Norman’s best friend at school and Max Thieriot who plays Dylan, Norman’s brother. It’s Vera Farmiga as Norma, however, who completely steals the show in every episode. She is utterly compelling as the troubled yet completely psychotic mother who is completely over-protective of her son when she struggles greatly to keep herself together. As the series goes on she increasingly becomes the most interesting character and Farmiga has it down to a tee.
When it comes to the writing the show is a lot more simplistic than most of the drama series I’m into from America. It’s got much more of a singular narrative than, say, Game of Thrones, Boardwalk or even Breaking Bad as it focusses solely on the lives of the three central characters. For the most part this works well and makes the show a more relaxing show than many others but at times it does feel as though the story is over stretched. The momentum of the show drops off towards the end of the season and is only really rectified at the very end of episode 10. I also couldn’t get over how clunky the way Dylan comes into the show, it was just completely unbelievable and seemed rushed as a way to throw a bit more drama into the mix. Without him the show would be lacking a lot but they could have put a bit more thought into his reasons for suddenly moving back in with his mother who he hates.
As a whole though, I very much enjoyed the season and despite those few qualms I found myself wanting more. As I said, the momentum is picked back at the end of episode 10 and it certainly does end on a strong point meaning things are looking up for it’s second season. Definitely worth a watch.