The Original Bates Motel
Alfred Hitchcock made a simple movie into a cult-classic when he created the horror film Psycho. It was a film beyond its time, with modern camera work and the first slasher shower scene every created. No one will ever be able to forget the creepiness of Norman Bates and his strange old mother. That is something that has forever been burned into our retinas. However, now, they have made a TV show called "Bates Motel", chronicling the life of Norman Bates and his mother before the strange incident in Psycho. After watching the first three episodes of this show, I felt compelled to write a review about it, mostly to gauge interest to the people that might actually want to watch this television series, and provide a fair warning to those that don't.
First and foremost, I must take a moment to discuss the characters in this show. Of course, we have Norman Bates, but in in contrast, he is significantly younger than he was in the film. To be exact, he is about fifteen years old. Second, we have Norman's mom, Norma Bates. Yeah, you guessed it: Norma and Norman Bates. This is a little strange, but I think they were trying to capture the weirdness of the story. If you didn't figure out that there was a strange "mommy" complex in the movie, then you certainly won't be able to forget it here. Now, if you thought that wasn't enough, we have several side characters, such as some of the kids that go to Norman's school, some police officers, and, WHAT? Norma Bates has another SON? This is kind of a turn off for me, because they decided to make her a teen mom. Norma had her other son at 17, and then she later married and had Norman. While I see how this is seeking to explain some of the back story, I just think that it is poorly written. The whole idea about this story is that it is supposed be about a mom and her son. (singular). The mommy complex is grown out of the fact that they are inseparable from one another. If you add another kid into that mixture, things just start to get a little too complicated. I'm not sure that Alfred Hitchcock would really approve of these character because he was a man of mystery. He was all about keeping us guessing about the characters, not adding unnecessary plot developments and stupid explanations.
Here is another factor about the series that I am just not a fan of. The film was all about the motel, but this is more focused on explaining how they are living in some strange town where you can get away with virtually any crime. Then, they proceed to show us several side stories about creepy things that other characters do illegally. I think this just takes away from the whole mystery behind Norman Bates. There is too much of an emphasis on seeking to explain why he is the way he is rather than to make him just a seemingly regular guy gone crazy. In my mind, that is a lot scarier than a past that is predictable and explained throughout the entire show. And to think, I have gotten all of this content just from the first three episodes.
To be fair, there are a lot of great things happening in the series. If it wasn't all about Norman Bates, I might be more interested in it and watch it. If it wasn't associated with one of the greatest slasher films of all time and it just stood on its own, it would be better. The reason behind this is because there is a great story here, but it just doesn't seem to hold true to Hitchcock's creation. With that being said, there are great elements of suspense in the subplot, and the camera work is great. The acting is pretty good, and you definitely get immersed into what is going on in each episode, so Bates Motel certainly has some good things going for it. If you like suspenseful TV shows, then you will probably like this show.
I have one last argument to make about Bates Motel. In the film Psycho, Norman Bates' mother is like 90 years old and she is crazy as a bat. In this show, she is significantly younger, so much younger, in fact, that twenty years later, (when the film takes place), she wouldn't even match the original age of Mrs. Bates. So, I didn't really like that about the show either. Even so, if you are interested to see how the plot thickens, I encourage you to try it out and give it a shot. I have posted a link to the first season in this article in case you are interested. If you don't like it when directors steer from the plot of the original stories or films that they are supposed to be portraying, then you probably won't like this show. As it stands, I give this show a five out of ten. I will continue watching the show and post another review after I finish watching the first season. For now, I am more than disappointed. So, if you are considering watching this show, don't get your hopes up. It just doesn't hold up to the mysterious, classic story that the king of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock created.