Last week a friend and I sat down to browse Netflix for something interesting to watch, and pass the gloomy rainy day by with. First came Quarantine 2: Terminal, a film which is so bad its mildly entertaining (and by entertaining, I mean accidentally funny). After the low-quality of Quarantine 2 we had a gander at the T.V section and gave Bates Motel a go. Less than a week later I have watched every episode that has currently been aired (its good ok, I do get out). Bates Motel is an original series that basically charts the days of Psycho’s antagonist Norman Bates, as a 17 year old he is protected by his ‘cute but nutty’ mother, Norma (weird name sharing, right?) and is seamlessly becoming the killer and psychopath he is more known as in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic of the thriller genre.
What’s strange about this series is the fact that the audience are so aware of what the central character of Bates Motel turns, well is, turning in to. Twenty episodes down Norman is responsible for two murders which he committed while having a ‘black out’, Norma wont get him psychological help, the town is run on drug money and it also appears to be pretty lawless (things aren’t looking good for the future Bates family). So, with them having all the malevolence of a serial killer and the mannerisms of a lunatic – what keeps viewers going back for more? Well, Vera Farmiga is a revelation as Norma; embodying the characteristics of a woman with a haunting past and some pretty obvious detachment issues. She treads the line between likeable and annoying and is most definitely slightly off (and by off, I mean deranged). The rest of the cast are of course good, with Freddie Highmore being an incredibly scary Norman and Nestor Carbonell as Sheriff Romero laying down the law as he see’s fit, but when in a scene with Farmiga they barely register; she sets an incredibly high standard to follow.
While Farmiga carries the cast, the production designers and makers of the show are also due some much deserved credit. There are constant, but cleverly subtle reminders and motifs of the originals 1960’s setting (Bates Motel is set in the present day) including the use of an old Mercedes, the family home being in dire need of a contemporary re-furb and Norma and Norman’s attire being practically ancient, I mean vintage..What’s clever about these aspects of the show is that they are pretty much confined just to the two protagonists (or antagonists, its hard to tell), who are obviously completely detached from everybody else and in their own world.
A third season has been promised for 2015, and I can only guess that there will be more unraveling of Normans sanity (lack of, that is) and some more interesting sub-plots that the loveable Dylan is involved in(the only ‘normal’ member of the family, y’know normal as in helps run a drug business and has also murdered two people..). At times a little corny, and not always entirely sure of its target audience for the most part Bates Motel is creepy, original and downright interesting.