Film & TV Reviews

Bates Motel: Season 1

by on May 25, 2013
Plot Synopsis

A modern re-imagining and prequel to Hitchcock's infamous 'Psycho'.


60 minute episodes


A boys best friend is his mother.

Chances are, if you’re a horror buff, then you have Psycho in your film collection. A film that was directed by Alfred Hitchcock and released in September, 1960, the man quickly became a pioneer of horror. A thirty-something secretary steals $40,000 from her employer’s client, and subsequently encounters a young motel proprietor too long under the domination of his mother. But how did Norman Bates become what we all saw in Hitchcock’s Psycho?

Creator Anthony Cipriano designed Bates Motel with this premise in mind. The show explores Norma Bates (played by Vera Farmiga) a too-close, too-smothering relationship with her seventeen year old son, Norman Bates (Freddy Highmore). The pair want to start life anew in a different town after the tragic death of Norma’s husband, Sam.

The plot follows them to the fictional White Pine Bay in Oregon (the original city in the film was Fairvale, California) where Norma invests in a small motel with a large house overlooking the property from atop a hill. It’s here, Norma decides, that their lives will begin again and they can forget what happened in the past–but the past doesn’t always necessarily stay hidden.

Brilliantly written and well cast, Bates Motel is a modernized take on the Hitchcock classic. While it would have been interesting to see the series take place in the 50s, Cipriano and his team have done a great job of reimagining the story for modern day. It makes everything all the more thrilling, knowing that technology exists such as DNA evidence. When Norma takes the life of Keith Summers (whom was the former owner of the property and unwilling to let it go he breaks into the Bates’ home and rapes Norma), we’re not sure that just wrapping him in sheets and weights and throwing him in the lake that we’ll never see him again.

Nestor Carbonell (of The Dark Knight notoriety) plays Sheriff Alex Romero, a man immediately suspicious of the pair new to town–and an abrasive man at that. I’ve always liked Carbonell for his acting skills, and he makes you love to hate him as the hard ass sheriff that isn’t buying any of the Bates’ stories.

It’s Norma and Norman’s relationship that will make you want to squirm in your seat as he calls her ‘mother’ and she promises to always take care of him, doting on him like a child. When Norman’s half brother finds them in town, Dylan, played by Max Theriot, jokingly refers to them as Mister and Misses Bates. If their odd relationship doesn’t give you the creeps, then they aren’t trying hard enough but believe me, I’m sure it will.

Freddy Highmore is a great young actor, and it will be exciting to see how he portrays Norman’s gradual descent into madness as the series goes on. Currently there is no word yet on a second season, though A&E’s numbers for the series show that it is doing well in it’s Monday evening timeslot.


+ Fantastic cast
+ 'Hitchcock' feel


- Slow points

- Restricted by the network they are on

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