After the first four episodes of Bates Motel, I have lost any hopes of it being a quality, reliable show. I will, however, keep it as a guilty pleasure because of writer Carlton Cuse, who co-wrote and produced for Lost.
For starters, the acting is lacking. Freddie Highmore can barely hide his British accent in his role of the wildly disturbed Norman Bates. Next, Vera Farmiga, who was terrific in The Departed, is just not believable as the twisted, dark Norma Bates. It’s hard for these two to live up to the epic Hitchcock story, Psycho, but the creators should have put some more thought into their casting without throwing away a great opportunity.
Next, the choice to make this a contemporary prequel killed the show’s chances of having the terror-effect that Psycho did. Specifically, we saw Norma being arrested in last night’s episode based off of DNA evidence – something that the original Norman Bates could never have been caught on. Also, the lack of cell phone communication is especially important to the plot of Psycho, as Marion Crane, played by Janet Leigh, has no means of being traced by the police to the motel room.
Another thing that has turned me off from this show is the side plot about the Asian sex ring. A lot of shows and movies try to play on this whole creepy-yet-exotic theme (FlashForward and Sherlock to name a few) and it just never fully makes sense. Having the characters try to decipher Chinese characters just seems like a waste of my time.
However, I will continue to watch the show to find out how Norman Bates meets his inevitable fate of killing his beloved mother.
In last night’s episode, we were introduced to who I believe will be the most important character in the show: Emma’s father. Earlier in the season, we saw Emma’s dad’s shop, which was full of stuffed game, like deer, squirrels, and owls. In Hitchcock’s Psycho, Norman’s office is furnished with these animals and he tells his guests that taxidermy is his favorite hobby. So somehow, Emma’s father will have leave a disturbing impact on the boy, which will facilitate his transition into the psycho killer he is doomed to become.
So for now, I will temporarily check out of the Bates Motel as far as looking at the show with an analytic eye. But, hey, there is always time for it to turn around.