The Bates Motel
So this is really quite good I think. It is somehow more than the sum of it’s parts.
Bates being the surname of Norman who famously killed Janet Leigh in the shower in Hitchcock’s Psycho. I’m not telling the rest. Just in case not everyone has seen Psycho.
Lets just say that Norman had an infamously close relationship with his Mother.
Now i was expecting the Bates Motel to be a little bit rubbish. Some fun, silly TV. Possibly my favourite kind. I wasn’t going to bother but i read a review which said much the same as i was thinking. They thought The Bates Motel would be mediocre yet it wasn’t. It was really rather good. OK i said that bit.
So i caught up with The Bates Motel. It manages to be that very rare thing: something different and free of cliché.
Yes it helped that the story is already imbued with the dark underlay of our previous knowledge. That Norman becomes a murderer. & Just exactly what happens to his Mother. I’m not giving it all away.
However the drama itself is satisfyingly sinister without this perhaps. It is believably but surreally set in the giant old dilapidated motel. Gigantic it is, on top of a hill.
At night the Motel looks enormous and real. From our semi-remembered memories of the original film. The two films fed into each other and bleed out atmosphere in spades.
Like the horror was the water raining down at night.
It rains, the old neon Motel name sign is lowered and a new one, blue and white arises. Norman’s Mother coos and flutters around him. She is too close. She is always too close. Sexual energy fizzes around her and Norman. No, really.
“Its what you wanted, the blue, your favourite,remember?” says Norman’s Mother as they stand, insufferably, suffocatingly close. & gaze out at the sign in the black night.
Norman and his mother Norma are in the middle of nowhere. On the outskirts of a small seaside town. There don’t seem to be many roads.
Norma admits that when she arrives she saw a public notice. Announcing that the new road will be built the other side of town.
“Silly me” she says to Norman,
“No one will come”..
When Norman goes down the giant hill in the morning to go to school he has his white i-pod earphones dangling.
(so they are not dating it to Hitchcock’s time or before i now realise)
The Bates Motel is present day prequel.
Norman walks down to the lone wooden bus stop of white weathered board.
The hill in the daylight morning sun appears a a palette of orange luminous yellow. The colours of another world. Almost another planet.
The golden grass is nearly knee high.
We are glad for Norman on his first day and every day he does this. Crazy yellow it maybe but Norman has his earplugs dangling like a normal kid and he meets some new class mates waiting at the bus stop. They are all girls. & The girls are all wonderfully normal and nice.
We have high hopes for Norman. Intermittently forgetting his future. Any time away from his mother has got to be good.
Norman badly needs to get out more.
i will give a slight warning of a surprisingly violent scene in the first episode. Well i wasn’t expecting that.
& I am not sure about some graphic detail which i will leave undescribed. It is always the women who are shown like that.
A rather contorted insertion of future plot perhaps.
& Norman makes a new friend. A really cool girl with oxygen twin tubes in her nose. & a little trailing oxygen tank on wheels. This is never explained. I am guessing Cystic Fibrosis.
Norman’s mother is very beautiful. She always has make-up on even at night. But then American women in dramas always do.
Even in the apocalypse.
Norma is less clear in the daylight when she simpers up to the handsome young Policeman in the diner. Norma’s face becomes less defined. As if part of it had melted like wax.
Then as wax-faced Norma giggles girlishly her lips writhe and wriggle like two giant caterpillars released suddenly into freedom from a dark small box.
After the wood-chucking contest which is won by the young Policeman he and Norma stand in the dark. Townspeople throng around them in the Woodchuck festival.
Suddenly the Policeman is giving Norma the low down on the town.
“That industry died down, yet people live in million dollar house and have yachts”
The Policeman turns to Norma and asks:
“How do you think they make their money?”
Norma just stares. She has already asked the Policeman why, when she has brought dear Norman here for a new and innocent life: that bad things seem to keep happening?
Norma is getting a bad feeling about this we can tell.
The incredibly handsome Policeman turns his head towards Norma and smiles.
“Here, we deal with things in or own way, behind the scenes”
“An eye for an eye, you know?”
He smiles, all white teeth and pleasantry. Things just took a turn into sinister.