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Bates Motel - Review of Pilot Episode

I was lucky enough to see an advanced screener of the new A&E show Bates Motel. (I'm not sure if this was the final production version as there are some photos below that I did not see in the pilot)

Now, when I first heard about this Pilot, I was very very skeptical, having been a big fan of the original movies with Anthony Perkins. I'm not normally a fan of remakes/reboots etc but still with a strong cast I was happy to give it a try.

And boy am I glad I did.

The pilot gets off to a slow start where we see a young Norman (played brilliantly by Freddie Highmore) finding his fathers body in the garage after an apparant "accident". It's unclear at this stage how he died but I got the feeling that Normans mother, Norma (played by the superb Vera Farmiga) might have had something to with it. It should be noted, to those unaware, that this is set in modern times.
This event is the catayst whereby Norma and Norman pack up and move away. Norma buys a motel (which will become the famous Bates Motel) and they settle in and start doing it up. Meanwhile Norman starts school and is introduced to the world of Girls/Parties and drugs. It's obvious that Norman has lived a very sheltered life and there are some early ominous signs of how controlling Norma is over Norman.

However it's not until about 25 minutes in that the story really picks up.

Norman decides to rebel one night and this event is the start of everything. There is a shocking and quite graphic scene that will bind Norman and his mother for life. I'm not going to spoil it for you here but it's a very powerful few mintues.

We're also introduced to Zach Shelby, played by Nestor Carbonell, the local sheriff. He again only has a short role in the pilot but I think his character will be well received.

We also get to briefly meet Emma (Olivia Cooke), a schoolgirl with a chronic disease (I can't recall the name of it sorry), who meets Norman and we get the impression that they will become friends.

The mother/son relationship has a slightly creepy undercurrent during the show and we start to see how potentially this young, naive, likeable and innocent Norman Bates will somehow turn in the Norman Bates that we saw in the movies.

The pilot did it's job well, setting up the story and introducing us to the characters.

Overall I loved the pilot and could not wait to see more. The acting is really first class and the production quality is extremely high, matching that of most movies.

This will not be for everyone, but those who like a good story/writing, good acting and production values should enjoy this. It will be interesting to see how this is received critically and how the ratings hold up.

If you have any questions about the Pilot I will try to answer them in the comments below without revealing any major spoilers (although there are not many major spoilers to be told)

Here are some photos from the Pilot.

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