10 Things That Rock About TV’s BATES MOTEL

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SHOCK’s Amy Seidman runs down her 10 favorite things about TV’s BATES MOTEL.

Full disclosure: This show is my all-time favorite television show. Indeed BATES MOTEL is so all-consuming that I sometimes forget I do not actually know these people.

In honor of the recent announcement that BATES MOTEL will be returning for its 4th season on March 7th (premiering alongside A&E’s new riff on THE OMEN, DAMIEN), I have opted to break down 10 things that make BATES MOTEL so badass.

Now, if you have not seen the show there will be spoilers.

Oh yes, there will be spoilers.

Ready?

Good.

Here we go…

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10. BATES MOTEL: Contemporary Prequel to a Cinematic Masterpiece.

What originally got me interested was the concept of the shows timestamp or lack thereof. If you think about it, there was never a specific date put on Hitchcock’s PSYCHO. With that official timestamp lacking, we as humans instinctively deduce its general age by its release date and its black and white composition. Our use of deductive logic unconsciously tells us it’s “old”. So naturally it is off-putting that Norman’s first interaction with his peers has them ripping down the road in a convertible jamming cell phones in his face taking selfies. Technically, it doesn’t have to be jarring and the show has the freedom to be as modern as it desires. Who is the teenage Norman Bates? What if he had a brother, etc.? Regardless of the journey….we all know what happens in the end.

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9. Beautiful British Columbia

“This is where you say Mother, this is BEAUTIFUL. I’m so happy to be moving here. You are so smart to have thought of this”
–Norma to Norman, Season one, Episode one.

BATES MOTEL is set in White Pine Bay, Oregon but is actually shot in British Columbia, Canada. Season One, Episode One opens with Norma and Norman driving to their new home/motel. They cruise down the picturesque coast, along mountain sides, while waves crash and violins swell. It plays like the beginning of an old Technicolor romance film. Stunning.

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8. White Pine Bay

White Pine Bay (actually Aldergrove, BC)  is one of the scariest characters in the show. White Pine Bay is by day a sleepy seaside town. By night it is akin to a depraved red light district for the rich and dangerous. Human trafficking, grow-ops and murder are just the tip of the iceberg. White Pine Bay has deep dark secrets and a lot of them.

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7. BATES MOTEL is Strongly Influenced by TWIN PEAKS

Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin, who both developed and produce the show, have been very vocal about the influence of TWIN PEAKS on BATES MOTEL. In a panel discussion at The Paley Center (which can be found in the DVD bonus features of Season One) Carlton Cuse states, “Kerry and I loved (TWIN PEAKS) and it only lasted 30 episodes and we thought we would do the 70 that were missing”. TWIN PEAKS is out of respite and is expected to reappear in 2016.

 

6. Norma Bates Sings!

Season two, episode two finds us in a serious (as if there is any other kind) bonding mode between Norman and Norma when Norma signs them up to audition for a local theatre production. Norman bails, leaving Norma in an embarrassing predicament. Sans Norman or sheet music Norma wings it acapella style with her rendition of “Maybe This Time” from CABARET. If I didn’t know any better I would think the song was written for Norma’s character. This is a pivotal Norma Bates moment.

 

 

 

 

BATES MOTEL -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: Max Thieriot as Dylan Massett -- (Photo by: Frank Ockenfels/NBC)

 

5. Dylan Massett

Dylan is the unwanted and unwelcome half brother/son of the Bates duo. When Dylan was first introduced he came across like a one dimensional dickhead brother who was there to raise hell and make Norma pay for every one of her short comings. That act died quickly and he became a vital and complex character to the show.

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4. Sheriff Alex Romero

Nestor Carbonell (a dead ringer for the original Norman, the legendary Anthony Perkins) plays Sheriff Alex Romero along with producing the show. His poker-faced portrayal is unsettling because Romero’s heart is so soft and simultaneously filled murderous rage.

 

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3. Zane

Zane appears first in season two, episode two. His welcome is far from warm. While Dylan has no knowledge of him, Dylan’s partner Remo does and is already fed up. Zane is the little shit everyone loathes but has to put up with.
Zane is played by veteran genre actor Michael Eklund, a Vancouver based performer whose IMDB read like a checklist of my nightmares.

 

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2. Norma

Vera Farmiga is a goddamn genius. There, I said it. Her Norma, a character that she has carefully curated, is jaw-dropping. The Emmy Awards (2012-2013) agrees. I submit this gem as tribute:

 

 

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1. Norman

Initially I felt the character of Norman as played by Freddie Highmore was very flat, the straight man of the group. Bu with the completion of three, suddenly it all. Made. Sense. Norman is far from flat; he is a slow burn of a character that you gracefully watch descend into madness all the while knowing the inevitability of his fate.

I can’t wait to see what is in store for Americas first family of fear. And don’t forget:
“A boys best friend is his mother”