Throughout the long and convoluted history of "Psycho's" main character, the big question has been: What made Norman Bates become a knife-wielding, murderous dual personality?
"Bates Motel," a series premiering at 10 p.m. Monday on A&E, is the latest attempt to answer that question in a way that sets this story apart from the original "Psycho" film, three sequels and related productions. But it also has to deal with the other big "Psycho" issue: What exactly was the relationship between Norman and his mother?
"Bates Motel" begins that chronicle before Norman (Freddie Highmore) and mother Norma (Vera Farmiga) have even gotten to the motel, with the death of Norman's father -- and that incident's tightening the bond between mother and son. Starting over, they move to the town of White Pine Bay, where Norma buys the motel and the accompanying house, and Norman starts attending a new school.
The "Psycho" saga has repeatedly suggested that Norman is somehow appealing to women, and that's the case here, as the popular Bradley Martin (Nicola Peltz) and the ailing Emma Decody (Olivia Cooke) are both drawn to the new kid.
At the same time, the motel has a history, and a former owner, who is not pleased that the Bateses have moved in. He's an old-timer in the tightly connected community -- and especially friendly with local lawman Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell), who casts a wary eye on Norman and Norma.
The show, and Farmiga's performance, make Norma a sexy and sexual creature, and one who is not afraid to give in to all sorts of impulses. Norman, well played for vulnerability by Highmore, tries to fit in with others, only that means controlling his own urges even as life around him pushes him in grimmer directions.
"Bates Motel" asks some intriguing questions, and its tone is full of suspense and gloom as we anticipate what Norman will become. At the same time, it takes horror in some ugly directions, with a relatively early, very violent scene that will disturb many viewers. But that scene added to the unsettled feeling that "Bates Motel" wants viewers to have. Even if we know where this is all leading, it's not going to be a comfortable journey.
‘The Good Wife' reruns online
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- CBS Corp. is rolling out past seasons of "The Good Wife" online, the first time the broadcaster is allowing Internet access to a drama that is still airing new episodes on TV.
The deal means that the first three seasons of the hit crime show are now available to fans who pay for Amazon.com’s Prime membership.
Hulu Plus subscribers will be able to see the back seasons of the show in September.
The fourth season of the show wraps up this month and the fifth season is expected in the fall.
CBS had previously not licensed shows that were still on air to online video providers. It lifted that restriction with some reality TV shows.
After studying the matter, CBS executives came to believe that putting shows that have season-long story lines online allows fans to catch up. Those fans then show up to watch new episodes when they air on TV.
"We looked at this as an opportunity to get the most amount of money and give the shows the best exposure to increase ratings on the network," said CBS' chief content licensing officer, Scott Koondel, in an interview.