TV Highlights

Bates Motel

Universal - 9pm

Who's in it?

Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga continue the creepiest mum-son relationship in the history of the world. Well, like Norman will tell you, a boy’s best friend is his mother…

In a nutshell

It’s strange how good Bates Motel actually is. The concept of a prequel to Psycho, set in the modern day but somehow maintaining a kind of retro Americana atmosphere seems ripe for failure. Too gimmicky, too unlikely, too morally weird (it’s got a psychopath as its hero, after all). And yet, just like Hannibal – another uneasy prequel about a murderer – it works. In fact, it has a charmingly Twin Peaks-like quirkiness to it.

Also, Freddie Highmore somehow manages to embody a young Anthony Perkins while also making the role of Norman Bates his own. No small thing, considering how much of a cinema icon the character is. In fact, this Norman has become increasingly like the Norman of Psycho, and we can expect that evolution to continue in the new series, which will see a new guest arrive who makes Norman come over all voyeuristic, while the relationship with mummy dearest will get thornier by the minute.

What's the verdict?

A winningly weird bit of television, Bates Motel looks set to go full-Psycho on us in this season – will it even include an homage to the shower scene? We’re dying to find out…

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07-07-2011