Bates Motel Returns

What would Alfred Hitchcock think of the return to television of his classic Psycho?  His 1960 film caused quite a stir and it is somewhat surprising that a well worn tale could take on a new life on A&E's Bates Motel, but that is the plan starting tonight (March 18).

A&E wants to tell us the prequel to Pyscho so that we have a better understanding of what made Normal do the things he did:
"Bates Motel,” serves as a contemporary prequel to the genre-defining film, “Psycho,” and promises to give viewers an intimate portrayal of how Norman Bates’ psyche unravels through his teenage years.  Fans will have access to the dark, twisted backstory and learn first hand just how deeply intricate his relationship with his mother, Norma, truly is and how she helped forge the most famous serial killer of them all.

Back in 1987, NBC tried a Psycho television pilot only to see it fail.  And of course we have already had a Psycho II, III, and IV (the prequel), so this is not a new idea.  So what can we expect?  Alessandra Stanley in a tepid New York Times review noted:

On one level the series explores the twisted steps that led Norman to his fate. The creators made “Bates Motel” less an exercise in “what if” than an “if only” — keeping viewers wondering whether, with some intervention or lucky break, the ultimate mama’s boy could come to a different end. But the series has to keep the narrative going and needs to add surprise turns that could affect Norman’s destiny...“Bates Motel” has a talented cast and a memorable back story that guides, but doesn’t limit, the narrative, and at its best it’s intriguing and enjoyably grim. But even more than Norman, the series itself has a split personality, a Hitchcock classic grafted onto a much more mundane brand of suspense.

What is even more interesting is that Hitchcock intended Pyscho to be a comedy, according to a recent story in England's The Telegraph.  In 1964, Hitchcock stated:

"I once made a movie, rather tongue-in-cheek, called 'Psycho'..."The content as such was, I felt, rather amusing and it was a big joke. I was horrified to find that some people took it seriously." 

So A&E has a lot of material to play with and now we have to see how it all comes together.  With all the fluff vampires and werewolves running around, maybe the retelling of a classic tale will add some gravitas to the genre again.  It's all up to Norman now.