TV Wasteland: Back to the Bates Motel (

By:Rob Vaux
Date: Monday, March 18, 2013

A&E throws its hat into the reboot ring this week with Bates Motel, a look at Psycho’s cross-dressing serial killer as a young man.  Billed as a “contemporary prequel,” it features an impressive cast (Freddie Highmore as Norman, Vera Farmiga as his presumably unbalanced mother) and an equally impressive challenge. Not only must it live up to the title (no pressure guys), but it has to handle its status as a foregone conclusion within the auspices of episodic TV. Norman’s going to kill his mother sooner or later. We all know that. But what if the show’s a hit? Will they keep delaying the inevitable until it’s all we’re looking for? Will they off her in the first season and deal with the sea change in subsequent seasons? What if the network yanks it before we get those answers? A&E is asking its audience to take a leap of faith, with no guarantee that we’ll be left with anything in return. 
Against it, they have the cache of Psycho, and the chance to do something new with the iconic character at its heart. Others have thought that way, from the numerous sequels to Gus Van Sant’s ill-fated remake to the shockingly awful Bates Motel TV movie back in the 80s. By and large, they haven’t fared so well, and those that did usually benefitted from Anthony Perkins’ presence in the lead. A&E clearly has ambition to do more, which could translate to a big success if they play their cards right. But they probably need to push the quality levels higher than we’d expect, and establish the sustainability required to keep it going over the long term. Those are heavy odds, and if they pick wrong, the audience will end up paying the price. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that they can give us a Norman Bates worthy of the name, and build on Hitchcock’s legacy in a new and exciting way.
Bates Motel premieres Monday, March 18, at 10:00 PM EDT on A&E.


The Following (Fox, 9:00 PM EDT)
Ryan and Parker try to get around Nick, even as Joe starts jumping on Ryan to tell him where Claire is.
Bates Motel (A&E, 10:00 PM EDT)
Norman Bates gets a reboot as A&E returns us to his adolescence. See the top of the article for more.
Continuum (Syfy, 8:00 PM EDT)
The first season comes to an end as Liber8 kidnaps Alec, and Kiera tries to stop an impending attack.
Being Human (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
Aiden freaks out about his lost family during a date, and Sally entertains a very strange request from Stevie.
Lost Girl (Syfy, 10:00 PM EDT)
Bo unwittingly puts others in danger when she tackles an obstacle bigger than anything she’s ever faced before.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (AMC, 7:00 PM EDT)
If the middle’s your thing, this is a pretty damn good middle. It repeats on Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:00 PM EDT.
Alien vs. Predator (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EDT)
It’s pretty awful, but if you dig on it, you’d better take it while you can. It’s not like the sequel improves matters at all.
Megamind (FX, 8:00 PM EDT and 10:00 PM EDT)
Will Ferrell gives us a uniquely daffy twist on supervillains in one of Dreamworks’ better films to date. Repeats on Friday at 7:00 PM EDT and 9:00 PM EDT.
Signs (IFC, 8:00 PM EDT)
Remember when M. Night Shyamalan was a respected director and nobody hated Mel Gibson?
The Omen (IFC, 10:15 PM EDT)
If they were really independent, they would run the original instead of the wretched remake.


Face Off (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
Syfy starts plugging its new show Defiance by asking the last four contests to design make-up based on the show.
Robot Combat League (Syfy, 10:00 PM EDT)
The first round of the tournament comes to a head with Steam Punk taking on Medieval.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (Starz, 6:30 PM EDT)
Johnny Depp doesn’t so much re-invent the pirate movie as take it over completey. Seriously, is anyone going to try making a pirate movie without him?
Men in Black 3 (Starz, 9:00 PM EDT)
Nice recovery boys. Time to quit while you’re ahead. Repeats Friday at 7:10 PM EDT.


Arrow (The CW, 8:00 PM EDT)
The Huntress returns, as does Dinah. Can somebody say “love triangle?”
Supernatural (The CW, 9:00 PM EDT)
Crowley unleashes a gang of demons to look for Lucifer’s crypt, which the Winchesters are probably less than thrilled about.
DreamWorks Dragons: Riders of Berk (Cartoon, 8:00 PM EDT)
Hiccup and Toothless set out in search of other Night Furies… assuming any still exist.
The Woman in Black (Showtime, 8:25 PM EDT)
Daniel Radcliffe is apparently betting his post-Harry Potter career on the horror genre. Based on this entry, it’s a pretty safe bet.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (HBO, 6:15 PM EDT)
Of course, judging by the harrowingly good finale to his turn as Harry, he’s had plenty of experience with horror movies already.
2010: The Year We Make Contact (TCM, 9:30 PM EDT)
Peter Hyams’ inferior sequel to the incredible original is actually a pretty good time, provided you ignore what came before it.
The Shining (BBC America, 8:00 PM EDT)
If you need some actual Kubrick tonight, the BBC has your hook up.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (HBO, 8:30 PM EDT)
What is it with Downey and sequels? Hopefully, Iron Man 3 will reverse a rather distressing trend.
Scary Movie 2 (IFC, 10:15 PM EDT)
Don’t. Just… don’t.
John Carter (Starz, 9:00 PM EDT)
Hang in there boys. Don’t let the turkeys get you down.


The Vampire Diaries (The CW, 8:00 PM EDT)
Apparently, Damon was a New York disco king in the 1970s, meaning that the flashbacks this week are apt to be a little boogie-licious.
Beauty and the Beast (The CW, 9:00 PM EDT)
Muirfeld tightens the noose around Vincent, while Cat’s connection to Tess undergoes a deep-set change.
Men in Black II (Starz, 7:40 PM EDT)
Stick with the third one. It just doesn’t have as many stink lines.
XXX: State of the Union (Starz, 9:15 PM EDT)
And THERE GOES Ice Cube’s last shred of credibility!
The Big Bang Theory and Elementary are both off for the NCAA tournament. Zero Hour has been cancelled. (Man, that was quick…)


Grimm (NBC, 9:00 PM EDT)
A woman goes blind and dies, prompting Nick and Hank to investigate her death.
Spartacus (Starz, 9:00 PM EDT)
Crassus drives the rebels on, forcing Spartacus to make a key decision. Vague enough for ya?
Underworld (AMC, 7:00 PM EDT)
Kate Beckinsale puts the “vamp” in vampire with a derivative horror-action picture that spawned an impressively long franchise.
The Princess Bride (Bravo, 10:00 PM EDT)
It’s never a bad day with this little gem on the tube.
Up (Disney, 8:00 PM EDT)
Or this one.
X-Men: The Last Stand (FMC, 8:00 PM EDT and 10:30 PM EDT)
The unquestioned low point in the X-Men franchise still has more going for it than its detractors would suggest. Pity Brett Ratner’s such a pig. 
The Darkest Hour (Showtime, 10:30 PM EDT)
As it turns out, living electrical charges aren’t all that scary


Tasmanian Devil (Syfy, 7:00 PM EDT)
They’re giant, they’re carnivorous and they menace a gang of hapless dipshits. No word yet on whether they generate a cartoon tornado when they move.
Chupacabra vs. The Alamo (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
It’s different, I’ll give it that…
The Terminator (Cinemax, 6:20 PM EDT)
Okay, Cinemax is really starting the evening out right.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Cinemax, 8:10 PM EDT)
And they follow it up with a terrific second punch. Now if they can just stick the dismount…
Chernobyl Diaries (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EDT)
Never mind.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians (Cartoon, 6:30 PM EDT)
It’s a cute film, but once again, I must delicately point out that it’s not a cartoon.
The Transporter (AMC, 10:00 PM EDT)
Jason Statham, how can we stay mad at you?
Hot Tub Time Machine (Comedy, 7:43 PM EDT)
John Cusack delivers a snark retro-fest with tons of laughs for those of a certain age. Repeats on Sunday at 6:43 PM EDT.
Machete (FMC, 8:00 PM EDT and 10:00 PM EDT)
Just. Plain. Awful.
House of 1000 Corpses (IFC, 7:45 PM EDT)
The same goes for this hideous bit of Rob Zombie white trash horror. 
Gun Crazy (TCM, 8:00 PM EDT)
This isn’t the Drew Barrymore movie, but the amazing 1940s film noir about a truly crazy girl and the sharpshooting lug she drags with her on a robbery spree. Not to be missed.


The Walking Dead (AMC, 9:00 PM EDT)
The Governor offers a possible truce, but you know there are going to be hooks.
Once Upon a Time (ABC, 8:00 PM EDT)
We got a new episode; that’s all we know right now.
American Ninja Warrior (Syfy, 9:00 AM EDT)
I’m not even going to ask what prompted a day-long marathon of this silly reality show. But then again, I am not wise to the ways of Syfy’s programming directors.
Robin Hood: Men in Tights (BBC America, 7:00 PM EDT and 9:30 PM EDT)
It’s hard to hate on Mel Brooks, even when he’s not at his best.
Wrath of the Titans (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EDT)
Full props for good intentions guys. This just wasn’t meant to be.
Cowboys and Aliens (HBO, 10:35 PM EDT)
There’s too many people I like in this one for it to be as forgettable as it is.
The Amazing Spider-Man (Starz, 10:00 PM EDT)
Another good superhero movie to close out the week. Hope everyone has a great one!