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TV Wasteland: Back to the Bates Motel
A&E hopes for great things with its Psycho sequel.
By Rob Vaux
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.
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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)
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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)
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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)
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The Omen (IFC, 10:15 PM EDT)
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Men in Black 3 (Starz, 9:00 PM EDT)
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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)
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The Woman in Black (Showtime, 8:25 PM EDT)
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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (HBO, 6:15 PM EDT)
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2010: The Year We Make Contact (TCM, 9:30 PM EDT)
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The Shining (BBC America, 8:00 PM EDT)
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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (HBO, 8:30 PM EDT)
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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)
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XXX: State of the Union (Starz, 9:15 PM EDT)
And THERE GOES Ice Cube’s last shred of credibility!
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Grimm (NBC, 9:00 PM EDT)
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Spartacus (Starz, 9:00 PM EDT)
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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)
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Up (Disney, 8:00 PM EDT)
Or this one.
X-Men: The Last Stand (FMC, 8:00 PM EDT and 10:30 PM EDT)
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The Darkest Hour (Showtime, 10:30 PM EDT)
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Tasmanian Devil (Syfy, 7:00 PM EDT)
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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)
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Chernobyl Diaries (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EDT)
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)
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House of 1000 Corpses (IFC, 7:45 PM EDT)
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Gun Crazy (TCM, 8:00 PM EDT)
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The Walking Dead (AMC, 9:00 PM EDT)
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Once Upon a Time (ABC, 8:00 PM EDT)
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American Ninja Warrior (Syfy, 9:00 AM EDT)
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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)
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Cowboys and Aliens (HBO, 10:35 PM EDT)
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The Amazing Spider-Man (Starz, 10:00 PM EDT)
Another good superhero movie to close out the week. Hope everyone has a great one!