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Bates Motel Season 1 Blu-ray Review

Bates Motel Season 1 Blu-ray

“Bates Motel” is the best new show of 2013.

“Bates Motel” (a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” film) is a television series that expands upon the characters of Norman Bates and his mother Norma Bates. Obviously, we know what Norman becomes and we know the fate of Norma Bates from “Psycho,” but there are a lot of question marks surrounding their past (which the show explores).

The series begins with Norma and Norman settling into a new town (White Pine Bay) after the mysterious death of Norman’s father/Norma’s husband. Norma, who is looking to move on from the past with her son, winds up buying a motel in order to start a new business (the Bates Motel). Alas, things do not run smoothly for the Bates family as trouble finds them immediately in the pilot episode. As it turns out, Norma and Norman Bates are not the only ones with problems in White Pine Bay as the town is hiding many deadly secrets of its own (think “Twin Peaks”).

Throughout the season’s 10 episodes, viewers can expect to see plotlines about Norman’s friend Emma, the unexpected arrival of Norma’s other son Dylan, revelations about Norman’s father’s death, Norma murdering  a man, a creepy sketchbook, a marijuana field, the secretive Deputy Shelby, Bradley (a grieving classmate who hooks up with Norman), the sick past business that took place at the now Bates Motel, Norman getting into taxidermy, Norman’s teacher Miss Watson, Sheriff Romero, and Norman and Norma’s relationship. Of course, there’s a doozy of a cliffhanger ending in episode 10 as well.

When “Bates Motel” was first announced, I was both intrigued and skeptical of the project. I was intrigued because of the talent involved (which I will get to in a bit), but I was skeptical because I wasn’t sure the source material lent itself to an entire series. As we learned from the inferior sequels, “Psycho” never needed any follow-ups as it’s a perfect movie on its own. Thankfully, I was proven wrong by “Bates Motel” as it proves that there is much to explore about Norman Bates warped past.

While it’s fascinating to see Norma and Norman’s creepy relationship and Norman transitioning into the madman he eventually becomes, it’s the new pieces that are introduced here that really hook you into the show. Despite the borderline absurd plotting of the show at times, you can’t help but get sucked up into the drama of the characters that currently inhabit White Pine Bay. The most fascinating new characters (in my humble opinion) are Norman’s brother Dylan and Norman’s school friend Emma who are wonderfully played by Max Thieriot and Olivia Cooke respectively. Introducing another Bates family character was an inspired move and it really mixes up the already demented family drama. It’s not clear how much of a role Emma will play in future seasons, but I’m certainly team Emma right now. She’s an instantly likable and quirky character and she’s arguably the only sane character we have met thus far.

On the subject of the cast, I can’t end this review without talking about the award worthy performances of Vera Farmiga (Norma Bates) and Freddie Highmore (Norman Bates). I can’t imagine the pressure and difficulty of stepping into the iconic Norman Bates role, but Highmore makes the character his own with such ease. Between his blank stares and awkward interactions with other characters, Highmore nails every detail of the character’s mannerisms. Farmiga (who was justifiably nominated for an Academy Award in “Up in the Air”) shines once again as the stressed out, over protective mother of Norman Bates. Farmiga had a lot less to work from the past with her character as SPOILER ALERT Norma Bates was dead in “Psycho” END SPOILER ALERT, but she gives it her all here to create a strong, smart, unstable, and unpredictable character.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.78:1 1080p. How does it look? The show’s cinematography is stylish and moody and the Blu-ray transfer really makes the details of everything from the Bates house to the Bates Motel much more detailed.

The 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio track is lively in each and every episode. All of the music, dialogue, and action sounds crystal clear here.

Extras:
* Ultraviolet digital copy.
* 5 collectible art cards featuring sketches from the notorious notebook featured in the series.
* Trailers for “Grimm,” “Chicago Fire,” “Defiance,” “The Purge,” “The Best of Alfred Hitchcock,”
* 8 deleted scenes.
* “Paley Center Panel Discussion With The Cast And Creative Team”- A Q&A with Nestor Carbonell, Nicola Peltz, Max Thieriot, Carlton Cuse, Kerry Ehrin, Freddie Highmore, and Vera Farmiga in which they chat about the characters, the “Twin Peaks” influence, how the show came about, “Psycho,” and much more. The quality of the panel is not the best, but it’s a fun watch.

Summary: “Bates Motel” gets my highest recommendation. I can’t wait for season 2 to air in 2014.

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September 13, 2013 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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