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Exclusive: 10 Things We Know About the Psycho Prequel TV Pilot Bates Motel

A&E and Universal are at work to bring Norman Bates back to the screen, albeit on the small screen.  The former has ordered up a 10-episode run of Bates Motel, a new series that explores Norman Bates’ life before Psycho.

This isn’t the first time TV has taken a crack at Bates’ legacy.  There was a television pilot from ’87, starring Bud Cort, Lori Petty and Kurt Paul as Norman Bates, which was nixed rather fast.  And in 2007, Vertigo Entertainment Roy Lee and Doug Davison paired up with Lionsgate and Universal to bring Bates Motel to life.

Years later, showrunners Carlton Cuse (Lost) and Kerry Ehrin (Friday Night Lights) picked up the project and are now finally making it happen.  Recently, it was revealed Vera Farmiga was cast as Norma Bates, Norman’s mother.  While we await word as to who is playing Norman himself, let us share with you what we have learned about the pilot episode based on a May 2012 draft of the script penned by Ehrin.

  1. This prequel is set in modern-day.  This is a Norman Bates for a new generation.  A 16-year-old who carries a cell phone and finds himself in situations like a wild high school party.  This series is not a period piece by any means.  Essentially, history is being re-written which means that should Bates Motel be successful and see a multi-season run, we could ultimately see the events of Psycho recreated again.
  2. We’re introduced to Sam Bates.  That would be Norman’s dad.  What happens to his dear ol’ pop is a catalyst for the series.
  3. Norman has a brother.  In the pilot, Norman and his mother, Norma, relocate to Northern California where the latter has purchased the iconic Bates house/motel.  This comes as a suprise to Norman’s 21-year-old, motorcycle-riding “James Dean-like” brother, Dylan, who arrives at the home he grew up in only to discover his family is gone and their empty house is now up for sale.  This isn’t the last we see of Dylan.
  4. The Bates Motel is not open.  Yet.  Norma bought the house/motel on a foreclosure, but she knows nothing about running a business.  She’ll try, however, much to the chagrin of the property’s former owner who causes a bit of trouble for Norma and Norman.
  5. Norman is just one of the girls.  New to town, Norman is quickly integrated into the high school scene, furthermore, a quartet of girls: Bradley, Jenna, Hayden and Lissa.  These are the first friends he makes and their influence lands him in a bit of trouble.
  6. Norman’s caught in a love triangle.  Naturally, he falls for one of these aforementioned gals, yet, she’s already spoken for.  Oh, the drama that’s going to come from this…
  7. Norma gets around.  While Norman establishes his newfound social life, we get a taste of his mother’s extracurricular activities when she has a brief fling with a random guy she meets in a grocery store.
  8. There’s a rape.  A bit harsh, indeed.  Perhaps to add some “edge” to the Bates history.  We won’t tell you who’s involved, but it doesn’t end well.
  9. Japanese Manga plays a part in Norman’s budding sexual desires.  At one point, Norman finds a Manga comic filled with “young, Asian girls in various states of sexual slavery.”  Fascinated, he stores this away for later.
  10. Norma and Norman’s weird “thing” is very apparent.  Throughout the pilot, the push/pull, unsettling dynamic between mother and son is on full display.  Norman’s need to satisfy his mother comes through when he lays out a “romantic” setting for dinner and Norma consistently demonstrates dominance – she gets angry over Norman’s flirtation with possibly joining the track team and prevents him from hanging with his girlfriends.

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