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The Boston Globe


Television Review

‘Psycho’ prequel ‘Bates Motel’ is creepy, cryptic

“Psycho,” Alfred Hitchock’s 1960 thriller, had very strong Freudian currents running through it. So it’s not surprising that its new prequel series on A&E is steeped in what we’d now call the “inappropriate” mother-son bond between Norman and Norma Bates. They don’t have incestuous sex, at least not in the three episodes sent for review. But they do share a few aching glances and flirtatious overtones. They also share secret knowledge of one, and possibly two, murders, with young Norman quoting expressions of love from “Jane Eyre” to Norma as they dispose of a corpse. Their bond is deep and deeply twisted.

“Bates Motel,” which premieres Monday at 10, is sufficiently creepy, and not only due to the possessive attachment between mother and son, whom one character refers to as “Mr. and Mrs. Bates.” The show’s creators, Carlton Cuse (“Lost”) and Kerry Ehrin (“Friday Night Lights”), bring in what promises to be a chilling and dramatic origins story about exactly what preceded the movie. They’ve done a smart job of building a cryptic, threatening world around the disturbing relationship at its center. Among the “Bates” plot points: a rape, fields of pot, Norman’s violent half-brother, the possibility of human trafficking, a nosy cop, and . . . well, most of it is best discovered along the way.

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