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The Boston Globe

Arts

Origin stories on TV go deep into familiar terrain

Imagine how stressful it must have been for Carlton Cuse and his fellow “Lost” executive producers back in 2010. They had to create a finale for the biggest, most complicated puzzle TV has ever known, piecing together six fractured seasons of plots, subplots, backstories, and flash-forwards built around an overpopulated cast — and all for a fan base famous for its obsessive attention to detail.

If you were Cuse, you’d probably do what he did: Follow up “Lost” with a TV series whose ending is already firmly in place. Cuse is now an executive producer of A&E’s “Bates Motel,” which is giving us the origin story of Norman Bates, the killer at the center of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 thriller, “Psycho.” Norman’s sad fate, the conclusion of his journey of murder and broken personality, has been long embedded in film history. As Freddie Highmore portrays 17-year-old Norman, a shy kid with a few gnarly Freudian twists, the shadow of Anthony Perkins’s Norman refusing to swat a fly hangs over everything.

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