In the US: Mondays, 10/9c, A&E
Psycho was of course Alfred (and Alma) Hitchock's greatest triumph, a 1960 horror masterpiece that has become embedded in popular culture. It sees Janet Leigh steal money from employer and run away with the swag. Unfortunately, along the way she stops at 'the Bates Motel', where despite being a big star of the time, she's murdered in an iconic shower scene by the mother of the motel's owner, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) - it's a trick Scream repeated several decades later.
Eventually (spoiler alert), it's discovered that the disturbed, schizoid Bates has been murdering women in the motel while dressed as his mother, believing that his actually deceased mother wouldn't like his being sexually attracted to the women in question. I say spoiler alert, but pretty much everyone knows this much already.
So powerful a movie is it that as well as the Bates Motel being preserved by the studios, there were two sequels made in the 80s, with Perkins reprising his role as Bates.
There's even been a movie this year about its making. It's got Scarlett Johansson in it. You should watch it.
Now along comes Bates Motel, a prequel starring the marvellous award-winning actress-director Vera Farmiga (returning to TV nine years almost to the day since my beloved Touching Evil debuted) as the still-living Mrs Bates and Freddie Highmore (Charlie Bucket from the Tim Burton Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) as the still-teenage Norman. It attempts to explore what could have made Norman into such a fruit-cake in his later years.
What's interesting is that the show attempts to emulate Psycho with a completely different twist shortly after the beginning of the first episode, one I really didn't see coming. And just like the original, it takes about half an hour before anything at all happens, so you've really got to stick with it to get to the good stuff.
And so far, do we have an explanation for Norman's craziness? We do. And, for the sake of avoiding all spoilers until after the jump, I'll just say it rhymes with 'anger'. Here's a trailer that does, unfortunately, spoil the twist.