Let’s hope the folks behind the upcoming A&E series “Bates Motel” have watched the recent “Halloween” reboot and “Hannibal Rising.”
Those clunkers showed precisely how NOT to illustrate the birth of a movie monster.
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A&E’s push to expand their reality show lineup with scripted fare may hinge on how dutifully they can reproduce Anthony Perkins’ iconic screen role. the twitchy, murderous Norman Bates from “Psycho.” Here’s the channel’s description of the program in question:
“Bates Motel” serves as a prequel to the most famous fright film of all-time, “Psycho.” A&E is currently in script development. “Bates Motel” will give viewers an intimate understanding of how Norman Bates’ psyche developed from his childhood through his teen years. Fans will have access to the dark, twisted backstory and learn first hand how his mother, Norma, and her lover damaged Norman, helping forge the most well-known serial killing motel owner in history.
The aforementioned “Halloween” and “Hannibal Rising” features tried to extend successful franchises by plumbing the depths of the characters’ early days. But audiences didn’t care if Michael Myers was an abused child who finally struck back against society, or that Hannibal Lecter was once young, charming and didn’t crave human flesh.
A&E is after a recognizable brand, and recycling old, crazy Norman is a far safer play than creating a new work of television art.
It still might work. Recent prequels like “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and “X-Men: First Class” showed how even a musty old brand can be reborn with enough creative sparks applied.