bates-motel-premiere-freddie-highmore-vera-farmiga-norman-norma-2013-a-e.jpgThe heavily promoted “Psycho” prequel series “Bates Motel” premiered on A&E tonight, giving viewers their first look at Freddie Highmore as Norman Bates and Vera Farmiga as his beloved mother, Norma.

The show’s executive producers — Carlton Cuse (“Lost”) and Kerry Ehrin (“Friday Night Lights”) — have been very clear to point out that “Bates Motel” is inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 movie classic, but also stands on its own. That’s part of the reason it’s set in present day and not in the ’50s.

Critics have been split on whether or not that approach works but Highmore and Farmiga’s terrific performances have been almost universally praised.

We’ve already seen the next two episodes and remain intrigued by where this series is heading over the course of its 10 episode run. The premiere does a solid job of carving out a fresh identity and tone that separates the show from “Psycho.” It’s a character-driven mystery that’s as much about the quirky town that Norma relocates to after her husband’s death, as it is about the idiosyncrasies of Norman and Norma and their unusual relationship.

With great acting, a sharp visual style and unpredictable narrative twists, we think “Bates Motel” could blossom into the best new series of 2013 so far.

Let us know what you thought by voting in the poll below.

Posted by:gberkshire