Hide the kitchen knives. Apparently we haven't seen the last of Norman Bates.
One of cinema's most iconic characters returns -- along with his mysterious mother -- in "Bates Motel," an A&E TV series inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's landmark 1960 horror film, "Psycho."
"Bates Motel," set to premiere on March 18, is a prequel that dares to imagine the twisted relationship between a teen-aged Norman (Freddie Highmore) and his overprotective single mom, Norma (Vera Farmiga). But instead of going retro, executive producers Carlton Cuse ("Lost") and Kerry Ehrin ("Friday Night Lights") chose to set their dark drama in the present day.
"We did not want to do an homage to 'Psycho,'" Cuse told journalists at the Television Critics Association press tour. "We just wanted to sort of take these characters and the setup as inspiration. ... And it may surprise you what you actually learn about what the relationship is like between these two characters and what drives Norman Bates to be the guy that he becomes. We didn't want to stick to what had been done."
The opening episode, made available to critics, has Norma seeking a fresh start after the tragic death of her husband. She and Norman move to an idyllic coastal town, where she purchases an abandoned motel. The series will go on to explore how Norman evolves into the deranged killer seen in the 1960 film.
"Bates Motel" is the first project for Cuse since "Lost" ended, and though the series
"No polar bears, no smoke monsters, for sure, OK?" he said with a smile. "There's no supernatural elements in play. We view this as a psychological thriller."
As for the mama's boy at the heart of the story, Highmore said the series will challenge viewers as they try to figure out exactly how Norman turned bad.
"We all know that he'll go on to be psycho," he said. "But is that necessarily