Bates Motel is a series I should be all about. I love, LOVE the original Psycho and the ensuing sequels, mythos and permutations. From Richard Franklin's belatedly respected 1981 sequel through to the straight-to-cable Psycho IV, to the bastard child TV-movie from the 80s starring Bud Cort. I've gone on the Universal studio tours in California AND Florida, just to look at the Bates Motel and mansion. I even have Gus Van Sant's 1998 remake on DVD. (Bought used for a buck, though; I'm not some weirdo.)
But A&E's Bates Motel just isn't for me. My Mrs. Bates is a mummy in the fruit cellar, not a smoking-hot criminal mastermind. My Norman Bates is a kind, smiling mask of secret madness, not a troubled, open book (of hentai) to whom everyone tries to get close. My Psycho is the quietly banal turned chillingly macabre, not a smoldering soap opera whose finale we know before the first frame. Am I in the minority, or is Bates Motel about to enjoy a fourth season based primarily on a new audience that doesn't venerate - or even know - the original in any way?
Reason I ask is here comes Damien, a very Bates Motel-ish updating of the 1976 film The Omen. This teaser seems to think all you need to remember about the original is that a lady killed herself for Damien. (Maybe that's true? As we learned in 2006, no one is clamoring for a new Omen.) But where Richard Donner's original film offered a chilly, grainy, sort of revolting moment of self-harm, A&E is serving up just about the sexiest suicide I've ever seen.
As we were told earlier this year (when Damien was set to air on Lifetime, not A&E), Damien follows the adult Damien Thorne (Bradley James), living unaware of his Satanic destiny. The series will follow Damien's journey as he comes to terms with his fated role as the Antichrist, probably while having professional power struggles and sexy times with the ladies. Look What's Happened To Rosemary's Baby meets Batman Begins meets Falcon Crest. Why not.
This is the internet, and we're required to crap on something ahead of time, but my only preliminary gripe: if The Omen was scary at all, it was because of the creepy, cherub-faced kid. And maybe the Dobermans. Damien seems to have kept the dogs, but has traded the evil kid for a sexy hunk. This didn't work in 1981, when Sam Neill played grown-ass Damien Thorne, and I'm skeptical it'll work now. While I personally might find sexy hunks threatening, they aren't particularly scary. Is this a Twilight ripple effect? Our monsters all have to be conflicted underwear models now? And isn't there already a sexy Lucifer show coming down the pike? I see a future of sexy longform Re-Animator reboots and hunky re-imaginings of Jason Voorhees, and I shudder, friends.
Here's the trailer from Comic-Con, which ties the series directly to the original film. My man Damien is looking fine for a 45 year-old. Not gonna lie, I'm a little jealous.
Here's the whole press release for the series. Some talented folks involved, so I'll keep an open mind. But the second someone announces a series about sexy young Leatherface and his bad boy bros Hitchhiker and Chop-Top, I'm out of here.
"The series stars Bradley James as Damien Thorn (“Merlin,” “Homeland”), along with Oscar® nominee Barbara Hershey (“Once Upon A Time”), Omid Abtahi (“Better Call Saul”) and Meganlyn Echikunwoke (“House of Lies”).
“Damien” follows the adult life of Damien Thorn, the mysterious child from the 1976 motion picture who has grown up seemingly unaware of the satanic forces around him. Haunted by his past, Damien must now come to terms with his true destiny -- that he is the Antichrist. Barbara Hershey stars as Ann Rutledge, the world's most powerful woman who has been tasked with making sure Damien fulfills his destiny. Omid Abtahi portrays Amani Golkar, a close colleague of Damien’s whose fierce loyalty will be tested when he realizes who his brother-in-arms actually is. Meganlyn Echikunwoke plays Simone Baptiste, a woman whose life is thrown into turmoil when tragedy unexpectedly strikes.
“Damien” is produced by Fox 21 Television Studios (“Homeland,” “Sons Of Anarchy”) for A&E Network. Glen Mazzara (“The Walking Dead,” “The Shield”) serves as writer and executive producer via his 44 Strong Productions. Ross Fineman (“Lights Out”), who developed the project alongside Mazzara, executive produces through his company, Fineman Entertainment. Pancho Mansfield (“Queen of the South”) also serves as executive producer. Golden Globe® and BAFTA Award nominated director Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth) directed and executive produces the first episode."