In "Bates Motel," A&E's prequel to the 1960 horror classic "Psycho," the violin screeches have been curiously replaced with the ringing of iPhones. Oh, the horror?
The new drama from executive producers Carlton Cuse ("Lost") and Kerry Ehrin ("Friday Night Lights") is no period piece. It's a modern-day prequel to the Hitchcock standard -- and the decision to update the setting was a deliberate one.
"The idea of an homage was just not going to be engaging to me," Cuse told reporters Friday during a panel for the drama at the Television Critics Assn. media tour. "Making the fundamental decision to make it contemporary gave us the freedom to take these characters wherever we wanted. There's a certain amount of baggage that comes with taking on 'Psycho' ... making it contemporary made it become liberated from the original movie."
"The mythology that you think is what dictates the relationship is probably not what it's going to be," Cuse said, joking that supernatural elements won't play a factor as they did in "Lost" -- so don’t expect polar bears or smoke monsters. "It may surprise you to find out what the relationship is like between these two characters and what drives Norman Bates to be what he's become."
Just don't expect it all to lead up to an appearance by tragic-figure Marion down the line -- Cuse wasn't keen on the idea. But he did say that "in some general form we are going to catch up with a version of [Norman] from the movie."
The reimagination comes at significant moment for the network. After coming off a blockbuster fall with its reality series "Duck Dynasty" -- which has steadily risen into a ratings force; its season finale brought in 6.5 million viewers -- the cable network has become an unlikely force.
It also saw its first original scripted drama, “Longmire," perform solidly -- averaging about 4 million viewers in its freshman season last year (it has been renewed for a second season).
The series is set to premiere March 18.