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TCA: What to Expect from Bates Motel and Da Vinci’s Demons

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We’re still not sure how Dread-worthy Starz’s “Da Vinci’s Demons” is going to be, but with David Goyer at its helm, we’ll keep covering it for a while at least. Here’s an update from Goyer at the ongoing Television Critics Association’s winter press tour along with more on A&E’s “Bates Motel.”

Per Deadline, Goyer said that his first historical period project would be about 85% historically accurate. “He had a pretty incredible life we didn’t have to embellish as much as you’d think,” Goyer said of Da Vinci, portrayed by Tom Reilly. Goyer pointed out that though Da Vinci is best known as an artist and scientist, he was also thought to be a great horseman. Turning Da Vinci into a TV superhero was not too difficult: “He’s kind of superhero-y anyway.

Goyer described the tone of the show as historical but “viewed through a modern prism,” like a graphic novel that’s more about fun than history. He also said that there are surprising parallels between Da Vinci and Batman: “They both had big father issues and formative horrific incidents when they were trapped in caves,” he said. He also noted that Batman’s creator designed Batman’s cape based on Da Vinci’s glider designs.

Goyer added that one of the conceits of “Demons” is that thousands of pages are missing from Da Vinci’s writings and drawings, and it will speculate on what might have been included in those pages.

Synopsis:
In a world where thought and faith are controlled, one man fights to set knowledge free.

The secret history of Leonardo Da Vinci’s tantalizing life reveals a portrait of a young man tortured by a gift of superhuman genius. He is a heretic intent on exposing the lies of religion. An insurgent seeking to subvert an elitist society. A bastard son who yearns for legitimacy with his father.

He finds himself in the midst of a storm that has been brewing for centuries. A conflict between truth and lies, religion and reason, past and future. His aspirations are used against him by the opposing forces of the time—luring him into a game of seduction where those who despise his intellect need him most. Leonardo must take up the fight against foes who use history to suppress the truth. A hero armed only with genius, Da Vinci stands alone against the darkness within, and the darkness without.

Facing an uncertain future, his quest for knowledge nearly becomes his undoing as he explores the fringes of his own sanity. Da Vinci throws himself into his genius and emerges as an unstoppable force that lifts an entire era out of darkness and propels it into light. His story becomes a mirror into our own world, calling us all to join his fight to Free the Future.

Starring Tom Riley (“Monroe,” I Want Candy), as the title character, “Da Vinci’s Demons” is an historical fantasy, following the ‘untold’ story of the world’s greatest genius during his turbulent youth in Renaissance Florence. The series also stars Laura Haddock (The Inbetweeners Movie, “Honest,” Captain America: The First Avenger), who plays the celebrated beauty with obscure motives, Lucrezia Donati; Elliot Cowan (“Marchlands,” “The Fixer,” “Lost in Austen”), who plays the shrewd de factor ruler of Florence, Lorenzo Medici; Lara Pulver (“True Blood,” “Sherlock,” “Robin Hood”), who plays his wife, Clarice Orsini; and Blake Ritson (RocknRolla, Titus, “World Without End”) as Pope Sixtus’ ruthless bastard son, Count Riario.

Tepid First Stills from Da Vinci's Demons

As for “Bates Motel,” THR attended their session in Pasadena and brought back the following info:

We did not want to do an homage to Psycho, we wanted to take these characters and setup as inspiration,” showrunner Carlton Cuse (“Lost”) told reporters. “The mythology that you think is what dictates the relationship between Norma and Norman is not what it’s going to turn out to be. This is a tragedy, it’s a fantastic dramatic form,” Cuse said. “We want the audience to fall in love with these characters, particularly Norman. That tension of knowing what their fate is and how they get there was something we thought was really telling… The specific way in which their tragic fate plays out will be of our own invention.”

The pilot reveals two mysteries involving Norman and the titular hotel — an old notebook the teen stumbles upon that seems to tell a brutal story about a girl’s torture as well as another woman chained up in what appears to be the basement of the building he and his mother buy — that will continue to be explored, but Cuse noted it won’t be a “Lost”-type mythology. “There’s no supernatural elements in play. We view this as a psychological thriller.”

Within this 10-episode serialized story (which, by the way, is in the present day — complete with iPhones), could the Marion Crane character played by Janet Leigh in the Hitchcock film eventually make her way to “Bates Motel”? Cuse “didn’t think” she’d appear down the line in the series — which he envisions as having a beginning, middle, and end. “There is an endpoint to this narrative, absolutely,” he said.

Star Vera Farmiga said she perceives her character as an “absolute train wreck… strong and tall as an oak and fragile as a butterfly,” Her co-star Freddie Highmore said the story will challenge the audience. “We all know where he’s going to end up — but is that because of his upbringing? Is it nature vs. nurture? Or is it because they moved to this dodgy town? Or is it because of intimate relationship between Norma and Norman? If I had had the upbringing Norman had, would I have been slightly different? We all go a little mad sometimes.”

“Bates Motel,” starring Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore, serves as a contemporary prequel to the genre-defining film Psycho where fans will find a teenage Norman Bates and his beautiful mother, Norma, at the start of their journey as the owners of the famed Bates Motel.

Series Premiere Synopsis – “First You Dream, Then You Die” (3/18/13 air date):
Norma Bates buys a motel on the outskirts of an idyllic coastal town seeking a fresh start with her teenage son, the handsome and shy Norman.

For more info visit the official “Bates Motel” website.

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Debi Moore

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