Over the past 2 nights I have watched the first 8 episodes of Bates Motel, and I'm doing that without ever seeing Hitchcock's original or the Van Sant remake. I have just a few thoughts on the 3 main players.
Vera Farmiga is impressive as the emotionally herky-jerky Norma Bates. Some may say she hams it up a bit, but I'm not ready to say that's due to her alone. Could be the script, could be the direction. I haven't seen the script and am not privy to the direction vectors given while filming.
Freddie Highmore's Norman is the kind of kid you just want to punch in the face based on his public mannerisms (i.e., in school), but gets really oddball when it comes to his dynamic with mother Norma. Whether Highmore is a good actor or is just that kind of dweeby mama's boy kid who treats his mother as if she were his girlfriend, I don't know. It's possible he's the latter, and not impossible he's the former. Perhaps Tarzie can tell us, as Norman seems not far removed from Tarzie, personality wise.
The Dylan character seems to be inserted to give the series a character who is a cross between Jax Teller and James Hurley. I'm not clear on his role in the story concept otherwise.
From watching it so far, it seems the show's designer/conceiver must have thought of a cross between Sons of Anarchy and Twin Peaks, with the only connection to Psycho being that they could create some uncomfortable viewer tension arising from interactions between Norma and Norman. I'm not sure I'm going to watch any more episodes.