Friday, 15 February 2013

Fur and Fangs: Teen Wolf Season One Review

When Scott is bitten by a werewolf, he goes from being an ordinary 16 year old to star of the school lacrosse team, but with his new abilities come new problems, including having to deal with the fact that his girlfriend comes from a family of werewolf hunters who want to kill him.

When you mention Teen Wolf, the first thing that comes to the minds of most people is a distant memory of the 1985 movie starring Michael J Fox. “Didn’t they make a sequel starring Jason Bateman?” Yes, they did, but the MTV series of the same name is a far cry from the original movies.

MTV’s Teen Wolf takes the basic Teen Wolf concept (that of an average teenager who becomes extraordinary after becoming a werewolf) and a few of the original characters and uses these to create the best horror-comedy series that’s hit the small screen since Supernatural. Whereas the original movie was essentially a light-hearted wish fulfilment comedy with the message “be yourself”, the Teen Wolf series is much darker in tone. In the original movie, Scott’s “condition” was hereditary and by the middle of the film, Scott actually preferred being “the wolf” to being his normal self. In the series, Scott’s condition is caused by a bite, and he spends much of his time trying to find the werewolf that bit him (the Alpha) so that he can kill him and be “cured”.  If that latter plotline sounds familiar (and not in a Teen Wolf way), you’re right. The Teen Wolf series is far closer in tone and in plot to another 1980’s horror-comedy, The Lost Boys, a fact which writer-creator Jeff Davis confirmed in this interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
Being a TV series, rather than a 90 minute movie, the Teen Wolf series has ample time to develop its plot. The entire first season is effectively one big story that has been cut into 12 pieces, with episodes often picking up minutes after the ending of the previous episode. It also has some great characters (and actors who portray them). The writers have man an effort to make every character interesting (and I mean every character) and to avoid, subvert or springboard off teen movie stereotypes wherever possible. For example, Lydia, the bitchy, popular girl, is a mathematical genius pretending to be an airhead. Jackson, the lacrosse jock, wants to become a werewolf as the ultimate performance enhancer. You get the idea. If I were to make one criticism of the series, it would be that the male characters tend to be better written, have more depth and be more realistic that the female characters, but Scott’s girlfriend’s marvellously psychotic, werewolf-hunting Aunt Kate more than makes up for that.

Teen Wolf dark, there’s blood and a genuine sense of danger, but it also has a great sense of humour. Don’t let the original movie put you off, Teen Wolf is a show to watch.

Verdict: Forget about the original Michael J Fox film, Teen Wolf the series is a dark, funny and well-written take on the werewolf legend.

Bonus – on Monday, I will be posting my review of the spin-off web series, Teen Wolf: Search for a Cure.

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