Technically, MTV’s television series, Teen Wolf, is a remake of the 1985 Michael J. Fox movie of the same name. But the names are about all the two have in common. When writing about season one, I don’t intend to compare the two other than to say they couldn’t be any more different.
One is a light teen comedy about a high school boy, Scott Howard (Fox), who inherits the curse of the werewolf from his father and uses his newfound abilities to publically win popularity on the basketball court. The other is a dark teen drama about a high school boy, Scott McCall (Tyler Posey), who is bitten by a werewolf and hides his newfound abilities to inadvertently win popularity on the lacrosse field.
Keep in mind, I am definitely not the intended audience for Teen Wolf; I mean, I remember MTV when the M actually stood for music! (I’m also willing to wager that readers of Downright Creepy are not its intended audience, either.) Consequently, after watching the first episode, I loathed it. The pace was frantic, the acting and special effects were bad, and Scott’s pal, Stiles (Dylan O’Brien), was the single most annoying character I’d seen on TV in a long time. But something unexpected happened at the end of the episode: there was just enough of a cliffhanger that I decided to tune in again to see what happened next. Ten episodes later, I had somehow become a fan, proclaiming Teen Wolf to be one of my most enjoyable guilty pleasures.
The cliffhanger was that the father of Allison (Crystal Reed), the object of Scott’s affection, was revealed to be a werewolf hunter who would likely shoot Scott on the spot if he learned about what he’d become. This proved to be only the first of many “soapy” elements that got me hooked on Teen Wolf. Throughout the season, secrets were revealed, loyalties were tested and people were exposed in surprising plot developments. This was all under a larger story arc, the mystery of the Alpha wolf who bit Scott, and featured surprisingly intricate back stories for characters who ultimately proved to be well-written and well-developed assets to the series.
Hidden beneath the “Short Attention Span Theater” style of Teen Wolf, with “one hour” episodes that really equate to 41 measly minutes without commercials, is a pretty dark show that appeals to me and would likely appeal to you. This selling point is punctuated by the fact that it doesn’t shy away from gore; there have been some very bloody moments. And a few episodes have been quite suspenseful, like the one in which our heroes were trapped at school while a beast raged outside.
Let’s credit some of the behind-the-scenes talent that Teen Wolf is as good as it is. Writer/Producer Jeff Davis comes from Criminal Minds, which I’ve never watched, but understand can be quite dark. And the three directors during season one all have some genre experience, particularly Russell Mulcahy (Razorback, Highlander and Resident Evil: Extinction). I understand that “dark” is not a prerequisite for enjoying every movie or TV show that comes along, but it is for Teen Wolf. I would have no interest in it if it were a sitcom.
As I’ve defended Teen Wolf so far, I must remember that it is essentially a show for teenagers, a quality reflected heavily in its style. However, it also consists of surprising substance. On one hand it shares the superficiality and immaturity of an angst-filled CW series; but, on the other, it offers the depth and maturity of (dare I say it?) an X-Files or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I say all this only to qualify my recommendation. To anyone on the street, I’m embarrassed to say I like Teen Wolf. But to my friends on Downright Creepy, I’m confident to say I can’t wait for season two!