I’m not going to lie. When I heard MTV was making a Teen Wolf television series, I was immediately skeptical. Having been a fan of the film for years, and having read a synopsis of the upcoming show, I had a very bad feeling. Lucky for me, I was needlessly worried.
Teen Wolf is fun television. The characters are likable, the plot is solid, and they pulled off a twist in the first season that actually took me a while to figure out. (I’m normally quite good at second guessing plot twists.) Plus, if you’re paying close attention, there are some sneaky call backs to the film.
My biggest fear going into the show was that they’d attempt to make everything exhaustively dark and gritty, but that wasn’t the case. Sure, there was a little bit of crunchy “teenage angst” coating that could be somewhat tiresome to some, but not enough to weigh the overall enjoyment down. It’s a show that doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously and has won itself a decent audience because of it.
The series deviates from the original 80’s film (starring Michael J. Fox) in a lot of ways. In fact, only the most basic film points and a handful characters survived the transition. The lead character, Scott, does not start out as a werewolf as he did in the original. Instead he is bitten out in the woods during an ill advised adventure with his best friend, Stiles. The character of Stiles is also different and has less of the film’s tacky promoter personality having traded it for being one of the smart, but unpopular, kids at school. In addition, basketball has been swapped for lacrosse (which has far more concealing uniforms).
MTV’s Teen Wolf also introduces a lot of unique werewolf mythology into the mix. In the first season we learned of two distinct types of werewolves: alphas and betas. And unlike the quirky, “win the big basketball game” type of transformations, Scott’s take on a darker and more violent tone. The trading out of cheesy for edgy actually works well in this instance.
Lastly, werewolf snob that I am, I have to say that I was pleased with the look of the werewolf transformations. The makeup is minimal, but impactful. (The characters look like very feral humans.) A lot of werewolf effects in television shows have failed miserably from trying to take it too far, so it was refreshing to see one that found a good balance of wolf and human traits.
A second season is currently in production, and while no firm release date has been announced, it’s likely to hit around June 2012. If you’re looking to catch up on the first season, it’s easily found streaming on Netflix and is part of Amazon Instant.