Last night I watched episode 8 of Teen Wolf, and I now feel ready to deliver my objective critique of the season so far. To sum up my whole experience in a word, I would use SQUEEEEEEEEE!
Ahem. Vampire fans get a new show to love every other season, and currently many are enjoying True Blood. (For reasons that escape me.) Zombie fans have something to be joyful with the Walking Dead series too, but it’s been a long, long time since the last attempt at a werewolf TV series. So when I heard a new show was coming out with a reboot of the Teen Wolf movie, I was interested right away. Then one of my friends complained that Scott wouldn’t be born with his curse, he would be bitten by another wolf. For my friend, not having the werewolf family angle in the story was the deal-killing reason for them not to watch. But for me, it added another layer of intrigue.
I was a fan of the original Teen Wolf movie, and of the cartoon series. I also watched An American Werewolf in London when I was 9, and I may be one of the few people I know who loved An American Werewolf in Paris. I’ve seen every Howling movie at least twice, even the shitty ones, and in an amazinging co-inky-dink, I just happen to be releasing a book about a teen wolf athlete too.
In fact, I want to make some comparisons from Teen Wolf to Peter the Wolf. I don’t normally do this for reviews, but there are so many similarities that I’m grateful to have seen the show long after I completed the first three books. This show would have influenced my writing a LOT. It’s really that good.
But okay, Scott plays lacrosse, and Peter takes up gymnastics. They’re both athletes. They both come from broken homes, though Scott’s got the better parents overall. Scott’s rival at school is Jackson. Peter’s rival at school is Jake. Scott’s romantic interest is Allison, and Peter’s is Alice. Both Allison and Alice are gymnasts, though Allison is older than Scott, while Alice is younger than Peter.
The “ditzy cheerleader” of Teen Wolf, Lydia, is faking being dumb, and she’s really a science wiz. Just like Peter’s foster sister Judy, who is a cheerleader hiding her science lab in her older brother’s room. Jake and Jackson both come across as dumb jocks, but soon reveal that there’s a lot more depth and darkness to their inner nature than first meets the eye. And both Scott and Peter struggle with retaining their humanity as the animal inside them fights to take over.
I could go on with thematic comparisons, even scenes that feel very similar. But the point is, this almost feels like a show that I would write. The characters aren’t divided into camps of good versus evil, and no one is a truly good person. But no one is really evil, not even the alpha wolf attacking the town. What has been seen in the first 8 episodes hints that something about this alpha is all wrong, and that some vendetta is driving it to keep hunting and killing. But is the alpha seeking revenge against the wolf hunters, or the town itself for some unknown crime? No one seems to know, and EVERYONE is acting suspicious. Like the joke in Scream went, everybody’s a suspect.
The show has lots of mystery and intrigue, and each of the characters is developing their own story lines. The original Teen Wolf movie is all about Scott and his wolf celebrity status. But this is a show about a town with a wolf problem, and Scott’s story is only one facet of a much larger mystery.
And, it’s fucking awesome. I love the dialogue. I love the humor that comes at just the right moment to lighten the tension. There is really nothing I don’t love about the show. Even the character I want to hate, I also acknowledge how the writing has cleverly turned me against that person.
A few people are comparing this series to Twilight and yeah, I can see how some of those comparisons fit. But I would really compare Teen Wolf more with Angel and Buffy for the similar way in which the shows blended monsters and humor. You know how it was when a scene was just getting too intense, and then someone would quip a line and back down the tension a few notches. Teen Wolf works in that same way, and when I say it works, I mean it works well.
I haven’t been a fan of any TV shows in a long, long time. In fact, it’s almost impossible to get me to watch more than 2 or 3 episodes of any series, and I usually wander out of the room in the middle of the episodes I watch. I think most TV writers are lazy and spend way too much time casting black and white values and creating overly simplistic solutions for complex problems. But…BUT, for once, I feel like the writing team here really gets it.
The “good guy” wolf hunters aren’t so good. No, they aren’t evil, but they aren’t saints. Derek is a wolf, but he isn’t a killer. There’s some valid reasons behind his righteous fury, if one has the patience to wait for the revelation moment. Scott is a cute kid, but he’s struggling with the killer inside him and the tension is starting to crack his momma’s boy lifestyle. Jackson looks like a bastard, but just wait until you find out why he’s so obsessed with being number one, and then tell me the writers don’t generate some sympathy for him even if he’s still being a bastard. The same goes for Lydia, the so-called “ditz” cheerleader. In the same episode that the writers reveal why Jackson is the way he is, they also show Lydia’s parents having a “moment”. And that moment so clearly explains why Lydia has disguised herself as an idiot that I can forgive the fact that she’s still being a bit of a shallow bitch. I know now that she only looks shallow on a surface glance.
I really could gush for a few hours about how good this show is, and I’m pleased to know I’m not alone in thinking it’s good. Usually when I like something this much, it’s cancelled in the middle of the first season, and all the actors are taken to a shed and killed in Saw auditions. But behold, this time, I seem to be backing the right wolf, because MTV has already given the green light for season two.
I hope that the writers will answer the questions posed in season one soon, and then open a new story arc for season two instead of trying to drag out the suspense with red herrings and “clever” twists. (The writers totally killed Heroes early in season one for me by being so “clever”.) But that’s a future concern, and right now, I’m hooked in for the full ride to the end of the season. And when MTV drops a season box set, I’m gonna grab that sucker on release day. Yes, it’s really that good, in my opinion.
I give Teen Wolf 5 stars and 1 full moon, and I’ll recommend it to anyone who wants a supernatural TV fix with lots of humor, action, and tension.