June 6th, 2011
10:17 AM ET
Waves of zombies and vampires have inundated pop culture in recent years, so it makes sense that werewolves could be the next big thing. (Some have already popped up on a few of those vampire-driven properties.)
MTV looks to be getting ahead of the curve… by turning to a franchise that’s more than 25 years old: “Teen Wolf.”
The new series focuses on a high school student named Scott who transforms into a werewolf and whose best friend is named Stiles. If you’re looking for any similarities beyond that between this show and the 1985 Michael J. Fox movie, you won’t find any.
Instead of basketball, Scott plays lacrosse. His rival is a teammate, not an opponent. Rather than working at a family-owned hardware store, he works at an animal clinic (of COURSE the guy turning into a werewolf works at an animal clinic). And sadly, there is not a single character named “Boof” anywhere to be seen.
The most drastic difference, though, is in how Scott becomes a werewolf in the first place. In the movie, it was hereditary. His father was a werewolf, and it struck Scott as he came of age, turning the entire story into a metaphor for teenage maturation and transformation. Plus, having family in the same situation offered a safe guide for the changes Scott was going through.
In the new MTV series, Scott’s family has nothing to do with it. He’s bitten out in the woods by another werewolf; basically, he’s the victim of an attack. Plus, Derek, the werewolf who bites Scott, knows that there are hunters trying to track down the werewolves (sorry, lycanthropes, because every teenager knows that word), so he’s effectively turned Scott’s life into one of continuous threats. And THAT’S Scott’s guide to this new world? How comforting!
There’s always room for a new show to grow, and in this one’s case, I hope it can, because the premiere was underwhelming at best.
The cast is filled with very pretty people who aren't very good actors. (I stopped counting how many times they came up with an excuse for Scott to be shirtless.) Every plot twist is telegraphed, and there is an annoying lack of attention to detail in the script. It’s California in August or September, but students wear winter coats and hats to watch lacrosse practice? It’s the first day of school, but a teacher’s lesson starts on page 133? (At least the book the class is starting on is Kafka’s “Metamorphosis.” One point for cleverness.)
All that being said, there’s a good chance this show will find an audience and maybe even lead the next big trend in pop culture monster-dom. And I don’t have a problem with MTV launching a werewolf show, per se, but why use the title "Teen Wolf"? The title holds no cache for younger audiences, which is who I assume MTV is targeting with this show, and this version comes off like a werewolf spin on “Twilight” or “The Vampire Diaries.”
If the hope was to lure in fans of the original movie - ahem, like myself - based purely on the title, it’s a bait-and-switch.
Ultimately, this series is a typical MTV show about high school students who struggle with high school things, wrapped around some fantastic plot device. And that’s fine. People who enjoy those shows will enjoy this one, too. But could you not sully my memories of what the title “Teen Wolf” means in the process?
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