Monday, June 6, 2011

TV Series Review: Teen Wolf (2011) - "Wolf Moon" (pilot episode)


Ok...first impressions...not too bad.

I was pretty goddamned skeptical when I first heard about this remake of a cheesy 80's comedy. I don't really consider the original Teen Wolf anything even close to horror...so, we'll just call it a comedy. It was alright for the time. Michael J. Fox as a werewolf with hoop skills and a talent for surfing delivery vans. But, seriously...I wasn't expecting anything even remotely good when I sat down to watch MTV's interpretation of what Teen Wolf could be. A truly gripping account of what a teenager might encounter...if he were to be bitten by a werewolf.

The show stars Tyler Posey in the title role and a few young actors that you might recognize from other teen shows...although, if you don't recognize them...I don't blame you because they don't really demonstrate a lasting impression in their art of acting. Not necessarily bad...just not really memorable. Scott (Posey) is really the only character that we care about anyway...so, it's good that we at least have a solid young actor in the title role. On the other hand, the fault might ultimately lie on the quick pace of the entire show. Because we are watching a television show, the story moves along at record pace. Scott is bitten within the first 15 minutes of the show, for Christ's sake....so, we never really get the orthodox character development. Instead...we get to know these characters as the story progresses.


Basically, Scott's best friend, Stiles (Dylan O'Brien) comes over to see if Scott wants to check out a dead body. Of course Scott agrees and we're off. Soon we observe that the two kids immerse themselves deep in the woods smack in the middle of some sort of search party/manhunt for something that we don't altogether know quite yet. The two get separated and Scott ends up on his own. He finds the dead body as well as a rather cool looking lichen that bites him on his torso. He escapes and the next day he realizes that some crazy cool shit is happening to his senses in a heightened kind of way. For example...instead of basketball from the 1985 version, Scott turns into a master Lacrosse (??) player and captures the eye of a pretty new classmate in the form of Allison, played decently enough by Crystal Reed.

Meanwhile, his buddy Stiles is busy researching the existence of werewolves and suddenly becomes an authority on the characteristics of the lichen. He encounters Scott and heeds warning his way about what he will soon turn into...which ends in an almost intense confrontation. I say almost because if we were watching this in a feature it might have been much more substantial without all the quick cuts and hurried pace. It seriously feels like the entirety of these circumstances takes place in just a couple days. And technically it does....but, it's all just to frenzied for my taste. Probably the fault of Russell Mulcahy...he directed Resident Evil: Extinction. But, then again...I actually enjoyed that entry into the Resident Evil franchise...so, I'll just blame the editing department.


All that aside...I do like the show. Maybe because of my subterranean expectations...or maybe it's the bone-dry selection of new horror lately that has me desperately latching onto anything that sprouts fangs and hacks up bodies on the night of a full moon. Whatever it may be...remains to be seen. For now, though, I like the look of the show as well as the serious handling of the material. While there is some comedy relief within the show, it's mostly dealt with an interest for scaring its viewers...which is always nice.

A word on the werewolf design. While I do mostly like the silhouette shots of the fully turned werewolf...I'm not a huge fan for Scott's half-metamorphosis and his silly Eddie Munster lookin' overgrown widow's peak. While I see a hint of a throwback nod to the legendary Lon Chaney, it comes off a little silly and I couldn't help but get taken out of the show a little bit. This is mostly a critique based on a love for horror mythology and wanting to see the design kind of blow me away. Instead...it's a bit boring.


Overall, while I do really appreciate the direction where they are going with this new take on a beloved 80's film, I would really love to see them be much more daring in future episodes. I wanna see them have fun with this premise and boldly explore the world of a teenage werewolf. I wanna see more gore and beheadings and I wanna see them create a fresh new version of this 80's Michael J. Fox vehicle. I realize that this is a 12 episode MTV series...so, I'll hold my true critique for the end of this first season...or at least until I grow bored of the show. For now, though, I'll tune in Mondays at 10/9c.


Recommendation: DVR it for now.

It's good to see that the creators of the show have good taste...



Thanks for reading,

bryan.



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