TEEN WOLF 1.01 ‘Wolf Moon’

MTV's update of the classic film series gets off to a promising start.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Wolf Moon"

Writers: Jeff Davis and Jeph Loeb & Matthew Weisman
 
Director: Russell Mulcahy

Premise:

MTV resurrects the old Michael J. Fox comedy "Teen Wolf" with more than a touch of a "Twilight," as a young man finds his life drastically changed after an encounter with a werewolf. 

Story:

Scott McCall (Tyler Posey) works out at home before being disturbed by a menacing noise. Of course, he discovers that it's only his best friend, Stiles Stilinsky (Dylan O'Brien) who has the brilliant idea of going into the woods to look for a dead body. And according to Stiles, this particular dead body is of a girl… well, at least half of a girl. The other half still hasn't been found. Naturally, Scott thinks that this is an incredible idea and off they go. In the woods, Scott drops his inhaler and hides when Stiles' father aka Sheriff Stilinsky (Linden Ashby) finds his son.

Now alone in the woods, Scott stumbles over the top half of a dead girl and he has a run in with a strangely humanoid wolf. The wolf bites Scott and he only escapes by making his way towards an active road. Later, Scott gets home and examines the gaping bite marks. Stiles jokes that he'll become a werewolf, but what are the chances of that happening in a series called "Teen Wolf"? And yet during the day, Scott's spider… I mean wolf powers begin to manifest themselves with incredible hearing, which he uses to impress new transfer student, Allison Argent (Crystal Reed)

Scott also uses his newfound abilities to dominate during his lacrosse try outs, impressing the coach but alienating the team captain, Jackson Whittemore (Colton Haynes). That afternoon, Scott and Stiles try to retrace Scott's footsteps to where he found the body, but instead they encounter Derek Hale (Tyler Hoechlin). The odd young man seems to know more than he should when he returns Scott's inhaler. Later, at a veterinary hospital where Scott works, Allison arrives with an injured dog that she accidentally hit with her car. Scott helps treat the animal and gets Allison to go to a party with him later that week. But that night, Scott goes to sleep in his room and the next thing he knows he is in the forest near a half eaten deer.

Suddenly an overnight expert on werewolves, Stiles tries to get Scott to break off his date with Allison. Scott ignores his pleas and even threatens his friend before going on the date anyway. But at the party, Scott feels the change start to overcome him. He ditches Allison, but Derek offers to take her home. Realizing that Allison may be harmed by Derek, Stiles tries to tell Scott what happened. Enraged, Scott enters the woods looking for Derek. Bemused, Derek tells him that he bit Scott as a gift and that Allison is safe at home. Their escalating argument is interrupted by werewolf hunters, who attack them with bow and arrows.

Derek helps Scott escape the hunters and promises to be in touch. The next day, Scott apologizes to Allison for ditching him. She seems to accept his crazy behavior and gives him another chance. But as she leaves the school, Scott makes eye contact with her father, Mr. Argent (JR Bourne); whom Scott recognizes as the lead werewolf hunter.

Breakdown:

Let me preface this by saying that this show is absolutely nothing like the "Teen Wolf" movies and I'm puzzled as to why anyone thought that these twenty five year old films had enough brand recognition to ever bring it back in this form. This could have simply been its own original property, with just a few minor tweaks.

However, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the first episode. It's not perfect and it's certainly not "Buffy." But there is something appealing about it that I wasn't expecting.

Although it is kind of hilarious how hard this is being pushed towards teen girls. It's like the show never misses a chance to have Tyler Posey show off his abs. The dude is in good shape, no question. But if this was a girl constantly taking her shirt off, we'd hear no end of s*** about how misogynistic this show is. I'm just saying…

Overlooking some of the poorly motivated choices that set up Scott for his first run in with the werewolf, the majority of the episode does a good job of establishing what he can do and how his transformation overtakes him. I was particularly impressed by the transition shot where Scott lies down in bed and the next moment he's out in the woods. I'm sure someone has tried that effect before, but it stood out as the most clever moment in the episode.

I joked in the recap about Scott's initial abilities resembling Peter Parker's first transition towards becoming Spider-Man, but that's definitely the vibe the story was giving off. And Scott's early wooing of Allison was also pretty effective. I even liked the small touch of Scott giving Allison a pen after hearing her mention that she didn't have one. Posey and Crystal Reed actually seem to have some good chemistry together and so far, Allison's not just the stock love interest. Especially if she happens to be in on the family business as hinted at during the end of the episode.

Tyler Hoechlin's Derek may also have potential, as a mentor of sorts to Scott. Hoechlin doesn't have enough screentime here for me to make a judgement as to whether or not he has the dramatic chops to pull that off long term. But Derek's appearance as full blown werewolf struck the right balance between believable and threatening.

For me, the main misstep was Scott's final wolf transformation. If that was his transitional form, I could accept that more. But that doesn't seem to be the case and he just looks kind of silly that way. Series creator Jeff Davis has said that he wanted Scott to be "a werewolf that you could kiss." And… I think that was a mistake. It's really hard to take him seriously in his wolf form. To make matters worse, Scott actually talks while he's a werewolf! Way to ruin the dramatic tension there.

Regardless, the first episode of "Teen Wolf" was largely an entertaining hour. I'm not expecting Davis and company to make this into the next "Buffy" or "Angel," but if it's a solid show for the summer season, I'll be happy with that.

Crave Online Rating: 7 out of 10..