Over the past several years, we’ve seen an huge influx of supernatural based stories in every day entertainment and pop culture, to the point where most would say that the mainstream is simply over-saturated with it. While in many cases I would agree that amateurs need to stop trying to throw their hats into the ring (*ahem* Stephanie Meyer *ahem*), I was pleasantly surprised by one of this year’s new comers. Based on the impressive fifteen book series by Kelly Armstrong, called the Otherworld series, new Syfy series, Bitten (also the name of the first book of the series) follows the only known female werewolf in the world as she struggles to leave her otherworldly past behind her and create her own life as a “normal person”. Her main reason (as far as we know) for wanting to leave this all behind is that she doesn’t exactly get along with her “family” and would rather have no contact with them. I used the word family in quotation marks because, as we find out in this first episode, they aren’t related by heritage. Rather, this group of individuals is joined together by their strange genetic makeups.
While I have a feeling that we’ll be seeing a lot of everyone in the “family”, the show is hailed as focusing on the twenty something werewolf named Elena Danvers. Elena, played by Laura Vandervoort (previously known for her portrayal of Kara in Smallville), moved from a small town in Upstate New York (hey, wonder if it’s anywhere near my hometown!) to Toronto, Canada to not only start a career, but to get away from her above mentioned “family”. It hasn’t been greatly discussed yet, but she does a little more than hint at the fact that she doesn’t get along very well with many of the members in her (as she describes it) “family forest”. She seems to think that she’s finally achieved independence from her brethren when she is called home to deal with some bad news.
I don’t want to get into too many specifics, mostly because we don’t know many right now, but I do want to point out one thing that really impressed me. As I previously mentioned, we’ve been around the bend and back again with supernatural stories. We’ve seen not only werewolves, but fairies (or faeries, as it were), shape shifters in general and of course the ever present vampire sect, among others. Having watched both the British and U.S. Versions Being Human, and all episodes of True Blood, thus far produced, I have seen my fair share of werewolf transformations. Some, like the British version of Being Human, choose to go campy and follow previous examples of human-to-werewolf shifts such as those found in movies like American Werewolf in London and Teen Wolf. Others, like True Blood, have chosen to do their best to ignore the transitional phase all together and skip from half clothed human straight to furry beast. In both cases, I’ve never really been satisfied by what they have given us, as viewers, via an explanation of what happens to the person who’s entire body composition is changing, and generally in a very short time might I add. Bitten not only shows you close ups of various body parts during the transition, but the computer graphics of it all are spectacular and honestly the best that I’ve seen up ’till now. They don’t make it seem extreme, and then show you a simple, normal looking American standard timber wolf standing there when you clearly just saw the person go from having fingers to having giant pterodactyl like claws.
The whole thing is simple, and also unlike many of it’s predecessors, the werewolves of Bitten have the ability to control when they change. Although they do get to choose when it happens for the most part, it’s explained that if a werewolf doesn’t voluntarily transform at least once a month (once a week is recommended), it becomes increasingly difficult to keep from allowing it to happen, until it is basically forced upon them. Also unlike many of the other stories, the people who have this ability aren’t completely stripped of their humanity and decision making ability when they transform from bi-ped to quadra-ped. They also retain their ability to distinguish who they know, who they don’t, etc. and generally choose to feed on wildlife while in their wolf form, instead of attacking humans.
In a world where it seems book to movie series are, almost, more prevalent than supernatural based stories, I’m glad to see someone choose a slightly different, definitely more difficult path. Yes, we’ve seen lots of book to television series over the years (anyone else remember the cartoon series based on Brian Jacques’ Redwall series?), but you have to admit that they generally are of a higher quality in the end since their continuance is based solely on the enjoyment and viewership of the populace. The series premiere episode of Bitten didn’t reveal a whole lot of what’s going to happen from here on, but from what they’ve already given us, I think it’s safe to say that a lot of family strife, bonding and learning can be expected in the following episodes. Maybe we’ll even get some “coming of age” stuff a la Michael J. Fox, but with less basketball (hopefully).
So what do you say guys; do you want to see more from this series? Have you already read the books? If you haven’t and have seen the show, do you intend to read the books (’cause I know I do!)? And most importantly, would you like to see continuing coverage of Elena and all her wolfy escapades here at Den of Geek? For those who do, don’t forget it airs Monday nights on Syfy, 10/9c!