Teen Wolf episode 1 review

MTV's brand new take on Teen Wolf hits our screens. And, in spite of being nothing to do with Teen Wolf, it's really quite good...

Teen Wolf

This review contains spoilers.

Well, Teen Wolf is back and remade for an entirely new generation. If you remember Teen Wolf, then you remember Michael J Fox riding on top of a van, possibly dunking a basketball as a wolf man, and generally being everything great about 80’s movies. This isn’t that.

About all the new Teen Wolf and the old Teen Wolf have in common is, well, a teenage werewolf. While Michael J Fox was a teen heartthrob, he was more cute than sexy, and MTV has cast Scott (Tyler Posey) firmly for the Twilight set. In the first scene, he’s doing pull-ups shirtless; if that’s not reaching for the Twihards, nothing is.

The sport is also different; basketball has been replaced by lacrosse, I guess because lacrosse is the new hip sport. Still, the general details are the same: Scott’s still kind of a loser, he’s got a best friend name Stiles (Dylan O’Brien), and of course, he’s still a werewolf.

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Fortunately for Scott and the show, that’s going to change. A midnight walk through the woods with Stiles in search of a half-eaten dead body allows Scott to have a close encounter of the American Werewolf in London kind, and all of a sudden also allows Scott the asthmatic nobody to reach his full potential, including lycanthropy and sports stardom. But first, he has to get used to his new body, and he’s also got to score a date with cute new girl in school Allison Argent (Crystal Reed). Argent like silver, get it?

As modernizations go, this isn’t too bad. Stiles is pretty funny most of the time, and the show manages to work in some comedy while maintaining the more serious dramatic tone that the action sequences suggest they’re aiming for. Scott gets a mentor in the form of Derek Hale (Tyler Hoechlin), who also happens to be the guy who got Scott into the werewolf game, and there’s even an antagonist hunter/group of hunters guided by Argent (JR Bourne) who seek to track down and eliminate the lycanthropic threat. In other words, it’s nothing like Teen Wolf.

All things considered, the pilot episode is actually pretty damn good. A big reason for that is the guiding hand of two folks: creator/writer/producer Jeff Davis (of Criminal Minds fame) and director Russell Mulcahy (of Highlander fame). Davis’s script finds a nearly perfect balance between teen angst, werewolf angst, high school drama, action, and reasons to get Tyler Posey shirtless, while Mulcahy’s direction is sharp, with great editing, some wonderful tracking shots, and a nice balance between scenes and cuts. Fittingly, Russell Mulcahy directed the very first video to appear on MTV: Video Killed The Radio Star by The Buggles. 

One of the best things about the new Teen Wolf, aside from the soundtrack provided by MTV’s many connections to what’s left of the music industry? It’s actually got some good acting as far as teenage supernatural dramas go.

Sure, the CGI is a bit dodgy and the werewolf makeup consists of a mushy nose, sideburns, and Spock ears, but I have to admit that I like the direction that they’re going with this. As television aimed for teenagers go, there’s been a lot worse on TV, and Teen Wolf has the right kind of tone to make this work as a series, akin to other supernatural genre-benders like the world of Joss Whedon or Supernatural.

It’s not Teen Wolf. Aside from the name, it’s not even trying to be Teen Wolf. That said, it’s still not a bad way to spend an hour thus far. The show’s got plenty of room to grow into itself, but the structure is there for what may shape up to be a very interesting scripted revival by MTV.

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US Correspondent Ron Hogan has always wanted to be a werewolf. While he doesn’t howl at the moon or eat live animals, he does have a massive beard. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.