TV Review: “Teen Wolf” – This Show Is A Gift

Written by Jessica Koroll August 27, 2012

From the beginning, this was a show with little to brag about. “Teen Wolf” began as an MTV produced adaptation of the 1985 comedy film of the same name. The most I had been promised going into it was a fun, campy summer show with an abundance of good chemistry between the characters. While there are plenty of moments that support this, the show quickly demonstrates how much more it has to offer.

“I didn’t ask for volunteers. Put your hormonal little hands down.”

The show’s protagonist, Scott McCall (Tyler Posey) is an average kid living in Beacon Hills, California until, one night, he is bitten by a werewolf and forced to become one. With the support of his best friend, Stiles Stilinski (Dylan O’Brien), his girlfriend, Allison Argent (Crystal Reed), and the unexpected alliance found in fellow werewolf, Derek Hale (Tyler Hoechlin), Scott must adapt to the ever present dangers that now threaten those close to him while upholding the expectations placed on him as a normal high school student.

The first season follows this plot rather closely. A lot of time is given to Scott’s development as the episodes are presented primarily from his perspective. With such a narrow focus, these early episodes rely heavily on humour and highly expressive acting to carry it. Most notable in this category is Dylan O’Brien. The character, Stiles, is by far one of the most captivating on the show. He’s energetic, expresses himself through mad arm flailing, and provides some of the best improvised lines with a heavy dose of sarcasm. Likewise, the other cast members manage to provide a great balance of comedy and dark foreshadowing that hints at what their characters must face later on. Through these moments the show remains entertaining while also  increasing the suspense to hook viewers.

“He’s turning into that? That has wings.”

While the show’s first season is enjoyable and addictive, it’s in the second season that its true potential becomes evident. The show’s focus expands to deliver more screen time for the other characters while also delving deeper into werewolf mythology, creating a universe that is fleshed out and complex. Rather than heavily focusing on romantic subplots like many other teen targeted shows, “Teen Wolf” avoids melodrama by presenting issues that are realistic and unique. For example, Scott is in danger of having to repeat a grade due to the high number of classes cut while dealing with other supernatural creatures. It’s a small detail, but it’s refreshing as it contrasts many similar shows in which the characters never have to face real world consequences for their double lives. The show also tends to focus on issues of identity and social acceptance as the monstrous transformations undergone, werewolf or otherwise, becomes symbolic rather than seductive.

“Teen Wolf” is always mindful of its place as a show about werewolves. While it does spend a lot of time with its characters, the supernatural element remains prominent. This is evident in the show’s cinematography as well as its script. There is one scene in particular that was inspired by De Palma’s “Carrie” as well as Kubrick’s “The Shining” in terms of how it was shot and edited. It involves Allison walking into the hospital to visit her injured friend only to experience a very brief hallucination. The quick cuts and creative camerawork in this scene, along with others, really set Teen Wolf apart from others in its category. The scene is unsettling but in the best way.

This show certainly isn’t for everyone. There are some pretty ridiculous CGI sequences and sometimes the music leaves you wondering who on earth they have in charge of that department. But, if you’re willing to give it a chance, I think you’ll be hard pressed to find anything to genuinely dislike about it. “Teen Wolf” is a well-plotted show with a fun mix of humour and horror elements that make it a welcome addition to the genre. With season two having just finished and season three not slated to start until later in 2013, there is still plenty of time to check it out!

 My rating: 8/10

 

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About Jessica Koroll

An English student with a taste for the surreal and love for all things science fiction, her thoughts generally linger on Star Trek, lit theory, and recent tv episodes. I'm also @korolline_

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