Teen Wolf: “The Bite is a Gift”

Following the MTV Movie Awards — the only show in which Twilight will not only dominate an awards ceremony, but actually wins awards — MTV premiered its new scripted series, Teen Wolf.

Do we look dark and moody enough for you? Photo: MTV

You know, whenever a show begins with teen boys looking for for a dead body in the woods, I’m intrigued. For one thing, it means what I’m watching is a little creepy. Because only shows that are a little scary show kids excited about people who have been murdered.

It could turn out so many different ways. This is the first time I’ve seen it end with a werewolf bite paired with quick camera cuts, grunts, shrieks and terribly dark, though lovely lighting. And I loved it!

Maybe you should see a doctor about that? Photo: MTV

Let’s be honest, MTV has put a lot of time, money and effort into this show. It’s their third attempt a scripted series (RJ Berger was the first and it took time to get it right. Skins was the second and that ended with an investigation in alleged child pornography). So they’re banking a lot on this –It’s clear in the music, the editing, the cinematography and the acting. And it’s paid off. I really enjoyed the two episodes I saw — particularly the first. Its great lighting makes it very pretty, its cast is made up of better actors than the cast of Pretty Little Liars, the score is effective and the dialogue is actually good. And because it’s MTV, the soundtrack is tops.

The show is very, very creepy. We see dead bodies and halves of dead bodies, lots of blood and guts. Derek, the wolf who changed Scott, is creepy and in real life would be suspected of pedophilia for the way he lurks and stares after Scott and his friends.

Scott and Stiles find a dead body...and Wolfsbane. Photo: MTV

Scott is as nerdy as Michael J. Fox was in the silly film version from which the show gets its name. Scott gets hit in the face with lacrosse balls. He gets picked on by a big dumb jerk named Jackson. His voice is on the brink of changing. But at least he’s jacked!

Stiles didn’t have any cool sunglasses and he didn’t van surf, but he was still wearing fun t-shirts and Scott’s best friend. He’s also a good actor. His jumpy behavior while telling Scott why he suspects he’s a werewolf was great. His addiction to adderall is funny and his comedic timing is always spot on. In my opinion, Stiles is one of the best parts of the show.

Walking alone in a dark lockeroom after a teen wolf is a bad idea. Photo: MTV

Allison, Scott’s love interest, is no Boof — she’s missing the rad style and haircut — but she’s cute. Kind of susceptible to peer pressure, but she has nice manners. I can see why he’s obsessed with her; she’s a major hottie. Plus she pulled off the whole belt-sitting-low-on-hips-with-a-tank top look. That’s skills!

So what comes with being a teen werewolf? Super hearing, agility that helps him dominate on the lacrosse field (yes, “lacrosse is the sport here”), super smelling, the ability to communicate with dogs and freak out cats. And he can make his eyes turn a lovely shade of hazel.

Yes, it can be a little Twilight – esque at times, but I’m not a Twilight fan and I made it through this. Sure, all the hormonal desire and intense “I want to, but I can’t” behavior is annoying, but I push past it because it’s not so dramatically filled with yearning that I feel like I’m going to barf.

"I just want to play lacrosse.." Photo: MTV

My favorite thing about the show was the pacing. It started with mystery and murder, but nothing was rushed. Everything builds up in each episode as it should if creepiness is its goal.  And though the plot is a little juvenile — Scott wants to play in the lacrosse game and get Alison to like him, even if he may transform and kill someone on the field, damnit! — it feels pretty realistic for a teen show. After all, what else would a teen boy who was recently made a werewolf worry about if not lacrosse and chicks?

I think the one weakness for Teen Wolf is in the werewolf segments. The hairy arms, funny pointed ears, snarls and drooling are gross and sometimes a little lame. Maybe all this Twilight and True Blood has left me with an expectation that werewolf transformation should be quick and clean. This was dirty, awkward and nasty. You know, like puberty. Oh wait, is that a sort of metaphor thingy? Oh yeah. It is!

That is not a good look. Upgrade! Photo: MTV

Anyway, Scott the half-werewolf is not a good look. It looks like the little kid on The Munsters. It’s not scary. It’s sort of neanderthal-ish. And just plain lame. We need an upgrade. Surprisingly, the crappy werewolf likeness doesn’t detract too greatly from the show. It’s still scary and mysterious and funny.

Plus there are the werewolf hunters — 40 year old men running through the woods with crossbows. I’ve never seen anyone hunt a werewolf before, except Kate Beckinsale in Underworld. It’s a nice addition because hunting is fun, we have an “antagonist” and Allison and Scott are now even more of a forbidden romance because her dad has shot her boyfriend with a crossbow.

Hunters, Kate Beckinsale was a little more badass, but you'll do. You have crossbows? Those are cool. Photo: TVrecappers

Overall, Teen Wolf was good. Hear that MTV? You done good!. It’s a fun show; there are some chills and thrills and its all so beautifully shot. No, it’s not deep. And no, it doesn’t look like Scott will ever walk around the school as the coolest wolf on campus. But he’ll certainly keep us entertained for the next few months as he realizes this isn’t an infection; it’s lycanthropy. Watching Scott suffer and unravel mysteries with Stiles will make Monday nights fun again. Thus, Derek is correct in his assessment to Scott: “The bite is a gift.”

Teen Wolf airs Mondays at 10p.m. on MTV.

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