MTV’s new Teen Wolf opened with a two-night premiere this week on Sunday and Monday. Very loosely based on the 1985 movie of the same name, Teen Wolf finds Scott McCall (Tyler Posey, Lincoln Heights, Doc) experiencing heightened senses after being bitten by a wolf in the forest, even though wolves have not been seen in the area in over half a century. His best friend, Stiles (Dylan O’Brian), realizes that signs point to Scott being a werewolf, but Scott is skeptical. Then he begins to change when angry or excited. It isn’t a full change, but he gets some fur, claws, and his eyes glow yellow. Mysterious local Derek Hale (Tyler Hoechlin, 7th Heaven), whose family was burned in a fire years ago, may have answers, but before he can give them, the duo are attacked by hunters.
MTV’s Teen Wolf, despite looking a lot like Michael J. Fox’s, as the change is only partial, and Scott can still walk upright, is a heck of a lot darker. There is no fun basketball game, but instead, Scott’s skills cause serious damage and injuries on the lacrosse field, while his gear keeps the spectators unaware of the beast. Opposing team members see the glowing yellow eyes, and are rightfully freaked out, passing Scott the ball and getting out of his way.
Honestly, the lacrosse stuff is a bit tired. Do most students really care that much about a sport? Any sport? Sure, Scott is invested because he has always sucked until now, and is enjoying being good for once. Popular jock and team captain Jackson (Colton Haynes, The Gates) also takes it seriously, because it affects his social status. But it’s just a game. And dreams of becoming a “professional lacrosse player” ring a little hollow in a football-obsessed nation. When was the last time a lacrosse game aired on network television?
The divide between the popular kids and the geeks is stereotypical and thin, at best. Jackson should welcome Scott among the winners as Scott helps the team do well, not be determined to knock Scott back down to loser status. The need to keep students segregated and not allow anyone to move up the ladder is worse than trite. It feels like Glee or High School Musical, both of which tell the tale in a much better developed way.
But the plot isn’t entirely uninteresting. Derek provides some back story and mystique, giving Scott more to deal with than just controlling his powers on the field and around the pretty girl he has a crush on, Allison (Crystal Reed). Speaking of Allison, she, too, is tied into deeper motives, as her father (JR Bourne, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) is the lead hunter who has come to town to kill the wolves. Not to mention, Derek’s sister is found ripped in half. So there’s a lot going on besides the teenage angst, thankfully.
The cast is capable enough, but no one really stands out, so time will tell if any of them can handle anything special, or if this will be another show that only teens watch.
Which makes Teen Wolf hard to judge. Elements of it are stupid and inane, but others are neat and could be deep. The series feels more like it should be on SyFy or the CW than MTV, which might be a point in its favor. At this time, the only thing to do is keep watching and see if it gets better or worse. If it stays the same, it will continue to be hard to know whether it’s a good series or not, as it straddles the line.
Teen Wolf airs Monday nights at 10 p.m. ET on MTV.