Teen Wolf Recap (Season 1, Episode 1): Wolf Moon
I haven’t seen the ‘Teen Wolf’ 80’s comedy film, though I cannot imagine it had much to do with the MTV show taking its name, unless it perspicaciously forecasted supernatural teen dramas permeating network TV and the film industry. If the Youtube clip a friend linked me to of Michael J. Fox in playing air guitar atop a van to ‘Surfin’ USA’ was any indication, I’d imagine some artistic liberties have been taken. I think I preferred his egregiously fake makeup to the predictably terrible CGI frequently on display here. Either way, I’m not convinced the show borrows much more from the original than its title (considering that it was deemed a ‘comedy’, and any humor in the TV show is, one must assume, unintentional). Feel free to correct me, though, if I’m wrong.
The protagonist, whose name is not stressed nearly so often as his supernaturally acquired lacrosse skill, is introduced as an outsider. A misfit. Though, he stutters awkward, unintelligent dialogue with the disposition usually reserved for shallow jock stereotypes (the only difference between him and his ‘popular’ rival is their haircut), rather than embodying any of the traits usually associated with benchwarmers. Like, for instance, a personality. Generally, for the purpose of dramatic foil and creating a sympathetic, relatable protagonist. Jettisoning conventional notions of character and literary merit, the narrative purpose of our hero seems to be the frequent and gratuitous display of his abdominal muscles. There must have been half a dozen shirtless scenes.
Acquiring an array of incredible super powers from a werewolf bite during an ill-advised trip to spy on a crime scene, a grisly murder it turns out, the story follows this silent, seemingly clueless young man through his school life, where evenly divides his time between dazed emotional neutrality and spastic temper tantrums lamenting his predicament. He doesn’t seem to mind as he shows off on the lacrosse field, or flirting with his cookie cutter love interest, which manifests as slow, deliberate cliche-exchanges over a lame pop music soundtrack. Does he have interests or feelings about anything not demanded by the plot, if one were to attribute even the most subtle of narratives to Teen Wolf?
The supporting cast is equally uninteresting and vapid. The best friend character shifts uneasily between being a bad influence (encouraging late-night rendezvous at a crime scene) and the voice of reason, depending on which would wring cheap melodrama out of any given scene most effectively. The popular jock, the one whose athletic abilities are a product of hard work, plays the tropes inherent to his archetype woefully straight, but without even a wish fulfillment cipher protagonist (as our protagonist is, in fact, even lower than that on the literary totem pole), he is just sort of confusing to watch. The faults of the love interest are as predictable as her merits, which are really only her good looks. But, given that’s the extent of the protagonists’ infatuation with her, I suppose its almost fitting.
The extent of the show’s wit is best exemplified by the obligatory English Class allusion; you know, the scene in every high school drama where literature related somehow to the main character’s conflict is expounded upon by a tweedy English teacher, coloring the scenery. In this case, Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. It is the most infantile instance of superficiality in a pilot rife with nothing but infantile, superficial cliches. It could not possibly be a more deranged reference. The shamelessness of Teen Wolf’s obvious cash in upon an already passing pop culture trend is staggering. I’m not a snob. Though I don’t often admit it, I’m a fan of The CW’s Vampire Diaries, another show with a similar mission statement, but at least attempting a level of quality. Teen Wolf would do well to take notes.
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