DVD Review: Teen Wolf - The Complete Season One / Cert: TBC / Director: Various / Screenplay: Various / Starring: Tyler Posey, Dylan O'Brien, Crystal Reed, Colton Haynes, Eaddy Mays, Melissa Ponzio / Release Date: July 9th
One of the ‘special features’ on this three-disc DVD release of the first season of MTV’s supernatural drama Teen Wolf (based on the dated 1985 Michael J Fox movie in name only) is a ‘shirtless montage’. Much as I enjoyed this racey, pacey and actually rather clever little series, this was the final evidence I needed to convince me that this show’s designed for a screamier teenier audience and not a grizzled old Starburst reviewer who won’t see twenty-one again until it comes around for the third time. But what the Hell, it’s always fun seeing what those all-American High School kids are up to even if watching shows like Teen Wolf makes you feel like the sad old perv lurking outside the school gates gazing at the youngsters with their lithe young bodies leaping and jumping and… sorry, where was I?
Clearly taking its lead from the likes of Twilight and The Vampire Diaries in making the supernatural accessible and dreamy and romantic for ferociously hormonal kids, Teen Wolf is actually a damned sight better than either because it doesn’t allow itself to get too bogged down in its boy-meets-girl-but-boy’s-a-monster trappings. Awkward High School teen Scott McCall (Posey) is bitten by a mysterious wolf-creature in the woods outside his hometown of Beacon Hills. Before long he notices strange physical changes; his senses are heightened, his athleticism has increased. With his comic relief best friend ‘Stiles’ Stilinski (O’Brien) at his side and the charismatic older werewolf Derek Hale (Hochlin) watching his back, Scott tries to keep his inner beast under control whilst smooching and spooning with his gorgeous new girlfriend Alison (Reed). So far so Twilight. Fortunately Teen Wolf doesn’t focus exclusively on Scott’s romance; he and Alison are no soft focus doomed lovers mooning over each other week after week. They’re very much just a pair of High School kids embarking on that ‘first love’ journey as Scott tries to keep his secret nature hidden and control his animal urges when he transforms. But there’s much more going on here. At first Scott assumes that Derek (scary werewolf name) is the wolf who infected him but it turns out that there’s another, far more vicious monster out there stalking the town and terrorising the locals. And as a further complication, Alison’s father is involved with a determined group of werewolf-hunters who are closing in on the creatures which prowl the woods around Beacon Hills.
It’d be easy to dismiss Teen Wolf as a bit of a howler but it’s actually a lot smarter and sassier than it really has any right to be. The scripts are snappy, the acting’s far better and more naturalistic than in the sappy Twilight saga and the show has the good sense to mix some surprisingly graphic violence and genuine horror in with its sweet ’n’ sour Alison/Scott romance. Posey’s Scott can occasionally drift towards the bland side but Dylan O’Brien is a revelation as the wise-cracking Stiles who’s been gifted the sort of genuinely-witty dialogue Joss Whedon himself would be proud of. Visually it’s a mixed-bag; Scott’s werewolf transformation involves little more than a couple of fangs and some fur and there’s a bit of dodgy CGI now and again. But the show’s directors are wise enough to tease the audience with glimpses of fully-transformed werewolves from time to time rather than risk blowing their credibility by revealing some unconvincing man-in-werewolf’s clothing.
At just twelve episodes, Teen Wolf flies by and, in the tradition of practically all American genre TV these days, builds towards the sort of game-changing finale which is bound to have repercussions for the second season, due to start airing in the US in June. It’s an assured, confident little series which will have slipped under most people’s radars but if you’re in the mood for some likable lycanthropic lunacy this is a show which, I’m surprised to find myself saying, I can thoroughly recommend.
Special Features: Beyond the ‘shirtless montage’ (which I’m relieved to tell you I’ve not checked out), there’s a few puff publicity pieces, an extended season finale, gag reel, deleted scenes.