Taking a film like the 1985 Teen Wolf, which starred the charismatic Michael J. Fox, and turning it into a contemporary television series was always going to be precarious. However it would seem that teen-pleasing MTV might have, by some bizarre twist of fate, managed to pull it off. And how did they achieve such a feat? By making it as cringe-worthy as the original, ensuring that the series is so bad that it loops round in a full circle and ends up inexplicably entertaining in the process.
The very definition of guilty pleasure, Teen Wolf centres on the awkward Scott McCall, a teenager who’s attacked by a werewolf and subsequently gains the curse that has him howling under the full moon. It’s not just a full moon that sets poor Scott on his were-rampage though, as he struggles with love, lust, rage and the problematic evil Alpha wolf who’s hell bent on getting Scott to join his pack.
As far as the storyline goes, there’s sadly nothing of real merit to write about. It’s all been done before and not just with the original Teen Wolf, but also with the gazillion werewolf inspired films and television series in years gone by. There are elements of the story that successfully spark a morsel of interest though – the Alpha theme and the werewolf hunting Argent family provide intriguing moments, as do the blossoming, albeit naïve and somewhat superficial, romances between the characters.
The acting is average at best, with some scenes displaying genuinely powerful performances, which are almost instantly let down by scenes that seem as if they derived from an am-dram reading. Leading man Tyler Posey is good as Scott McCall, though I can’t help but still view him as Jennifer Lopez’s kid from Maid in Manhattan (perhaps one day I’ll be able to look past that). Dylan O’Brien (Scott’s best friend Stiles) maintains the immature and crass comedy throughout, which, despite my best efforts not to find amusing, does raise a frequent smile. This genre of television series seems to depend on a jester like character to keep it lively, and O’Brien proves he has the comedic timing to stop the series from being too dark and angsty. Many of these younger actors could grow into promising talents in the future, if only they loosened up and stopped over acting. When compared to cast members from television shows such as The Vampire Diaries, the acting in Teen Wolf is significantly uninspiring. There’s a glimmer of hope though, so perhaps with a second series on the horizon the actors will relax into their roles.
By this point you may be wondering how I can criticise a series that I claim to actually enjoy. Well, Teen Wolf is a bit like caviar. At first it’s vomit inducing awful, but after a while it’s not quite so bad and after a bit longer it’s actually semi-agreeable. Eat caviar enough and you might grow to like it, watch Teen Wolf enough and the same will happen. I relish the doomed love, the mythical werewolf element and the fact that the series has continued the naff 80s wolf transformation that simultaneously causes me joy and pain. I’ve also grown to care about the characters, despite the iffy acting, and I’m desperate to see how the plot develops. The final episode in the first season was quite the cliffhanger, so at least MTV are doing something right.
Everything in my bones is telling me to hate Teen Wolf, but the heart wants what the heart wants, and this heart wants more than a measly 12 episodes in the second season. Oh the shame.