'Teen Wolf' premiere review: MTV bit its own '16 and Pregnant'

The most telling line in the debut of Teen Wolf, which aired after the MTV Movie Awards, was a throwaway joke. The mother of Tyler Posey’s teen wolf warned her son that she doesn’t want to “end up on some reality show with a pregnant 16 year-old.” While 16 and Pregnant and Jersey Shore still do phenomenally well for what are essentially the same train wrecks every week, even TV networks have occasional twinges of pride, shows they want to point to as being quality stuff, or at least minimally classy. In this sense, Teen Wolf is the anti-Snooki, and would be welcome for that alone.

But beyond its good use as counter-programming, Teen Wolf was just plain good — good fun, well-written, and well-acted. Posey stars as Scott McCall, a gawky high school student who’s bitten by a werewolf. The bite proves to be a gift: Suddenly, Scott becomes an artfully adroit lacrosse player and the confidence that comes from this, plus heightened senses, and the general well-being that derives from the knowledge that you can slash any bully into meat cubes makes him attractive to the pretty new girl in town, Allison (the pert Crystal Reed).

Developed by Jeff Davis (Criminal Minds), Teen Wolf has a lot going for it. Posey is convincing as both a baffled adolescent and a confident wolf-boy, and the series benefits greatly from the smart, funny exchanges between Scott and his best pal, Stiles (Dylan O’Brien, who can rattle off wisecracks and lycanthropy factoids with equal ease). In general, the show pulls off a tricky thing: It capitalizes on the current werewolf trend in pop culture (Twilight, True Blood) without piggy-backing on it, if you’ll excuse the mixed-creature metaphor.

When Scott turns into a werewolf, he doesn’t get hairy all over, the way Michael J. Fox did, or as Michael Landon did in 1957’s I Was A Teenage Werewolf. No, Scott just gets pointier ears and a vulpine shape to his face. His pecs remain gleamingly prominent. On a scale of self-consciousness, he looks more like Ben Stiller than a truly hairy beast.

This series is part of MTV’s effort to reintroduce scripted programming as a prominent part of the channel’s identity. (Its other recent efforts, an Americanized Skins and The Hard Times of RJ Berger, were stinky bummers.) MTV knows that it cannot continue to thrive on a diet of reality TV. And the network seems to have utterly lost its touch at being able to draw viewers to the reason the channel exists in the first place: music. (Remember music?)

In the current TV landscape, a show such as Teen Wolf has cable competition from at least two directions. The first is ABC Family, with its highly successful slate of tween programming. The second is HBO, where the werewolves can bite down on more naked flesh more lustily. Clever and fresh, Teen Wolf falls somewhere in between. Here’s hoping there’s an appetite out there among you for its toothy charms.

Twitter: @kentucker


Comments (74 total) Add your comment
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  • Woot

    This surprisingly didn’t suck, and this is coming from someone who hates Twilight. I admit, when I was a kid werewolves were my favorite “monsters.” Still, it has the potential to become a whiney teenage soap opera filled with cliches. It showed some flashes of that tonight. If it manages to stay away from that territory, it may make a fun summer series.

  • Fistfucker

    i hear ya bro

  • Jason

    I rather watch Single Ladies.

    • boogs

      ha! i heard that show was awful!

      • mmveronica

        give it a chance! its amazingly amazing!!!! it my fave show ever!!!!

    • Wolf girl

      Stop hating

    • Bree

      It is, but it’s such a guilty pleasure! Nice little summer diversion, but it’s no Emmy-award winner. Regardless, I’m addicted.

  • Autumn Encarnacion-Barriw

    This review is on point. Nice analysis. articulated to perfection. Live On TEEN WOLF!!! lol

    • Marilyn

      *
      Agreed! It’s nice to read an EW recap that doesn’t hate the show it’s recapping!

      • Marilyn

        *
        Although I guess technically it’s a review, but it was refreshingly free of snark!

  • Meisha

    This rocks! Tyler Posey is way cute!!!

  • Sheila

    While Tyler Posey and the rest of the cast (except for the hammy sidekick friend) are good actors, the story was quite weak and lacked any kind of twist. It was easy to pick out the perpetrator of the opening bite. Also, the action and makeup effects are totally sub-par. He looked like Eddie Munster when he transformed, complete with widow’s peak.

    The show will need to get a brain (and better writers) if it expects to avoid the Friday night trash can.

    • Ally

      Yeah I didn’t like the widow’s peak- liked him better when he barely transformed, just the golden eyes and the growl..but Derek (?) the other werewolf is hot!! Thought it was a pretty decent show

    • mmveronica

      clearly u did not watch any more after the pilot. b/c in episode 3 they said it was NOT derek hail who bit him but an unidenified wolf called “the alpha”

      maby u should give it an other chance.

  • Henry

    For summer fare, I’m definitely sticking around with this show. It was just fun to watch. I watch True Blood -really hate what they did with the werewolves in Twilight -so this is a pleasent surprise. In fact, I was as engaged with the show from beginning to end. I wished it had been a 2-hour premiere because it went way too fast.

    • Andy

      Do you watch The Vampire Diaries? If not, catch up this summer! It’s amazing and their wolf story was brief but amazing this year.

      • Eric

        Agreed, and the whole werewolf cycle, transformation, and the look of the werewolf once transformed is better on Vampire Diaries. Much better. But still not as good as the special effects for the werewolf and its transformation on BEING HUMAN, which is phenomenal (and expensive).

      • Kalie

        They don’t use a special effects werewolf on VD. All the characters transform into are regular wolves. What’s so special about that?

  • Robby

    The show wasn’t half-bad. Better than I expected. It’s got some poor stuff like weak special effects and a few corny lines, but the acting is surprisingly good and the writing seems half decent when you consider the coming attractions. Jill Wagner (Wipeout host, Splinter movie)is set to be in several episodes as part of the werewolf hunting family. The cut to the story is the GF is part of the hunting family. Should be good for Summer fair and beyond. (just look at what’s out there)

  • Beauty

    It’s watchable not must see tv or anything -yet. I remember the lead character from Lincoln Heights. He’s a cutie.

  • ST

    I thought it was entertaining and overall, well written. A bit cheesy at times but nothing over the top. I’ll definitely check it out again.

  • Marilyn

    *
    I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I like that they kept the same character names from the Michael J. Fox movie. I don’t have a great love for that movie. The fact is, it did so well because Michael J. Fox was a hot property from Family Ties and Back to the Future and it rode it’s coat-tails. So, it’s nice to see a well-done story with the same premise. This is DVR worthy!

  • Chucklehead

    It’s MTV. Of course it sucked!

  • GIL

    This review is on point, I agree 100%. I liked it and will keep watching, specially in a summer full of bad programming, this one is not that bad

  • ali

    I enjoyed it!

    • TruBeauty

      And just to let everyone know I have never watched Buffy and have only seen the first twilight. My point is I am not at all usually into TV vampire / Warwolf shows. But this show I absolutely love.
      PS. Really hope Derek isn’t dead! !

    • Selena gomez

      right

  • Brant

    I wonder when Hollywood is going to start coming up with fresh ideas again rather than reboots and remakes? Not to say that this isn’t a good series (I actually have not seen it yet), but the fact that it is yet another remake turns me off already. (and it doesn’t help that it’s no MTV)

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