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10 September 2012 @ 05:43 pm
TV Review: Teen Wolf  
Since all of LJ seems to be doing one, I decided to join the herd.

I only recently watched the entire two seasons worth of episodes. And I happened to do it completely out of order so my experience isn't really for everyone. But I can say that watching this in pieces didn't really detract from the entertainment value.

I tried to do a review that didn't spoil anything since half the fun of this show is the genuine mystery of what will happen next. Still, I do mention a couple of things which I think are pretty common knowledge now to anyone even remotely interested in the series. So...



The TV series only loosely takes from the 80s comedy film of the same name. Some of the characters share similar names but mostly it's a complete revamp with 200% more drama and teen angst. The show gives us the trials and tribulations of teenager, Scott McCall (Tyler Posey) who during his sophomore year of high school gets turned into a werewolf. Before the Bite, Scott was mostly a loser in high school food chain. Academically he was below average and his dreams of being a star lacross player was largely curtailed by his asthma. He had no girlfriend or social life and seemingly only one friend. But that rapidly changes after he's bitten. Suddenly the asthma is gone and Scott is gifted a whole new athletic prowess and goes a few notches above the social ladder. He even gets a girlfriend, Allison Argent (Crystal Reed), the somewhat mysterious new girl in school. Unfortunately, his new werewolf status places some challenges on Scott with regard to how to control himself and not kill anyone. And finding out who or what bit him in the first place. As Scott and his best friend, Stiles (Dylan O'Brien), get deeper into the whole mystery, they cross paths with werewolf Derek Hale (Tyler Hoechlin), a member of a local werewolf family who were mostly all annhilated in a fire 6 years ago.

At first glance, this show looked like too ridiculous to survive. But shockingly the combination of not at all bad writing and endearing acting made it all rather entertaining.

Likes:

1) Clearly the Writers of Teen Wolf Keep Good Notes - The entire first season is mostly dedicated to answering the question of who or what bit Scott and is now going on a slight rampage throughout town. Unlike other shows of this type, Teen Wolf never does a simple Monster of the Week episode. Rather every episode contributes a vital piece to the larger story of the season, which was an element of the show that I really enjoyed. It often made the ultimate reveals of who was doing what and why a lot more satisfying because you got to really see the build up for it (or in my case it was like watching a really good explanation). This solid continuity kept going in Season 2 with only a few dropped plot points that were all the more jarring because the track record for being consistent had been so good.

2) Enjoy Your Cliches With A Side of Originality - I appreciate a show that takes its cliches and run with them in unexpected directions. The obvious Romeo and Juliet-like story of Scott and Allison was somewhat laughably over the top but it oddly worked. I found it extremely amusing that given other potentially angsting-worthy subjects such as Derek having lost his entire family thanks to his own error in judgement or Stiles' mom being dead, 99.9% of the angst comes from Scott's constant bemoaning of whether or not he and Allison have a future together. I almost have to believe the show did this on purpose as meta-comedy given that the other characters freely snark on Scott's obsession with this girl. What they ultimately end up doing with this couple was, in my opinion, unexpected and left the window open for some interesting developments in season 3.

3) Laugh and World Laughs With You - Like Angel, this show isn't afraid of making fun of its characters' own cliched behavior. From Derek's overly brooding self to Scott's cute but stupid inability to retain any sort of book knowledge, the show leaves no obvious character trait un-snarked at. The pinnacle of this had to be a crazed gunman in season 2 taking time from his melodramatic speech to berate Scott for not knowing the difference between Orestes and Oedipus.

4) Characters With Some Layers - You really wouldn't think such a thing would happen on a show like this. But it does. Particularly in season 2 you got to see characters develop in ways that were surprising (Allison) or just naturally (Stiles). My particular favorite of the character development was probably Isaac. He was a newbie in season 2 but rapidly became one of the more complex characters the show had to offer.

5) I'll Be Obvious And Say Stiles - Arguably, Stiles Stilinski is the breakout character for this show given the amount of fandom love surrounding him. And he's totally the Companion to Teen Wolf's Doctor Who. I like that out of all the characters who are neck-deep in supernatural ridiculousness, Stiles stalwartly is the only one who remains a completely ordinary human. He definitely has the intelligence and general competence that allow him to be an asset, but he has no inherent special powers which makes him rising to the challenge of battling werewolves and other deadly magical beings all the more laudable. He also could have gone the 2 dimensional route of being the Snarky Best Friend Only but the writers were kind enough to give him some actual depth through the relationship with his father and the obvious lingering issues he has about his mother's death before the start of the show. There's also a rather large slash fandom dedicated to him and Derek Hale which is something I both sort of understand but still find odd. It's true that most any scene with the two of them are funny given that their personalities are polar opposites. But I have an easier time imagining the slashing of John and Sherlock over these two.

6) It's All Fine - The creator of this show once made a comment that in the world of Teen Wolf, there is no homophobia. And that's exactly how the show operates. Gay characters are seamlessly put into the show and are just there. Their sexual orientation isn't highlighted all that much but are put out there in passing with about as much fanfare as what the cafeteria is serving for lunch that week. Scenes take place at a gay club with about the same amount of lack of neon arrows. The complete No Big Deal of it all is mostly apparent in the friendship between Danny, the one reoccuring gay character on the show and Jackson, the school's resident alpha male jock type who is an asshole in just about every way but never in the arena of harrassing someone for their sexual orientation. The whole thing is rather refreshing, like we're all getting a look at the future when this will totally be true in real life.

Dislikes:

1) Some of the Acting - Okay, in season 2 especially, some of the acting was less than watchable (*cough*GERARD*cough*). Granted, as the season went on I just allowed myself to laugh heartily at some of the awful line delivery but there were moments when the truly hammy acting got in the way of the scene itself.

2) We'll Just Place the Product There - So apparently Macy's and AT&T are sponsors of this show. How do I know this? Because the product placements are practically clawing me in the face. The highlight had to be them actually working Pandora into the dialogue. BADLY.

3) There Had Better Be Consequences - I'm hoping season 3 will prove me wrong on this one but season 2 largely concluded with certain characters just not having to deal with consequences of some pretty bad actions. Like say the action of mass murder.