What a difference 30 years makes, I suppose. In 1981 MTV debuted on the airwaves as the one stop place for music videos and over the years added plenty of music related programming to compliment the requisite hours of music videos being played. The music video became an art form for a while; the best way to hype an album or a song was to have a great music video. And many music acts suffered because of a music video; Billy Squier’s “Rock Me Tonite” was pointed to as the moment when his career went downhill.
As MTV started catering to audiences looking for original programming outside of music videos and music related shows, the original purpose of the network has gone away. It’s not even really about the music anymore, either, as MTV’s most popular offerings now involve teenagers who don’t know how to use birth control and Italian stereotypes. Thus explains why a show like Teen Wolf ends up on the air of a network that was once about music: it stopped being about the music a long time ago. It’s now about other things.
Teen Wolf is based off the Michael J. Fox staple of ‘80s cinema with a fairly simple premise. Scott McCall (Tyler Posey) is a werewolf, having been bit by one, which is a secret only his best friend Stiles (Dylan O’Brien) knows about. Throughout the first season he has to deal with keeping his affliction a secret while also trying to balance out how this affects the relationships in his life.
Considering a good chunk of MTV’s programming is more car crash than it is genuine entertainment, the fact that the show aspires to be something entertaining is surprising. In comparison to something like Teen Mom, which makes you wonder about the future of humanity, the show almost aspires to Buffy the Vampire Slayer heights in terms of respectability. There are big picture concepts, like being a teenager and finding your place in the world as someone who’s different, that are actually respectable plot lines.
The problem is that once you get past the shock of a show attempting to be quality television on MTV out of your head, and the shock wears off, you realize that Teen Wolf has just taken the stock premise of the film and used it to create its own second rate Buffy as opposed to trying to develop its own vibe. From good and werewolves, to hunters who want to kill them all, this is nothing more than a B-movie type version of Joss Whedon’s genre classic. Even the film version of Buffy feels ambitious next to Teen Wolf the television show; there’s nothing new, engaging, intriguing or even original about it.
It’s a collection of other parts from better material designed to try and hone in on the fantasy elements that other films and television shows have harnessed significantly better over the past decade or so. If you want a good fantasy piece, grab an old Buffy season and watch that instead of Teen Wolf. It’s a better use of time.
There are a handful of Making of documentaries, Deleted and Extended Scenes and a Montage
Teen Wolf is about as entertaining for fantasy enthusiasts as Teen Mom is for those who enjoy watching bad decisions made by dumb people.
MTV presents Teen Wolf (Season 1). Starring Tyler Posey, Dylan O’Brian. Not Rated. Released: May 22, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.