MTV has transformed itself from music video channel to reality TV kingpin, so it knows a thing or two about transmogrifications. Handy information, that, when nurturing a coming-of-age show about a werewolf.
With its origins stemming from the 1985 teen comedy feature Teen Wolf, this scripted show follows an average nobody high schooler who gets bitten by a werewolf and suddenly develops some unexpected super skills—not to mention a full-moon-sparked five o'clock shadow that just won't quit. That, however, is pretty much where the similarities end between the hour-long drama and the Michael J. Fox campy monster mash (and its subsequent cartoon spin-off). MTV's take has grown ever more complicated—weaving countless supernatural characters, lycanthropic factions and a dense mythology into the mix.
Our lycanthropic leading man is the mild-natured teen Scott McCall, who gets infected during a forest excursion with his goofy pal Stiles. Before long, Scott can hear and smell things he never has before, run superfast on four legs and look rather wolfish should the mood strike. And the perennial lacrosse bench warmer finds that he can perform like an all-star.
After some growing pains, Scott finds that he fits into his new skin pretty well. He even takes over the role of alpha in the werewolf pack, and he has to be respected a bit for using his nifty powers mostly to save people, rather than rip them apart for kibble.
Teen Wolf takes some thematic cues from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, turning puberty and high school into a flat-out horror story with the occasional metaphorical undertone. These werewolf changes mirror, on some level, the weird transformations that all adolescents go through—complete with deeper voices, seemingly uncontrollable emotions and hair that grows in strange places. And Scott's transformation into an alpha may reflect how we all grow into the burdens, benefits and responsibilities of adulthood.
But Teen Wolf is more graphic than Buffy ever was. Since this is the age of supernatural heart-flutterers like Twilight and The Vampire Diaries, MTV's Teen Wolf has to keep up with the Jacobs when it comes to CGI blood spattering and those steamy golden-eyed gazes—including some same-sex dalliances.
We see vicious fights, horrific wounds and enough body parts to keep casual Saw fans sated. Werewolves are often dispatched by being cut in two, for instance. And even if Scott and his furry cohorts are in their human form, things can still get a little hairy.
"There's a lot of nakedness," said cast member Holland Roden in an eonline.com interview. "And we have lots of sex. Yes, a lot of sex." Crystal Reed, who plays Allison, added, to The Wall Street Journal, "Of all the shows that are on, I would say True Blood is the one that I would compare to our show most."
That's a stretch. And I hope it's not a prophecy. But even as it stands now, this angst-laden Teen Wolf is already tearing out more than the occasional jugular. It's also ripping through bodices, hot-around-the-collar teen trysts, high school sexual self-discovery, and lots of bared and bulging pecs.
Scott commits himself to saving and protecting everyone who's on a list of assassination targets. Meanwhile, Liam, a beta to Scott's alpha, gets stabbed with a weapon laced with wolfsbane and is thrown down a well.
People are brutally stabbed in the gut by massive claws. (Scott has to have a detached claw removed from his torso.) A poisoned werewolf (in human form) coughs up bright yellow phlegm before a doctor cuts open his chest, apparently allowing the poison to escape. (Another's chest is cut open for the same reason.) Scads of corpses, many bloodstained, litter the ground in several scenes. One woman's body is found tied to a chair, indicating that she was perhaps tortured to death. A girl hangs herself. (We watch as medical personnel remove a sheet from around her neck.) Fistfights and gunfire do their damage. Someone's hit by a car.
An unresolved moral struggle revolves around Scott finding a stash of cash in a locker and the pressing money problems of his bill-laden parents. Teens lie and mislead adults. One character seems to blackmail another. References are made to Buddhism (a religion a pack of werewolves adhere to in part to keep control of their emotions). There's talk of driving drunk. We hear "h---" twice and "d--n" once.
The lacrosse team stops at California's Glen Capri for the night—a motel said to lead the state in suicidal guests.
The episode features a content warning at the start, and little wonder: The team's werewolves all grow suicidal. Ethan sees something inside him crawling around (its face presses against his abs) and tries to slice himself open first with a saw, then his own claws. Boyd (after seeing his dead sister in an ice machine) fills a bathtub with water and tries to kill himself by lying in the tub and putting a chest on his chest. (He comes to when Stiles jabs him with a flare.) Scott douses himself with gasoline and nearly sets himself on fire. When a flare touches gas, Lydia pushes Scott and Stiles clear of danger—as a demon appears in the resulting flames.
Lydia hears the ghosts of other suicides: A boy and girl apparently shot each other and a mother smothered her baby before killing herself. In flashback, a man (who has a horrible bite mark on his side) kills himself with a shotgun. (The camera is outside the room when the trigger's pulled, but returns to watch the blood ooze.)
We see Ethan and Danny (two guys) engaged in heavy foreplay with each other, both shirtless. Ethan kisses Danny's chest. Derek makes out with his new girlfriend; the two kiss, and we see them in bed together, presumably nude. (Derek's bare chest is mottled with grotesque wounds.) Sexual tension accelerates when Scott walks in on Allison in the shower. Characters vandalize property and steal stuff from a vending machine. They say "h‑‑‑" (three times), "d‑‑n" (once), "a‑‑" (once), and misuse God's name six or eight times.
In this season premiere, Scott flashes back to some memories from the last season—showing off his muscled body, probing a grotesque bite wound in his side and smooching with girlfriend Allison in a car before her father threatens his life. Back in the present, Scott visits Allison in her bedroom where the two partly disrobe (we see her in her bra) and engage in a very explicit make-out session.
Lydia has a horrific hallucination while showering (we see her from the shoulders up) and runs into the woods, naked. When she wanders back into civilization, she's still nude, her forearms covering her breasts. We see her from the back when she drops her arms and asks for a coat.
A werewolf is strung up by his hands, shocked with a Taser-like object (which returns him to his human form) and cut in half with a sword. (His upper body hangs limply from a tree.) An ambulance is attacked, leaving the man in back dead and the interior spattered with blood. A grave is ransacked for the corpse's liver.
Black liquid gushes from the nose and ears of a high schooler. A girl gags while pulling clumps of hair from a bathtub filled with blackish water. There are references to Internet pornography and people clawing each other during sex. A man claims he lost a testicle to the cold. We hear "h‑‑‑" (a half dozen times), "a‑‑" (two or three times), "b‑‑ch" (once) and misuses of both God's and Jesus' names.
Things start with Scott finally getting his longed-for date with Allison. So he sneaks her into a parked school bus for a little alone time. A kiss and a bit of exposed bra later, Scott gets so overheated that he flies into full-fledged rip-and-tear mode. The next morning he's pretty sure it was all a dream. Or was it? Authorities find a school bus with a torn back door and bloody prints everywhere.
Allison, though, isn't the victim.
The worried teen wolf decides he must have help with his uncontrollable claw baring, and the mysterious man-wolf Derek is the only one to turn to. Derek is having a little trouble, too, as a werewolf hunter and his "thugs" get aggressive. In the end, it all comes down to a wolfo-a-wolfo battle between Derek and Scott that reveals this little nugget: Scott's real werewolf maker is still out there.
Foul language is limited to "a‑‑" and one misuse of God's name. But references to cleavage, ogling and oral sex show up. Two victims are bruised and bloodied.