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Teen Wolf Series 2 DVD

image001Review By: David Stonehouse

Teen Wolf was developed by Jeff Davis for MTV and is based very loosely on the premise of the 1980s Michael J. Fox movie comedy. Davis openly admits that he took his inspiration from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the show proudly waved the Joss Whedon influences from the very first moment. There’s a bunch of ridiculously pretty people pretending to be high school kids. There’s a teenager with magical super powers, Scott McCall, who’s been bitten by a werewolf and is gradually adapting to his new abilities. There’s a Romeo and Juliet love story between Scott and the lovely Allison, who would be just perfect if she wasn’t the youngest member of a family of werewolf hunters (how unlucky is that?). Add in prom queen bitch Lydia, nutcase jock Jackson, sarcastic and bookish best mate Stiles, a mentor figure in the form of older werewolf Derek and you get the picture. A feeling of déjà vu is pretty much a given here, but it isn’t a bad thing at all. Teen Wolf illustrates perfectly what a huge hole was left by the cancellation of Buffy and it fills the gap perfectly. It’s fun, scary in places, romantic, clever and full of smarts, and now you can buy a shiny copy of series 2 to enjoy at home.

Series 1 dealt with Scott coming to terms with his powers, trying to balance this against a normal life and absolutely not screwing things up with Allison. The mystery of Derek was resolved and the year’s big bad, the Alpha wolf, was unmasked and given a fiery end leaving Derek to lead the pack.

So, on to series 2, which arrives with a cool new title sequence and theme tune, and follows on immediately from the events of the season 1 finale. The opening episode, Omega, gets things off to a flying start. Lydia and Jackson, both bitten at the end of season 1 are in mid-change and not coping well. Scott’s relationship with Allison seems doomed despite their declarations of love. No one is quite sure what Derek’s rise to Alpha might lead to and worst of all, Allison’s grandfather and uber-werewolf hunter Gerard (Battlestar Galactica’s Michael Hogan, on top form) has arrived with the intention of slaughtering the entire pack.

As the series unfolds so the plot strands develop and become more complex. Scott refuses to give up Allison and turns his back on Derek, who then starts creating a new pack from the teenage misfits around him. The hunters seem set on wiping out the wolves completely, and, to make things worse, the arrival of a new and much more vicious were-creature proves a threat to both humans and supernaturals alike. It’s good storytelling, well paced and addictive, with plenty of unexpected twists before the big season finale.

The whole thing is very endearing and, in some ways, has a slightly old-fashioned, nostalgic feel to it. The limitations of the budget are unavoidable with some very shaky special effects even by TV standards – for example, the were-boy run is always unintentionally amusing, but actually it doesn’t matter at all because the real draw here is the interplay of some very endearing characters. Tyler Posey and Crystal Reed (Scott and Allison) give a vulnerable heart to the central romance while Dylan O’Brien’s Stiles’ sharp wit covers his sensitivity, decency and quiet courage. The central trio are backed up by an excellent supporting cast and a range of substantial, well drawn characters. Jeff Davis couldn’t have chosen a better template than Buffy, which proved that while spectacle is fun, characters you care about are what really make a show great.

The series comes neatly packaged as a three disc set and the artwork looks great. The video and sound transfer are both very good, and the visuals are certainly a lot sharper than the rather muddy and grainy transmission quality of the current reruns on Sky Living. There are fun and informative commentaries on three episodes; ‘Omega’, ‘Raving’ and ‘Battlefield’ which add some nice additional perspectives and trivia. The highlight is a twenty minute Q and A session from Paleyfest 2012 which includes the main cast and the show runners. Then there are some brief but fun samples of CGI, fight choreography, optional Stiles takes and a gag reel. This is a series with quite a lot of buff types with their tops off so if that’s your thing there’s a Shirtless montage to drool over. There are seven minutes of alternate, deleted or extended scenes which are interesting without offering anything very radically different. Finally there’s a cool little short about Derek’s new pack with clips and comments from the cast and producers. As a package it’s already good value at under £20 just for the episodes, so the extras are a very welcome bonus.

Teen Wolf is great fun and well worth a look. Season 2 is great and you can also pick up series 1 pretty reasonably now if you haven’t got it already. You might as well, because it’s highly addictive and, at only 12 episodes a season, over way too quickly. Fortunately, series three has been boosted up to a 24 week run so there’s still plenty of shape-shifting, face-biting fun still to come.

David Stonehouse