By Bill Keveney, USA TODAY
Teen Wolf is back, but sporting darker colors.
The new MTV werewolf series (Sunday, 11 ET/PT) angles toward drama instead of comedy, which was at the heart of the popular 1985 Michael J. Fox film. But the essential coming-of-age story is the same: A high school outsider, Scott McCall (Tyler Posey), struggles to deal with the powers and perils that come with life as a werewolf.
"Many people will relate to it because of what's going on in the characters' lives," says Posey, 19, firmly ensconced in MTV's 12- to 34-year-old demographic. "It's not so much the supernatural aspect. It's more of a metaphor of going from teen to young man to adult, going from hairless boy to hairy beast. You're changing, your hormones are going crazy. It's a metaphor but really relatable."
In the new Wolf, which moves to its regular slot Monday at 10 ET/PT, Scott's senses are sharpened and his athletic abilities enhanced after he is bitten by a wolf. That leads to a major role on the lacrosse team and a chance to date the beautiful Allison (Crystal Reed), but the struggle to contain physical changes and urges can be overwhelming.
MTV programming chief David Janollari credits executive producer Jeff Davis with devising a fresh take. "It was a total re-imagination," he says, "a complete 180 from the campy comedy that the movie was, reinvented for this Millennial generation as a suspenseful, scary and yet kind of wildly romantic take."
The use of the Teen Wolf name is more than just a branding opportunity, Davis says. It's a literal reminder that the series exists in two complex worlds. "We try to make sure every episode has both the teen story and the werewolf story, and that by the end of the episode, they're always coming into great conflict, and one kind of resolves the other."
And the series does pay homage to the film, which Davis says was one of his favorites while growing up. "We try to make sure to give lovers of the movie plenty of Easter eggs throughout."
Wolf is part of an effort to establish scripted series on MTV, famed for Jersey Shore and other reality hits. Ratings for its scripted shows pale in comparison to the reality offerings. The Hard Times of R.J. Berger just ended its second season, while the fate of the edgy, controversial teen drama Skins hasn't been decided, Janollari says.