Be careful about your expectations with MTV’s Teen Wolf: The series, now entering season three, is nourishing cheese, with special effects that are far from special. But it is distinct, too, a silly-sharp riff on a genre that’s been played so often (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Roswell, The Vampire Diaries) it appears played out.
Teen Wolf comes complete with zooms and slow motion and a heart-first approach to angst in bold strokes. It’s a style that’s best mixed with a quick tongue. Think of MVP best friend Stiles (Dylan O’Brien), sidelined in last year’s finale, his sarcasm all bruised and bloodied — or how teen wolf Scott (Tyler Posey) and his wolf-hunting girlfriend Allison (Crystal Reed) sealed their end-game status. Her: ”There’s no such thing as fate.” Him: ”There’s no such thing as werewolves.” Early in the premiere, two characters swap exposition about the disappearance of Jackson (Colton Haynes), who’s been shipped off to England. ”An American werewolf in London? Like that’s not going to be a disaster.” And then a computer-generated deer crashes into their car.
That’s the first of many mysteries, including the season’s opening sequence, which is only explained in pieces. The super-powered Alpha pack — teased at the end of season 2 — has come to town, upping the mayhem and ambiguity. Also, there’s sexiness: Two of the Alphas are twins (Max and Charlie Carver), with a habit of wearing leather and then, um, not wearing leather, depending on what each scene requires. Hey! One of them is gay. Hey! There’s more of puppyish, arch browed Daniel Sharman as Beta wolf Isaac. (Love.) And hey! Holland Roden’s Lydia — the last of the main cast to realize she’s in a show about the supernatural — has finally wised-up, as have more of the parents, creating new ways to crisscross characters without dulling anyone’s fangs. (Sorry.)
This season, pesky plot points get spun in fruitful new directions. The ”Be a Better Scott McCall Program” is in full effect. Ex-dead werewolves say things like ”FYI” while wearing blazers. School counselors hide in abandoned banks. It’s unclear if Teen Wolf’s third season will benefit from necessary, complementary progress — or hormones: A lot of the new stuff is fun because it’s new. But I’m optimistic. You say: ”There’s no such thing as a good MTV drama!” I say: ”There’s no such thing as werewolves.” B+