Jul. 11th, 2012

sub_divided: cos it gets me through, hope you never stop (Default)
Convinced by this GIF set to watch Teen Wolf. The first eight episodes are really, really good and make you feel good about the state of cable television. The second season drops most of what was good about the first season in favor of being more generic. ;_; Still, at least I have the memories.

Let's start with the positives. Here’s what’s great about the first season:

1. When he doesn’t have that overly-intense, borderline-psycho look in his eyes, Scott (the Teen Wolf) is one of those dreamy and unfocused guys whose main charm is that he actually listens to women (sometimes even including his great single mom). Apart from actively pursuing the girl, he is a passive character who can generally be counted on to prioritize his love life over whatever very sensible and intelligent (or alternately crazy and dangerous) thing his best friend is currently pushing him to do. The gif maker didn’t like this version of Scott, but I loved it because it left more space for the girlfriend and best friend characters to really shine (and they are great). Also the fact that Scott's regular and full-moon selves are distinctly different allows the writers to explore "becoming a werewolf" as a metaphor for mania (e.g. starting about 25 minutes into this episode).

2. Stiles!!! Stiles is the best character. He’s like this hyperactive nerd, but with a huge attraction to danger and dangerous situations, and an ability to fill in Scott’s awkward silences with constant (entertaining) chatter. Although he's passionately nerdy about helping Scott figure out the werewolf thing and is generally a supportive friend, he also pursues his own goals, or in other words isn't just a sidekick. Actually I am kind of disappointed that "he and Derrick are boyfriends" from the GIF set didn’t turn out to be really true, since that would have given the character more screentime.**

3. Not as impressed by the way the show handles Alison - it almost feels like they make her physically strong (e.g. good with a bow, good at gymnastics) because it’s an easier way to signal "strength" than mental toughness - but she is a very sympathetic character, not just because of her bad family situation, but also because she is nice on top of being pretty and smart. Also, the chemistry between her and Scott is real, yo.

4. OTOH, the other main female character in Teen Wolf, Lydia, is mentally tough and a good contrast to Alison. The show was doing something really interesting with her and Jackson, the seemingly dominant guy (captain of the lacrosse team etc) who is actually deeply insecure. Actually they are sort of an insecure-narcissistic pair, pretty well suited to each other, until Jackson decides he'd rather use Alison to figure out Scott's secrets and Lydia never recovers from the breakup. Too bad they had to make her CRAZY in season 2 >_>.

5. The way the show is shot, the writing. Teen Wolf really does have the feel of an 80s teen movie, kind of de-saturated and slow(er)-paced. There are more shots of people staring intensely at each other and fewer abrupt scene changes. People talk less, but their individual lines are better and the show will often refer back to things that happened earlier in the episode in a wordless shot, trusting the audience to get it. It's not the same post-Buffy pacing we are used to, but it's very good.

6. The soundtrack, 'cause it's this funny combination of 80s music and 00s music that sounds like 80s music, as if we are in an alternate reality where the 90s never happened.

7. But the characters all have cell phones, use computers, use services like Find My Phone and Skype, etc etc. This show handles technology really well.

8. Horror-movie shots!. Actually this is still true in season 2 and might even be a bit better this season - not everything is downhill. The best shots are the ones where the characters are having vivid horrible nightmares that turn out to have actually happened. Approve.

Things I don’t like about season 2, compared to season 1 (SPOILERS):

cut for spoilers )

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