There's a great website dedicated to the show here.
After working on "Sweet Valley High" and "Breaker High", I suppose "Werewolf High" seemed like the next logical step for writers Peter Knight and Chris Briggs ...
Tommy Dawkins (Brandon Quinn) is your typical high school jock -- popular, dumb and care-free ... that is, until he is out camping one night and is bitten by a werewolf. Thanks to his infliction he is forced to befriend nerdy goth outcast Merton J Dingle (Danny Smith), and together they work to conceal his lycanthropy and battle whatever evil forces set sights on the town of Pleasantville. As awkward as teenage years always are, Tommy finds that it is even more so when you're a werewolf -- especially since he wolfs out every time he gets close to Stacey Hanson (Rachelle Lefevre), the girl of his dreams. Later, Stacey is transfered to another school and Tommy sets his sights on the new girl, kickboxing Buffy-wannabe Lori Baxter (Aimée Castle).
I caught a couple of episodes of this series when it was on, and it seemed like a pretty silly show that was aimed primarily at the teenybopper crowd. I was attracted to it at the time because obviously it featured werewolves and also it had strong similarities to Buffy, which I enjoyed. In the end I was put off by the silly WWF-style fight scenes, and the slapstick humour didn't really appeal to me all that much. However, when I watched the episodes back-to-back recently I began to really enjoy it. Many of the jokes are silly, but I'll admit it does manage to make me chuckle quite frequently. The constant movie references score particularly highly with me. The characters themselves are quite amusing ... Tommy really is an idiot, and Danny Smith who plays Merton J Dingle has become a kind of cult icon. Together the two of them form an interesting comic team.
It turns out there actually is an awful lot to enjoy here, especially if you happen to catch the series on a good day. At it's worst the show is like a kid's version of Buffy without the same level of atmosphere or wit (although it does seem to be conscious of this, throwing in direct references to the show). One problem is that the comic actors and guest stars often aren't particularly restrained, they're out there in full-on "I will make you laugh" mode which can come off more annoying than amusing. But hell, there are certainly worse things you could be watching.
If you're looking for an interesting, dark and brilliant werewolf series, check out Frank Lupo's "Werewolf". But if you're just after an entertaining, amusing and diverting version of "Teen Wolf", then this is the best there is.
Note: The list below is not a complete episode guide, just the first ten episodes to give you a feel for the show. I have seen all three seasons, but presently I don't plan to review all sixty episodes or so. So much effort.
|Episode Title||Air Date||Rating|
|Butch Comes To Shove||19/04/1999|
|The Pleasantville Strangler||14/05/1999|
|That Swamp Thing You Do!||28/05/1999|
|Muffy the Werewolf Slayer||04/06/1999|
|Stalk Like An Egyptian||11/06/1999|
Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Not much of a werewolf really, is it? Tommy actually winds up looking like he just needs a good haircut and some dentistry, kind of like a teenage James Hetfield perhaps. The pilot episode actually contained some more substantial werewolf makeup, but it turns out the Brandon Quinn was allergic to it so they had to go for a more minimalist werewolf. The original design was creepier, but the one they stuck with is more stylish and kind of suits the series better in my opinion. The strange thing is, when Tommy is in wolf form he is never recognised, even up close -- neither by his face or clothing. Even the supposed love his life Stacey doesn't manage to recognise him. Hmm. Some of the other werewolves are very different in appearance, such as the leader of the Werewolf Syndicate (see third photo down, from "The Manchurian Werewolf Part 2"), but many appear just the same whether their male or female (see bottom photo, also from "The Manchurian Werewolf Part 2").
The transformation scenes are achieved with some pretty cool blurry crossfades or simple cut-aways, which works just fine, and these effects are actually improved upon in the later seasons. They actually become fairly convincing and impressive. In wolf form, Tommy has full control over all of his mental faculties. He simply has increased strength and such, but otherwise he's his normal, decent self. Apparently he's the only good werewolf in existence -- all other werewolves in the series inherently become evil as they change, hence the nasty "Werewolf Syndicate". Odds are it's simply because Tommy lacks the mental capacity to be completely evil. Heh.
Silver harms werewolves, and while they appear to change during the full moon, it is not exclusively at that time. Tommy "wolfs out" whenever he becomes emotional -- angry, scared, confused, or erm, frisky ... When somebody is bitten, they don't fully change until the first full moon comes along, and before that time they may eat some wolfsbane in order to retain their humanity and prevent the change altogether. Once they become a werewolf, however, there doesn't appear to be cure. But then, why would they really want to be cured? Being a werewolf actually seems pretty cool in this series, especially for Tommy!
Aside from the awkwardness caused by wolfing out every time he gets friendly with a girl, Tommy's only affliction is an insatiable lust for chicken. When his wolf urges come over him, he sometimes gets glowing yellow eyes (see top photo, from "Pilot") or pointy ears and teeth. He tends to do a lot of howling as well, whether in wolf or in human form. His personality in his wolf form is generally more aggressive and confident, with a kind of all-american hero thing going on ... it kind of works in those annoying WWF fight scenes, anyway (see second photo down, from "That Swamp Thing You Do!").
Merton J Dingle is the source of all knowledge in this series, and often goes off on rants about movies (and occasionally folklore), which means there are a lot of references in there. Buffy, Teen Wolf, American Werewolf ... you name it, he mentions it. In the pilot episode he states the werewolves can be killed by a wooden stake to the heart (grr) or a silver bullet to the head.