‘Bitten’ premiered on SyFy on Monday night but is the new werewolf series a keeper or should we put a silver bullet in it already?
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Werewolves have never been the sexiest of supernatural beasts when it comes to the attention they receive from movies or TV and by in large most versions of the animalistic creatures are done rather poorly. That said, I have been for many years a huge fan of the werewolf genre despite the fact that it’s next to impossible to find a decent incarnation outside of a few fleeting films scattered about the horror section on Netflix.
The other tough part is for every good werewolf story (Dog Soldiers, Silver Bullet) there are dozens of awful ones (Cursed, The Wolfman remake) so it’s not easy for this genre to find a foothold in an industry that clamors for good supernatural stories, not ridiculous ones.
Syfy has managed to put a werewolf on TV recently in fantastic form with their series ‘Being Human‘ but now they’ve also picked up a Canadian series called ‘Bitten‘ that debuted on Monday night and will run for 13 episodes in its first season. This isn’t a show like True Blood, which happens to feature a werewolf — it’s a show exclusively about werewolves, so it’s a nice change of pace.
‘Bitten‘ is centered around Elena (played by Smallville‘s Laura Vandervoort), who is the only female werewolf in existence. She’s currently living in Toronto with her ad executive boyfriend Phillip while struggling to ignore the wolf that breathes inside of her. Elena maintains this balance by meeting with her therapist, Logan, who also just so happens to be a werewolf.
The story kicks off after a murder happens in a town 100 miles outside of Syrcuse, New York where a girl is brutally attacked and mauled by what appears to be an animal attack. A spooky local named Jeremy Danvers appears and we soon find out that he is the patriarch over an entire pack of wolves that all originated at his home estate Stonehaven. It seems this murder was done by a ‘mut’ — a stray werewolf who has wandered into their territory and killed a human, which is a big no-no — so he calls his pack, all of them even Elena, back home to help investigate. Elena, of course wants no part of this pack, but she’s eventually drawn back there after being reminded that there’s no way she can decline the invitation.
The debut episode definitely had a few ups and downs as any series should in it’s opening hour.
‘Bitten’ sets the tone right away trying to hook the male viewing audience in by showing Laura Vandervoort in nothing much but her birthday suit while painting the canvas with a lot of sex and steamy situations. It’s a common ploy but it’s not lost when looking at the success of shows such as True Blood, which thrived off of a similar concept for years. For all the skin Vandervoort shows off, however, it’s ultimately her acting and story telling that will sink or swim this new series in America.
As a lead, I’m not completely sold on Vandervoort just yet. She was a great supporting actress for a couple of seasons on Smallville and did a great job as the daughter and heir apparent on ‘V’ during its two season resurrection a few years ago on ABC. What I’m not sure about is her ability to have the chops to carry an entire series on her back. Her emotional range in the debut teetered between sultry and a paper plate. When her clothes are coming off, Vandervoort is a sexy vixen capable of dropping jaws to the floor but when she attempts to pull off a serious or emotional tone, her lack of facial expressions and physicality come up brutally short.
Still, Bitten employs a much larger cast than just Vandervoort so she’ll have supporting players around her to help do some heavy lifting as the season moves forward. What I do like about her performance is she can stand toe-to-toe with any of her male cast members and given the fact that as the story goes she’s the only female werewolf, she’ll need to burn through quite a bit of testosterone to survive this show. Vandervoort can pull off action there’s no doubt about that so when she starts sparring with her male counterparts I have a feeling business will pick up.
The plot for the first season of Bitten already seems written for me after only one episode. That can be good or bad depending on what you’re looking for in a series. On the positive side, I wasn’t left confused or bored by the story as it unfolded. The flipside, however, is that I’ve already figured out the key players and where they fit for the entire season. Elena is a reluctant hero drawn back into a world she wants no part of (tell me if you’ve heard that story before), she has a past relationship that ended badly and the guy still wants her back (again stop me if you’ve heard this before) and there’s a threat bearing down that could unravel her entire family (it’s getting old already, huh?).
At the same time the plot formula for ‘Bitten’ definitely isn’t looking to reinvent the wheel, but depending on the twists and turns they unfold during the season, I’m intrigued enough to stick around for a few more episodes to see what happens. Sure, the story is familiar but that doesn’t mean it’s bad, it just means I already see where this is going. I knew the end result of ’24’ before every season started — that didn’t mean I wasn’t willing to stick around to see Jack Bauer kick some terrorist ass while blowing a lot of shit up.
All told the ‘Bitten‘ season premiere lands at a three out of five on the Skolnick scale. It’s definitely not a perfect show by any means and the series as a whole could either rate higher or abysmally lower by the time all 13 episodes have aired but for now there’s enough on the canvas that I’ll tune back in next Monday night at 10pm on Syfy.