October 03, 2015

TEEN WOLF (1986)

TEEN WOLF (1986)
(CBS, September 13, 1986-November 7, 1987)

Southern Star Productions, Clubhouse Pictures

Townsend Coleman – Scott Howard
James Hampton – Harold Howard
Stacy Keach, Sr. – Grandpa Howard
June Foray – Grandma Howard, Mrs. Seslick
Jeannie Elias – Lisa “Boof” Marconi
Donny Most – Rupert “Stiles” Stilinski

Scott Howard (Michael J. Fox) thought all he had to worry about was puberty, playing for the worst team in high school basketball, and being unable to get the most popular girl in school, Pamela Wells (Lorie Griffin), to notice him. However, he soon discovered the family secret: he was a werewolf. But he quickly came to terms with that fact when he learned that his wolf form (which he could shift into and out of at will, no full moon required) made him the best player on the team, and quickly brought The Beavers to near-victory. Plus, Pamela was finally paying attention to him--much to the chagrin of her boyfriend, Mick McAllister (Mark Arnold). After a confrontation with Mick, Scott decided to curb the wolf and played the championship game as himself, and also discovered that the girl he really cared about was his best friend, Boof (Susan Ursitti).

Teen Wolf, produced by Atlantic Releasing Corporation, came about due to the success of their 1983 film, Valley Girl. They wanted to make a comedy that would cost almost nothing (the budget was $1 million) and could be filmed quickly. It was one of the first movies written by Jeph Loeb, and co-written by Matthew Weisman. The project came together fully when Fox, who had a filming break from his TV series Family Ties, accepted the lead role. Directed by Rod Daniel, the film was released on August 23, 1985 and ended up grossing $80 million in the box office. It debuted in second place behind Fox’s other hit movie that year, Back to the Future, which he filmed after Teen Wolf. To cash in on Future, international releases of Teen Wolf either had a time element incorporated into its title (Garato do Futuro, or Boy from the Future in Brazil) or by having Scott’s name translated as “Marty,” such as in Italy.

Scott with Boof, Harold, Grandpa and Lupe.

The movie proved popular enough to warrant an animated spin-off the following year from Southern Star Productions. Like the movie, Scott Howard (Townsend Coleman) was able to change into a werewolf at will. Unlike the movie, Scott’s duality was kept a secret from everyone except his family and best friends Boof (Jeannie Elias) and Stiles (Don Most). The Howard family was expanded considerably. Along with his father, Harold (James Hampton, reprising his role from the movie), Scott had gained a sister, Lupe (who didn’t yet know if she possessed the family trait), and his grandparents from Transylvania, who stayed in werewolf form most of the time. Grandpa Howard (Stacy Keach, Sr.) was often an embarrassment to the family as he tended to act like a large dog, while Grandma Howard (June Foray) dabbled in magic and fortunetelling. Nosy neighbor, Mrs. Seslick (Foray), knew about the Howard family’s “condition” but was constantly unable to prove it to anyone else.

Stiles drops by.

Boof’s unrequited crush on Scott from the movie was kept intact while Scott lamented for popular girl (now a cheerleader), Pam, who still dated Mick (Craig Sheffer). Mick, who was older due to a prison stint and went to a different school in the film, was now a senior in the same school and a frequent bully of Scott. Without having the wolf to profit off of with t-shirts and novelty items emblazoned with “Teen Wolf”, Stiles was toned down to be more of a wolf wannabe. Even the town’s name was changed from Beacontown to Wolverton, a town notable for werewolf sightings.

Teen Wolf debuted on CBS beginning September 13th, 1986 and was successful enough to be renewed for a second season. Unfortunately, the 1986 voice actors’ strike halted production on the series, resulting in only 8 more episodes being produced. CBS did keep it on the schedule for an additional season comprised entirely of reruns. The series was written by Rowby Goren, Gordon Kent, Pamela Hickey, Dennys McCoy, Michael Reaves, Bruce Reid Shaefer and Linda Woolverton, with Buzz Dixon serving as the story editor and Loeb and Weisman retained as creative consultants. The opening theme was composed by John Lewis Parker and Barry Mann with vocals by Steve Tyrell, while the closing theme was composed by Ashley Hall and Stephanie Tyrell with vocals by Hall. The rest of the music was composed by David Kitay, Richard Kosinki, Wells Christie, James Donnellan and Parker.

A sequel film, Teen Wolf Too, was released on November 20, 1987. The movie, written by R. Timothy Kring and directed by Christopher Leitch, essentially followed the same story, this time with Scott’s cousin, Todd (Jason Batman), discovering his ability to transform in college. The biggest difference was that the sport in question was boxing instead of basketball. Only Hampton and Mark Holton as Chubby reprised their roles from the first film, and the sequel was universally panned. As promotion for the film, the character of Todd was featured in the series’ final episode and was the only time Todd and Scott would meet on any screen.

The DVD cover.

Family Home Entertainment released four episodes to VHS in 1993, while Avid Home Entertainment released two episodes in 1998. In the United Kingdom, where the series was known as The Cartoon Adventures of Teen Wolf, Video Gems released a VHS containing two episodes as well. In 2008, the complete series was released to DVD in Region 4 only.

A Teen Wolf 3 was planned starring Alyssa Milano until it fell through. Another attempt at the sequel was later recycled into the 1989 movie Teen Witch. In 2009, Jeff Davis developed a live-action adaptation of the movie for MTV. Teen Wolf premiered in 2011 as a darker and edgier version of the film. Social outcast Scott McCall (Tyler Posey) was bitten by a werewolf and became one, having to balance his night life with his normal life and keep his friends safe from his other half. The series contained a lot of gruesome elements intermixed with dark comedy, keeping it somewhat in line with the original film. Image Comics released a comic based on the show its debut year.

Season 1:
“Teen Wolf’s Family Secret” (9/13/86) –The Howard family photo album gets mixed in with Pam’s books, which exposes them as werewolves.

“Grandpa’s in the Doghouse” (9/27/86) – Mrs. Seslick calls the dog catcher on Pam’s dog Daisy, but Grandpa ends up taken by accident instead.

“The Werewolf Buster” (9/27/86) – A werewolf hunter comes to town just as Grandpa sets out to hunt some turkeys in the woods.

“Shopworn Wolf” (10/4/86) – Howard puts Scott in charge of the hardware store so he can earn money for a guitar, but Stiles’ help ends up causing him more problems along the way.

“The Beast Within” (10/11/86) – The Howards are suddenly unable to control their transformations and are afraid they are the town monster being reported on the news.

“Up a Family Tree” (10/18/86) – A family reunion brings complications in trying to keep the family secret safe from the neighbors.

“Wolf Pride” (10/25/86) – A film crew comes to Wolverton to film a typical werewolf horror film, which upsets Scott.

“Wolf of My Dreams” (11/1/86) – Scott becomes infatuated with a character on television he believes is a fellow teen wolf.

“Leader of the Pack” (11/8/86) – Scott tries to figure out a way to get rid of a biker gang causing trouble in town.

“The Curse of the Red Paw’ (11/15/86) – The Howards head to Traynsylvania to reconnect to their past and check out a castle they inherited.

“The All-American Werewolf” (11/22/86) – The Howards are selected to be on a television contest called “The All-American Family”.

“Under My Spell” (11/29/86) – A new family moves to town and turns everyone but the Howards into zombies.

“Teen Wolf Punks Out” (12/6/86) – Scott finds acceptance for his wolf side as he and Boof enter into the punk scene.

Season 2:
“Teen Wolf’s Curse” (9/19/87) – Grandma’s rival puts a curse on the family that causes anyone they touch to become a werewolf.

“It’s No Picnic Being Teen Wolf” (9/26/87) – Scott is tasked with keeping an eye on Grandpa on the same weekend as the school picnic.

“Toot Toot, Tut Tut and All That Rot” (10/3/87) – Scott and Stiles have to rescue the school’s werewolf mascot costume from Upson High.

“Down on the Farm” (10/10/87) – The Howards volunteer to work on a farm for a week, but the animals sensing their true natures makes things difficult.

“Diary of a Mad Werewolf” (10/17/87) – The Howards learn the stolen town statue contains a diary from one of their relatives that may contain their secret.

“Teen Wolf Come Home” (10/24/87) – On an errand for his father, Scott falls down a manhole and loses his memory in another town.

“Scott and the Howlers” (10/31/87) – Scott performs on a talent show with his band leading to his discovery by a record label and the choice of leaving his friends behind.

“Howlin’ Cousins” (11/7/87) – Scott visits his cousin and tries to help Todd come out of his shell.

Originally posted in 2015. Updated in 2020.

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