October 30, 2021

BIG WOLF ON CAMPUS

 

BIG WOLF ON CAMPUS
(YTV, Fox Family Channel/ABC Family Channel, April 2, 1999-April 27, 2002)
 
Telescene (season 1-2), CinéGroupe (season 3), Saban Entertainment
 
 
MAIN CAST:
Brandon Quinn – Thomas P. “Tommy” Dawkins
Danny Smith – Merton J. Dingle
Rachelle Lefevre – Stacey Hanson (season 1)
Aimée Castle – Lauren “Lori” Baxter (season 2-3)
 
 
Tommy Dawkins (Brandon Quinn) was having a pretty good life. He was a star player on the Pleasantville High football team, he was well-liked, and the girl of his dreams--head cheerleader Stacey Hanson (Rachelle Lefevre)--was finally taking an interest in him. Unfortunately, his life was turned upside-down when a wolf bit him on a camping trip and turned him into a werewolf. Forming an unlikely friendship with social outcast and goth Merton Dingle (Danny Smith), who happened to possess as much knowledge about the macabre as he did movie trivia, they worked together to try and remove Tommy’s curse (or convince Tommy to turn him into one) while also dealing with supernatural trouble that found its way to Pleasantville.


Tommy's original werewolf look.


Big Wolf on Campus was essentially an expansion of the concept seen in the 1985 film Teen Wolf with a mixture of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. However, unlike the film, Tommy hid his lycanthropy from everyone and seemed to possess his abilities when he wasn’t transformed; including super strength, increased speed and agility, rapid healing and enhanced senses. Tommy would come to be revealed as an aberration, as most werewolves succumb to the dark side of their curse that Tommy had somehow managed to repress (however, that dark side was still there and managed to be brought out by certain circumstances). Despite protecting the town from various creatures and entities such as blood bank-robbing vampires, a pack of evil werewolves, ghosts, a mummy, a cyclops and zombies, most people considered the werewolf as big or equal a threat. Further, Tommy often found his dates with Stacey being interrupted by his need to “wolf out”, leading her to think he was constantly ditching her. Stacey also ended up being targeted by some of those entities who found her just as appealing as Tommy.

Tommy finally getting some time alone with Stacey.


Other characters included Tommy’s family: His father, Bob (Alan Fawcett), the mayor of Pleasantville and the biggest proponent for taking the werewolf down, his mother, Sally (Jane Wheeler), a local reporter, and his brother, Dean (Jack Mosshammer), a couch potato who never left his chair (although his television knowledge came in handy at times); Merton’s family, although only his sister, Becky (Natalie Vansier), was ever seen and was embarrassed to be related to him; Tim (Domenic Di Rosa) and Travis (Rob deLeeuw) Eckert, two dimwitted bullies that dubbed themselves “TNT” and dedicated themselves to finding the Pleasantville Werewolf; and Hugo Bostwick (Richard Jutras), the overzealous security guard of the high school. Tommy and Merton would frequently meet in Merton’s basement, which he converted to his “lair” containing all of his accumulated occult items and various screenplays he was working on. They would also hang out at The Factory, a teen hangout where kids could dance, bowl and eat.

Promo shot of Stacey, Tommy and Merton.


Big Wolf on Campus aired on YTV in Canada and Fox Family Channel in the United States, debuting on April 2, 1999 and running for a total of 3 seasons. The show was created by Peter Knight and Christopher Briggs, who after a successful stint writing for Sweet Valley High and Breaker High decided to approach Saban Entertainment with some show ideas for their impending takeover of The Family Channel. Due to its similarity to Teen Wolf, Saban actually contemplated just securing the rights to the film and its characters, but ultimately settled for the cheaper option of just making their own original interpretation. To further save money, the production was filmed in Canada, to take advantage of various incentives Canada offered. It was produced by Telescene, and then CinéGroupe when the former went bankrupt. Knight and Briggs served as creative consultants, producers and wrote several episodes; however, Briggs would depart during the first season over frustration with the power struggles behind the scenes as they found themselves constantly being undermined because of their comparative youth and perceived inexperience. Briggs would return as a consultant and writer for the third season.

Death comes for us all.


Other writers included Gregory Thompson, Aron Abrams, Dan Kopelman, Michael MacKenzie, Dana Reston, Michael Shipley, Jim Bernstein, Rick Nyholm, Kirk Savell, Jonathan Goldstein, Joseph Mallozzi, Paul Mullie, Jeff Rothpan, David Hamburg, Mitchell Goldsmith, Ari Posner, Rick Parks, Scott Jackson, Sam Wendel, Robert L. Baird, Kelly Senecal, Michael Bornhorst, David Feeney, Brian Gewirtz, Arnold Rudnick, Rich Hosek, Barry Julien, David Wolkove, Sandy Brown, Pang-Ni Landrum, Maggie Bandur, Matthew Salsberg, Michael Benson, Marc Abrams, Beth Seriff, Geoff Tarson, Lars Guignard, Ron Nelson and Louis Pearson. Baird and Senecal served as story editors for season 2 with Salsberg taking over in season 3, and Julien as executive story editor. The series’ music was composed by James Gelfand in season 1 and Simon Carpenter for the remainder. The theme was written and performed by Smith with arrangement by Robert Marcel Lepage, which was then rearranged from season 2 onwards by Carpenter. Most of the series’ episode titles were puns or parodies of film titles.

Tommy looking dapper in his refined wolf make-up.


Three episodes into the series, Tommy’s werewolf appearance was changed as Quinn proved to be allergic to the glue used. He went from having a wolf-like face with scraggly hair and pointy ears to just having the ears, fangs, and more hair that expanded to his face in mutton chops leading to an incomplete mustache. This look would come to be enhanced and refined as the series went on. The special make-up effects were done by Twins F/X 11 Inc., Erik Gosselin, Karl Gosselin, Marie-France Guy, Marti Jutras, Frédérick Guilbert, Pascal Hérbert and Caroline Aquin. Special effects were rendered by Big Bang Animation (1997) Inc. for the first two seasons, Covitec for the third.

Meet the new girl: Lori.


Stacey was written out of the show after the first season as having gone off to college early. This was done because Knight felt that the character was poorly fleshed out and needed a reset. This allowed him to add Lori Baxter (Aimée Castle), a transfer from Pleasantville Catholic school who was kicked out for vandalism when helping Tommy and Merton deal with a ghost of a football star destroyed a tribute to him. She became the second person to know about Tommy’s secret, as well as his on again/off again girlfriend (they often found being together was distracting from their mission, and while Tommy wanted to stop working together, she wanted to end the relationship to keep up the fight). As a trained kickboxer, she often helped him battle the bad guys. Additionally, the characters of Hugo and Tommy’s parents largely disappeared due to budgetary constraints and wanting to focus more on the essential characters.

Corey Haim (top) and Corey Feldman really sucking (blood) in their guest-spots.


While it maintained a “villain of the week” type format for its entire run, it did have several recurring villains: Butch (Adam MacDonald), a bully and escapee from old 1950s educational films; the Evil Werewolf Syndicate, who wanted to make Tommy one of their own and use him to create more werewolves (since Tommy was turned by an Alpha and became an Alpha himself); and the personification of Death (Lawrence Bayne). Notably, the Coreys guest-starred in two episodes: Corey Haim as a vampiric version of himself, and Corey Feldman as Haim’s friend who came to town looking for him and to make Merton’s movie.

Frank Stein's monster.


Because of declining budgets, power struggles and issues such as Telescene’s bankruptcy and Saban selling out to Disney, it was a struggle to get each additional season into production. After 65 episodes, enough to reach syndication levels, the series came to an end as it just wasn’t making enough money to justify keeping it going. However, the production was given enough notice to deliver a proper finale and give their characters a send-off. The series remained on Fox Family’s successor, ABC Family (now Freeform), until September when it was removed for Disney’s own programming. To date, only the first season has seen home release on a VHS box set dubbed in French. Starting in 2020, Canadian media company Encore+ Media released the entire series to YouTube.
 
 
EPISODE GUIDE:
Season 1:
“Pilot” (4/2/99) – Tommy is attacked by a wolf on a camping trip and becomes a werewolf.
 
“The Bookmobile” (4/9/99) – Tommy has his chance to get rid of his curse, but the arrival of a bookmobile leading to mysterious disappearances takes precedence.
 
“Butch Comes to Shove” (4/16/99) – A character from a 1950s educational film exits into Pleasantville and decides to bring Stacey back with him.
 
“Cat Woman” (4/30/99) – A foreign exchange student comes to the school who gets along with Tommy very well, much to Stacey’s annoyance.
 
“Witch College” (5/7/99) – When a sorority sets their sights on Stacey, she suddenly becomes a real witch.
 
“The Pleasantville Strangler” (5/14/99) – Hugo and Merton accidentally release the spirit of a serial-killer who can possess anyone.
 
“Stage Fright” (5/21/99) – A crazed cable man comes to town and punishes those who steal their cable by sending them into the shows they watch.
 
“That Swamp Thing You Do” (5/28/99) – A teacher who fell into the swamp 25 years ago returns as a mutated monster searching for his old fiancée.
 
“Muffy the Werewolf Slayer” (6/4/99) – A new girl gets information on the werewolf from Merton while Tommy is dealing with a soul-sucking salesman.
 
“Stalk Like an Egyptian” (6/11/99) – Tommy and Merton accidentally resurrect a mummy on a field trip who becomes a teenager and wants to make Stacey his queen…forever.
 
“Flugelhoff!” (6/18/99) – A lychanthropist arrives in town claiming he can cure Tommy.
 
“Invisible Merton” (6/25/99) – Merton’s nemesis comes back to town, armed with magic that makes Merton invisible.
 
“The Wolf is Out There” (7/2/99) – While Tommy tries to battle his wolf cravings and expanding waistline, the mayor ups the battle against the town werewolf.
 
“Interview with a Werewolf” (7/9/99) – Merton gets set up on a date with a woman who sucks the youth right out of him.
 
“Fangs for the Memories” (7/23/99) – Retrieving the blood Tommy donated so as not to spread his curse becomes complicated when vampires raid the blood banks.
 
“Time and Again” (7/30/99) – Merton is thrilled with his new watch that can reverse time; unfortunately, each use drains more and more of his intelligence away.
 
“Big Bad Wolf” (8/6/99) – Tommy and Merton recite an Indian chant that brings Tommy’s dark side out.
 
“Scary Terri” (8/13/99) – Mistaking his friendship for affection, psychic Terri seeks revenge on Tommy when she finds him with Stacey.
 
“Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow” (8/20/99) – A new substitute teacher claims to be the one who turned Tommy and seeks to bring out his bad side.
 
“The Exor-Sis” (8/27/99) – Merton’s sister ends up with a locker that contains an inter-dimensional portal.
 
“Don’t Fear the Reaper” (9/3/99) – When Tommy saves a man from the Grim Reaper, the Reaper comes for Tommy.
 
“Game Over” (9/24/99) – Tommy’s beating a high score on an arcade game unleashes a villain that seeks to destroy him and Merton.
 
Season 2:
“Hello Nasty” (3/18/00) – Tommy, Merton and their new friend Lori must take on the ghost of a football player responsible for the team’s 61-year-old curse.
 
“Frank Stein” (3/25/00) – A quiz bowl turns Merton into a target for a strange man who wants his brain.
 
“Commie Dawkins” (4/1/00) – A Russian man follows Tommy and Merton through a wormhole and changes the outcome of the Cold War.
 
“The Girl Who Spied Wolf” (4/8/00) – Lori discovers Tommy’s identity just as the Evil Werewolf Syndicate tries to force him to join them.
 
“Apocalypse Soon” (4/15/00) – Tommy and his friends have to prevent a wrestler’s next potentially world-ending win.
 
“The Sandman Cometh” (4/22/00) – Tommy and Merton have to deal with a Sandman who seeks to enslave people through contact with a special sleep sand.
 
“The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth” (5/6/00) – Tommy and Merton learn they picked the wrong side in a battle between a teen and a demon.
 
“Imaginary Fiend” (5/13/00) – Donating his old toys causes Merton’s imaginary friend to get free.
 
“101 Damnations” (5/20/00) – Tommy finds a stray puppy that turns out to be the legendary Cerberus.
 
“Mind Over Merton” (6/3/00) – After being rejected by a genius society Merton creates a potion to make him smarter, which unfortunately helps Tim and Travis figure out who the werewolf is.
 
“Blame it on the Haim” (6/10/00) – Corey Haim comes to town to shoot a vampire flick, but is it possible he’s actually a real vampire?
 
“Pleased to Eat You” (6/17/00) – Becoming Homecoming King causes Tommy to neglect Merton and allow him to fall into a new crowd that doesn’t have his best interests at heart.
 
“The Manchurian Werewolf: Part 1” (7/15/00) – The Evil Werewolf Syndicate brainwashes Tommy and causes him to bite Lori.
 
“Manchu: Part Deux” (7/22/00) – Tommy and Merton must prevent Lori from becoming a werewolf.
 
“Mr. Roboto” (7/29/00) – A cyborg infiltrates the school and implants students with mind-control devices.
 
“Rob: Zombie” (8/5/00) – Lori breaks up with Tommy and convinces Merton to revive her dead boyfriend.
 
“Fear and Loathing in Pleasantville” (8/19/00) – A demon terrorizes the populace to feed on their fear.
 
“Faltered States” (8/26/00) – Merton becomes a test subject at a lab to impress a girl, only to end up turned into a caveman.
 
“Butch is Back” (9/2/00) – Butch emerges from another film and captures Lori.
 
“Voodoo Child” (9/8/00) – The new school nurse offers to let Merton become a voodoo apprentice.
 
“She Will, She Will Rock You” (9/9/00) – The new transfer student turns Merton into stone.
 
“Clip Show: The Kiss of Death” (10/7/00) – Tommy, Merton and Lori go over all of their good deeds to keep Death from claiming Tommy.
 
Season 3:
“Stone Free” (10/27/01) – Tommy and Lori must save Merton from being a stone golem, but the cure may be worse than the disease.
 
“Everybody Fang Chung Tonight” (11/3/01) – Merton’s radio show attracts a vampire and her clan who just happen to feed on werewolf blood.
 
“I Dream of Becky” (11/10/01) – Becky unleashes a genie from a lamp and gets three wishes, unaware that they come at a price.
 
“Stormy Weather” (11/17/01) – Tommy and Lori are suspicious of the first candidate for Merton’s new superhero club.
 
“Hellection” (11/24/01) – Tommy loses the class president election to a girl who made a deal with a demon to win.
 
“Being Tommy Dawkins” (12/1/01) – Trying to escape an ex-convict leads Merton to a portal that lets him enter Tommy’s body.
 
“Save the Last Trance” (12/8/01) – Merton’s new girlfriend ends up being a real witch.
 
“Anti-Claus is Coming to Town” (12/15/01) – Tommy and his friends must help keep a Santa impersonator from ruining Christmas.
 
“N’Sipid” (1/12/02) – Becky is kidnapped by aliens posing as a boy band.
 
“Very Pale Rider” (1/19/02) – Merton is put into his favorite role-playing game.
 
“Play it Again, Samurai” (1/26/02) – While Tommy does community service, Merton falls in love with a 900-year-old Japanese princess.
 
“Dances Without Wolves” (2/2/02) – Tommy finds himself in an alternate universe where he never became a werewolf, but unfortunately his rival has and has given in to his dark side.
 
“Baby on Board” (2/11/02) – An alien encounter leaves Merton pregnant!
 
“The Boy Who Tried Wolf” (2/18/02) – Just as a werewolf comes to town, Tommy accidentally bites Merton turning him into an evil werewolf.
 
“The Mertonator” (2/25/02) – A killer cyborg from the future that resembles Merton is after Tommy.
 
“What’s Vlud Got to Do With it?” (3/4/02) – A werewolf princess falls in love with Tommy.
 
“There’s Something About Lori” (3/11/02) – A factory phantom believes Lori is his long-dead love.
 
“Switch Me Baby One More Time” (3/18/02) – Lori ends up switching bodies with a girl that’s jealous of her.
 
“What’s the Story, Morning Corey” (3/25/02) – Corey Feldman comes to town to produce Merton’s script and to meet up with his old friend, Corey Haim.
 
“Thanks” (4/1/02) – Tommy and Merton are interested in the same girl, unfortunately she’s a supernatural assassin with the kiss of death.
 
“The Sum of All Fears” (4/8/02) – The stars of the show count down the fans’ favorite moments.

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