REASON TO WATCH: Hot new MTV summer drama.
WHEN/WHERE: Sunday at 11 p.m. on MTV, then airing regularly Mondays at 10 p.m.
It was a dark and stormy night, when . . . the cops discover half a body in the woods outside a sleepy little hamlet. The other half? That's what Scott McCall (Tyler Posey) and pal Stiles (Dylan O'Brien) want to know, too. They start their own search, but are soon separated. Before long, Scott is nearly trampled by a herd of wild caribou, and then he's set upon by some invisible beast. He barely escapes, but not without first being bitten.
Within a day, he begins to develop unusual powers -- most notably his lacrosse skills improve, dramatically. A nerd no more, Scott can now impress the pretty/mysterious new girl in town, Alison Argent (Crystal Reed). Scott and Stiles later return to the woods to find Scott's asthma inhaler -- lost in the scuffle with that aforementioned creature. Instead, they meet one Derek Hale (Tyler Hoechlin, "7th Heaven"). He has his own freaky back story.
MY SAY Everyone loves werewolves, or should -- if only because they have such great hair. (OK, demerits for table manners and fashion sense.) But as a teen trope, they're just about perfect. You may distantly recall that Michael Landon was once a teenage werewolf, and Michael J. Fox was as well, winning the girl and the big game in 1985's "Teen Wolf."
The idea of transformation -- messy, hirsute, awkward transformation -- speaks to the teen experience, and so does (and did) "Wolf." This series isn't exactly a remake of the movie. The latter was a comedy, while this plays for only a few laughs, and those are verbal. "Wolf's" excellent pilot combines teen angst with horror genre conventions that are more reminiscent, purposely so, of "New Moon." The money shots will scare only small children, but they're deftly produced, nonetheless.
Meanwhile, don't expect to see a full-bore 'wolf except briefly through the mist, appearing as some sort of articulated, coiled slinky toy of the netherworld. That's effective, too.
BOTTOM LINE A winner and best of all, fun.