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STUMPY Wades Into CBS's WOLF LAKE!!

For a bright, gleaming moment, “Wolf Lake” sounded like it might be this year's “Twin Peaks.” Then we realized it was created by veteran TV-movie writer John Leekley, who is neither David Lynch nor Mark Frost. It’s set to air 10 p.m. Wednesdays this fall, opposite “Law & Order” and “NYPD Blue.” Here’s “Stumpy” with the bad news:

The show stars Lou Diamond Philips as a wolf tracker with the Bureau of Wildlife Management, though he doesn't really make an appearance until about half-way in. The start of the show and, apparently the focus of the series, is on the people of Wolf Lake, a small town in NW USA. The pilot opens with a shot of two wolves frolicking in the woods, and (impliedly) making hot wolf love. We see some hunters stalking the wolves, shots ring out and one of the wolves goes down by the side of a lake, while the other wolf is injured and runs off.

As the hunters go down, they find the naked (but arms strategically covering the R-rated bits) body of a teenage girl. The hunters panic, not knowing how come they shot at a wolf but instead find a dead girl. Viewers who know they are watching a show called 'Wolf Lake' are generally more clued in to the fact that said girl must be a werewolf or some similar creature.

The hunters head back into town and run into the Sheriff (Tim Matheson) who before long is called out to find the missing girl by her family. One of the hunters goes back to the girl's body and is promptly set on by some nasty wolves. Before long, we're clued in to the fact that the Sheriff's daughter has been having strange wolf dreams and at one point also ends up wandering the woods. Throw in Lou Diamond who wanders into town as a 'wolf tracker' tracking some large packs of wolves converging into town and Graham Greene as a Red Indian Wiseman - Professor who seems to know more than he is letting on. Mix it up with a posse of unsavory townsfolk who are wolf-haters and Native American bigots to boot.

The main storylines are a bit confused and the Pilot tries to bring in too many plot threads at the same time. We have the conflict between wolf-hating townsfolks with werewolf townspeople, a teenage romance between young good-looking werewolfs (think Roswell with shapechangers), the native american wiseman who resurrects the dead hunter - although there seems to be a rather unfortunate side-effect to having been killed by wolves and then brought back to life.

Even the wolf tracker knows more than he is letting on as at the end of the pilot, he makes a mysterious call to somebody alluding to the fact that there is big trouble approaching as the large packs of wolves converge. Overall, I'd say the show is pretty average in production quality, acting and scripting. They obviously don't have much of a budget for FX as there are zero shots of man to wolf transformations. And, no monster budget for werewolf creatures - it's strictly a man or wolf deal only. What you get instead is lots of trained wolves running around and 'attacking' people. I get that on "When Animals Attack !". The geekboy side of me was severely disappointed with the lack of werewolf action. Who wants a bunch of wild Lassies ?

Plus all the references to Native American mysticism and 'tribes of wolves' is all a bit lame and frankly, the whole premise doesn't really work. With too many weak plotlines and no really strong characters to root for, I don't believe this show has that great a future. Especially if it is up against NYPD Blue or Law & Order.

Stumpy

Readers Talkback
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  • June 28, 2001, 8:45 p.m. CST

    First!

    by Digital_DragoonX

    the premise sounded cool, but now it sounds horrible. FIRST!!

  • June 28, 2001, 10:41 p.m. CST

    Hot-off-the-press bulletin for Digital_DragoonX!

    by The Garbage Man

    No one gives a fuck. Have a nice day.

  • June 28, 2001, 11:50 p.m. CST

    "Red Indian"? What the f*** does THAT mean??

    by AlienBoy

  • June 29, 2001, 5:23 a.m. CST

    Vice President Hoynes

    by Tar Heel

    Who knew that the VP of the U.S. (Matheson on "The West Wing" moonlights as a sheriff in a NW town with wolf problems. I hope this show bombs and Aaron Sorkin makes Hoynes a series regular to offset the righteous Jed Bartlett.

  • June 29, 2001, 6:27 a.m. CST

    NYPD Screwed

    by Schlock_Cousteau

    Anything's better than that piece of crap show. The show used to be really good. Storylines with some meat, characters making logical choices based on their circumstances and not because it's time for another ass shot or censor-dodging "you prick" line. And now it has become a sappy soap opera more sticky than Passions with that witch and Timmy the demon-doll(not that I watch that show, he he). I read that Mark Paul Gossler from Saved by the Bell is replacing "Silver Spoons" Schroeder. Ohhhhh god.

  • June 29, 2001, 8:11 a.m. CST

    Don't judge the pilot

    by KidfromBrooklyn

  • June 29, 2001, 8:13 a.m. CST

    Don't judge the pilot

    by KidfromBrooklyn

    I hear CBS yanked the guy who wrote the pilot and brought on a heavy-hitter who's worked on "X-Files" and "Maximum Bob" to take over the show. I'm gonna watch the first few episodes before deciding.

  • June 29, 2001, 8:16 a.m. CST

    Don't judge the pilot

    by KidfromBrooklyn

    I heard CBS liked the concept, but not the pilot. So they yanked the guy who wrote it and brought in a heavy-hitter from "X-Files" to rework the whole show. Personally, I'm gonna watch the new guy's first few episodes before I dump on it.

  • June 29, 2001, 8:45 a.m. CST

    Coulda been good but...

    by DarthSatyr

    The moment I saw ole Lou starring in this thing, I knew there would be trouble. He's making some good career choices. Can we say "Bats"?

  • June 29, 2001, 11:01 p.m. CST

    Wolf Lake

    by Doc Railgun

    This sounds a lot to me like someone's been playing too much "Werewolf: the Apocalypse", what with the 'wolf tribes' and so on. Sounds to me like this is going to be the wolfie version of "Kindred: The Embraced", the very spectacular failure of another White Wolf concept.

  • June 30, 2001, 4:03 a.m. CST

    wolf lake

    by mudhead123

    If Lou is in it it cant be that bad. I will be watching!!!

  • June 30, 2001, 6:03 a.m. CST

    The Tiffiany Network tries to get the 18-35 male viewers

    by Electric_Monk

    Wolf Lake was bought by CBS to get a broader demographic. Recently, David Letterman (who makes fun of his own network, as we all know) made a great joke about the oldest person in the world who died, while watching CBS. The network has always tried to aim their shows towards more older, mature audiences. However, they are losing heavey ad revenue because it appeals to an older crowd who could careless about a seeing The Fast and the Furious and The Animal. CSI is by far, their only show that could appeal to the younger crowd, though its still an old fashion who-dunnit. Wolf Lake appears to be their next attempt at trying to capture that important age group. However, to me, the series will resemble Twin Peaks, with a dash of The X Files thrown in. But, with troubles behind the scenes all ready gives me the impression that this show is doomed to fail. Add on the fact that the advertisers were not impressed -giving the prediction it will be a failure -and this Lou Diamond stincker will vanish more quickly than my five dollars when I'm forced to see Tomb Raider. CBS has created its own problem, by designing TV shows that no really wants to see. The success of some of its programming is based more on luck than on anything that is is inspired. I give the show no more than three airings before CBS pulls the plug.

  • June 30, 2001, 8:47 a.m. CST

    Damn Shame

    by ArchDiver

    I mean, that this show will tank right off the bat. It had such a refreshing premise...

  • July 1, 2001, 10:06 a.m. CST

    L.D.P.

    by zippy-zip

    I like Lou Diamond Phillips. I like weird shows too. I will be watching "Wolf Lake", but I'm afraid the show might be too far off the mainstream for CBS. I hope not, though. And if Lou doesn't always have good parts, maybe he just isn't offered good parts. Most actors, except the highest paid, are dependent on others, if you didn't know.