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.