January 27, 2023
Wolf Pack (Paramount+) TV Review

Carl checks out the full moon and discovers if Paramount Plus’ Wolf Pack series is worth howling over.

It is the perfect time to be a fan of Werewolves. With the upcoming release of Teen Wolf: The Movie (read our review here), fans of Lycanthropes can get another dose in the new series Wolf Pack. Based on the novel by the Canadian author Edo van Belkom, the series brings the characters to the screen finally. Starring the brilliant young talents of Armani Jackson, Bella Shepard, Chloe Robertson, and Tyler Gray, the series will certainly find its audience. And with Sarah Michelle Geller (who also executive produces), the show has a good chance of being a success. But is it a worthwhile series or one that will have you foaming at the mouth?

THE PREMISE

Based on the book series by Edo Van Belkom, WOLF PACK follows a teenage boy and girl whose lives are forever changed when a California wildfire awakens a terrifying supernatural creature. Wounded in the chaos of its attack, the teens are inexplicably drawn to each other and to two others who were adopted sixteen years earlier by a park ranger after another mysterious wildfire. As the full moon rises, all four teens come together to unravel the secret that connects them – the bite and blood of a werewolf.

WOLF PACK: EP# 101 — “From a Spark to a Flame” — Armani Jackson as Everett Lang and Rio Mangini as Austin in WOLF PACK on Paramount+. Photo: Steve Dietl/Paramount+ © 2022 MTVE All Rights Reserved.

THOUGHTS

Fans of the genre need not worry. The series is really solid. A terrific addition to the films and programs that have covered Werewolves over the years. And it is scary to boot. There are a few jump scares to be had in the first two episodes which were released to us. And the show does contain some nasty moments, some gore, tense moments, and some strong language. The opening ten minutes alone are enough to make the viewer sit up and take notice. What we can easily mistake for a standard setup turns into something that, at times, has us jumping out of our seats. It also sets up the two main characters pretty well.

On the flip side of our two main protagonists, we have a brother and sister pairing that viewers will enjoy. The female, Luna (Chloe Robertson) we will feel for and come to love. Her brother Harlan (Tyler Gray) on the other hand, we start to loathe almost instantly. While Luna is kind, thoughtful, and helpful to our two main characters, Harlan is unfeeling, nasty, and condescending to them, not willing to give them any information or help with their newly acquired problem. And the audience will gradually begin to despise him.

WOLF PACK: EP# 101 — “From a Spark to a Flame” — Tyler Gray as Harlan Briggs and Chloe Robertson as Luna Briggs in WOLF PACK on Paramount+. Photo: Steve Dietl/Paramount+ © 2022 MTVE All Rights Reserved.

THE CAST

The series comfortably sits on the backs of its four young leading cast members. And each one gives their all. Armani Jackson as Everett Lang is someone we can all feel sorry for and cheer on at the same time. Everett suffers from mental health issues, issues that are not helped by his unfeeling, domineering mother and by his soft-spoken, caring father. Everett is a character we can see will come into his own along the way as the series progresses and Armani Jackson gives a performance that we can follow and enjoy with ease. The character tries to understand what has happened to him, and why it has happened, and can only find his answers in small puzzle pieces along the way.

Bella Shepard as Blake Navarro is a revelation. Of the pair of the two main leads, hers is the more demanding storywise. Blake is a loner, someone who tries to keep herself to herself. She even refuses to have a mobile phone at all. Her backstory concerns a father who cannot connect to his children and an autistic younger brother who she is bringing up and looking after all by herself. Bella Shepard gives a performance that makes our hearts break for her character. Each character has their emotional baggage but Blake’s is possibly the heaviest of them all.

WOLF PACK: EP# 101 — “From a Spark to a Flame” — Bella Shepard as Blake Navarro and Armani Jackson as Everett Lang in WOLF PACK on Paramount+. Photo: Steve Dietl/Paramount+ © 2022 MTVE All Rights Reserved.

CHLOE ROBERTSON AND TYLER GRAY

Chloe Robertson as Luna gives us one side of the wolf twins’ coin. Luna is the one that cares for Everett and Blake after they have been bitten. And is the one that wants to bring them into the fold from the start. Despite her brother being by her side for the most part, they are polar opposites. While Harlan doesn’t care for their adoptive father (Rodrigo Santoro), she feels a kinship to him for rescuing them, keeping their secret, and raising them as his own children. Luna is also searching for her own pack, finding them in Blake and Everett. Chloe Robertson gives a performance of restraint for the most part but isn’t afraid to let her inner wolf come to the surface when it needs to. And she too is a wonderful revelation.

Tyler Gray as Harlan comes across as extremely unlikeable from the start. Harlan is gay, and we first encounter him in a club where he makes a move on the D.J. While he and the DJ are making out at the back of the club, Luna arrives to inform him their father has gone missing. Harlan is extremely dismissive of his sister’s worry and has to be talked into helping her look for him. Harlan also shows hostility towards Blake and Everett, even when fate reveals they are destined to be a pack. Tyler Gray does a marvelous job of bringing Harlan to the screen and is someone to keep an eye on as the show progresses.

WOLF PACK: EP# 101 — “From a Spark to a Flame” — Tyler Gray as Harlan Briggs, Chloe Robertson as Luna Briggs, Armani Jackson as Everett Lang, and Bella Shepard as Blake Navarro in WOLF PACK on Paramount+. Photo: Steve Dietl/Paramount+ © 2022 MTVE All Rights Reserved.

RODRIGO SANTORO AND SARAH MICHELLE GELLER

While the four youngsters take on leading the series and the story where it needs to go, the adult actors take a back seat. Rodrigo Santoro plays Luna and Harlan’s adoptive father, Park Ranger Garrett Briggs. Garrett is shown in flashback as discovering the twins under a tree when they were wolf pups. He brings them home in a basket, only to shockingly discover that what once was a paw touching his finger is now a tiny babies hand clutching it. Over the first two episodes, we follow Garrett as he attempts to escape from the forest fire which has started the chaos in the first place. Rodrigo Santoro appears for no more than ten minutes across the opening episodes and we can only hope that he features a bit more over the rest of the season.

Fans of Sarah Michelle Geller should be ready for a shock. The actress, an executive producer on the series, has only a cameo role in the first episode and only features slightly more in the second. As Kristin Ramsey, an Arson investigator, she will feature more heavily as the show moves forward. And we get the feeling that she knows more than she is letting on. Without giving any spoilers away, by the end of the second episode, it is almost a given that she has a bigger part to play than we think. Sarah Michelle Geller is always great viewing, even if she only appears briefly, and she brings a sense of reality to her role.

WOLF PACK: Rodrigo Santoro as Garrett Briggs and Sarah Michelle Gellar as Kristin Ramsy in WOLF PACK on Paramount+. Photo: Curtis Bonds Baker/Paramount+ © 2022 MTVE All Rights Reserved.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I have kept this review extremely light on details for a reason. The viewer has to watch what happens for themselves. But suffice it to say that the show is highly enjoyable, amusing at times, emotional, and compelling viewing. It brings something new to the table which I found to be refreshing. Some may complain that it’s like a teenage Werewolf show. It is if you consider strong language, blood, gore, horror, and violence to be the usual teenage series. Again, like Teen Wolf: The Movie, this is firmly sitting in R-rated territory. And it doesn’t skimp on the more gruesome details either.

WOLF PACK: EP# 101 — “From a Spark to a Flame” — Chloe Robertson as Luna Briggs in WOLF PACK on Paramount+. Photo: Curtis Bonds Baker/Paramount+ © 2022 MTVE All Rights Reserved.

But the series doesn’t speed through its premise either. It reveals details as it goes along, almost like peeling the layers of an onion. Peel away one layer only to discover another one underneath. And every layer reveals something more to add to the story as the season progresses. To be honest, the show, from what I’ve seen so far is impressive. It holds the attention as it goes along, making the viewer keep an eye on even the smallest details. And with the terrific performances of the four young leads, makes the show even more enjoyable. It will need to build up a following and momentum if it is to get a second season. But from what is on display here, it should rightfully continue for years to come. For once, a show that is really worth howling over. And you won’t need a full moon to enjoy it.

Wolf Pack will begin howling at the audience when it premieres on Friday, January 27th exclusively on Paramount Plus.

 

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