Seriously, when did monsters get all hunky and emo 24/7? Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for a psychological examination that goes hand-in-hand with being one of the Undead or a bloodsucker or even some macabre changeling like a werewolf … I just didn’t realize that there would be so much emotional baggage on everyone I choose to surround myself with. Some see that as the makings of great drama. Me? I see it as a crutch toward telling more ‘human’ stories with your monstrous characters. If done in moderation, I suppose it can be a good thing. But the way it felt here? I just didn’t find it all that endearing.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the product packaging: “Elena Michaels (Laura Vandervoort), the lone female werewolf in existence, is torn between two worlds – the one she was born into and the one she was bitten into … Desperate to start a new life in the city, Elena instead finds herself summoned back to Stonehaven, the werewolves’ ancestral home, when a string of mysterious murders threatens the survival of her Pack.”
First up, let me assure you: I adore Ms. Vandervoort. I have since she really came on the scene in the WB’s pretty consistent SMALLVILLE. Her performance as Supergirl was a bit tongue-in-cheek at times, but she embodied the character (as written) with an equal amount of schoolgirl wit as well as that Kryptonian desire to get things right. I also thought she was one of the only solid reasons to sit through that V reboot a few years back; though I preferred the subtleties of the original show, Laura was minimally a fetching addition to that alien universe.
For my tastes, BITTEN goes heavy on the ‘emo’ and light on the monster. As produced for Syfy, it feels very much like its producers wanted to push the envelope a bit more – there’s a heavy hint of skin and sex and some very carnal leanings – but because the show is probably trying to shore up a certain demographic (think ‘young adult’) it ends up watering down that reality quite a bit in order to tell these stories. By contrast, HBO’s TRUE BLOOD gave up making any narrative sense seasons ago in favor of some pretty gratuitous sex and violence; BITTEN feels like the Junior High School equivalent in many ways.
That glaring deficiency out of the way, the show strides perfectly well right down the middle of the lane, choosing to amp up everyone’s angst much like TWILIGHT capitalized on (with steroids!). All of the men are earthy, brooding types, leaving Vandervoort to be the lone bright spot in their midst. It’s no surprise to see them drawn to her much as she’s drawn to them; they’re all dogs, after all, so there’s something to be said for red-blooded passion.
Were I about 40 years younger, BITTEN might very well be a show I’d get interested in. But as old as I am – and with the writing clearly trying to evoke greater psychological weight here than I found credible – it just felt far too safe, far too kid-friendly to amount to more than a TWILIGHT-inspired knock-off done for semi-pay-cable (Syfy). There’s some quality action to their various fight sequences (though I still don’t understand how being a werewolf makes one an expert in martial arts), and the CGI goes from good to better as the episodes wear on, but at the end of the day I’ll have to still confess: this just wasn’t for me.
BITTEN: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON is produced by Entertainment One, Hoodwink Entertainment, and No Equal Entertainment. DVD distribution is being handled by Entertainment One (aka E One Entertainment). As for the technical specifications? This is a smartly produced program, and it offers up some very high quality sights and sounds. If it’s special features you want, then you have some extras to look forward to: there are some behind-the-scenes featurettes along with deleted scenes and some pretty nifty split-screen stunt choreography bits as well as an audio commentary with Vandervoort and the producers. Seriously, if you’re a fan, there’s a good reason to invest in the season set.
RECOMMENDED. Anyone with a fetish for the devilishly lovely Laura Vandervoort should have a cause for celebration with Syfy’s BITTEN. (Apparently) Based on the novels of best-selling author Kelley Armstrong (sorry, I’m completely unfamiliar with her and her work), the program seeks to do with werewolves what TWILIGHT did for vampires … which is to make them all out to look like underwear models and think with their respective genitalia. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it – if you’re thirteen to nineteen-years-of-age. Adults might find more to laugh at than anything else.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Entertainment One (aka E One Entertainment) provided me with a DVD copy of BITTEN: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.
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