It wasn't until the arrival on the scene of The Sarah Jane Adventures that I once more dipped my toes into what the yoof were watching and, as I believe goes without saying at this point, I was wowed. This was a 'kids' show that wouldn't have disgraced itself in it's parent shows slot. In fact, during David Tennant's final year in the TARDIS, when we found ourselves limited to special episodes every few months in lieu of a new series of Doctor Who, I advocated running that years SJA as hour long episodes instead of 2-part half hours, and putting it in the vacant primetime slot, or at least a Sunday teatime (where I still believe a decent family adventure drama could thrive). Of course, that didn't happen, but the show was good enough, for long enough, that it's convinced me to show a little faith and trust in CBBC to get it right.
It was with this in mind that last week I settled down in front of the tellybox to watch the premiere episode of WolfBlood, the new half hour drama about werewolves.* And while I don't think I'm insulting anyone by saying it's not as accomplished as the aforementioned SJA, yet, it certainly did nothing to make me regret my decision.
Created by writer Debbie Moon; and as I type that I see the Moon/Werewolf thing for the first time because I'm a total dunce; the series sees teenage girl Maddy attempting to live a normal life whilst hiding from her friends and teachers that she, and her parents, are Wolf Bloods. The task becomes even harder when new boy at school Rhydian turns out to be a Wolf Blood too, but one without a pack whose upbringing in the foster system has left him woefully unprepared to deal with his heritage.
|Maddy and Rhydian|
I'll admit that I found some of the 'moral of the week' writing in episode 3 a touch too on the nose, but that's a minor complaint, and once the supernatural elements came back to the fore the show started to fly again. I hope the difficult childhood/emotional problems/ dealing with adolescence stories continue; and let's face it, they will; but hopefully they'll find a way to more seamlessly blend them with the fantasy. Once they get that balance right, I predict something a bit special from them.
All told, the show is another impressive notch on CBBC's belt and a credit to Moon and her fellow writers. It's not easy to put a fresh spin on such a familiar concept, but they've done it. I'm begging though, no romance for Maddy and Rhydian. Please.
*The show goes to great pains in-story, to stress that they aren't werewolves at all, but rather 'Wolf Bloods'; werewolf carrying a 'monster' stigma. Fair enough. But even if you accept that werewolf=monster; and I think Buffy, and others including current show Teen Wolf by all accounts, have proved that stereotype doesn't always need to be applied; the fact is that whatever you call them in-story, you want kids (and, er, sad cases like me) to be raving about 'that cool new werewolf thing.'