Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Sarah Michelle Gellar is the queen of teen-focused supernatural entertainment, and now we can reconnect with the TV icon in MTV's Wolf Pack (episodes available weekly on Paramount+, beginning Jan. 26).
The series is based on a book series by Canadian author Edo Van Belkom, written and produced by Jeff Davis (Teen Wolf, Criminal Minds) for the small screen, with Gellar as an executive producer and a star in the show.
What is 'Wolf Pack' about?
While Gellar is likely the actor most people want to see, we don't see her very much in the first two episodes.
Alternatively, the story is largely focused on a group of California high schoolers. The show begins by introducing us to Everett Lang (Armani Jackson), a student trying to manage his anxiety, but things take a turn on a bus ride to school.
As a wildfire erupts, a pack of wild animals run out of the forest towards a street where a bus filled high school students is among the stopped vehicles.
Everett, after getting off the bus, got bitten by something, as did his classmate Blake Navarro (Bella Shepard). Blake and Everett now have these red scars on their bodies from the bites, and both of them sense that something has changed. Blake's acne has cleared up and Everett's abs have transformed to a six pack.
There are two other high schooler that Everett and Blake end up developing an inexplicable connection with, Luna Briggs (Chloe Rose Robertson) and her brother Harlan (Tyler Lawrence Gray). Luna and Harlan were adopted 16 years ago by a park ranger after a previous wildfire in the area. The four teens form a sort of alliance as they dodge questions from Gellar's character, Kristin Ramsey, an arson investigator trying to figure out how this fire started.
"You’re going to hear that the police suspect arson, that’s only part of the truth," investigator Ramsey tells Everett, trying to get him to talk to her about the teens at his school. "Because it’s not just a suspicion, I know for certain this fire was caused by arson."
"The arsonist is a teenager, might even be someone you go to school with. In fact, it’s quite possible this teenager was on that bus with you."
Is 'Wolf Pack' worth watching?
There's one thing we have to get out of the way, addressing the obvious. Wolf Pack isn't Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So for anyone hoping for something similar to start watching in 2023, particularly after the publicized abuse allegations against Buffy creator Joss Whedon, this likely won't scratch that itch for you.
In the first two episodes of the series provided to reporters, Wolf Pack comes across as a bit of a generic teen-based drama. But there is also a significant emphasis on connecting the threat of these monsters to things like anxiety, mental health, and other issues and stresses these teens are facing.
Wolf Pack gives you a sense that it's trying to go for a sort of "slow burn" tactic to have this supernatural mystery unfold throughout the show. So we're hoping that as the series moves beyond the first two episodes, there will be more space to actually spend time with these characters. At this point, there just isn't a lot there to really emotionally connect with them yet.
Gellar is very much on the outside looking into the lives of these teens, a common thread for shows based around high schoolers. She does effectively tease, with just a look and a glimmer behind her eyes, that there's likely more backstory for her character, and her intentions, to come. So hopefully the show delivers on that front.
The first scene of the wildfire and the animals running towards the road is actually very compelling and more graphic than you may expect, but so far, Wolf Pack is lacking that element that really sucks you into the drama it's trying to build.