I had never heard of the supernatural television series “Wolf Lake” until a couple of months ago when Chiller was running a day long marathon of its solitary season. When I first saw the commercials, I thought it was actually a movie because it has some relatively big name stars in it such as Lou Diamond Phillips, Tim Matheson and Sharon Lawrence. Subsequently, I also automatically assumed that since I had never heard of it, and the fact that it was on “Chiller” and not on network TV, meant it was probably a pretty crappy movie. However, when I started watching, I realized I could not have been more wrong.
“Wolf Lake” is a combination mystery/suspense/angst-y love story/werewolf thriller set in a mysterious town in the Pacific Northwest, where a large number of the inhabitants (if not all of them) are human/wolf shape-shifters. It premiered on Sept. 19,2001 and ran for a total of 9 episodes, 5 on CBS and the last 4 on UPN. Lou Diamond Phillips played John Kanin, a Seattle police officer whose girlfriend Ruby is kidnapped on the night he proposes to her. His efforts to find her lead him to the town of Wolf Lake, where he’s immediately suspicious of the town’s strange inhabitants. He begins investigating how Ruby is tied to this town and he never quite has the whole picture revealed to him. In the meantime, the wolf families that control the town have their own underlying drama going on in regards to leadership, power, sex, and the ethics involved with living as humans who possess the power to become werewolves.
While this description may sound like it has all the makings of a supernatural soap opera, “Wolf Lake” was much more than that. For anyone interested in wolves and werewolf mythology, “Wolf Lake” will engage you in a fascinating depiction of the struggle between the instinctual wolf pack mentality and the individual desires of the human being. It’s entirely possible that I’m reading too much into the show, but I found it ironic that when wolves are known to be intensely loyal to the pack and mate for life, the human-wolves in “Wolf Lake” are preoccupied with various degrees of gaining power using sex, murder and deception, to manipulate their fellow wolves. Adding to the mystery, we never really know exactly, whether or not everyone in the town is a werewolf, including John Kanin, who would actually be learning that fact along with the viewers if it were true.
The worst part is, that we NEVER truly find out the all answers because the show was cancelled after only 9 episodes! As usual, it seems that the major networks don’t give the more obscure “supernatural” shows a chance…if they aren’t in the lead right out of the gate, they get axed, which doesn’t seem fair, considering it usually takes a couple of episodes before a viewer can decide if they are really into a show or not. This show underwent a huge transformation from the original pilot in order to make it more dramatic and interesting to a wider audience. The original pilot was actually scrapped and the focus re-written, a move that was questioned, but then welcomed by the actors and creators behind the show, so you would think that it would have had more of a chance to make it past the initial season “chopping block”.
I believe the show’s lack of popularity was due to a couple of unfortunate factors, neither of which have anything to do with the quality of the show. First, the title, “Wolf Lake” comes off as a bit too general and “soap-opera-ish” which could immediately turn some people off who may have gotten the wrong impression of what the show was about (think “Melrose Place” or “The Hills”). I think if the title was more focused on some aspect of the werewolf persona, like “Cunning Instinct” or simply “Alpha Male” it could have been more easily identified as a supernatural series. Second, maybe it was simply an awesome show that was “before its time”. The public’s current obsession with vampire mythology has begun to spread into the realm of the werewolf. Teens who favor Jacob in the “Twilight” series would have become loyal viewers of “Wolf Lake” because there is an active teen-werewolf-angst subplot that would satisfy their craving for “werewolf romance”. I’ve also noticed that there are several werewolf movies and TV shows currently in the works to satisfy those who have become bored with the surplus of vampire shows that have flooded the entertainment industry. This seems like it would have been the absolute most perfect timing for a show like “Wolf Lake” to become a runaway hit. Unfortunately, werewolves were not a trending entertainment fad 8 years ago when it was released on network television.
With a high caliber of talent in acting and writing, “Wolf Lake” proved itself to critics and also to the viewers that took a chance and tuned in, that it was a captivating series. With outstanding acting especially from the lead, Lou Diamond Phillips, and an engrossing storyline, there was no reason that this series should have failed. I haven’t heard any talk of possibly bringing it back but wouldn’t it be nice for the fans to have at least a TV movie to tie the MANY loose ends together, especially now that the series has been running sporadically on Chiller? While searching the internet I did find a currently active petition to bring the show back at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/4/Bring-Back-WOLFLAKE that has over 500 signatures and still growing. If you haven’t had a chance yet to check out “Wolf Lake” the next marathon showing will be this coming Sunday, Sept 13th on Chiller. Regardless of whether or not anything happens with “Wolf Lake” in the future, make sure you tune in and check in out. It definitely will not disappoint fans of the supernatural genre and the actors and writers of this show deserve a little more widespread awareness of the amazing quality of this show.