MTV's 'Teen Wolf' Writer Jeff Davis Inspired by 'Buffy,' 'Lost Boys' (Q&A)
"We bring a snarkiness to it and a sense of humor –- but we’re also going to scare people."
When MTV added a scripted adaptation of campy 1980s teen feature Teen Wolf to its slate, Criminal Minds writer-creator Jeff Davis wasn’t necessarily the first thought you’d have to adapt the project for the small screen. But, as Davis says, it was going from one monster story to another.
Now, ahead of Sunday’s Teen Wolf premiere, Davis tells The Hollywood Reporter how the wolves will stand out on the series that, he says, had a budget higher than anything MTV had ever spent, and just how edgy the scripted series will be.
The Hollywood Reporter: How different is Teen Wolf from your Criminal Minds experience?
Davis: Criminal Minds was just another monster story -- only with human monsters. I’m happy to be working on a show like this because I love this genre. The inspiration for doing this was The Lost Boys and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It’s a departure from the original movie; but I think people will like it. We bring a snarkiness to it and a sense of humor -- but we’ll also going to scare people.
THR: How did you create the new spin?
Davis: There are certain rules you have to abide by. I was very concerned with not pissing off fans of the original, myself being one of them. I did put in a lot of Easter eggs for fans of the movie throughout the season. There are things people will recognize from the movie. When I first met with MTV I said I wanted to make it like The Lost Boys, which is one of my favorite ’80s movies. That struck a really good balance of gore, romance and comedy and that’s what we’re going for; we used that as a paradigm.
THR: Are you prepared for comparisons to The Vampire Diaries on the CW and HBO’s True Blood?
Davis: Yes, we’re ready for the inevitable comparisons. What the marketing doesn’t show just yet is that there’s a lot of humor to the show. I think you’ll see a lot more humor than you’d expect out of this kind of show.
THR: With Twilight and True Blood, how do you stand out from all the other werewolves in pop culture?
Davis: One way in particular is that we’re using actual prosthetic effects. These kids sit for three hours in a makeup chair to get the prosthetics on. The other shows don’t do that. We always say the other shows have werewolves you can see, we have ones you can pet.
THR: How risqué will the show be considering its 10 p.m. slot?
Davis: We get pretty edgy but I think some other MTV shows pushed the envelope a lot more than we do. We’re really going for engaging entertainment. We’re not really going to push the boundaries of TV; we want to tell a great story and I want to scare people and make them laugh and basically take them out of their lives for an hour at night.
THR: Did the fallout from Skins intimidate you at all when it came to how racy you wanted to be?
Davis: Not at all. I think Skins is an entirely different show that’s much more grounded in giving the audience a reflection at real teenage life. Ours is a much more heightened reality.
THR: Are your ratings expectations for Teen Wolf different than they were for Criminal Minds?
Davis: I think for cable it’s a little different; it’s not quite the terror of being on a broadcast network and seeing the numbers the next day. It’s a little less pressure.
Part 1 of Teen Wolf’s two-hour premiere airs Sunday at 11 p.m. following the MTV Movie Awards. Part 2 airs the following night in its regular slot at 10 p.m. Mondays.
Sundance: On the Scene