Nightmares within dreams within waking nightmares — life is just a howl in the viscerally creepy world of MTV's Teen Wolf. Recently voted "Fan Favorite" by TV Guide Magazine readers (and rewarded a December cover), this unexpectedly enjoyable monster mash is back to finish an extended third season (Monday, 10/9c) with its main characters deep in the thrall of post-traumatic stress, supernatural variety.
There's a nice use of portentous shadows as the tormented Alpha, Scott (Tyler Posey), realizes he's no longer in control of his transformations, while best bud Stiles (scene stealer Dylan O'Brien) finds it next to impossible to discern between reality and dreamscape, with one eye-opening shock reminiscent of a key moment in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. Allison (Crystal Reed), the third wheel in last summer's death-and-resurrection gambit to save their parents from the Big Bad Du Jour, is also plagued by disturbing visions that are affecting her markswoman's aim. Wonderfully spooky yet also disarmingly funny just when you need the comic-relief break, serving up thrills while dishing out plenty of eye candy, Teen Wolf comes closer to recapturing the Buffy vibe of demonic adolescent allegory than anything on the genre-heavy CW.
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SOON TO BE FREE AT LAST: I haven't seen the two-hour finale of CBS's Hostages (9/8c), which brings the first (and certainly only) season to what we hope is a definitive close — in other words: cliffhanger not welcome — but it goes almost without saying that it couldn't have come soon enough. What a dud this serialized would-be thriller turned out to be, repeatedly pulling its punches while ladling on preposterous complications with a comical solemnity that brought out the worst in unsympathetic leads Toni Collette (saddled with a hideously unflattering hairstyle) and Dylan McDermott, whose good/bad guy transitions as quasi-hero Duncan Carlisle might have been more interesting if he didn't deliver everything in a glowering growl. The recent scene where their characters shared a kiss, free of chemistry or passion, felt like a zombie version of Stockholm Syndrome. The actors look like they can't wait for this ordeal to be over, either.
The stakes are meant to feel more momentous as Dr. Ellen (Collette) prepares once again to operate on and potentially assassinate the President — who we've learned is the biological father (from a long-ago rape, unless I heard that part wrong) of Duncan's dying wife, whose only chance for survival hinges on extracting the Commander in Chief's bone marrow. I'm kind of hoping Ellen just goes for it. What does she have to lose? Back home, there's a sullen pregnant daughter, a drug-dealing son, a cheating husband. No wonder she looks so miserable. She's been a hostage her whole married life.
THE MOVIE MAN: "Who wouldn't be knocked out by movies?" marvels lifelong film buff Robert Osborne, who parlayed his devotion to classic Hollywood into an enviable gig as Turner Classic Movies' dapper on-air host since the channel's launch 20 years ago this April. To kick off the anniversary year, Osborne walks us through the trajectory of his charmed life in a special edition of TCM's Private Screenings (8/7c), with former Essentials co-host Alec Baldwin asking the questions. Osborne's eclectic résumé includes a stint on TV as part of a Desilu troupe under the guidance of Lucille Ball, who wisely steered the handsome journeyman toward journalism, where a high-profile career at The Hollywood Reporter led to his becoming a favorite among Hollywood society's glamorous world of legendary but past-prime divas, including providential acquaintances with the likes of Olivia de Havilland and Bette Davis. His life is a fanboy's dream.