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Weekend TV: Reviewing Teen Wolf, Longmire; Plus Thrones Finale

Nothing gets the blood boiling and the early summer temperature rising quicker than a fix of werewolf and vampire lust.

Matt Roush
Matt Roush

Nothing gets the blood boiling and the early summer temperature rising quicker than a fix of werewolf and vampire lust. HBO has owned this macabre erotic territory the last few summers with True Blood, which returns next Sunday for a fifth season of delirious debauchery and supernatural intrigue. But MTV is literally clawing its way into the cult marketplace with a second season of the hormonally charged Teen Wolf, a show that isn't nearly as laughable as it sounds. (The new season starts Sunday at 11/10c following the MTV Movie Awards, with a second episode airing in its regular Monday time period at 10/9c; the season opener will be repeated Monday at 9/8c.)
If True Blood has TV's bawdiest bite, Teen Wolf brings new meaning to "heavy petting" as its tormented young werewolf hero Scott (Tyler Posey) continues to pursue his secret liaison with the beautiful Allison (Crystal Reed), despite the arrival on the scene of her gramps (Battlestar Galactica's Michael Hogan), the most sadistically determined wolf hunter yet.
The show addresses adolescent urges and control issues in horror-show trappings with a slick blend of suspense, romance and humor — "What do you think she's going to do with realclaws?" a jock gossips about a former girlfriend who's been attacked. It may lack the emotional depth of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but like that modern classic, Teen Wolf isn't joking about friendship and loyalty in the gnarly face of terror.
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Think Jesse Stone in a cowboy hat (instead of a ball cap), and you've got a pretty good handle on A&E's Longmire (Sunday, 10/9c). Like Jesse, the character of laconic Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire was introduced in a series of novels (by Craig Johnson). Like Jesse, Walt is not an early adapter to cell phones — much to the chagrin of anyone who needs him in a crisis. Like Jesse, Walt is gravely stoic. "Thinkin'. I do that sometimes before I talk," he tells his excitable Philly sidekick (Katee Sackhoff). Like Jesse, Walt is something of a loner, and also lonely, having lost his wife a year ago. As the series begins, he's only just getting back to work, where an upstart deputy (Bailey Chase) has decided now's the time to run against him for election. Walt is played with grave, gruff dignity by Aussie actor Robert Taylor, whose melancholy sensitivity is such that he's not afraid to let a tear drop on his boot when notifying the kin of the latest victim.
There's nothing terribly groundbreaking about Longmire as he and his team wrangle with the local, resentful Native-American community in the course of solving mildly puzzling but often violent crimes. But it is satisfying in its own low-key way, a solid companion piece to the laid-back charms of The Glades, which kicks off its third season Sunday at 9/8c. And having Walt Longmire around may ease the blow for those upset by CBS' recent decision to pull the plug on any future Jesse Stone movies. (I can't help wonder, though, if the networks aren't having second thoughts about their abandonment of the movie/miniseries format after this week's blockbuster performance of History's Hatfields & McCoys — which repeats in its entirety Saturday, starting at 6/5c.)
MARATHONS: With the season finale of HBO's Game of Thrones airing Sunday (9/8c) — already? — HBO is offering subscribers a chance to catch up, or relive the sprawling events of the second season, with a marathon of all nine episodes, on the HBO Zone channel, starting Saturday at 6/5c and airing continuously for three entire cycles until it's time for the finale to air on the main channel. (Both seasons up to the finale are also available On Demand.)
As part of MTV's mega-promotion for the always-irreverent MTV Movie Awards (Sunday, 9/8c), hosted by Russell Brand, a marathon of last summer's terrific teen comedy Awkward will air Saturday, starting at noon/11c. On Sunday, a Punk'd marathon of this season's episodes will begin Sunday at 3/2c, culminating in an all-new episode (8/7c) featuring the show's original host, Ashton Kutcher.
THE GUIDE: Some more highlights of an incredibly jam-packed Sunday: I'm not sure how AMC's Mad Men (10/9c) can top last week's controversial episode involving Joan and Peggy, but one of the storylines features another favorite female character, the restless Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka), who apparently decides to have a night out, which it's hard to imagine ending well. ... As a centerpiece of BBC America's extensive coverage of Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee this week, historian/writer Andrew Marr presents a three-hour documentary special, The Diamond Queen (8/7c), surveying the monarch's60-year reign and chronicling her daily duties. ... NBC devotes an hour to a Grammy-winning queen of music in Adele Live in London (8/7c), featuring a Matt Lauer interview with the singer and six performances from her acclaimed "Adele Live at the Royal Albert Hall" airing for the first time on network TV. ... American TV royalty Oprah Winfrey visits Neil Patrick Harris, his partner David Burtka and their 18-month-old twins at their L.A. home for an intimate interview on Oprah's Next Chapter (9/8c). ... Reality-tabloid princess Kim Kardashian appears on the fourth-season opener of Lifetime's otherwise charming Drop Dead Diva (9/8c) as a relationship guru. No comment. ... ABC aims for the heartstrings and tear ducts with new seasons of two feel-good reality shows: Secret Millionaire (8/7c) — think "Undercover Philanthropist" — and a two-hour edition of Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, in which a nearly 400-pound man goes through a year-long transformation to lose weight before his wedding. ... Ironically, this is the same night that Destination America premieres a series titled Fast Food Mania (10/9c), with Jon Hein driving through and going behind the scenes of America's most enduring eat-as-you-go chains.
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