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Series / Wolf Lake

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"And the Moon! Is it just me, or is it always full around here?"
John Kanin, Wolf Lake

A Short-Runner Supernatural drama produced by John Leekley Productions that aired on CBS from September 19 to October 24, 2001, canceled after five episodes with remaining four episodes airing UPN.

Lou Diamond Phillips stars as Officer John Kanin who is searching for his fiance Ruby Wilder after she is attacked and kidnapped from Seattle. He heads to her hometown of Wolf Lake for help. When he gets there he realizes that there is more going on than he realizes.

The series also starred Tim Matheson as Sheriff Matthew Donner, Graham Greene (Actor) as Sherman Blackstone, Bruce McGill as Willard "Will" Cates, Sharon Lawrence as Vivian Cates, Paul Wesley as Lucas Cates, Mia Kirshner as Ruby Cates, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Sophia Donner.

Tropes for the series include:

  • Age-Appropriate Angst: Brutally so, as puberty for the "Hill Kids" brings their first transformation or "Flip", which holds a 50-50 chance of dying in the process.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Sophia Donner and Ruby Cates.
  • Ambiguously Human: Sherman Blackstone. Willard, Vivian, and Matthew all make mention that Sherman has been fulfilling his functions as Pack Keeper and healer for centuries.
  • Angsty Surviving Twin: Ruby. She had a twin sister named Amanda who died in her first Flip. Ruby is shown visiting Amanda's grave in the Teen Cemetery, on their shared birthday.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Sophia. For all that she loves Matthew, she resents him. To be fair, he is gone half the time, and is still fairly controlling. Also Ruby, while in her twenties, gives Willard and Vivian a lot of crap.
  • Carload of Cool Kids: Sophia takes Luke up on an invitation to ride around in his muscle car. With friends, while they make out and do drugs. One of the car's occupants is fond of yelling out windows.
  • Coming of Age Story: Sophia Donner. Especially anxiety inducing, since her father is in denial and she doesn't know if she will live through her first Flip.
  • Cowboy Cop: John Kanin. Shortly after Ruby goes missing, he storms into Wolf Lake demanding answers. He tramples all over jurisdictional lines, and even gets locked up by Sheriff Donner. Only to be transitioned back to a By-the-Book Cop when he is hired on by the very same sheriff.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Sophia and Lucas. Matthew lectures her on hanging out with Lucas, and even yanks her out of Lucas's car.
  • Deadly Nosebleed: Lucas Cates. Subverted.
  • Death by Irony: Willard Cates. The dude was already dying of cancer. But someone got impatient, and had to go and shoot him.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Tyler Creed, one of the show's main antagonists. During "Excitable Boy", Tyler is accused of raping a local lounge singer. He, in turn, accuses another man of the crime, stating "I'd kill you myself for what you did to her. I wouldn't mind being blamed for that at all."
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: See Hormone-Addled Teenager. The adults are just as bad as the kids, though. Vivian is having an affair. Sherman seduces two waitresses into his private sauna. Tyler sleeps with half the town. Molly the Deputy tries to seduce Kanin. Even two one-off villains have a deviant, if active, sex life. The only one not getting laid appears to be the Sheriff.
  • Femme Fatale: Almost every female in town with the exception of Sophia Donner. Ruby is the initial example. But she shifts between this and Damselin Distress every other episode. Vivian Cates is the most notable in the cast; even managing to combine this with Play-Along Prisoner, Literal Maneater, and Heroic Seductress all rolled into one, during a crisis.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: All of the Hill Kids. Sex is used almost as a default method of socializing; and it appears everyone sleeps with everyone else. Especially Lucas, who is implied not only to have sex on a regular basis with girls his own age, but also older women.
  • Hunting "Accident":Willard Cates. His death was claimed to be this, but no one actually believes that. Not even Kanin.
  • I Am a Monster: Matthew Donner. Played straight while subverted. Matthew is a werewolf. But he swore off shifting when he fell in love with, and married, his human wife Marie. He hopes that his daughter Sophia will take after her mother, not him. He still sides with the humans as sheriff, and is looked down upon for "abandoning his blood".
  • Literal Maneater: One episode features a serial killer nicknamed "The Feeder."
  • Mad Scientist: A Van Helsing wannabe kidnaps the White Wolf, and later John, in a convoluted attempt to force John to shift on-camera for an early live-streamed web event.
  • Magical Native American: Sherman. He is the "Keeper of the Pack". Young Hill Kids are transferred to his science class once they Flip for the first time. There, they learn about their history, and the expectations of living in the Pack. He is almost Machiavellian in his manipulations of John Kanin. (i.e. Sherman makes hallucinogenic soup and slips it to John, in a bizarre attempt at either getting Kanin to leave Wolf Lake, or to ensure he stays.) Sherman admits fully that he alternates at whim between "Crazy Indian Mystic" and a "Just a high school biology teacher".
  • Make-Out Point: The Lake. Teenagers throw raves specifically geared toward sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll.
  • The Masquerade: Though not all humans in town seem to know its secret, some do. One man tells John Kanin that "They don't like dogs. And dogs don't like them." But Sophia's human date seems rather unconcerned that Lucas Cates is looking at him "like some AV geek trying to chat up his woman", showing that he thinks Lucas is just a high school jock, not a werewolf. Every townie John Kanin meets actively tries to deceive him and get him to leave. Neither the humans nor the Hill People will answer any of his questions about Ruby. Also, Sheriff Donner actively though amicably lies to neighboring law enforcement when a crime crosses jurisdictional lines.
  • Monsters Anonymous: Played straight and also for comedy. Matthew Donner runs a 12 Step program for werewolves who want to mainstream as human. Complete with sponsors and confessions. At the end of the meeting, he tells the group to meet him at the bar because he is buying. But it turns out Matt is a really lousy sponsor.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Both played straight and subverted. The 'Hill People' or 'Other' are depicted as being able to transition to the traditional Wolf-Man werewolf. However they can also "Flip" directly into full wolf form. Actual trained wolves were used in filming those shift scenes.
  • Predation Is Natural: The Hill People have a nasty habit of eating people, both Humans and each other. Though the humans are regarded both as prey and with a healthy amount of fear. One of the chief insults used against humans is "Ungulate," which by definition refers to a hoofed prey animal.
  • Puny Humans: Though Hill People mostly coexist with humans, and appear to have done so for centuries, humans are seen as second-class citizens around town.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Willard Cates. He runs the town from his house on the Hill. He claims to "write most of the checks" in town. But he is well respected to the point of the townspeople covering for him when John comes looking for Willard's daughter Ruby. He is also the Pack Alpha, and holds the title of Chairman of the Wolf Lake Brewery. All conflicts in town are run through his office.
  • Small Town Boredom: Sophia. She even applies to a study abroad program in Florence, which Matthew Donner wholeheartedly supports. But there's a problem of not knowing if she will turn out human like her mother, or turn into a werewolf like her father. Also, all the 'Hill Kids' are confined to never leave Wolf Lake. To quote Lucas "If we'd have been meant to explore, we would've been given safer blood."
  • Smitten Teenage Girl: All of the female Hill Kids and Sophia Donner toward Lucas Cates.
  • Spirited Young Lady: Sophia Donner. She's the sheriff's daughter and has a goody-two-shoes streak a mile long. But she plays chess with prisoners, and calls in John Kanin to create havoc when one of her friends is in trouble.
  • Too Many Babies: Every mother in town. To the point where being an Au Pair is a fairly secure career path. Because werewolves have litters. Also, presumably to counteract the high mortality rate in the teenage years.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: The town is almost entirely peopled with werewolves.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Lucas Cates. To the point where John Kanin refers to him as "James Dean Jr."
  • Unreliable Narrator: Greene for Leader of the Pack.
  • Why Won't You Die?: Sheriff Donner gets shot in an assassination attempt. Tyler Creed tells the perpetrator, and rightly so, "You put a bullet in the Sheriff, you stay to finish the job. Or else he goes from Zero to Wrath of Kahn in short order."