Dylan O'Brien, Crystal Reed and Tyler Posey in TEEN WOLF - Season 2 - "Venomous" | ©2012 MTV

Dylan O'Brien, Crystal Reed and Tyler Posey in TEEN WOLF - Season 2 - "Venomous" | ©2012 MTV

One of the most engaging and exciting genre series on television is MTV’s re-envisioning of the classic 1980s comedy TEEN WOLF. Stripping away the silliness and playing it straight, executive producer and showrunner Jeff Davis has crafted one of the best genre TV shows set in high school since BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.

With TEEN WOLF concluding its summer season tonight, we caught up with Davis to talk about the Season 2 finale and teases where our titular teen wolf Scott McCall (Tyler Posey) and his makeshift Scooby Pack will be heading in Season 3.

ASSIGNMENT X: BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER had the issue of its title turning some people off, but later discovering how great it was. I feel the same thing has happened with TEEN WOLF. No matter how much I tell people how great the series is, they get hung up on the title and that it’s on MTV. Do you see people reacting the same way?

JEFF DAVIS: The feedback I get is pretty tremendous. I’m always surprised how into the show people get. They seem to love it. We depend on a lot of word of mouth, because MTV doesn’t quite have the resources as NBC to promote a show. We get a lot of people watching it on different platforms, so it’s frustrating when you see the ratings the next day. Why can’t we crest 2 million viewers, yet so many people really enjoy it. I’m happy people love it and come back dying to see what happens. I get a lot of tweets about it.

AX: I was a bit hesitant about the Kanima coming into the werewolf mythology, but grew to like it. Were you hesitant to introduce another creature into the mix?

DAVIS: The idea I had when I was doing the pilot was as long as we stay within the world of shape shifters, making the natural supernatural, we’re okay. There is a rule that you can’t mix two kinds of a magic in a TV show or movie. You can have vampires, but to have time traveling vampires seems to break the rule.

Stephen Lunsford and the Kanima in TEEN WOLF - Season 2 - "Party Guessed" | ©2012 MTV

Stephen Lunsford and the Kanima in TEEN WOLF - Season 2 - "Party Guessed" | ©2012 MTV

AX: Is a Kanima a real mythological creature?

DAVIS: It’s an actual South American myth. They are supposed to be a were-jaguar. The influence for this creature comes from my own childhood when I went to a drive-in movie and saw CONAN THE BARBARIAN. And one indelible image that was left in my mind was the scene where James Earl Jones starts to transform into a gigantic snake. That look stuck with me and that’s what we went for with Jackson [Coloton Haynes], a snake on the inside and making him a snake on the outside. When I saw the first image of the Lizard from THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, I was shocked. It looked at ours. It doesn’t look like the Lizard from the comic books. I emailed my make-up effects team and said, “take all the green out of the suits.” And I think ours looks better.

AX: The other thing I’m impressed with is how the series stays within a short amount of time and doesn’t waver – it’s like a 10 hour feature film. I think the time jump last week was the first time the series took a huge leap like that.

DAVIS: It’s funny because it makes a little easier on the costume designer. “Yes, they’re wearing the same costume, because it’s the same day.” There are a few time jumps on the show. This was the first really big time jump we got. Although, Season 3 will be time jump of about four months.

AX: What does the time jump mean for the show?

DAVIS: It would the first semester of junior year.

AX: Can you talk about the finale?

DAVIS: Allison and her father are going to have a shocking moment by the end of the episode and they’re going to be different people in the next season if they both survive. It’s going to surprise people. We have one or two surprises left. We have what happens to Jackson at the end of episode 11, which I was thinking of doing at the beginning of Episode 12, but I thought it was a better cliffhanger for Episode 11. It’s very much a culmination of this season’s story. What’s fun to do is it’s 12 episodes and it’s one whole story. We set up a lot for next season, but I like idea that viewers can watch 12 episodes and feel like they can watch this season of 12 episode and feel like they’ve seen a full story and not feel like they’re left hanging.

Jeff Davis at the TEEN WOLF Paley Center for Media Event | ©2012 Sue Schneider

Jeff Davis at the TEEN WOLF Paley Center for Media Event | ©2012 Sue Schneider

AX: That’s the one surprising thing about the show – there’s so much story crammed into those 12 episodes.

DAVIS: Yes, we told quite a bit of story this season, one of the reasons why, we really wanted to go for it. I was very aware of the possibility of the sophomore slump. I feel like a lot of shows in their second season take a break and slow down and take it easy. I was very adamant to firing on all thrusters this season and launch into this big epic story that would grab people. Making Jackson the Big Bad this season essentially was the idea I had on the pilot. I told Colton about it and he wasn’t aware of it until end of the season, which is why he had to come back.

AX: All those little things the characters saw when they were hallucinating in the “Party Guessed” episode I felt like it was more significant than we all realize. Would that be accurate?

DAVIS: Yes, absolutely. They all have little hints for things to come. There’s a story about Jackson’s parents that we haven’t told yet. If we get the chance to tell it, it will be a fascinating story – the real truth behind it. There’s only so much we want to do in one season. We’re trying to set everything up. One certain thing, we haven’t broached the subject of Scott’s father and that’s going to become important in one half of our third season’s 24 episodes. It’s nice where you have a world and nice characters where you could tell a lot of stories. It was nice to see Holland Roden [Lydia] really stretch her acting ability this season and she’s very important in the finale.

AX: With Lydia, she seems to be the only person who doesn’t know what’s going on.

DAVIS: She will definitely know everything by the end of the season.

AX: Why has she been so oblivious regarding this whole other world? What is your take on it?

DAVIS: I think it’s partially because her friends have protected her and wanted to keep the world of the supernatural away from her because of the danger it encapsulates. She’s also been under the spell of Peter Hale [Ian Bohen] from the beginning of this season. It’s a powerful spel – the idea of Peter coming back to life. One of the things I loved the most as a huge sci-fi fan and  one of my all time favorite movies is STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN. When Spock mind melds with McCoy and says “remember” – that is our way with the Alpha bite. When he bites Lydia, he’s leaving the essence and a program of survival for Lydia, a Plan B, so he can come back. Those are fun paradigms to play with in storytelling – and resurrecting characters who we once thought were dead. Something like that has an affect, same way that McCoy kind of what insane in STAR TREK III. Lydia is not mentally there as well. Some of that is answered in the last episode, when Stiles says to Lydia, “how much of this do you really know about.” The answer is “some, the rest feels like a dream.”

Crystal Reed in TEEN WOLF - Season 2 - "Battlefield" | ©2012 MTV

Crystal Reed in TEEN WOLF - Season 2 - "Battlefield" | ©2012 MTV

AX: I knew Stiles has this frustration that he has no powers, but in a way you can’t give him powers. You need to have at least somebody who isn’t a hunter or a werewolf. He has to be himself.

DAVIS: He has to remain human and humans in supernatural stories, can for a time wield supernatural objects and be empowered by them. He needs to be ordinary in a way. He needed to be Perseus, given a sword and shield by the Gods, but he has to rely on his own wits when he faces the monster, in the same way Perseus chased Medusa and used his own wits to show her own reflection and turn her to stone. That is Stiles. You give him mountain ash, he can spread a circle around it, but he has to rely on his own wits as well. I go back to Greek myth quite a bit. I love the whole Hitchcockian idea of an ordinary person becoming extraordinary by being thrown into extraordinary circumstances. That’s Stiles. I believe Stiles always has to remain human in this series.

AX: Now that you have 24 episodes, will you be telling a bigger story over 24 episodes?

DAVIS: The way we’re structuring it is still to do separate stories. I believe, this 12-episode structure works quite well for us. A lot of serialized shows when they stretch it out to 22 or 24 episodes, there’s definitely filler. I’m not a fan of filler episodes myself.

AX: There’s been so many hints of big things coming, what is the tease for Season 3. Is there a Big Bad coming or is the Big Bad for Season Three already in place?

DAVIS: The end of the finale introduces the very new Big Bad for the first part of Season Three, definitely. There are certain questions in Season Two that will be answered in Season Three. I already teased, the reason Jackson comes out of the water in the first episode this season is answered in Season Three. I can’t tell you who the new villains are, and there is more than one, but it will be fun and you’ll definitely find out at the end of Episode 12.

Holland Roden in TEEN WOLF - Season 2 - "Venomous" | ©2012 MTV

Holland Roden in TEEN WOLF - Season 2 - "Venomous" | ©2012 MTV

AX: You’ve been writing so many episodes at the end of the season – showrunners don’t usually write as many as you have this year?

DAVIS: This show specifically is very much my voice, I just decided this year I was going to tackle most of the last episodes myself. Part of it is speed. I write these drafts really fast and I don’t know. I’m a writer. I like to write. I’ll blame being prolific on it, but it’s true. Most showrunners don’t do so many drafts. Maybe that’s because ‘m crazy.

AX: The show is moving to Los Angeles after shooting in Atlanta, what will that mean for the show?

DAVIS: We got a tax credit and moving here is purely based on getting the tax credit.

AX: The look of Atlanta, is different than L.A. Are you changing things?

DAVIS: We’re going to recreate everything the best we can here. We’re not changing the look of the show at all. We’re shipping all our sets back and use establishing shots we already have from first two season. It’s a lot easier to do these days. You can send someone out with a digital camera and you create a set digitally and do a set on green screen and make it look like Atlanta is here. We’ll be making these digital sets whenever possible this season.

AX: When do you start up again?

DAVIS: The plan is start production at the end of November, but we’re already cooking up Season Three storylines. We never stopped.

AX: Anything else you would like to add?

DAVIS: The network gives me so much freedom and they let me go out and tell the stories I want to tell. It would be nice if we had a little more time and a little bit of money but we never have enough money or time in this business. I’m really proud of the show and everyone who works on it is proud of it.

Article: Exclusive Interview with TEEN WOLF showrunner Jeff Davis on Season 3


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Article: Exclusive Interview with TEEN WOLF showrunner Jeff Davis on Season 2 and Season 3

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