Maddy Smith has a pretty normal life in most respects: she’s one of the outsiders at school, and hangs with her friends much of the time. But every so often – say, once a lunar month – she has to lock her parents in the cellar…
As has so often happened recently, CBBC has scored with another fantasy series, this time about a family of wolfbloods (not werewolves, never werewolves!) in the north-east of England. The catalyst for change is the arrival of new boy Rhydian at the local school: Mads immediately senses that he too is a wolfblood, but it becomes clear that he doesn’t have the benefits (and occasional problems) involved with being in a pack.
The series mixes ordinary school events – Who’s trashed the Family Art exhibition? How can a photography club get new members? How can an expensive piece of clothing be replaced before mum finds out? – with the lupine element. Wolf increased senses help sort some problems, but cause others, so as a viewer you’re not quite sure which route any story will take.
The effects owe a great deal to the old Incredible Hulk series – the hint of wolf comes from a glowing of the eyes, the transformation is indicated by shots of body chemistry changing – and it has the same suspension of disbelief problem (everyone gets dressed incredibly quickly after the change!) The CG wolves are okay – you’re not going to get state of the art effects on a CBBC budget, after all – and their reactions with humans in the scenes work well enough to sell the story.
The first couple of episodes have a few moments of dodgy acting, but persevere – by the third part, the cast have settled into their roles, and the characters are becoming fleshed out. There are some interesting links between the various teenagers that you wouldn’t guess from the first episode, and, as ever with the best of The Sarah Jane Adventures and other CBBC shows, real-life situations are mirrored. Nobody pretends that it’s all going to get sorted out: all the characters deal with the realities of life – and a few of them with some of its unrealities.
Wolfblood is available on iPlayer for a month, and airs Monday and Tuesday afternoons; it’s well worth a look.
Verdict: Another CBBC show that deserves a wider audience. 7/10