It’s rare for a show to get to a fourth series still full of the excitement with which is first arrived, and even rarer for that show to be pushing to a whole new level. Yet, even before we reach the new title sequence and theme tune, it’s apparent that’s exactly what CBBC drama Wolfblood has done.
Much of this is down to Leona Vaughan’s character Jana, who first arrived in series 2 and now deservedly takes centre stage. Jana has perhaps developed more than any other character on the show, from the wild wolfblood – out of her depth and suspicious of humans – to a confident wolfblood leader-in-waiting.
The series has left the rural setting of Stoneybridge and now takes place in the city, and Newcastle-Gateshead adds a wonderful atmospheric quality, especially in the night-time scenes. With this shift in setting, the tone has shifted too. It would be a cliche to say that series 4 has gone darker, it’s probably more accurate to say it’s growing up with its audience.
We find Jana, now a confident young woman, working for Segolia, the sometimes shady organisation co-run by humans and wolfbloods. Jana is committed to protecting her kind, but she is also teaching them the ways of the wild, and helping them connect with their suppressed wolf abilities. Also returning this year is our favourite ‘K’, ditzy Katrina, who now runs a cafe in the city, and has formed a new friendship with Jana since we last saw them.
The audience may still pine for Rhydian, Shannon, Tom, and even Maddy, but there is a brand new cast that we are about to get to know very well. Among them are Imara, the new head of Segolia who disapproves of some of Jana’s methods. Her son T.J. who is keen to develop as a wolfblood and becomes Jana’s ‘partner in crime’. Then there is Selina, a martial arts enthusiast, who may prove to be a prickly ally.
In the opening episode ‘Captivity’, Jana and T.J. meet 16 year old Matei Covaci and his younger sister Emilia, wolfbloods of Romanian descent who run wild through the city and risk having their secret discovered. In episode two, ‘A Long Way From Home’, Jana and her friends investigate the mysterious fire that destroyed the Corvaci’s home, and which ultimately puts Jana at odds with Imara.
Verdict: At its heart Wolfblood remains a celebration of being young, but has moved into new territory. With a more mature tone and the potential to explore a much bigger world, it could be the best year of the show yet.