January 14, 2014

THE SKED Series Premiere Review: “Bitten”


BITTEN:  Monday 10PM on Syfy

Syfy’s Canadian werewolf import BITTEN is noticeably low-rent.  Even its transformation sequences use as little CG as possible:  a morphing hand, a back becoming increasingly hairy, and voila, there’s the fake wolf.

Although the show has a bit more sex then the Syfy norm, it gives off a very YA scent; it’s based on a series of novels called “Women Of the Otherworld” by Kelley Armstrong.  Our leading werewolf is Elena (Laura Vandervoort, the alien princess on the rebooted V), who when we meet her is a rising Toronto photographer with a nice-guy marketing CEO boyfriend, but who just a year before was frolicking with her pack on an estate described as being “100 miles from Syracuse.”  (These wolves don’t seem to be governed by the full moon, and Elena is trying without much success to restrain her baser impulses in Toronto, supplicating her animal metabolism with sandwiches that would make Dagwood Bumstead envious.)  We don’t yet know what dark secret made her leave, but before long, packmaster Jeremy (Greg Byrk) is summoning her back to home base, where there’s been a murder committed by an unknown, pardon the expression, lone wolf.  (Apart from being the only female werewolf in sight, Elena is the best tracker in the pack.)  Waiting for her among the rest of the group is Clayton (Greyston Holt), her hunky ex who, when he’s on 2 legs, teaches classes on “the beast within us” to co-eds.

Nothing in the premiere episode, written by series creator Daegan Fryklind and directed by Brad Turner, bodes very well for the series.  Vandervoort is gorgeous, but a stiff actress, and her beauty doesn’t suggest wolfiness; her totem animal would be more of a pampered feline, and it’s hard to imagine her running through the forest without worrying whether she was spoiling the polish on her paws.  The men of her pack, apart from a humorously tolerant black psychologist BFF (it was remarkable that he didn’t turn out to be gay) appear to be interchangeable male models.  The dialogue was perfunctory, the pace dawdled (it took the entire hour for Elena to finally obey Jeremy’s demands and head back home) and while director Turner tried to liven things up a couple of times by intercutting action sequences, it was to little effect.

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with a low-budget supernatural serial; it may very well be true that Orphan Black doesn’t spend more per episode than Bitten‘s budget.  Without production values, though, a show needs some real intelligence and imagination, and there’s not much evident in Bitten, which like Syfy’s new Helix seems to be modeled after the kind of B-(to be kind) movies the network has turned into a successful franchise on Saturday nights.  At their best, though, pictures like Sharknado provide campy fun, and Bitten is too dull and flat for that.

Helix didn’t have much of a start in Friday’s ratings, and Bitten did even worse last night, premiering with a dismal 0.3 rating in 18-49s.  Syfy has commited to a 13-episode order, but it’s hard to imagine the network being infected by any more beyond that.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."