She-Wolf of London was a short-lived US-made TV show of the early 1990s. MONA HERB BOUGHTON takes a look back at the first episode.
Produced by Universal Television and ITV, of all things, She-Wolf of London was an American TV show released in 1990 which only managed to survive until 1991. It followed an American werewolf in London Randi Wallace (Kate Hodge), and her condescending teacher Prof. Ian Matheson (Neil Dickson).
The first episode of She-Wolf of London revolves around Randi having her life unexpectedly ruined. Our American student didn’t expect her new, English professor to be attractive and spark a romance between the two of them – one which the audience will constantly be surprised hasn’t gotten Ian fired yet.
But more importantly, Randi never expected to be attacked by a werewolf whilst camping on the Scottish moors. A student of mythology, all of Randi’s academic reasoning is mangled when she herself goes through a lycanthropic metamorphosis by the next full moon, and hunts Ian through the university at night.
Now she must try to convince Ian that the supernatural is indeed real, and that one night of the month she’s a bloodthirsty threat. All whilst researching a local group of travellers who were in the area when she was first infected with the curse, in hopes of finding a cure.
She-Wolf of London ‘a tragedy’
Apologies if I’ve made the She-Wolf of London sound more interesting than it was, but that’s the greatest tragedy about it. There are some genuinely interesting ideas to be found in the show. It’s just… poorly executed.
Which is a rather fitting way to describe it since the show was axed after only 2 seasons. It’s a cruel twist of fate when you consider that it could have ridden on the success of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, if only it had come out a few years later and joined the pack of monster-of-the-week shows which haunted the early 2000’s.
After all, our two leads Randi and Ian give serviceable performances which are, at times, charismatic. However, their relationship is generally uncomfortable to watch when you consider the unbalanced power dynamic between teacher and student. This unease is only doubled when Ian acts fatherly towards Randi, especially during romantic scenes.
The shame is that this could have been an interesting dive into how these relationships can be unhealthy, especially since the teacher holds an inordinate amount of power over the student, but instead it’s played as a straight-faced romance. On top of that, the extras do not hold a candle to our protagonists. Hearing their comically English caricatures is like being locked in a room with clown pots – they’re goofy and have hollow personalities.
Of course, that’s not the only theme which wound up being ignored. Randi is an academic, and to see her worldview shatter – all the while trying to convince a stubborn male peer that she’s discovered something new in their field (something which was certainly an issue at the time) – could have made an incredibly engaging thread for the first season. Instead, it’s all resolved by the end of the first episode as our protagonists watch a werewolf burn in a car.
Speaking of which, the show’s budget is dismal. Numerous horror directors have been able to utilise limitations like this to weave even greater stories then they might have had before, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.
Seeing a hairy glove with goofy claws writhe around diminishes any sense of horror. The failed attempts at horror are worsened by the fact that it’s clear that the creators are fans of horror. There are forced references to Stephen King and the Hound of the Baskervilles, and the plot of this episode was very clearly… “inspired” by An American Werewolf in London.
In short, the first episode of She-Wolf of London is a bundle of interesting ideas wrapped in ambitions for horror, comedy, and romance – all of which the show fails to achieve in its endeavour. At the very least it makes this forgotten show memorable, and a fascinating case study for anyone interested in writing.
Have you seen She-Wolf of London? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below!