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The Wayback Machine: Werewolf (1987)

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Posted by: Byron Brewer, Contributing Editor
created 03/09/2014 - 5:41pm, updated 03/09/2014 - 6:03pm

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When it first premiered, FOX had some of the coolest new shows on TV. One of them was Werewolf, which starred John J. York, later of General Hospital fame, and The Rifleman himself, Chuck Connors, sadly in his last television role.

So many great moments from that show. It was fitting that Connors was on sporadically because the show’s protagonist, Eric Cord, reminded me of teen Mark McCain on Rifleman: a boy scout/goody two-shoes who was for some reason always getting tied up. Hmm …

Let’s find out more as I dial up the ol’ Wayback to 1987!

Werewolf follows the adventures of Eric, a college student transformed into a werewolf who undergoes a quest to rid himself of his curse by killing the apparent originator of his “bloodline,” a drifter named Janos Skorzeny (Connors). While pursuing Skorzeny, Cord himself is pursued by the persistent bounty hunter “Alamo” Joe Rogan (Lance LeGault). However, Cord then begins to hunt down Nicholas Remy (Brian Thompson), the real originator of the bloodline.

The show aired a two-hour pilot and 28 half-hour episodes before being cancelled in 1988. (Boo!)

Eric’s so-called life came to an end on the night that his roommate Ted hands him a gun loaded with silver bullets. Ted is a werewolf who has been killing people, and tells Eric to kill him, seeing this as his only way out. A red pentagram on Ted's right palm is the sign that the change is coming.

Confronted with Eric's disbelief, Ted decides to prove his situation, and asks Eric to tie him up in a chair (and thus it starts!) and wait until midnight, at which time he'd either see for himself or call in professional help. When midnight comes, Ted transforms into a werewolf, forcing his friend to shoot and kill him—but not before he manages to bite Eric.

Before long, Eric discovers a pentagram on his own palm, and soon after undergoes his own transformation into a seven-foot-tall werewolf. Now on the run for his friend's murder, Eric spends the remainder of the series on a quest to find and kill the originator of his bloodline, the mysterious Janos Skorzeny, which will break the curse.

The series was similar in tone and formula to shows like The Fugitive and The Incredible Hulk, but achieved a contemporary feel by mixing a decidedly rock soundtrack with suspense-themed music. Eric wandered from place to place, hitchhiking, taking odd jobs and befriending various characters whose paths he crossed along the way, before invariably being transformed by his werewolf curse just in time to save his new friends from the clutches of some evildoer.

Though Eric appeared to have no control over his actions while in werewolf form and typically retained no memory of them afterward, he seemed to prey almost exclusively on villainous characters, never attacking or killing an innocent person. There were hints as the series progressed, however, that this self-control was slowly eroding, as indeed Ted had warned him it would, threatening to destroy Eric's conscience/will if he could not end the curse soon.

Near the end of the series' run, it was revealed that the originator of Eric Cord's bloodline was not, in fact, the evil Janos Skorzeny but rather an even more powerful and malevolent werewolf named Nicholas Remy. The series ended before Eric could be rid of his curse.

The special effects techniques used in production were considered first-rate and impressive for the time, specifically the transformation sequences, in which, for example, the pentagram-shaped scar on Eric's right hand would rise, thicken and grow three-dimensionally, and begin to bleed.

It was a good run and a cool show, certainly the coolest thing on FOX aside from the Simpsons bumpers on Tracey Ullman!

 
 

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