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2.46- random rants Fall 2002

I have been a fan of WOLF LAKE since the show came on for it's short run, but it is interesting how the show really changed before it aired. You will find here the plot and my analysis of the first WOLF LAKE pilot that most have never seen and this pilot has not been aired on TV! Now I have your attention. let's take the journey into the world of what WOLF LAKE could have been if the story and entire plot wasn't totally changed for a second pilot which was the basis of a short-lived series with only nine episodes made. This is the WOLF LAKE that could have been!!!

The first WOLF LAKE pilot starred Lou Diamond Phillips as Noah Cassidy, Stacy Edwards as a lawyer, Jeff Fahey as her firefighter husband, Bruce McGill as Doc, Tim Matheson as Sheriff Donner, and Graham Greene as Duke. Pilot directed by Rupert Wainwright.
The pilot opens with narration by Grahme Greene about the various wolf clans (aka skinwalkers) and those clans are about to come to war. Next we see two hunter with rifles. They're sighting in on two wolves. They shoot and one wolf is killed, but when they go to check out the body to only find the body of a dead teenage girl with blond hair. They argue what to do with her body. one hunter wants to report it while the other doesn't because he doesn't want to lose his ranch and everything he has built. One is scared off by a growling wolf and the other follows. The wolf comes out and it transforms into Luke. The scene changes to Sheriff Donner driving through Wolf Lake. He stops when he sees his daughter Sophia. he talks to her and wonders why she is out so late and tells her he will be home late. Next, we are introduced to a woman lawyer and her daughter. She leaves her little daughter alone for a minute. Her daughter is attracted outside by a visiting wolf. The mother races outside and tells the wolf that she will never have her daughter. Jeff Fahey comes out with a rifle to shoot the wolf, but the woman stops him and the wolf gets away. Donner is called to the house and the incident is reported to him about the wolf. We find out that the woman is the sister of Donner's wife (Anna) whom has been missing for years. Lastly, the reluctant hunter comes back and puts a blanket on the dead girl. He is attacked by a wolf.
It is the next morning and finally we are introduced to Noah Cassidy (Lou Diamond Phillips) who is hiking out of the woods. he goes to a diner. He tells people there that he is working for the Bureau of Land Management and he has been studying the wolves. No one is friendly to him as they are worried about the wolves attacking livestock and people which Noah replies that livestock loses will be compensated for and there has been no reports of a person ever being killed by a wolf. Noah is rescue by the arrival of Duke. Duke offers to give Noah a lift into town. He is the person Luke has been exchanging emails with. In the town of Wolf Lake, Noah introduces himself to Donner. Donner says he will shoot any wolf that comes into the town of Wolf Lake. Noah said he would have to arrest Donner if he did that, but further conversation is stopped when Doc comes in. doc is trying to find his daughter (Dabi). A search party is mounted and they find the body of the dead girl by the lake. The dead girl is Dabi. Cassidy notices the wolf footprint which is a human footprint in the next step on the short of the lake.

So far the pilot for WOLF LAKE is very different from the plot of the pilot that aired. You have Bruce McGill as a different character. In the second pilot, he becomes Willard Cates and Luke is his son (where he isn't in the first pilot). Lou Diamond Phillips is changed into the character of Detective John Kanin. Duke becomes Sherman Blackstone. Basically the show that aired is totally different from the show that was originally devised and shot as a pilot before a new pilot was written and shot. The show's creator John Leekly departs over creative differences. Several actors are dropped before the second pilot is shot like Stacy Edwards and Jeff Fahey. Donner's wife is dead in the series! You get three new characters added (Ruby cates, Vivian Cates, and Tyler Creed). The show shifts away from a concept where the wolves are hiding and readying for a war ina town where human hates wolves to a show about a town is full of shape shifters. Donner's hatred of wolves goes away and it is replaced by his promise he made to his dead wife that he won't let Sophia be a skinwalker. The original pilot may have had some problems, but the storylines could have lead to a far more interesting show than what came out on the TV. I love WOLF LAKE and the episodes that aired, but one is made to wonder what could have been if CBS didn't have the show changed. Of course, the original pilot suffers from the plot of the fireman and his shape shifting lawyer wife who wants a normal life for her little girl. I don't even remember their names or remember hearing what their names were!
We continue our journey into the plot of the unaired pilot. After discovering Dabi's body, Donner finds Luke at the diner and asks him to come along for questioning. Luke bumps into Sophia, and she discovers Luke is bleeding from a wound. Before Donner can question Luke too much, the fireman's wife shows as Luke's lawyer (paid for by Doc). Next the same woman visits Duke and tells him what happened last night with the wolf (and how afraid she is for her daughter). Noah then pops up, and he takes Duke along with him to track wolves at the Lake. Noah shows Duke by GPS mapping that two wolf packs are converging.

The next scene is the funeral of Dabi. Doc tells Luke not to trust the woman who was his lawyer because the other wolf clans might start killing humans again. Doc has been protecting Luke until he is old enough. Meanwhile, Duke and Noah are wandering the forest. Duke tells Noah the legend of the skin walkers visiting Wolf Lake many centuries ago and how a shaman went into the forest to talk to the skin walkers (and seek a balance between the two). Duke says he is now the one who must maintain the balance now. They come upon the hunter (who was attacked by the wolf). he appears to be dead. When Noah isn't looking, Duke gives the hunter something that brings the hunter back to life. They put him in the back of the truck. The hunter's eyes open and they are the eyes of a skinwalker.

It is night. Sophia wanders from home and Donner goes looking for her. Sophia is talking to a wolf out near the forest. Donner finds his daughter and takes her home. She saids she doesn't need to wear glasses anymore. The next day, Sophia talks to Luke at the cafe, and Luke offers her a choice: live a safe life at home or become free like the skin walkers. Night arrives again and Donner answers the door. It is his wife, Anna. Anna has come home! During the same night, Noah complains to the desk clerk (of the Wolf Lake lodge) that his phone doesn't work and his message he receives isn't sealed. The desk clerk offers to dial the number he needs to call, but Noah refuses and goes out to the pay phone outside. He makes the call and says it is Agent Cassidy wanting to be put through with the Director. Noah tells the Director that the clans are using the real wolves for cover and they are gathering, but Noah is surrounded by wolves before he can report further. He flees and is chased by the wolves. A wolf brings him down and bites his arm. Noah breaks away from the wolf and manages to make it to the safety of his cabin.

The unaired pilot leaves many unanswered questions if the series was allowed to continue from this pilot. Why are the clans going to war soon? How does Noah know of the clans and what does he plan to do about it? Will he become a skin walker since he was bitten? Will Sophia go full skin walker and will her mom try to push her in that direction? The pilot has a very interesting ending that sets up the viewer who wants to know what happens next! I like the second pilot, but the first pilot has a lot more potential for storylines!!! Even the town of Wolf Lake looks more like small town in the Northwest than the town of Wolf Lake seen in the series. How do I know? I live in the Northwest and have seen enough towns to know what small towns look like in the Northwest. I just wonder if the original pilot would have made a better series. Would WOLF LAKE in either form been better on a network like UPN or The WB? Probably. Either direction from either pilot would have meant that the series would have probably lasted at least 13 episodes. It is a shame WOLF LAKE was tinkered with and it got a bad time slot, and the wrong network. It goes to show networks don't know what they have, screw with it, and the series doesn't last long even if it has a loyal small cult following. Hopefully, WOLF LAKE will be released on video and DVD with the unaired pilot and the nine aired episodes. I think it would be great if UPN took a chance and aired the unaired pilot this summer. Now that would be amazing, but UPN will probably not do it. Now I wish WOLF LAKE had some decent fan sites, but you can't have everything. Some shows just don't last like WOLF LAKE. The wolves are probably howling at the demise of this great series.

this article/review is (c)2002 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. This article is online again as of 7-2-2007.