“You can’t do a slasher movie as a TV series.” Oh, but you can. MTV is taking the hit slasher movie franchise to the small screen this summer, with a new setting, new characters, a new killer and, maybe most important of all, a new mask.

As the premiere episode of Scream begins, a cyber-bullying situation is unfolding, which slides right into an opening worthy of the opening scenes from the Scream movies. Nina Patterson, played by Bella Thorne, is being taunted by an unknown figure. Before long, the killer is on the loose and claims its victim. But who is this masked person? Since this is a TV series format, we likely won’t find out for quite a while. But it’ll be fun to try and figure out whodunnit.

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That was part of the fun of watching the four Scream films. Who is the real killer(s)? There were plenty of fake-outs where the filmmakers tried to throw us off the scent by having us believe it was certain characters, only to (sometimes) surprise us when the killer was unmasked.

The same happens in the TV show version as well. There’s a mysterious new kid in town. There’s a student who’s obsessed with serial killers. There’s another character acting a little shifty in some scenes — feeling guilty, perhaps? Probably just a red herring.

It’s attributes like these that translate very well to the TV show. To me, they were very well done on the big screen, regardless of if you were able to guess the killer’s identity. So seeing how the TV show manages to apply this technique in just the premiere has me looking forward to what the writers and producers do to sustain it over the course of a season or more.

While Scream the TV series feels familiar to those of us who’ve watched the movies, it doesn’t seem to have a connection to any of the big screen events or characters. We’re introduced to new faces that will be able to make Scream stand on its own.

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Following the opening scene, we meet Emma, who attends a high school in Lakewood. Her fellow students include her boyfriend Will, Audrey, Will, Brooke, Noah and new student Kieran.

Audrey is really into filmmaking; a lot of the time, she can be seen carrying around a camera. She’s friends with Noah, who is obsessed with serial killers, which seems like a really strange thing to be into. A hint of things to come? Or it’s just an obsession and nothing more?

As with any teen series, you have the mean girls, Nina being at the top of the pack. Brooke is also a mean girl-type character. You wonder how Emma became friends with someone like her because Emma is the normal one of the group and doesn’t seem like the type of girl to be involved in that sort of behavior. But has she taken part in something she regrets?

In the movies, there was a backstory that tied in with the plot (Sidney’s mother was murdered). The same is true for the TV show. There was a murder spree 20 years earlier that everyone is reminded of after Nina’s horrendous death, and some students wonder if there’s a connection. What I like about this backstory is that, at first, it seems like just a backstory. But as with many things, there’s more than meets the eye — maybe a connection to one of the main characters or someone he/she knows? You’ll have to watch the premiere to find out.

As mentioned earlier, a movie works through its plot over the course of a couple hours. But Scream the TV show has to extend everything out over several hours. Well after Nina’s murder, viewers will still be reminded of the fact that the killer is on the loose. Where he is, nobody knows. There are at least a couple scenes in the pilot that bring this to light as a regular reminder, as seen in the below trailer:

Speaking of the killer, I have to bring up the mask. The white Ghostface mask in the movies is iconic at this point. So I’m sure it was a big disappointment to many fans when they revealed there would be a different mask for the TV show. Maybe I’ll get used to it as the series goes on, but I’m not sold on the design. I have heard that it looks this way for a reason; it’s somehow connected to the story.

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The mask might be the only main criticism I have for Scream because, that aside, it looks to be a worthy spin-off of the movie franchise. It has a lot of the same components that made the movies so great, including a killer (pardon the pun) opening murder scene, distinct main characters (aside from a couple that I hope will stand out more as season 1 plays out), red herrings (though we won’t know for sure until the killer is revealed) and even quite a few meta moments — including the quote that opened this review, and another instance when a character says you have to care for all these people so that when they’re murdered, it hurts.

Will you be tuning in to Scream? If so, have you seen the movies? Or are you coming into it fresh?

Scream premieres Tuesday, June 30 at 10pm on MTV.

(Image and video courtesy of MTV)

Jeff Dodge

Staff Writer, BuddyTV

Jeff Dodge, a graduate of Western Washington University, has been a TV news editor for many years and has had the chance to interview multiple reality show stars, including Randy Jackson, Nick Cannon, Heidi Klum, Mel B and John Cena.