Seen on TV

: Though the networks have delayed the start of the fall season until next week, one new show—the spooky CBS series Wolf Lake--had its debut Wednesday. This seeming hybrid of The X-Files and Twin Peaks stars Lou Diamond Phillips as a Seattle detective who comes to the small title town in search of his missing girlfriend. The Cascades community of Wolf Lake, which is subbed (like The X-Files used to be) around Vancouver, has plenty of secrets, most of which revolve around the locals' ability to take on lycanthropic form. The pilot, which was directed by Bryan Spicer and photographed by Barry Donlevy, only gives a hint of the mystery, but such townspeople as the sheriff (Tim Matheson), the missing woman's mother (Sharon Lawrence), and a enigmatic science teacher (Graham Greene) sure know more than they're telling.

I'm a sucker for junk like this, but the initial Wolf Lake didn't deliver much of anything new. There were a few creepy wolf's-eye-view pursuit scenes, but the impact of these was outweighed by a faux-Lynchian barrage of quirks that clashed with much of the story's straightfaced soapiness. Donlevy gave the episode plenty of atmosphere of the familiar fog-and-car-headlight variety, while production designer Mark Freeborn went with the polished-log-cabin interior look that characterized Twin Peaks. The sound design was very effective, however. Wolf Lake will air Wednesdays at 10pm EST on CBS.

Seen Downtown: The New York Theatre Workshop's production of Charles L. Mee's First Love, starring Frederick Neumann and Ruth Maleczech, has its admirers, but I found it to be one of the more excruciating theatre-going experiences in memory. The two Mabou Mines veterans are showcased as feisty old archetypes who meet on a park bench, bond over nostalgia for communism and Lenny Bruce, and quickly move through the classic stages of romance—infatuation, sex, intimacy, conflict, recrimination, uneasy truce. Whether rubbing together naked buttocks or dueting on a cringe-inducing rendition of "September Song," these characters and their determined portrayers are certainly in your face. The set, by Klara Zieglerova, is demure by comparison, but it won't win any beauty contests. A layered framework of cloudy blue skies and Astroturf is bisected by a gnarled red camphor tree, and the sand-covered stage is dressed from a grab bag containing a charcoal grill, sofa, dress rack, piano, and refrigerator (through which a third figure, played by Jennifer Hall, emerges). At least no set piece is left unused. Christopher Akerlind's lighting gives the production, which is directed by Erin B. Mee, whatever mood and subtlety it possesses. First Love plays through September 30 at the New York Theatre Workshop.

John Calhoun

Heard on the Street in Hollywood: The Art Directors Guild has announced that the great Ken Adam, production designer of Dr. Strangelove, Barry Lyndon, The Madness of King George, and seven early James Bond films, will received its next Lifetime Achievement Award. The honor will be presented at the Art Directors Guild Awards, February 23, 2002…Irish writer-director Jim Sheridan is at work on East of Harlem, his first feature film since 1997's The Boxer. The romantic drama starring Samantha Morton and Paddy Considine is filming in Dublin and New York, with Irish-American DP Declan Quinn on camera. The production designer is Mark Geraghty, with costume design by Eimer Ni Mhaolomnaigh.