First Impressions

12 Monkeys

Aired on: Syfy

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                I wasn’t sure if I should watch the latest SyFy Channel television series based on the hit science fiction film starring Bruce Willis, Madeline Stowe and Brad Pitt.  After all, 12 Monkeys is a cult favorite and, while I could see some positives in stretching out Cole’s journey over a number of episodes, I wondered if the length of time between each episode would take away the urgency of Cole’s mission as seen in the film.  There was only one way to find out – I would have to watch the premiere episode of 12 Monkeys at 9pm EST on January 16, 2015.

                The premiere episode begins in 2043.  The world and civilization as we know it has collapsed thanks to a plague that kills seven billion people.  A team of scientists lead by a stern woman named Jones (Barbara Sukowa) has found a device that can allow them to send someone back in time.  They see this as a way to change things – stopping the release of the plague will change the world and possibly restore civilization as we once knew it. 

They choose James Cole (Aaron Stanford) as their agent of change, sending him back in time and tasking him with killing Leland Goines (Zeljko Ivanek), the man they believe released the plague in the first place.  In an effort to find Goines, Cole kidnaps renowned virologist Dr. Cassandra Reilly (Amanda Schull).  His first attempt gets Cole into trouble, but a second attempt two years later brings him back in contact with Reilly and eventually Goines. 

Unfortunately, Cole soon discovers that Leland Goines isn’t the person he should be looking for.  He now finds himself in search of an elusive underground resistance group known as the 12 Monkeys, a team led by Jennifer Goines (Emily Hampshire) the mentally unstable daughter of Leland Goines.  But are the 12 Monkeys the real culprits…or is it someone else entirely?

The first episode is basically what I expected – very close to the original film…until you reach the end of the episode.  The very last segment of the pilot throws viewers who have already seen the movie for a loop.  I don’t want to give much away, but Cole has already discovered that the scientists who sent him back have gotten things wrong. 

Fans of the film will also remember that Goines didn’t have a daughter, but a son in the movie version of 12 Monkeys.  This time around, it’s a woman. Wonder what they are going to do with this.  Is Cole going to try to get close to her romantically?  Will he create a connection with her that will get her to reveal where the virus was created and kept?  In the movie, we eventually learn it isn’t the 12 Monkeys who we have to worry about, but this television show my present a whole different theory. 

Only one way to find out – watch the next episode of the series.  Yup, I said watch the next show.  I was intrigued by this series and found the acting and writing to be credible…just as good as the film version.  I find myself wondering where things are going to go and how long the writers can drag things out.  The series interests me and for that reason, I won’t count it out just yet.


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