12 Mon­keys

Plague For To­day

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Dvd & blu- ray -

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

2015 | 15 | Blu- ray/ DVD Cre­ators: Terry Mata­las, Travis Fick­ett Cast: Aaron Stan­ford, Amanda Schull, Kirk Acevedo, Bar­bara Sukowa, Emily Hamp­shire

Re­mak­ing 12

Mon­keys for TV seemed like a point­less ex­er­cise. The 20- year- old time travel film is fondly re­mem­bered, sure, but it was also so rigidly self- con­tained – with a be­gin­ning, mid­dle and end ( not nec­es­sar­ily in that or­der) – that no one has ever se­ri­ously mooted a se­quel. Plus, there was lit­tle in the way of back­ground mythol­ogy to ex­pand upon. So why bother? Any tele­vi­sion ver­sion was doomed to fail­ure, clearly.

Well, no, as it turns out. Any wor­ries that, robbed of direc­tor Terry Gil­liam’s es­o­teric vis­ual flair, Syfy’s take on 12 Mon­keys would be just The Sarah Con­nor Chron­i­cles with­out the Ter­mi­na­tors or Con­tin­uum with­out the gad­gets are swiftly swept aside, as the se­ries aims in­stead for a hard SF ver­sion of Steven Mof­fat- style timey- wimi­ness.

The pi­lot episode tack­les the broad strokes from the movie: as part of a ram­shackle project known as Splin­ter, James Cole trav­els from a post- apoc­a­lyp­tic 2043 to var­i­ous points in the early 20th cen­tury in an at­tempt to pre­vent the re­lease of a deadly virus un­leashed by an or­gan­i­sa­tion called “the Army of the Twelve Mon­keys”.

Af­ter that, the show ploughs its own fur­row, cre­at­ing a com­plex new mythol­ogy. We learn more about the dev­as­tated fu­ture world, the for­ma­tion of the Army of the Twelve Mon­keys and the virus. There are whole new sub­plots and vil­lains and time- lines. Through it all there’s a will­ing­ness to give time travel and its para­doxes a re­ally good work­out un­til, with episode 11, the show de­liv­ers a game- changer that leaves you reel­ing.

There are prob­lems. Aaron Stan­ford, a fine char­ac­ter ac­tor, is oddly bland as Cole, play­ing the char­ac­ter in a con­stant state of high ten­sion that robs him of charisma. The tone and pac­ing is a lit­tle one- note – un­re­lent­ingly dour and fre­netic; a few lighter mo­ments might help make the char­ac­ters a lit­tle more en­dear­ing. A few of the ear­lier episodes sag as the ex­tended mythol­ogy is set up.

And yeah, there are plot holes. But this is time travel. Spot­ting the logic gaps is all part of the fun.

Three au­di­tion tapes ( 11 min­utes); 14 we­bisodes ( 13 min­utes); a cou­ple of deleted scenes ( four min­utes); a gag reel ( three min­utes). Dave Golder In episode two, Jen­nifer Goines ( Emily Hamp­shire) wears the same jumper that Jef­frey Goines ( Brad Pitt) wore in the film.

Barry wasn’t sure about Pre­mier Inn’s new bed.

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