Over the past few years, Syfy has become known more for churning out ridiculous low-budget creature features like Sharknado and Giant Whatever Versus Mega Something Or Other, or middle of the road reality shows. While these can be a fun distraction from time to time, the network has gotten away from creating original genre content, though that trend appears to be changing direction again. One project that has been in the works is an adaptation of Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys, and now we have word that Syfy placed a straight to series order.
Written and executive produced by Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett, Syfy ordered a dozen episodes of 12 Monkeys, with an eye on a January 2015 premiere. The series joins the gradually increasing list of new shows that includes the event series Ascension, and Dominion, a series based on the feature angels versus demons movie Legion. With Helix getting renewed for another year, and the second season of Defiance on the way, we can expect more and more new content on the network in the future.
Based on the 1995 classic, 12 Monkeys follows the exploits of a time traveler from a post-apocalyptic future where a deadly plague has forced the human race to live underground. It’s a grim, gritty, dirty vision of the future. The protagonist, played by Aaron Stanford (X2: X-Men United)—Bruce Willis in the movie version—is a prisoner sent back by the rulers of his day to discover and eradicate the source of the disease that will lay waste to the human race.
While I want to be excited about this, it’s hard to get too enthusiastic. 12 Monkeys is one of my favorite movies of all time, and I hate to see people tinkering with it. Willis is great, and this is the first movie that made me sit up and think that there might be more to Brad Pitt than just a pretty face and a ponytail. Still, the series has put together a pretty solid cast that includes Amanda Schull, Noah Bean (Nikita), Željko Ivanek (Revolution), and Fringe vet Kirk Acevedo. Charles Roven and Richard Suckle, who produced the feature film, are both back in a similar capacity for the series. All things considered, I’m definitely intrigued enough to give this a fair shake, but I question whether or not it can carry over through multiple seasons, or live up to, or differentiate itself, from the source material enough to maintain our attention.
The film 12 Monkeys is itself loosely based on the 1962 French short La Jetée> The 28-minute post-nuclear war film is composed entirely of black and white still photos displayed in a rhythmic photo montage.