A few weeks back we got to check out Ascension, the first volley in Syfy’s renewed focus on making ambitious science fiction television. That miniseries was something of a mixed bag, but this week Syfy has another new series up at bat, one we are still skeptical about: 12 Monkeys, based on Terry Gilliam’s cult classic time travel flick. The show launches this Friday night, but you don’t have to wait to get your first look at it. You can watch the first nine minutes of the pilot below.
Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys — which was itself based on the French short film La Jetee — is one of my favorite time travel stories of all time, a bleak and eccentric narrative that swallows its own tail during a haunting climax. While the general setup is the same, Syfy’s 12 Monkeys will take the story and characters in very different directions. In Syfy’s version, time-traveler James Cole (Aaron Stanford) is sent back not just to learn about the plague that has ravaged his future time period, but to prevent that future from happening, if possible. Madeline Stowe’s psychiatrist from the movie has become virologist Dr. Cassandra Railly (Amanda Schill) in the series, and with that change of career comes a more direct involvement in trying to ensure mankind actually has a future to look forward to. And what about Goines, played in the original film by Brad Pitt at his batshit-bonkers best? Syfy’s 12 Monkeys will be pulling a Starbuck and turning Goines into a woman — and a math genius, no less.
There are still a thousand ways 12 Monkeys could go horribly wrong, but we’re a lot more optimistic now than we were when Syfy first announced the project. Here’s hoping the show’s future isn’t as grim as the one Cole is trying to prevent. 12 Monkeys premieres this Friday night at 9/8c on Syfy. It will be followed by the season premiere of Helix, a show we’re a lot less enthusiastic about. Check out the rest of this week’s TV picks below.
Face Off (Syfy, 9/8c) — “Return of the Champions”
Season 8 begins with three returning champions joining the competition as coaches. Also: Oscar winner Rick Baker introduces the artists to their first Spotlight Challenge.
Marvel’s Agent Carter (ABC, 9/8c) — “Time and Tide”
Jarvis is arrested. Meanwhile, a secret is revealed.
Person of Interest (CBS, 10/9c) — “Control-Alt-Delete”
Control, who oversees the handling of relevant numbers for the government, begins to question the methods and intentions of the Samaritan program. Meanwhile, alarming news reports of a pair of vigilantes rampaging through the Northeast begin to surface.
American Horror Story (FX, 10/9c) — “Show Stoppers”
Maggie tries to prove her loyalty to Jimmy. Meanwhile, the Twins receive troubling information about Chester.
Nova (PBS, 9/8c) — “Big Bang Machine”
CERN scientists prepare to restart the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. The plan is to run it at a higher energy than before, when it detected a subatomic particle that may be the elusive Higgs boson.
Constantine (NBC, 8/7c) — “The Saint of Last Resorts, Part 2”
Conclusion. John risks his life when, in order to fend off a vicious attack, he summons a demon into himself; at the same time, Chas, Zed and Anne Marie race against time to save their friend.
Grimm (NBC, 9/8c) — “Wesenrein”
The Wesenrein act on their many threats against Monroe and Rosalee’s marriage; at the same time, Nick and Hank bring Wu to a place where he’s sure to find the answers he’s seeking; and Juliette attempts to come to grips with her new reality.
Helix (Syfy, 10/9c) — “San Jose”
In the second-season premiere, those who survived the horrors of Arctic Biosystems attempt to move on with their lives. However, they find themselves unable to escape the long reach of Ilaria Corporation as they battle a new deadly virus on a mysterious wooded island inhabited by a cult that has no ties with the outside world.
MythBusters (Discovery, 9/8c) — “The Busters of the Lost Myths”
The ‘Busters are once again putting Hollywood to the test, and this time it’s the Indiana Jones movies in their crosshairs. Maybe they’ll nuke a fridge?
The Librarians (TNT, 8/7c) — “And the City of Light / And the Loom of Fate”
‘And the City of Light’ – A missing-person case leads to what could be an alien invasion in a small town.
‘And the Loom of Fate’ – Dulaque changes the course of fate, putting Baird through alternate time lines that show the Librarians’ transforming destinies and her own doom. The Season 1 finale.
Resurrection (ABC, 9:01/8:01c) — “Steal Away”
A series of inexplicable events leads Bellamy to believe that Rachael and her unborn child are in danger; at the same time, Preacher James is predicting that the baby’s birth will unleash an ancient evil; and Margaret rallies the Returned at the government facility.