It is rare that a film is translated into a successful television show. There are a few examples like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but they are few and far between. In 1995 a sci-fi film called 12 Monkeys was released starring Brad Pitt. Twenty years later a television series began and though it is different from the Terry Gilliam directed film there are plenty of similarities.
The basic premise is the same with a time traveler returning to present day in order to attempt to stop a plague that pretty much wipes out the entirety of the human population. James Cole (played by Aaron Stanford) is one of the few survivors and has traveled back to the year 2013 to try and stop the impending disaster. The way he is going to go about doing that is to kill the man he and the survivors believe is responsible for the super virus.
That man is Leland Frost and it will be up to James to find out his location and identity. To do so he has to gain the trust of Cassandra Railly (played by Amanda Schull). Cassandra is a talented virologist and would have whatever information needed. Due to him disappearing before her eyes Cassandra begins to believe James’ story and they work together.
Even though they work together the two begin to realize that killing Frost will not be the answer. Will not be that simple. Looking for a solution leads Cassandra and James to the Army of the 12 Monkeys and a psych patient named Jennifer Goines (played by Emily Hampshire), who might end up being a key component to the solution.
After a strong first few episodes 12 Monkeys does falter a little towards the end. What it does well (as you would expect) is expand upon the ideas forwarded in the film though things do get a little muddled at times. Besides the requisite sci-fi component it also delves into some interesting philosophical dilemmas. Sometimes though this high concept core does melt down with too many subplots and characters.
Though it is not quite as satisfying as the Gilliam film the thirteen episodes of the first season of 12 Monkeys is good with plenty of sci-fi and brain power involved.
-Emily Hampshire – Markridge Improv Speech