Superheroes Unite... on TV - 12 Monkeys

Ensign Lestat's TV Log, 23/05/15

12 Monkeys

I barely got through this film, and in fact have doubts whether I did make it through to the end. I have no clue what it was about, but the TV adaptation attracted me for one reason only, Pyro. Yes, odd as it may sound, but Aaron Stanford's turn as the devious traitor Pyro in the original 'X-Men' franchise left an indelible mark on me. He was not able to capitalise on what should have been a stepping stone to greatness, but has tried his best on TV.

He's the title character in this adaptation. James Cole is charged with the tremendous task of going back to the past and attempting to stop the spread of a devastating virus. His first task is to contact Dr. Cassandra Railly (Amanda Schull), as she left a message for them in the future and was a part of the reason for the mission. Aiding him in his efforts is Katarina Jones (Barbara Sukowa) and her team of scientists who have built the time machine, as well as his childhood friend Ramse (Kirk Acevedo).

The entire plot is complicated, more so with Cole's constant transitioning from 2042 and 2015, and occasionally some times in between. He and Railly form a close bond, which may be bordering on romance, but they have not been able to explore that angle yet. Their every effort to find the source of the virus is thwarted or a red herring. Most of the time their allies end up dead.

In the future, there's either a threat from a gang led by Deacon (Todd Stashwick), or internal squabbles, usually led either by Ramse or Whitley (Demore Barnes), the general in charge, or virus/time-related scares.

To summarise the first season is an impossibility. No two episodes are the same or follow a similar pattern. There's a constant sense of urgency with Cole running out of time - the time to investigate in between jumps, as well as the time before the virus strikes. There are many parties involved, some bad, some good, but most lie in an uncomfortable grey area. People's motivations are uncovered slowly. There are few people who are absolutely right. With the exception of Dr. Railly, who has a heart of gold and is stoic in her determination to prevent global disaster, most of the other characters make questionable decisions that provoke thought instead of just outright disgust.

This series is compelling if not brilliant. As someone who has (technically) not seen the original film, the twist, turns and tech is all new and fascinating for me. I may have sat down to watch it because of one person, but it's much more than that. There are glaring inconsistencies, including who and why only some people succeed in time-travelling, but others do not. Other issues include the somewhat problematic backstory for Katarina, the rushed exposition of the Other (who turns out not to be the Other), the scientific issues with time-travel - paradoxes, and consequences. Most of the time the events in 2042 just seem bizarre, which can be tedious for some. But it's keeping me interested still, which is precisely its job.

With the titular group of the title making an appearance in the finale, and Cole making a shocking decision, the tide has turned. The next season will start with a lot of characters outside their comfort zones, and outside their time zones as well.

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