review: 12 monkeys – the series


[Warning: Contains spoilers for the 1995 movie 12 Monkeys] Last fall, I wrote a post about the Syfy TV series based on the movie 12 Monkeys. After seeing the trailer, I was cautiously optimistic. Well, a couple weeks back, I binge-watched the first few episodes on Syfy On Demand. Six episodes in, I’ve been pretty happy with this show.

Turning a movie into a weekly series is always problematic, especially when the movie ends like 12 Monkeys. I mean, the main antagonist turns out to be a red herring, the protagonist dies, and the biological apocalypse he was trying to prevent happens as scheduled. Not much room to continue the story next week.

Fortunately, the writers have managed to find an interesting way to stretch out the story line by beefing up the mystery that Cole (played by Aaron Stanford in the series, Bruce Willis in the movie) has to solve in order to prevent the plague that will kill most of the world’s population. They’re also playing some with alternate timelines, which is cool. As long as they don’t cross the line into Bill and Ted territory.

One reservation I had about the show involved the casting of my favorite character from the movie. As I wrote previously:

I noticed that Brad Pitt’s character — my favorite in the movie — has been changed into a female. Having a raving paranoid-schizophrenic character portrayed by a gal who looks like a fashion model isn’t promising.

Well pass the hot sauce. The ketchup. Maybe some mustard (the spicy brown stuff, not the yellow). Time to eat my words. Jennifer Goines (Pitt’s character in the movie was named Jeffrey) is easily the most interesting character in 12 Monkeys. Actress Emily Hampshire manages to give Jennifer the right mix of vulnerability and unpredictable menace that I’m still not sure whether she is victim or villain. Or maybe a combination of both.


The rest of the cast is pretty solid too. Aaron Stanford plays the time-traveling Cole. Amanda Schull plays the present-day virologist assisting Cole in his mission to avert the plague. Kirk Acevedo plays Ramse, Cole’s buddy in 2043. He acts as the moral compass of the group, being the only one to ask if they really have any business messing with history. The principal antagonist is played by the great character actor Tom Noonan. Fans of AMC’s Hell on Wheels will remember his as Reverend Nathaniel Cole, the preacher with a dark past.

All in all, 12 Monkeys is an entertaining show. I’m hoping Syfy will give it a chance to find an audience. The cable networks are usually a little better about that than their broadcast counterparts, so I guess there is always hope for a season 2.

12 Monkeys airs at 9 PM on the Syfy network. You can check out the show’s official website here.

Cast members on Twitter:

Aaron Stanford

Amanda Schull

Emily Hampshire

Kirk Acevedo


2 thoughts on “review: 12 monkeys – the series

  1. I’m enjoying the show, but they have to kind of show that it’s going somewhere. Right now I’m unclear if that’s the case or if they are going to keep piling on distraction after distraction.

    And you’re dead right about Emily Hampshire. Easily the best casting of the show. Does a great job of combing hot, crazy, and creepy all in one.


    • Yeah, I’m a little worried that the writers might run out of steam before too long. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they have some nice twists coming down the road that propel the story in new directions. The alternate timeline plot device offers them some interesting possibilities, provided they use it wisely. If it becomes a crutch, they risk stumbling into Bill and Ted territory.


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