It’s important to understand from the beginning that “12 Monkeys” the TV show is not “12 Monkeys” the movie. The timing of the apocalyptic events that the two films share has obviously been updated (the virus that destroyed humanity in the film began in the late ’90s), and there are more characters to flesh out the story.
But the time travel itself might be the biggest change from the movie to the show. For one thing, this new “12 Monkeys” is based as much on a spec script, “Splinter,” by creators Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett as it is on the film. This introduces a new mechanism for the time-bending action. Speaking of the show’s dark hero, executive producer Richard Suckle says, “Cole is a part of the time machine himself, at least molecularly.”
That time travel is problematic too. “They’re not good at the time travel,” Matalas explains. “It’s dangerous, it’s untested, they don’t know what they’re doing. But you save the world with the time machine you have, not the time machine you want.”
The TV version of Cole (played by “Nikita” actor Aaron Stanford) is also a definite anti-hero who is trying to change history instead of bringing back a cure for an active virus. “He’s not out to save 7 billion people. He’s really out to save himself,” Matalas says. “By changing the future, he will have undone all of the terrible things he did.”
“12 Monkeys” is expected to premiere on Syfy this winter.