Twelve Monkeys (Amazon / Syfy)

A few years from now, an epidemic kills some huge fraction of Earth’s human population, leading to the virtual collapse of human civilization.  A small group of scientists develop time travel, and sends individual travellers back to our era to try to stop the epidemic.  Changing the past is hard.  And if you do manage it, other stuff happens that you might not expect, and that you might not like

The show is based on the same book as the 1990s movie, and follows the same basic story line, with a few tweaks.  In the movie, the Army of the 12 Monkeys was basically a McGuffin; here, it’s an important part of the plot. And the character played by Brad Pitt in the movie is played by a woman here.  But where the movie ended with the death of the original traveler (Bruce Willis), here, the traveler survives to try again.  And again.  It’s more interesting than you might imagine, although some of the episodes are better than others.   Like many sci/fi programs without big budgets for special effects, the show spends more time on plot and character development, to good effect.  The writers also have a refreshingly light touch in dealing with this bleak scenario — I’m pretty sure they set a series of episodes in the 1940s just because the costumes would be cool.

Series 1 and 2 available for purchase on Amazon.  Series 3 premieres at the end of April on SyFy.

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