Sunday, January 18, 2015

12 Monkeys: TV vs. Movie

SyFy's new series, 12 Monkeys, premiered this week, and they made the second episode available through Video-On-Demand. It's apparent, very quickly, that the showrunners decided to make several things quite different from the movie on which it was based. Not that it's hurt the series any, though some things do change the tone.

I loved the film, and have found the series to be good so far. I just wanted to make some notes about things I've noticed to be different thus far.

  • In the film, there was a certain amount of ambiguouty that allowed for the characters and the audience to wonder if James Cole really was a time traveller, or if he was insane, until at least halfway through the movie. The series very quickly established that James Cole he had to be a time traveller.
  • In the film, the timeline is static--Cole could not make any changes to prevent the plague that nearly wiped out the human race, he was sent back to collect a sample of the original, pure virus, before it mutated; it's hoped that this would allow the survivors to go back to living on the surface of the earth. In the TV series, the timeline is fluid. While certain things seem to be preordained, it's been shown clearly that Cole can do things that would affect the future outcome, so his mission to the past is to stop the outbreak from happening.
  • The virus was still very much active in the film's future from which Cole came from. Anyone going above ground needed to wear a protective suit, and had to go through decontamination going back below the surface. Cole and his friend walked on the surface without need of any protection in the TV series.
  • In the film, Cole had constant flashbacks (dreams) of something he saw as a child, before the plague happened. This element appears to be missing in the series.
  • For very obvious reasons, the film's "primary past" is 1996, while the "primary past" of the TV series is 2015.
  • In the film, time travelling seemed to have some effect on a person's psyche, which was one of the reasons why Cole was chosen--it was implied that he could endure the process better than his predecessors. It also made it easier for him to doubt his own sanity. Thus far in the series, time travelling does not seem to have had any adverse effects on him. Cole was chosen not because of his perceived/tested abilities, but because his name was mentioned in a recovered recording made by Dr. Railly, which supposedly pinpointed the cause of the plague.
  • In the film, the Army of the Twelve Monkeys was thought to have caused the plague since before Cole was chosen to go back in time. In the series, it went unnoticed until a person in the past (Leland Goines) mentioned it.
  • It's implied in the film that there were others who had been sent back in time before Cole, and there were certainly others after him. It's not yet know if there were or will be others in the series.
  • In the film, no one saw Cole vanish before their eyes, lending credence to the possibility that he might not be a time traveller. In the series, Dr. Railly regularly sees him vanish before her eyes.
  • Dr. Railly was a psychiatrist in the film, and a virologist in the TV series.
  • In the film, Dr. Railly treated Cole as a patient when he was initially sent to the wrong year. In the TV series, he goes to find her intentionally.
  • Dr. Railly's name was Kathryn, and Cassandra in the TV series. The change was most likely an homage to the Cassandra Complex, which Kathryn talked about in the film.
  • Leland Goines' child was Jeffrey in the film. In the series, it's Jennifer.
  • Jeffrey was the leader of the Army of the Twelve Monkeys in the film. In the TV series, it appears that she was a victim of it.
  • It remains to be seen if the red herring in the film will be a red herring in the series, as well.
There are a few other differences that I think are too minor to mention, or perhaps a bit too spoiler-ish. And I'm sure there will be more as the series goes on.