Friday, January 16, 2015

12 Monkeys series on SyFy: Paradox Prominent and Excellent

The 12 Monkeys series which just debuted on the SyFy Channel had a lot to live up to, at least in my book.  I've long considered the 1995 movie the best time travel movie ever made, because it respected the paradoxes of time travel so well, which is to say, wove them into an at once thrilling but plausible - by the logic of time travel - story.  Indeed, the only competition to the 12 Monkeys movie arrived just recently - last week, in my viewing - in the form of the movie Predestination, of Heinlein's "All You Zombies," which I reviewed here, saying it, too may be the best time travel movie ever made.  So now I have two favorites - two very different movies and two stories - both brilliant.

A television series is a very different thing from a movie - much longer, obviously, which means much more time to roll out a story, which gives the television series more opportunities but also more potential pitfalls.   So how did the 12 Monkeys series fare, based on the first episode?   Quite well - in fact, I would say it was excellent.

I'm not going to dwell on or even mention the differences between the movie and the series so far, because that's boring.  For example, I'll mention this - the Brad Pitt character in the movie is a woman in the television series.   See, what does that really matter, that Jeffrey Goines has become Jennifer Goines? Of much greater interest to me is how the TV 12 Monkeys tells the story of the attempt to stop a plague by going back in time, to pretty much our present, to stop the plague from ever happening.

The first episode seems well informed of the paradoxes and satisfyingly almost but not completely hobbled by them, which is just the right mix.   Cole the time traveler speaks constantly of avoiding them, because "nature doesn't like its furniture rearranged," and especially abhors the same entity from two different times - whether people or objects - finding itself right next to itself, because of something done by the time traveler. This includes especially the time traveler, which is why Cole can't travel into the past or the future in short jumps, lest he run into himself, and set off who knows what destructive consequences for all concerned.

The fact that no paradox in triggered by Cole's killing of the senior Goines also works well.  In a high dramatic moment, Cole kills Goines, engendering who knows what kind of results, but all worth it if the plague is stopped.   And when nothing happens, this tells Cole and us that Goines wasn't the source of the plague.

So 12 Monkeys the television series is off to a fine start.  The action is fast, the crucial chemistry between Cole and Railly strong, and the twisted, fascinating, dizzying paradoxes of time travel embraced and acted upon.  Unless someone from the future comes back to stop me,  I'll be watching and reviewing every episode.

See also 12 Monkeys 1.2 Your Future, His Past ... 1.3: Paradoxes, Lies, and Near Intersections ... 1.4: "Uneasy Math" ... 12 Monkeys 1.5: The Heart of the Matter ... 12 Monkeys 1.6: Can I Get a Witness? ... 12 Monkeys 1.7: Snowden, the Virus, and the Irresistible ... 12 Monkeys 1.8: Intelligent Vaccine vs. Time Travel



podcast review of Predestination and 12 Monkeys


 three time travel novels: the Sierra Waters trilogy

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three time travel stories (with more to come)


The Chronology Protection Case movie 

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