It’s a hard-knock life for Syfy’s upcoming thriller series 12 Monkeys. Movie-to-TV remakes are almost always initially perceived with disgust, especially when the movie in question is as excellently bizarre as Terry Gilliam’s 1996 feature. We’ve been biting our tongues about it, but now the first full-length 12 Monkeys trailer is here so that we may judge this series accordingly. First impressions? This doesn’t look much different from any other dark drama out there right now, and it’s in dire need of Brad Pitt talking about plagues of madness. But it could be a lot worse.

In Syfy’s version, adapted by Terra Nova and Nikita writer/producers Travis Fickett and Terry Matalas, we have Aaron Stanford as James Cole, a survivor of a worldwide pandemic that destroyed most of the population. As in the film, he’s sent back in time to try and figure out where the virus came from and how to stop it from spreading. To that end, he’s assisted by Cassandra Railly (Amanda Schull), an initially reluctant doctor who slowly comes to believe that Cole is an actual non-insane time traveler. Kirk Acevedo (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) is also working with Cole in some capacity. And then there’s Zeljko Ivanek, who plays Leland; it isn’t quite clear if he’s some big bad antagonist or not, but he certainly looks the part.


At the Television Critics Association press event this week, the creators and executive producer Richard Suckle (who also produced Gilliam’s film) point out that this isn’t so much a remake as a top-to-bottom re-imagining, saying they adore the movie and saw no point in rehashing the exact same story. So why do it at all, especially this many years later? According to Deadline, plans to bring 12 Monkeys to TV were begun almost as soon as the film hit theaters, but it’s taken a long time to get all the pieces together. Lucky us of the future.

The trailer does a few different things from the movie while still remaining comparable. I don’t quite buy into Cole and Cassandra’s troubled relationship just yet, and I have no idea where the threat will come from this go-around, but this trailer doesn't advertise the pile of monkey shit I once expected this project to be. I hope the scenes between Cole and his future advisors are as off-kilter as they were in the movie. Also, I’m highly curious to find out how they’re going to introduce the Order of the 12 Monkeys if things are so completely different.


Don’t expect to find this show at Comic-Con this year, as production for the series is beginning soon, and Syfy thought it best to get the product made rather than promote it in San Diego. 12 Monkeys is set to begin airing on Syfy in January 2015.

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