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The SyFy network produced the TV show, "12 Monkeys" is a reimagining of the classic science fiction movie of the same name from 1005 directed by Terry Gilliam. The show was reimagined under the leadership of showrunner, Natalie Chaidez who drew inspiration from Gilliam's movie and the original source material, the Left Bank experimental short, "La Jetee" from 1962.
The series takes on many timelines and possible versions of the past and future all affected by the action of a time traveler named James Cole. The show opens in 2043 when the Army of the 12 Monkeys group has already released a deadly plague on the world which causes the deaths of more than seven billion of the global population. In 2043, a group of scientists known as Project Splinter is working on a time travel machine they hope will allow them to send a chrononaut back in time to change the course of history. The Army of the 12 Monkeys is the target for the scientists as they look for clues about the mysterious group.
The only clue the scientists have to research the reasons behind the deadly plague are a corrupted voice recording left by a virologist, Cassie Railly which is damaged over time. The recording is discovered and repaired by scientist Katarina Jones and provides the few details known about the origins of the outbreak and the Army of the 12 Monkeys. Jones makes a breakthrough when she hears the voice of Cassie link a person known as Leland Frost to the release of the virus and asks for the assistance of a time traveler called James Cole.
Jones discovers Cole is a scavenger in 2043 scratching out a living finding and selling various items in the wreckage of the cities destroyed during the plague. Members of the Project Splinter group convince Cole to return to various points in history to find out the truth about the Army of the 12 Monkeys. Cole and Cassie come into contact for the first time in 2013 when Cole tries to gain information about Leland Frost and proves he is a time traveler by carrying a version of the watch worn by Cassie and causing a scratch to appear on both versions.
Cole leaves the 2013 version of Cassie and later returns in 2015 to discover his previous meeting with the virologist had set her on a period of research regarding the mysterious Leland Frost. Cassie reveals she believes Frost to be the enigmatic billionaire, Leland Goines who sits at the top of a technology and pharmaceutical empire. Cole returns to 1987 where he encounters Goines for the first time and fails to kill him and avert what he believes to be the release of the plague.
As he gets closer to Goines, Cole begins to believe the key to averting the problems of the release of the plague in 2017 is the death of the scientist. The time traveler begins to feel the best option is to create a vortex he hopes will allow him to kill Goines and destroy his own timeline.
As Cole is making his way to the home of Leland Goines to end his life and change the course of history, the daughter of the billionaire is languishing in the psychiatric ward of a hospital. Jennifer Goines sits in her room and draws the emblem of the Army of the 12 Monkeys even as Cole is preparing to assassinate Leland Goines in a bid to halt the release of the deadly virus.
The showrunner for "12 Monkeys" is Natalie Chaidez who has been working on many science fiction productions as a producer, writer, and executive producer. Chaidez made her name at the UCLA film school before beginning to work on a series of TV shows including "Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles" and "Heroes."
Despite Chaidez being named the head of the production, "12 Monkeys" can be said to have been born through the work of writers, Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett. The writers began the process of pitching their own version of a time travel-inspired TV show which was seen as the perfect choice to be turned into the current incarnation of the "12 Monkeys" franchise.
Aaron Stanford stars in "12 Monkeys" as the character of James Cole and won the role largely because of his previous history f working with Terry AMatalas and Travis Fickett. Stanford came to prominence in the controversial 2002 movie, "Tadpole" and went on to star in the "X-Men" franchise. Stanford had appeared in the "Nikita" TV show which was written by and produced by many of those involved with the development of "12 Monkeys."
Former ballerina, Amanda Schull appears in "12 MOnkeys" as Cassie and has spent much of the 21st-century appearing in movies and network TV shows. Schull began acting in 2000 when she was still an apprentice at the San Francisco Ballet, a group she worked with until her dancing retirement in 2008. The actress has been a series regular on the TNT series, "Suits" and appeared in an episode of "Nikita."
Atlas Entertainment held the rights to the "12 Monkeys" franchise and had been rumored to be looking to develop a TV show based on the Terry Gilliam movie throughout the 21st-century. Based on the success of other science fiction and superhero shows, such as "Smallville" and "Gotham," the production company believed their 1995 movie was ripe for a Tv adaptation. Independent of the rumored interest from Atlas Entertainment, writers Matalas and Fickett had developed a script called "Splinter" using time travel as a plot point. After Atlas Entertainment executives were shown the script they immediately commissioned the writers to turn it into a series based on "12 Monkeys."
The show is produced by Atlas Entertainment and NBC Universal Cable for the SyFy channel in the U.S. with its sister, SyFy U.K. picking up the European broadcast rights. Filming for "12 monkeys" has become a global operation with the majority of the pilot filmed in Detroit and most of the seasons filmed in Toronto, Canada. Other locations have included Macedonia, the Dominican Republic, and the Polish capital of Prague.
If you are looking for a science fiction genre show to watch which should complete a whole story arc, "12 Monkeys" is a good option. In general, critics with both Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes believe the first season to be the weakest with the story taking many unnecessary twists and turns. The characters based on those seen in the original movie are well-drawn with the season one receiving ratings of around 55 percent jumping to 92 percent on Rotten Tomatoes for seasons two. The fourth season brings the story of the Army of the Twelve Monkeys and Cole to a conclusion and received a 100 percent rating from Rotten Tomatoes.
The character of Jennifer Goines is based on Brad Pitt's character, Jeffrey Goines with Jennifer even wearing a yellow sweatshirt similar to that worn by Pitt in the original. Emily Hampshire made the conscious decision not to watch the original movie when auditioning for the part of Jennifer and was told she won the part because she was the only actor not trying to copy the work of Brad Pitt in the original movie.