Hot on the heels of renewing Helix for a second season, Syfy have ordered their 12 Monkeys pilot to a 12 episode series. Based on the acclaimed 1995 Terry Gilliam film of the same name – which starred Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt – the show is expected to premiere in January 2015.
12 Monkeys is written and co-executive produced by Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett – of Nikita TV show fame – and they have brought their Nikita star, Aaron Stanford, on board in the lead role. He will play a time traveller who arrives in present day America from a post-apocalyptic future, wanting to locate and eradicate the cause of a deadly plague that is set to devastate the human race. Amanda Schull (Suburgatory), Kirk Acevedo (Fringe) and Noah Bean (Nikita) will also star.
With the pilot being directed by Jeffrey Reiner (Helix, Friday Night Lights), and with Natalie Chaidez (In Plain Sight) taking showrunning duties, it’s not entirely a Nikita reunion – and the show will be executive produced by Charles Roven and Richard Suckle from Atlas Entertainment, who also produced the original movie. Worryingly, the presence of Roven and Suckle seems to be the only connection to the source material – which in itself, was a highly stylized and complex endeavour. There seems to be no indication of Gilliam anywhere near this project.
While the writers and the director have all worked on TV adaptations of films before, a Gilliam film is a very specific undertaking. The premise is indeed fascinating, and may lend itself well to an episodic format, but there is a risk that the distinct lack of Gilliam will reduce this idea to another instantly forgettable sci-fi drama. We have seen, recently, the difference the involvement of the original filmmakers can make to a TV adaptation, with the release of the powerful teaser trailers for the upcoming Fargo series on FX. The presence of the Coen Brothers, among the executive producers on that project, seem to have successfully guaranteed the right tone for the show.
We will find out if the 12 Monkeys team can achieve the same on Syfy in January 2015.