People are funny. When the novel coronavirus pandemic hit the globe, people started consuming plague media. Movies or series about pandemics, plagues, and outbreaks all topped streaming charts. Anyone who is familiar with Terry Gilliam’s landmark film 12 Monkeys, knows that story also involves a plague. Yet, fewer people are aware of the 12 Monkeys television series that aired on SyFy. And while the movie is fantastic, the series tells a much bigger and, arguably, better story that audiences will enjoy pandemic or no pandemic. Yes, a plague that kills seven billion humans is the driving force of the first season’s plot. However, in successive seasons, Terry Matalas and his team of writers and producers significantly up that ante (no small feat). Soon, the complete 12 Monkeys series will be available in a boxed Blu-Ray set you should definitely add to your collection.
The series ran for four seasons on SyFy, ending in July of 2018. It’s odd that it only ended less than two years ago, because this story feels like one I’ve lived with my entire life. Up until now, the only place to see the entire series via streaming has been on Hulu. On July 14, with the 12 Monkeys complete series blu-ray from Mill Creek Entertainment, audiences across the world can experience this landmark series. It’s not just one of the best time travel or sci-fi shows of all time. This show’s careful plotting, brilliant writing, astounding performances, and sets and effects that defy TV budgets, put it in the discussion for best series of all-time.
To be clear, even though I am totally trying to “sell” you on the idea of watching this series, this is not a sponsored post. I just love the show that much.
What is 12 Monkeys?
Image via NBC Universal
As mentioned above, 12 Monkeys got its start as a 1995 film from Gilliam starring Bruce Willis, Madeline Stowe, Brad Pitt, and others. The film is itself an adaptation of a 1962 left-bank art film from by Chris Marker, which follows a similar plot. The 12 Monkeys series keeps many of the same elements – the plague, time travel, a scientist named Jones, a traveler named James Cole, and a present-day epidemiologist named Dr. Railly. However, where La Jettée and the 12 Monkeys film offer somewhat bleak tales, the 12 Monkeys series is ultimately a hopeful story about love, family, and the importance of making the most of the time you have.
To truly explain this series’ greatness, I’d need to delve into spoilers (which I do in my contemporaneous write-up of the series finale). In the interest of keeping you unspoiled, because this show packs surprises upon surprises, I won’t do that here. Perhaps my favorite thing about the show is that nothing means “nothing.” There are tiny, almost throwaway lines that, in hindsight, give away the entire game. Rather than making the Army of the 12 Monkeys a red herring, they are a truly formidable force with a plan that’s incredibly evil (or remarkably kind?). Our core group of heroes aren’t so simple either. There are betrayals, forgiveness, and an ending that satisfies but is ambiguous enough that fans can debate forever.
Why the 12 Monkeys Complete Series Blu-Ray Will Be Worth Your Time
Image via NBC Universal
Outside of the narrative itself, 12 Monkeys is a triumph of sci-fi and any Blu-Ray collection will be enriched by owning the complete series. Currently, the series is exclusively available on Hulu for streaming, but owning a physical copy truly makes the series yours. Leads Aaron Stanford and Amanda Schull are incredible in their roles. Schitt’s Creek’s Emily Hampshire plays a role that somewhat mirrors Brad Pitt’s from the film. Yet, her performance makes her the definitive Goines offspring, creating a character that makes the Oscar-winner’s take pale in comparison. Alison Down and Tom Noonan play truly diabolical villains, and Todd Stashwick plays Deacon, the Han Solo of a post-plague world. The series is full of action, drama, and hilarious moments that will stay with you long after your fourth, fifth, or tenth re-watch.
Because of the novel coronavirus outbreak, people might think that the plague connection is what makes the series extra fun to watch during this time. However, what really makes this show perfect for right now are its themes about making the most of the time we have with people we love. For a series about the end of the world, 12 Monkeys is a remarkably hopeful show. As with most dystopian fiction, human life isn’t very valuable at the end of days. Yet, the ways the storytellers show that saving and sparing lives is the most important thing warms the heart without feeling like a sermon. (Though, the phrase “Time-Jesus” is tossed around once or twice.)
It is fantastic news that the complete 12 Monkeys series is coming to Blu-Ray, and every genre fan should pick up a copy on July 14.
Have you seen the show? What do you think of it or what questions do you have about it? Tell us in the comments below!
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.