As usual for TV Talk, no spoilers!
If you follow me on Twitter (what? You don’t? Heresy!), you’ve probably noticed my, uhmm, somewhat fanatical devotion to the SyFy time-travel show “12 Monkeys.” It’s a writers’ show, and if you enjoy fully-realized thoughtful writing, you should be watching it.
What’s that, hypothetical reader? You remember a movie by that same name many years ago? Yes, the series is actually based on the movie, but it is so very much more than that. Get your rain ponchos and umbrellas ready, because I’m about to gush.
Hmm, hypothetical reader? And galoshes? Yes, they’d probably be wise.
With the advent of streaming services, and the tendency of outlets like Netflix to release a whole season of a show at once, the very fabric of television has changed. Now, instead of episodic shows which couldn’t rely on a viewer consistently watching every single week without fail, television has switched places with movies to become the long-form of visual storytelling.
With a show like “12 Monkeys,” — like many of the Netflix, Amazon and Hulu shows — writers now usually have about 12 or 13 episodes, totaling anywhere from 9 to 13 hours, to plot an arc. Compare that to a movie’s 2-3 hours. The opportunity for nuance of character alone is incredible, let alone intricacies of plot.
And the plotting is intricate. Astoundingly intricate. Here’s the thing with writing about time: it’s hard. Time is complicated, as I discovered when writing my own novel dealing with it. And there is an enormous temptation to cheat, because cheating is so much easier than unpicking the consequences of your knotted-up plots.
(That actually sounds like a pretty good assessment of life in general, but I digress).
“12 Monkeys” never cheats. Like all well-done science-fiction, it creates its rules and it stands by them resolutely. And yet it manages to surprise me minute by minute.
That’s not easy to do.
It takes up every inch of the space it’s allotted, and the finished product, thanks to the writers, directors, the cast, the crew and showrunner Terry Matalas, is breathtaking.
It also has one of my absolute favorite genius nut jobs on television, Jennifer Goines, played the insanely (ha!) talented Emily Hampshire. Anyone who’s been around here knows I’m pretty partial to genius nut jobs.
All that aside, it’s just plain fun to watch. And tweet; the cast and crew are always active on twitter, constantly interacting with fans, which makes live-tweeting one big time-travely party.
Have a great binge this weekend (once you start, you won’t be able to stop) and come hang out on Monday, at 9/8c!
Yes, hypothetical reader, it’s now safe to remove your rain gear. What’s that? Stop talking to you because you’re trying to watch?
Very wise, hypothetical reader. Very wise indeed.
Check out my full-length novels, Her Cousin Much Removed, The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!
And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!