Interview With Co-Creator/Showrunner Terry Matalas Of TV’s Best Sci-Fi Show ’12 Monkeys’
In 1996, Director Terry Gillam introduced a time travel film like no other before it. 12 Monkeys was about a time traveler named James Cole (Bruce Willis). Imprisoned in the 2030s, James is recruited for a mission that will send him back to the 1990s. Once there, he must gather information about a nascent plague that’s about to exterminate the majority of the world’s population. But, aside from the manic Jeffrey (Brad Pitt), he gets little in the way of cooperation, not least from medical gatekeepers like Dr. Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe). When the movie was over, I thought it was great, but there could’ve been so much more exploration of that universe. That brings us to now.
MORE 12 MONKEYS: WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON TELEVISION IN 2015
Developed by Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett, season 2 of Syfy channel’s 12 Monkeys premiered April 18th and has kept up the fantastic sci-fi universe it created in season one. 12 Monkeys, unlike some film-to-TV adaptations, had the difficult job of not just adapting the original film to the small screen, but widening the universe and being better than the film it’s based upon. The television show takes the original plot of the film and changes it up a bit:
Premise: Time traveler James Cole (Aaron Stanford) travels from the year 2043 to the present day to stop the release of a deadly virus by the enigmatic organization known as “The Army of the Twelve Monkeys”. That virus, in Cole’s original timeline, caused the death of 93.6% of the world population. Cole will be helped by the brilliant virologist Cassandra Railly (Amanda Schull) and a math genius with mental issues, Jennifer Goines (Emily Hampshire).
12 Monkeys returns the Syfy channel to the science-fiction that the channel is known for. I haven’t seen a show at this level of greatness since Battlestar Galactica. Every episode gives you a little bit more, and then it leaves you wondering what is happening in other places, or times, or alternate futures. Just when you think you might have it all figured out, 12 Monkeys will come at you from a different direction that makes the viewer wonder: “How do they come up with this?”
In case you missed season one, here’s a quick recap. However, I suggest you watch the first season because obviously.
The co-creator/showrunner of 12 Monkeys, Terry Matalas, took time out of his busy day blowing people’s minds with the show to take a few questions from us.
Social Underground: When you first saw the original film in 1995 (and maybe La Jetée), what made you think, “This could be a TV show that could stretch more than 2 hours into something people will latch on to each week.”
Terry Matalas: It wasn’t until years and years later after a meeting with ATLAS (who made the original film) that Travis and I even considered it. And the idea was never to stretch, but to tell a different, fuller, more epic story. We knew we would have to pivot quickly from the original.
SU: When you pitched the pilot, how did Syfy (or other networks you pitched to) respond to your pitch?