12 Monkeys: Season One (Blu-ray) (2015)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 4-Dec-2019

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Deleted Scenes-and extended scenes x 9
More…-Gag Reel (3:10)
More…-Cast Auditions (11:54)
More…-Emily Hampshire – Markridge Improv Speech (1:04)
More…-Webisodes (13:13)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2015
Running Time ?
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Various
Studio
Distributor
ViaVision Starring Aaron Stanford
Amanda Schull
Kirk Acevedo
Barbara Sukowa
Emily Hampshire
Noah Bean
Alisen Down
Todd Stashwick
Zeljko Ivanck
Tom Noonan
Case ?
RPI ? Music Paul Linford
Trevor Rabin


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
French DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Dutch
Finnish
French
Norwegian
Danish
Swedish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     In 2017 a plague virus was released into the world, wiping out 7 billion people and destroying society. A few immune survivors scavenged on the surface of the world to live. Others sealed themselves off deep underground. By 2043 one group of these survivors had developed a time travel device, intending to send someone back in time to save humankind by killing the man who developed the virus before it could be released. The only clue to his identity that the head of the time travel project, Katarina Jones (Barbara Sukowa), has is a garbled message from 2017 sent by a Dr. Cassandra “Cassie” Railly (Amanda Schull) that the man responsible for the virus was named Leland Frost.

     James Cole (Aaron Stanford) is sent back to 2013 to find Dr. Railly and to discover what she knows about Leland Frost. That meeting does not go well; Cole has to abduct Cassie who, naturally, does not believe Cole’s mad story about being from the future and, as well, she has no knowledge of Frost. Cole is shot by the Police but before he vanishes back into the future (the term is “splintered”) he tells Cassie about a place where they will meet again in 2015. When he turns up in 2015, newly wounded, Cassie starts to believe him. They discover that Leland Frost is really Leland Goins (Zeljko Ivanck), head of the biological research company Markridge Corp. Cole succeeds in killing Leland, which should have changed the future, but didn’t! Instead, new clues to the release of the virus point to a shadowy group called The Army of the 12 Monkeys. The first reference to them is made by Leland’s daughter Jennifer (Emily Hampshire) who in 2015 was locked up in a mental hospital. So Cole is sent back to 2015 to find out what Jennifer knows about the 12 Monkeys, although the time travel machine has its glitches and for a short time he ends up in North Korea in 2006! Back in 2015, Cole and Cassie search for clues as to the location of the laboratory that created the virus, known as the Night Room, before the 12 Monkeys can find it. And, of course, the 12 Monkeys, whatever and whoever they are, may not be the releasers of the virus.

     In adapting a two hour film into a nine hour plus TV series additional individuals and stories were required. Thus in 12 Monkeys: Season One there are added characters and story strands, for example those involving Cole’s friend Ramse (Kirk Acevedo), Cassie’s love interest Aaron Marker (Noah Bean, scavenger leader Duncan (Todd Stashwick), whose men remain a threat to Jones’ time machine compound, the singlemindedness of Katrina Jones, including attacking another surviving research centre to get parts for the time machine, the secretive Druze group headed by The Witness whose operatives include the deadly and mysterious “Pallid Man” (Tom Noonan) and the manipulative and beautiful Olivia (Alisen Down) plus collusion between Markridge and the CIA, who are not above using to virus to eliminate whistle blowers, believing they can contain the spread.

     The result of expanding 12 Monkeys in this way is uneven storytelling when entire episodes stray from the basic time travel storyline to focus on other characters, dead ends and red herrings. It does not help that Aaron Stanford is not the most charismatic leading man while Amanda Schull looks and has the mannerisms of a young Nicole Kidman or that the manic and unhinged Emily Hampshire (who is in the role that Brad Pitt played in the film and has won a number of Canadian TV awards for her performances in the comedy Schitt’s Creek ) disappears for a substantial part of the series. Some of the supporting cast have more presence; Kirk Acevedo is very good and for much of the series is the ethical centre of the story questioning the morality of what is happening, while Barbara Sukowa, best actress at Cannes in 1986 for Rosa Luxemburg, is solid and Tom Noonan mysterious and menacing.

     The paradox of time travel, someone going back to the past in order to change the present, has always been a popular subject as the many Terminator films, amid many others, indicates. In 12 Monkeys the show toggles mostly between 2043 (the “present”) and 2015 (where most of the action to stop the release of the virus centres) with some side tracks to 2006, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2032 (Cole as a scavenger) and 2041; there is also, late in the series, an extended sequence covering 1987 to 1995 that turns the plot on its head. But as well as the “big” time travel intended to stop the virus, there are smaller travels within years when, for example, Cole sees himself or can “relocate in time” to stop the destruction of the time machine. There are also sections where alternative realities occur within a time zone! I am not sure any of this is consistent, or even makes logical sense (not that time travel ever makes logical sense); for example, if Cole was sent back to find Cassie based on a garbled message about Leland Goins, once he finds her and they discover that Goins did not release the virus, Cassie would not have sent the message that brought Cole back! But perhaps it is best not to think about it too much.

     12 Monkeys: Season One resolves nothing. It consists of 13 episodes which aired in the US between January and April 2015 and all 13 episodes are included on three Blu-rays. The series is now up to four seasons; 12 Monkeys: Season Two has also been released in Australia on Blu-ray and will be reviewed soon on this site.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     12 Monkeys is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the original broadcast ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG 4 AVC code.

     This is a very dark looking series as it is set mostly in a wintery and destroyed world, the underground bunkers controlling the time machine or at night which gives the series a monochrome look. Even the colours in the sequences in 2015 Washington lack vibrancy although the scenes set in 2014 Haiti are much brighter. There are also splashes of bright colour in explosions and the illusionary red forest. Within this muted colour palate detail is decent although the constant “shaky cam” camera work, which is utilised frequently and not only during the action sequences, sometimes makes it difficult to focus on details. Close-ups, such as Cole’s whiskered and battered face, are firm enough. Skin tones are muted, except for the some more natural skin tones in 2015, brightness and contrast is consistent.

     I noticed no marks or artefacts although the constantly swaying camera made things a bit of a blur.

     English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available plus a range of Western European languages. Subtitles also automatically translate sections of Russian and Japanese dialogue.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio choices are English and French DTS HD-MA 5.1.

     Dialogue is fine and the surrounds and rears are frequently in use for the rumble of machinery, footsteps and dripping water in abandoned buildings, shots and impacts during the action, the music, the roar of fire effects and explosions and the atonal rumble of the time machine. The sub-woofer added more rumble to the time machine and depth to the impacts, fires and explosions.

     The score by Paul Linford and Trevor Rabin is effective and suits the series.

     I did not notice any lip synchronization issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Disc1

Deleted Scenes: Episode 1 (16:33)

     Two long extended scenes and one new scene.

Deleted Scenes: Episode 2 (3:37)

     One new scene and two extended scenes.

Disc2

Deleted Scene: Episode 5 (0:25)

     One scene.

Deleted Scenes: Episode 8 (3:28)

     One extended and one deleted scene.

Disc3

Gag Reel (3:10)

     Cast stuff ups and fun on set.

Cast Auditions (11:54)

     The auditions of

Emily Hampshire – Markridge Improv Speech (1:04)

     As it says.

Webisodes (13:13)

     In reality more deleted scenes. The webisodes are:

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The US Region A Blu-ray of 12 Monkeys: Season One is identical to our release except that it includes a digital copy of the series.

Summary

     The series looks great, with impressive sets and production design and interesting philosophical questions, such as would you sacrifice 7 billion people to save one! But I did find it hard to get into 12 Monkeys: Season One. There are too frequent time jumps and jumbled storylines, many of which are red herrings, so that just when one is getting into the story it changes into something else entirely. Worth a look for fans of the genre.

     The video is dark and the audio good. The extras are not extensive but we get what is available in the US, so shouldn’t complain.

     The 12 Monkeys: Season One was supplied for review by ViaVision Entertainment. Check out their Facebook page for the latest releases, giveaways, deals and more.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, January 02, 2020
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE