12 Monkeys pilot greenlit by Syfy

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Dream, Aug 27, 2013.

  1. bigdaddy

    bigdaddy Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You just explained every show / movie dealing with time travel.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Some, not every. That certainly doesn't describe Doctor Who or The Time Tunnel or Voyagers! or Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures or Time Trax or Continuum or Terra Nova or a bunch of others. There are tons of movie exceptions too, like Back to the Future (the "disaster" to be undone in Part II or Part III is more on a personal/local level than a global one), Looper, Primer, heck, most time travel movies that don't have Terminators in them. It's a particular subgenre of time-travel fiction, and it has its own variations. For instance, Seven Days was about trying to prevent a different disaster every week, whereas Odyssey 5 was about an ongoing effort to avert a single disaster.

    Besides, aren't you directly contradicting yourself? Previously, you denied that Odyssey 5 and 12 Monkeys (the series proposal) had anything in common because they weren't exactly identical in the nature of the future disaster. Now you're saying that all time-travel stories are the same even when they have huge differences. Make up your mind.
     
  3. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Interesting points. I never thought Cole could change history, nor that the drama depended on it. I thought that poor Cole's heart was overriding his head; he was so desperate to stay with Kathryn in the "present" where he actually found happiness for the first time that he deluded himself into thinking there was some hope. But the ambiguities and possibilities of interpretation are intentional, I think, and help make the movie so interesting.

    That assumes that something might have been done, and there is no reason to suppose that at all. The scientists who invent time travel presumably know how it works, and it is made clear that what already happened is always going to happen. Why waste time in the past trying to stop what can't be stopped instead of gathering information that may allow the future to cure the plague? And at any rate, if one of the time travelers was able to change history, any of his innumerable actions in the past could alter things, there would be no way to know the effect or control it.

    The first thing the movie tells the viewer is that five billion people died, so I think there is a certain baseline of bleakness about it, but nihilistic I don't see at all.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, that's not necessarily true. Science is a process of successive approximations. Just because you know how to do something, that doesn't mean you know everything about it; you have a model good enough to work, but there's always more to learn, stuff you won't discover until you put it into practice and gather firsthand data.

    Our current real-world theories tell us that altering history would be impossible unless nonlinear quantum mechanics exists, which as far as we know, it doesn't. But maybe some future discovery will show that nonlinear QM does exist, at least in some atypical circumstances. Sometimes it's just a matter of coming up with the right way to tweak the equations. Scientists used to insist that faster-than-light drive is impossible. Now NASA's already doing a proof-of-concept experiment for warping space. We've understood relativity and the lightspeed limit for over a century, but that understanding has undergone continued refinement, and some very smart people have thought of ways to bend the rules, so that what was once assumed absolutely impossible is now just considered extremely unlikely to be practical, but worth testing out in principle.
     
  5. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    But they apparently had been doing it for some time and would have had firsthand experience and data.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    No remotely honest scientist would ever claim to know everything about their work. That's just not how knowledge works. We've been traveling in space for half a century, on and off, and we're still learning new stuff about the effects of space on the human body, developing new types of propulsion and other space technologies, etc. We've had flight for over a century, but aviation engineers are still figuring out new things about the physics of flight and how to improve performance. Discovery is not something that stops.

    And maybe there are different levels of time-travel technology, just like spaceflight is a level above aviation or interstellar flight is a level above interplanetary. Each new level requires new technologies and methods. So maybe there's a second level of time travel, a nonlinear method that the scientists in the movie haven't discovered yet.
     
  7. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    OK, so the point is? Would the scientists employ their time travel resources on missions that are supported by the experience and evidence they have at hand, or would they employ them any number of other ways, on the principal that they don't know everything?
     
  8. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think what this boils down to is that Cole believes, because he's been led to believe, that changing the past is impossible. Whether the scientists believe it's impossible is difficult to say since we know they're not entirely honest, and their "science isn't an exact science."

    The evidence we see during the film seems to me to suggest that the scientists are right and that the past can't be changed. That doesn't rule it out of course, but given the nature of the film itself did any of us really expect sunshine and lollipops at the end? Even if the only thing Cole ultimately did was clue in the scientists (perhaps a bit inadvertently) as to who spread the disease, that's still a sort of heroism.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The point is that just because the character was told time travel was impossible, that doesn't absolutely have to mean that it's impossible. Sometimes characters in a story, even scientists, are wrong about how things work. Case in point: Source Code. That was also a movie where the scientists told the hero that he couldn't change the past he visited, but the whole plot of the movie was about the hero discovering that the scientists were wrong about what was really happening and how it worked.
     
  10. Set Harth

    Set Harth Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Uh.. yes? Maybe? Cole easily could have succeeded.

    The outcome not being changed in the end does not necessarily mean that the outcome could not have been changed. And if the scientists were so certain the timeline could not be changed, why did they send Jose and others?
     
  11. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Like I said, "seems to suggest". That leaves plenty of room for leeway.

    They sent Jose to push Cole in the direction they wanted him to go in. They presumably sent Jones to continue to gather intelligence (perhaps obtain/analyze a sample of the virus).

    We can't say whether Cole easily could have succeeded because we don't know whether he could have succeeded.
     
  12. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    But that doesn't address what I was talking about, which was what the time travelers' objectives would be: Information gathering, which they thought would be of benefit, or history changing, which they did not.

    The evidence in the movie is against it, everything in the movie that had happened in future did happen. Besides, if things can change then Cole's dream isn't such a big deal.

    To keep an eye on and try and control the increasingly erratic, disobedient and newly-untrackable Cole.
     
  13. Set Harth

    Set Harth Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Why is it so important to them? What happens if he goes in a direction they don't want him to go in?

    Huh? It can be a big deal either way. Cole's dream isn't a Force vision, it's a memory. Obviously if he changes the timeline things would turn out differently from what he remembers.

    But why do they really need to control him? What's the worst that can happen, given that we know they sent others like Jose back as well, and thus have other people in place to carry out the mission if Cole simply disappears? By interfering with him they imply that they don't want him to change things.
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I think we're talking about two different things. Since you're speaking in the past tense, I imagine you're talking about how the movie was done. But I'm talking about the possibilities for a TV adaptation/continuation. Since it would work better in an ongoing series to have at least the possibility that the future could be altered, it would be possible to retcon or reinvent the movie's time-travel rules to fit that narrative need. If it were a reboot continuity, they could just change the time-travel rules outright; and if it purported to be an in-continuity sequel or prequel to the film, then the idea could be introduced that the scientists' knowledge of how time travel worked was incomplete or flawed. Either way, the series would not be constrained by what the movie asserted, which is my point.
     
  15. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I could get behind a series where the future can be changed, but at that point I'd much prefer that the phrase "12 Monkeys" not be attached to it.
     
  16. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Yes, but the way I saw it the movie was constructed around the dream and the theme of inevitability and fate, like a Greek tragedy as Alidar said above. YMMV.

    Presumably so he won't interfere with their activities in the past. It was implied that the time traveler "volunteers" lose their minds and eventually "don't come back." The street preacher may be an example of one who's "gone rogue."

    Right, I was digressing about the movie. I agree about the TV adaptation, as I already stated upthread.
     
  17. Set Harth

    Set Harth Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That was my point. How does his interference matter if you can't change anything? Why is a time traveler going rogue a problem, when they can just send another one?
     
  18. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    He can still interfere with their work.
     
  19. Mister Fandango

    Mister Fandango Fleet Captain

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  20. Set Harth

    Set Harth Vice Admiral Admiral

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    If he can't change the timeline, he can only ( in theory ) interfere with the attempt to obtain information about the spread of the virus. And they can just send someone else to find that information. They're only limited by the number of Cole types they have at their disposal. If they send a "replacement time traveler X" who Cole knows nothing about, how much can he do to interfere?