TV Picks: '12 Monkeys,' 'Grantchester,' 'Parks and Rec'

TV Picks: '12 Monkeys,' 'Grantchester,' 'Parks and Rec'
Barbara Sukowa as Jones in SyFy's "12 Monkeys." (Gavin Bond / Syfy)

"12 Monkeys." Although deviating in tone and plot from Terry Gilliam's 1995 steam punk classic on which it is based, the series begins with the same event — an international plague that decimates the world's population — and offers the same solution: time travel.

Here, the apocalypse begins in 2017. In the aftermath, some seek shelter underground, but many remain on the surface, where, instead of hitting an agrarian restart, survivors go hungry and turn on one another.

The action opens in 2043, with scientists have figured out how to go back in time. Or rather, they’ve discovered a way to send the strangely resilient James Cole (Aaron Stanford) back, turning the former above-ground scavenger into a man with a mission: Stop the plague before it starts. Teaming with CDC scientist Cassandra Railly (Amanda Schull), Cole begins a time-jumping hunt for clues about the plague’s origin, while pursued by bad guys in both his present and past.

Perfectly paced, smartly adapted and studded with moments of philosophy and emotion, "12 Monkeys" is a capable and addictive addition to television's doomsday Weltanschauung and SyFy's still-struggling lineup. SyFy, Fridays, 9 p.m.


“Grantchester.” America’s deepening addiction to British, and British-style, drama is lovingly spoonfed the latest installment of PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery!

The chronicle of a young vicar turned sleuth, "Grantchester" combines the secular and the spiritual in a lovely and engaging murder mystery procedural. Played by the handsome James Norton (last seen, almost impossibly, as the brutal villain in "Happy Valley"), Sidney Chambers is a young Anglican priest overseeing the parish of Grantchester, an historically sylvan town a mile away from Cambridge.

A lover of jazz, whiskey and socio-religious tolerance, he's a very modern sort of vicar, which puts him at perpetual odds with his formidable housekeeper, Mrs. McGuire (Tessa Peake-Jones) and, in the first episode, in the middle of a suicide that at least one person believes is a murder. Following up on this suggestion, Sidney meets with Geordie Keating (Robson Greene), a terse and tough-minded police detective who doesn't think much of the curious curate until he realizes that people will say things to a clergy man that they won't to a copper and a beautiful friendship is born.

Lovely to look at and increasingly complex, "Grantchester" checks so many boxes — period details! gorgeous location! forays into important social issues! — it might have been engineered in a network development lab if it weren't so guilelessly entertaining. PBS, Sundays, 10 p.m.


“Parks and Recreation.” Leslie (Amy Poehler) and Ron (Nick Offerman) have begun to wind down the feud that broke the hearts of season-premiere viewers, but the fact remains that this is “Parks and Rec’s” last season, and there ain’t nothing to mend that broken heart. So don’t miss any of the final episodes. In fact, watch them twice. NBC, Tuesdays, 8 p.m.