Syfy is in the midst of a creative resurgence in terms of its original scripted programs. While it still clears a path for the occasional Sharknado, the network that was once synonymous with schlocky science fiction and horror films, with mash-up titles like Mansquito and Piranhaconda, has begun to shed that aspect of its pop cultural identity, and has instead focused more on creating a slew of top-notch genre series with an eye toward compelling serialized drama. In recent years, the channel has launched Killjoys, Dark Matter, The Magicians, The Expanse, and 12 Monkeys, a smart adaptation of the 1996 Terry Gilliam mind-bender starring Bruce Willis.
The series wrapped up season 2 last year and has been teasing season 3 in recent weeks – beginning with an image teasing Cole (Aaron Stanford), Cassandra (Amanda Schull), Jennifer (Emily Hampshire), and Deacon (Todd Stashwick) heading back to the ‘80s in order to pull of a heist. As an added bonus, given the proximity of the series’ time travel conceit to one of the most popular films in the subgenre, Cole finds himself dressed like Michael J. Fox’s Marty McFly for his journey to the past. Fun little Easter eggs aside, though, the tease was missing one important piece of information: an official season 3 premiere date.
As it turns out, Syfy has a multi-part surprise in that department. Not only has the network settled on a premiere date for season 3 but it has also announced an early renewal for season 4, which will serve as the series’ last. That’s a lot to process, to be sure, but Syfy isn’t done there, as it also dropped the news that season 3 will air in its entirety over the course of one weekend in what the network is calling “Syfy’s First-Ever, Full Season Linear Binge.”
That’s right; Syfy is getting into the binge-watch business (or as close to it as it can) by airing the entire third season of 12 Monkeys from May 19-21. The season will premiere on Friday, May 19, airing the first four episodes. After that, three episodes will air on each of the next two nights, Saturday and Sunday, finishing the season off and presumably paving the way for the series to close out with season 4.
The “Linear Binge” model initially sounds like a gimmicky ploy to get viewers to spend three consecutive evenings watching Syfy, but it likely has more to do with the network paying less attention to live ratings and investing more in on demand and OTT viewership. By releasing the entire season over the course of three evenings, Syfy is all but guaranteeing many viewers will watch later, either from their DVRs, on demand cable services, or device like Apple TV and Chromecast. It will be interesting to see what the numbers for the live binge are, and whether or not the series finds more viewers who want the season all at once or prefer weekly installments when it comes to the adventures of James Cole and his fellow chrononauts.
12 Monkeys season 3 will premiere Friday, May 19 @8pm on Syfy.