There is something about this time of year that demands a good, solid adaptation of a literary classic. Right on time, here is Around the World in 80 Days (BBC One) for the whole family.
After the past two years, the prospect of seeing adventurers galloping all over the planet on a whim seems almost too cruel to consider. No costly PCR tests, no threat of a country ending up on the red list at the last minute, no prospect of cancellation for reasons beyond anyone’s control? These world circumnavigators didn’t know how much they had in 1872.
This should mean that there is more fun literally watching the world go by, even if it takes a while to start. After hearing about a new railroad while dining at his private club, Phileas Fogg (David Tennant, with the mustache) accepts the bet that he can be the first man to tour the world in 80 days. He walks away, rounding up companions like he’s a 19th-century Doctor Who and plunging into historic scratches.
Tennant has promised a “romp” to this updated version of Jules Verne’s novel, and it’s certainly alive. It’s a big television in the vein of His Dark Materials (and its wonderful opening credits seem to have taken inspiration from that series, as well as Game of Thrones). Prolific composer Hans Zimmer wrote the score, alongside Christian Lundberg. Naturally, given its raw material, it travels the planet. This is a multinational production, showing its many locations, and a second season has been confirmed even before the premiere aired. Clearly, there is a lot of confidence in him.
It is justified, in large part. Fogg is an austere and troubled wealthy man, wandering in the traps of his vast and mysterious wealth. He sulks in his mansion, he sulks in his club. He has a touch of Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos in him; the specter of a wealthy man who needs a frivolous, historic journey to feel alive again is familiar. Its ardor for the “balloon machine” is its equivalent of the modern enthusiasm for the space rocket.
In the book, Fogg is fastidious and precise, but Tennant’s Fogg is more of a goofy goof, at least to begin with. Here, the charisma is shared among the three main characters, rather than monopolized by Tennant alone. Detective Fix, Verne’s police officer at Scotland Yard, has transformed into Abigail “Fix” Fortescue, a courageous journalist with a weekly column to fill out and a reluctant subject – Fogg – to write about. Leonie Benesch of the Crown (she played Prince Philip’s sister) portrays her with courage and common sense, as a woman trying to break into the male world and make a name for herself through thick and thin.
And why not? The book remains as it always has been, although purists may grumble, and the character doesn’t seem stuck. The fact that she is a likeable journalist, however, may require an imaginative leap for some.
Rounding out the trio, Ibrahim Koma as Fogg’s valet, Passepartout, whose story shares an almost equal billing with that of Fogg in the first episode, via the addition of an emotional fraternal reunion and subplot. revolutionary. Koma brings a lot of charm to his Passepartout, despite being a bit of a romantic teenager. While they haven’t had much time to establish themselves as a trio yet, it looks like they’ll have no trouble wearing the show together.
Around the world in 80 days, however, suffers from a touch of the syndrome of the first episode. She needs to set the scene and build her world – and she takes her time to do it. It’s only when the White Cliffs of Dover begin to recede behind Fogg, Passepartout and Miss Fix that you start to feel like it’s going somewhere worth your time and investment. Halfway through, I couldn’t wait for the journey to begin and the adventures to begin; British television has no shortage of period dramas about upscale people, so the least they can do is throw in some nice scenery and swashbuckling, to hurry up and run the bets made in them. private clubs on boiled beef and spotty cock.
However, like I said, it’s a great TV, an eight-part series, and it has plenty of time to unfold and reveal its charms. I can’t wait to see where they go next, in every sense of the word.