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Around the world and back again

Published January 9, 2022

Around the World in 80 Days

The new year is always a good time for new dramas to start appearing on TV, and the big bang for 2022 was Around the World in 80 Days, a big budget drama starring David Tennant as the hero in this Jules Vergne adaptation. The eight episode series followed Tennant’s Phileas Fogg as he attempts that circumnavigation of the globe all for a simple bet with the others at his gentleman’s club.

I think there was a bit of confusion about the availability of this show - it was airing two episodes at a time on actual TV, and there were only two on iPlayer as well… until all of a sudden they were all there. Thankfully, by the time I got to the end of the second episode, the rest of the series was there waiting for me. Sometimes it pays to be a bit slow off the mark!

And that is true of the series too, I guess. It gets off to a bit of a slow and janky start. The first episode seems to take a while to get going, then once they’re off on the adventure, you’re on board, and then there’s suddenly lots of kerfuffle in France that I couldn’t quite get my head round. The following episodes follow a similar pattern - bits of it were brilliant, other moments I was quite bored by. The train across the broken viaduct was amazing, I loved them being stranded on the beach, but the whole episode in Hong Kong was far less interesting.

The real joy of the piece, though, was the trio at the heart of it all. Tennant brings his incredible talent to the jittery, brilliant but barmy Fogg, who is joined by the intrepid female journalist fighting the good fight, and Passepartout who has a vast history and his own battles between what’s right and what’s wrong. The three of them, adventuring, falling out, rescuing each other, falling back in again, crossing that finish line together… that’s what was great about it.

There’s going to be a series two, apparently that was decided before this first one was even released. I don’t fully understand how that will work - are they going around the world a second time? Or is that nod to the rumours of a sea monster the clue to which Verne adventure Fogg will be taking on next? Either way, if it’s got these three in it, or even just David Tennant doing his thing, I’m on board.

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