Television Review: The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne
by Rob Drysdale
Published: January 19, 2001
Before space cruisers and before little gray aliens science fiction was a whole lot simpler. When Jules Verne first began writing the height of science fiction was airships and the completely ludicrous idea of traveling to the moon. The Sci Fi Channel’s Latest series The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne looks to take us back to the good old days of sci fi.
The idea behind The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne is that Verne’s stories (20,000 Leagues under the Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Around the world In 80 Days, etc.) were based on real experiences. Thus the series will feature a young Jules Verne as he has the adventures that will eventually become his stories. Accompanying Verne in his travels will be Phileas Fogg, his cousin Rebecca Fogg, Passepartout (Phileas Fogg’s valet).
Verne’s adventures aren’t what we normally expect from the world of sci fi. The first episode, which aired January 5th, had Verne and Fogg setting aside their mutual distrust of one another to stop the League of Darkness form assassinating Queen Victoria and sending Europe into chaos. Oh did I mention that League of Darkness was using tunneling machine called The Mole? Not a bad way to open a series is it?
How do you follow up The Mole? How about some rocket powered vampires. After Rebecca Fogg (British Secret Service Agent, and Phileas’s cousin) discovers a plot by the Duke of Carpathia to take over the world with rocket powered vampires. It was up to Verne and Phileas to rescue Rebecca from the Duke.
The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne is full of terrific acting. Chris Demetral (Dream On) does an admirable job as an American studying at the University of Paris where his studies are always in the way of overactive imagination. Verne’s chief companion is Phileas Fogg, a former British Secret Service agent and worldly traveler, played by Michael Praed. Tagging along for the ride is Michael Courtemanche as Phileas’s valet Passepartout. Finally we come to Francesca Hunt (BBC’s Roughnecks and Strathblair) as the sexy, yet tough, British Secret Service agent and Phileas’s cousin Rebecca Fogg.
Maybe the best thing about The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne is that it is the first television program to be filmed SPECIFICALLY for HDTV. For you technophiles out there they used SONY HDW-700 High Definition video cameras. Combine that with some excellent digital add ins, an 18th century setting, and you end up with a spectacular looking series.
If you want to see a bit more on the Sci Fi Channel’s The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne the check out their site at SciFi.com. The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne” airs on Friday Nights at 10 o’clock P.M. on the Sci Fi Channel.