Sundays at 7 p.m., starting Jan. 2
Mondays at 3:30 p.m., starting Jan. 3
Literature’s most famous race against time comes to “Masterpiece” in 2022 with an innovative new adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic novel “Around The World In Eighty Days,” David Tennant stars as the Englishman who bets a fortune that he can circumnavigate the planet in a mere eighty days — quite a feat, considering that it’s 1872. Ibrahim Koma and Leonie Benesch costar as his intrepid traveling companions on an expedition that packs far more adventure than the trio bargained for.
Updating Verne’s enduringly popular tale, “Masterpiece” introduces new themes, characters and stories, drawing in part on the author’s own personal history of disappointment in love, and also echoing the record-breaking around-the-world trip in 1890 by journalist Nellie Bly in emulation of Verne’s plot.
Shot on location on two continents, the miniseries follows our heroes as they head east from London on October 5, 1872, intending to make it back to the reading room of the city’s snobbish Reform Club no later than one o’clock on Christmas Eve. En route, they take ships, trains, balloons, camels, stagecoaches and other conveyances, while meeting increasingly dangerous obstacles. At stake is a wager of 20,000 British pounds, equal to over $3 million in today’s U.S. currency.
The idea for the trip is sparked by a news article reporting a recently finished railway line in India that completes an unbroken chain of modern transportation links spanning the globe, making it possible to circle the planet in eighty days — at least, in theory. Phileas Fogg (Tennant), a diffident bachelor and regular at the Reform Club, muses longingly about the possibility and is goaded by his old antagonist, Nyle Bellamy, into undertaking the journey, with a hefty bet riding on the outcome.
Deciding that his octogenarian butler is not up to the voyage, Fogg recruits a new valet, Passepartout (Koma), who is a sharp-witted French wanderer, and they immediately set forth. Doggedly following their trail is the ambitious reporter of the story that launched the adventure, Abigail “Fix” Fortescue (Benesch), daughter of a British newspaper magnate. Fogg soon concludes that he can’t get rid of Abigail and enlists her as an official member of the expedition.
As Fogg, Passepartout and Abigail experience revolution, starvation, false arrest, surreptitious drugging, life-threatening attacks and stranding on a desert island, it begins to seem that fate — or somebody — does not want Fogg to win his bet!