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PBS’ Around the World in 80 Days Review – David Tennant Stars in Fun New Adaptation

Here is everything you need to know about the new period drama adaptation of Jules Verne's classic adventure novel on PBS' MASTERPIECE.

Around the World in 80 Days (2021) Starring David Tennant

around the world in 80 days featured image with David Tennant
Around the World in 80 Days with David Tennant. Photo: Ibrahim Koma as Jean Passepartout, David Tennant as Phileas Fogg, and Leonie Benesch as Abigail “Fix” Fortescue. Credit: Courtesy of Federation Entertainment

David Tennant (Doctor Who, Good Omens, Jessica Jones) is back to charm viewers around the world in the latest (and unique) new version of Jules Verne’s classic adventure novel, Around the World in Eighty Days.

The eight-part series (created by Ashley Pharoah) premiered on BBC1 in December 2021 (Boxing Day), and the first episode premiered on PBS’ Masterpiece on Sunday, January 2nd, 2022. New episodes premiere weekly. (And in a bit of good news, the show has already been renewed for a second season!)

The latest version is an entertaining and fresh modern take on the extraordinary story and will entertain families looking for something both fun and meaningful to watch together.

But before I jump into my review, here is everything you need to know about the new delightful series.

Around the World in 80 Days Official Trailer

To help get you excited for this fantastic new show, here is the official preview from Masterpiece PBS. Yes, the production quality is as stunning as it looks…

Check out the trailer above.

Around the World in 80 Days Story

around the world in 80 days david tennant
David Tennant (PHILEAS FOGG). Credit: Courtesy of Anika Molnár – © Slim 80 Days / Federation Entertainment / Peu Communications / ZDF / Be-Films / RTBF

In the classic tale, David Tennant stars as the courageous fictional adventurer Phileas Fogg attempting to circumnavigate the world in only 80 days. He’s a bit of a timid traveler, tired of his everyday daily routines where nothing happens.

So, when he reads an article about traveling around the globe in 80 days, he finally feels inspired to do something about his dull existence!

Unfortunately, no one takes him seriously, leading to an insane bet at a gentlemen’s reform club. Fogg will have to pay 20,000 pounds to the dastardly and villainous Mr. Bellamy if he loses the seemingly impossible wager.

On his adventure, his new valet (a bit of an irrepressible rascal and mystery), Jean Passepartout (Ibrahim Koma), and Abigail “Fix” Fortescue, an ambitious young journalist who wrote the newspaper article that first inspired Fogg, join him.

Her father also owns the newspaper and isn’t thrilled with her ambitions or decision to travel.

The trio faces crazy adventures traveling to places like Italy, Paris, and Hong Kong. It’s all a bit like Doctor Who; you know, if Fogg were an amnesiac version of the Doctor, unaware that he’s actually an alien timelord with extraordinary abilities. And instead of a TARDIS, there is a hot air balloon (at least in the beginning).

Now, this is not a supernatural fantasy series, but the adventure aspect – told with a lot of emotion and heart – matches the style and tone of historical Doctor Who episodes.

And with David Tennant starring, it’s tough to go wrong here.

Around the World in 80 Days Cast

around the world in 80 days abigail and passepartout
Leonie Benesch (ABIGAIL “FIX” FORTESCUE) and Ibrahim Koma (PASSEPARTOUT). Credit: Courtesy of Tudor Cucu – © Slim 80 Days / Federation Entertainment / Peu Communications / ZDF / Be-Films / RTBF

Besides David Tennant as Phileas Fogg, he’s joined by an all-star cast, including French actor Ibraham Koma as Passepartout and Leonie Benesch as Abigail.

The cast also includes Jason Watkins as Donald Fortescue (father of Abigail Fortescue) and Peter Sullivan as Nyle Bellamy (a wicked Victorian gentleman).

Viewers should also expect talented guests and recurring actors of the highest quality – including Lindsay Duncan as Jane Digby, Gary Beadle, Richard Wilson, Anthony Flanagan, Dolly Wells, and more!

Around the World in 80 Days Review

around the world in 80 days train picture
Ibrahim Koma (PASSEPARTOUT), David Tennant (PHILEAS FOGG) and Leonie Benesch (ABIGAIL “FIX” FORTESCUE). Credit: Courtesy of © Slim 80 Days / Federation Entertainment / Peu Communications / ZDF / Be-FILMS / RTBF (Télévision belge)– 2021

There is something rather inspirational about this adaptation. Watching, you feel it’s never too late to reach for your dreams. And that no matter how others judge you, you can find your true strength and shine.

It’s all very romantic and uplifting but fun despite some underlying sadness to the characters and their circumstances.

While some might complain about the changes from the novel, such as adding Abigail as a character to the series (she is not in the book) – I think the changes are inspired and fitting for a modern audience.

Journalist Abigail Fix is based on the real-life journalist Nellie Bly, who, inspired by Verne’s novel, traveled around the globe and wrote about it in 1890.

She wanted to prove it was possible. And she did – traveling around the world in 72 days. She even met Jules Verne during her travels!

Such fun!

Adding the Nellie Bly-like journalist, while reaching beyond the words on the page, feels true to the spirit of adventure the book inspired in so many – including the famous journalist.

David Tennant is, of course, perfection in the role. He brings humanity and heart. Fogg is a depressed character who decides to try and live again! It’s courageous.

Tennant is, as always, a charismatic lead actor and is made for the role, bringing out the depth of the character in new ways.

THE PRODUCTION QUALITY

Besides the strong cast and acting, the script is polished, the characterization just right, and the production quality epic.

In a surprise move, the Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer even composed the central theme – and it is gorgeous.

Around the World in 80 Days is an epic production with a big budget from the costumes to the set designs, the locations around the globe, everything is grand! And that makes it absolutely fun to watch.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

pbs around the world in 80 days david tennant promo photo
David Tennant (PHILEAS FOGG). Credit: Courtesy of © Slim 80 Days / Federation Entertainment / Peu Communications / ZDF / Be-FILMS / RTBF (Télévision belge)– 2021

Overall, Around the World in 80 days is an engaging romp that I can’t wait to keep watching! I have not seen every episode yet, so I don’t have thoughts on potential romances yet, but it’s one of my favorite new series, and I look forward to seeing how the entire season plays out.

While purists may complain, I think the show captures the book’s spirit and is likely to capture the hearts of viewers around the globe in this new year.

It may even inspire a new generation of adventurers or anyone really to reach for their dreams. It never is too late to go on your own adventure of a lifetime, after all.

Content Note: TV-14 but mild overall.

How to Watch Around the World in 80 Days

In the UK, you can watch the series weekly on BBC1 or the BBC iPlayer.

In the US, the show airs weekly on Sundays on PBS’s Masterpiece at 8/7c, or you can stream it on PBS Passport or the PBS Masterpiece Amazon Channel.

You can also stream it for free on PBS.org.

The series is available to buy on Digital (although you’ll have to wait for all of the new episodes to air before you can binge-watch it).

Have you watched any of Around the World in 80 Days starring David Tennant yet? What do you think of the new period drama? Do you like it as much as I do? Sound off below.

Five corsets rating

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By on January 7th, 2022

About Amber Topping

Amber works as a blogger/writer full-time and fell in love with stories and imagination at an early age. She has a Humanities and Film Degree from BYU, co-created The Silver Petticoat Review, contributed as a writer to various magazines, and has an MS in Publishing from Pace University, where she received the Publishing Award of Excellence and wrote her thesis on transmedia, Jane Austen, and the romance genre. Her ultimate dreams are publishing books, writing and producing movies, traveling around the world, and forming a creative village of talented storytellers trying to change the world through art.

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