Editor's Note: This story came out of our archives; when it was originally posted, the show wasn't that terribly old. But it's been about a decade since "The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne" was on the air, and today it qualifies, sadly, as forgotten scifi TV. We've added a little extra information from the original article to round it all out now that we're 10 years away from the end of the series.
"When I read this story I had a flash of inspiration. What if there was a lot more truth behind Jules Verne's stories than anyone had believed? What if, in fact, he had actually experienced them as a young man, and then disguised names and dates to avoid offending powerful people?" Series creator Gavin Scott's reportedly had these thoughts after reading author Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, and then learning that Jules Verne had also written a very different, unreleased version...
From the first seconds of the opening credits, viewers were treated to a richness of music and lush effects that set the mood and quickly transported them to that most surreal time, the Victorian era. Fans saw technology and tradition blended in ways that no other time in history could accommodate. The mentality of Victorian times was often eccentric, intelligent and overdone, and provided the perfect backdrop for our adventures to begin.
Many of the series' stunning special effects were created digitally on HTDV ("Jules Verne" was the first hour-long TV show to be completely filmed in HD, according to Wikipedia), then computer processed to create the richly detailed scenes. But in addition, many sets were carefully crafted on a sound stage, which started life as a railroad train engine repair shed in Montreal, Canada. This building housed a street in Paris, the sewer tunnels, castles, dungeons, caves, and even the lavish airship used by Verne and his friends, The Aurora.
"The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne" lasted 22 episodes between June and December of 2000 and featured scifi-friendly guest stars such as Rene Auberjonois ("Deep Space Nine"), Margot Kidder (the "Superman" films), Tracy Scoggins ("Babylon 5") and John Rhys-Davies ("Sliders").
Jules Verne meets fellow series regulars Phileas, Rebecca and Passpartout by chance and they form a motley, not-historically-accurate group that occasionally tries to thwart the League of Darkness, an international terrorist organization led by a cyborg. Episodes tackled topics and people like Mark Twain, the Holy Grail, Cardinal Richelieu, Nicolas Poussin and others. The group flies around on a dirigible airship called The Aurora, a home base and means of transportation.
The CastJules Verne is a struggling young writer in Paris with a particular talent for conjuring detailed visions of the future. While his only goal is to become a successful author, the League of Darkness has other plans. This organization wishes to steal his visions and use them for their own purposes. Soon, he is pulled into a continuing battle against them, aided by Phileas Fogg and his cousin Rebecca Fogg. Jules is played by Chris Demetral (of HBO's "Dream On")
Phileas Fogg is the son of the founder of the British Secret Service. A charming and stylish world traveler, Phileas had vowed not to continue his father's work. But, in spite of himself, he joins forces with Jules and Rebecca to fight for his country. Phileas is portrayed by Michael Praed (veteran Broadway and London stage actor, "Dynasty" regular and "Riders" star).
Rebecca Fogg is the first female field agent ever to join the British Secret Service. She is multi-talented, beautiful, strong and brave. She has the ability to blend in with polite Victorian society, then turn and fight some of the strongest, most evil men in existence. She is played by British stage actress Francesca Hunt ("Roughnecks" and "Strathblair").
Passepartout is the manservant of Phileas. He is one of those interesting characters that always seems to have just what is needed at any given moment, and accomplishes his tasks with a dramatic and humorous flair. He is played to perfection by Michael Courtemanche (in his first TV series; theater credits include the one-man show "A new Comic is Born" which he performed more than 500 times, and "The New Adventures of Michel Courtemanche").
By the way, if the names Phileas Fogg and Passepartouot seem familiar to you, they were characters in Jules Verne's novel, Around The World In Eighty Days. With the assistance of Gavin Scott, they have made the transition from the classic novel to this small-screen twist on Verne's visions.