It’s like The Amazing Race for the Victorian era. The clock is always ticking in a divertingly old-school Masterpiece adaptation of the Jules Verne classic, Around the World in Eighty Days, sustaining a sense of wonder about the potential for technological mobility before the age of planes and automobiles.
Trains, however, play a big part in novice traveler Phileas Fogg’s (David Tennant) quixotic 1872 odyssey to circle the globe in never-before-seen haste. So do hot-air balloons, and boats, and camels. And that’s just the first three (of eight) episodes.
Tennant, a versatile favorite of Doctor Who and Broadchurch fame, nicely manages the transition from stiff-upper-lip fussbudget to wild-eyed adventurer, blurting, “I’ve never felt so alive in my life!” after a near-death experience during a revolution in Paris.
Fogg’s in good company with his mercurial French valet, Passepartout (Ibrahim Koma), and, new to the tale, an ambitious female journalist (Leonie Benesch) who knows a good story when she sees it.
Filmed in South Africa and Romania, this Around the World frolic might be just the ticket for those whose wanderlust was curtailed in recent years. Buckle up.
Around the World in 80 Days, Premieres Sunday, January 2, 2022, 8/7c, PBS (check local listings at pbs.org)