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The novel follows wealthy
English gentleman Phileas Fogg who argued with members of his club that the
opening of a new railway section in India made it possible to get around the
world in 80 days. He's challenged to prove that, with the wager being half his
fortune: £20,000 (or roughly £1.9 million in today’s money, time of writing).
With his remaining money and valet, Jean Passepartout, Fogg sets out to win the
Phileas Fogg's path.
course, the journey wasn’t smooth. Fogg and Passepartout encountered numerous
obstacles both natural and man-made along the way; starting with the fact that
the newspaper article that inspired the whole thing ended up being wrong, and
that the connecting track in India hadn’t yet been built. They gained a new
traveling companion in Aouda, who was set to be sacrificed against her will by
fire. They also had a shadow: Scotland Yard detective
Fix, who believed Fogg was a bank robber whose description he matched and was
determined to arrest him either on British territory or back in London. Ultimately,
Fogg did get arrested and subsequently released when it was learned that the
actual culprit had already been caught. Believing he missed the deadline, Fogg
was resigned to living in poverty until Passepartout reminded him that they
were actually ahead of schedule, basically thanks to time zones chipping
away time from their journey as went against the sunrise. Fogg won the bet and
the love of Aouda, and split the money with Passepartout and Fix.
Game board illustrating Nellie Bly's journey in 1889.
with other enduring works of literature, Around the World has been
adapted, expanded upon, or parodied numerous times across various media;
including stage plays as early
as 1874, films as
early as 1919, television films, games and more. One of those was an
Australian animated series that aired in 1972; the first Australian-produced
cartoon to be aired on American network television.
Fogg, Passepartout and Toto.
the World in Eighty Days was a very loose adaptation of the novel. While
the protagonist was still Phileas Fogg (Alastair Duncan), his motivations for
the journey were much different. This version was in love with a woman named
Belinda Maze (Janet Waldo)
and wanted to marry her. But her uncle, Lord Maze (Owen Weingott), was against
a commoner becoming her husband. Maze proposed a wager: if he could
successfully travel the world in 80 days, he would allow him to marry
Belinda. If he failed, he would never see her again. A pot of £20,000 was
thrown in for good measure (and as a nod to the original plotline).
Mr. Fix being chastised by Lord Maze.
Fogg accepted this proposal and set out with his French valet, Jean
Passepartout (Ross Higgins), and Passepartout’s pet monkey, Toto (even the
Australians weren’t above the animal sidekick trope prevalent in that era).
They would employ all manner of transportation native to the 19th
century including balloons, trains, animals and ships. However, Maze planned to
win this bet and hired a saboteur, Mr. Fix (Max Osbiston), to interfere and
impede Fogg’s journey by any means necessary.
The random collection of stuff Fogg asked for coming in handy as makeshift transport.
the World in Eighty Days debuted on NBC
on September 9, 1972. Each episode followed a similar structure: Fogg announced
their intended location; Fogg asked Passepartout to pack a bag with a seemingly
random collection of items that actually end up serving a purpose in the
episode; Fogg delivered a proverb to Passepartout that would also help in their
success by episode’s end; Fix had a full discussion with himself about how he
planned to stop Fogg; Fogg and Passepartout followed their itinerary and along
the way Fogg would explain the history of their visited locations; Fix was hot
on their heels, usually in a disguise that they failed to see through at first (typically
that of the driver of whatever transport they were taking); and the episode
ended with Fogg exclaiming “Good show, Passepartout!” The series was approached
with a more comedic slant than the book; particularly in the ridiculous plans
Fix kept coming up with that backfired on him, or Passepartout’s overreactions
to various situations as they arose (as well as constantly declaring “Fix
tricks!” when things went wrong). Occasionally, Maze would take a hand in
trying to derail Fogg himself. Belinda would also send Fogg support, information
she overheard about Maze’s schemes (some of which was falsely planted by Maze
with that expectation) and joined him occasionally along the way.