The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne
is a short-lived science fiction television series belonging to the Steampunk
genre that first aired in June 2000 on CBC Television in Canada and in syndication in the United States. One 22-episode season was made.
The main premise of the series is that Jules Verne
did not imagine most of his creations but based them on his real-life experiences. He was unable to refer them straight because of their clandestine and classified nature. As a young student and struggling playwright gifted with tremendous imagination, Verne (Chris Demetral) was captured by the sinister League of Darkness and subsequently rescued by Rebecca Fogg (Francesca Hunt), an agent in the employ of British Intelligence and Phileas Fogg
(Michael Praed), her cousin, technically also an agent but much more reluctant after being disillusioned by the government. Together with Phileas' valet Passepartout (Michel Coutremanche) they embark on various adventures. Determined to thwart any danger to the British Crown, they more often than not face the shadowy League of Darkness led by monstrous Count Gregory (Mike Overton).
Definitely one of the best representatives of classical among TV Series, SAoJV
are chock full of steampunkish designs and imagery. Low budget props and small sets that usually represent small, confined spaces also give the series a rather distinctive, theatrical appearance.
The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne provides examples of:
- Action Girl: Rebecca Fogg.
- Alternate History: The whole concept of the series.
- The American Civil War: In "Southern Comfort," Jules and co. lend their aid to the Yankee army, though Phileas falls in love with a southern belle.
- Awesome Anachronistic Apparel: The crew of airship commanded by Countess of Savoy.
- Battle Couple: Rebbeca and Phileas are not technically a couple (they are cousins) but they definitely behave like one.
- Butt Monkey: Passepartout.
- Came Back Wrong: Count Gregory, once a valiant knight, after his execution by Ottoman Turks he has been resurrected by a cabal of sorcerers. Now, he is not so chivalrous anymore.
- Cool Airship: Phileas Fogg's 'Aurora'.
- Deadpan Snarker: Rebbeca almost always, Phileas Fogg pretty often. Must be a family thing.
- Determinator: Rebecca is a curious type, Phileas is much more dark and violent example.
- Drill Tank: Eponymous device from "Queen Victoria and a Giant Mole".
- Fast Tunnelling: See 'Drill Tank' above. It moves so quickly and precisely that it is used as an assassination device of sorts.
- Gaslamp Fantasy: There are some episodes that lean into this area, especially "The Black Glove of Melchizedek".
- Gentleman Adventurer: Phileas Fogg.
- Goggles Do Something: Played straight. When someone wears them, he or she does it on purpose. Scientists usually don dark goggles before turning sparking electric machines on, other characters use night-vision and tracking properties of goggle-like devices.
- Gorgeous Period Dress: Many characters are upper-class females, so this is only to be expected.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Phileas Fogg is Robert of Loxley.
- Historical-Domain Character: Several, including Napoleon III, and Cardinal Richelieu.
- Historical Person Punchline: The protagonists meet a young American boy named Al, deaf in one ear, who makes amazing inventions and is able to reverse-engineer a hovering machine from the future (or the past; not sure about this one). When leaving, he reveals that Al is a shortened form of his middle name - Alva. Yep, that's Thomas Alva Edison.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Phileas all the way.
- Ladyof Adventure: Rebecca Fogg, again.
- Mad Scientist: Dr Draco from "The Eyes of Lazarus" to some degree. Count Gregory seems to attract this folk and is usually tended to by at least one.
- Mechanical Monster: Count Gregory is partially this.
- Mr. Fixit: Passepartout is said to be this but we rarely see him doing any technical work.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Count Gregory is a steampunk cyborg undead with a Brain in a Jar for a good measure. Also the rocket assassin vampires from "Rockets of the Dead".
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Jules is often surrounded by his heavily French-accented countrymen while he himself speaks in a Canadian accent. Passepartout, on the other hand, is also French but inexplicably speaks pidgin English.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Played straight in "Rockets of the Dead". When Passepartout tries to defend from vampires, he only gets mocked for 'believing in old wives' tales' concerning crosses and garlic. Sunlight is also very unpleasant for them but doesn't appear to be lethal.
- Papa Wolf: Phileas may be a short-tempered, cynical bastard but God help you if you even think of harming his cousin, valet or friend.
- Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: It is very subtle but present theme. Personality conflict between romantic, idealistic Verne and world-weary, pragmatical Fogg also has shades of this.
- The whole series are actually one big Shout-Out to Verne's novels.
- One of the episodes is named "The Victorian Candidate".
- Episode "Master of Air and Darkness", references Verne's Master of the Air from the Robur trilogy.
- Steampunk: Of course.
- Steampunk Gadgeteers: Many villains are this.
- Sky Pirate: Countess of Savoy is a politically motivated Sky Mercenary, although her actions fit this trope perfectly.
- Swapped Roles: In one episode, Phileas and Passepartout change roles after the latter is taken by mistake for a ruler of a kingdom the party is visiting.
- The Wild West: The gang spends several episodes in the U.S., where they encounter Quantrill's Raiders, gamble on a riverboat, and of course wind up in a showdown.
- Those Magnificent Flying Machines: Few, but they still are magnificent. 'Aurora' certainly qualifies. "Master of Air and Darkness"/"Southern Comfort" also introduce a flying battleship.
- Überwald: The realm of Count Rimini. Which gets pretty confusing, because despite the name his ancestral seat is in Estonia that is portrayed like a Balkanesque Ruritania.