21 April 2001 | ephian
Great Character-Driven Science Fiction
In the genre of science fiction television that is known for lack of well-developed characters, "The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne" is delightful exception to the rule. The four regular characters, Phileas and Rebecca Fogg, Jules Verne, and Passepartout, wander the world of the 1860's in Phileas' fantastic dirigible the Aurora. Phileas, played by Michael Praed, is an ex-British Secret Service agent, an adventurer and a gambler, out to enjoy his pleasures but forever being diverted to aid his friends. His distant cousin Rebecca, played by Francesca Hunt, is a nineteenth-century Mrs. Peel, an agent extraordinaire who mixes strength and daring with warmth and vulnerability. Chris Demetral's Jules Verne is a young visionary, a blend of innocence and insight that forges a link with these people who recognize his extraordinary gifts. And Michel Courtemanche brings a wonderful blend of humor and intelligence to the inventive valet. It has humor, it has adventure, it has mystery, it has sexual tension (everyone is attracted to Rebecca, including Phileas and Jules), it has angst (watch for Phileas' reasons for quitting the secret service). It is science fiction with a refreshing nineteenth-century twist. There is a weakness in the early episodes in plot lines, but plots get better quickly. Stick with the series and it's a real treat. And kudos to Francesca Hunt's Rebecca, the strongest and most appealing female character on television today.