Saturday, August 29, 2015


If you've been keeping track, the TVXOHOF inductee for our 2015 British Invasion in August, our traditional month for TV Westerns, is Phileas Fogg of Jules Verne's classic novel "Around The World In Eighty Days".

Fogg was inducted as a multiversal as well as a multidimensional.  This means that he is not only to be found in several fictional universes based on different media, like movies (the Cineverse) and of course in literature (BookWorld), but in many different dimensions of the television universe as well (known here as Toobworld, but also known as TV Land and simply the TV Universe.)  Some of these dimensions which are divergent from the main one, Earth Prime-Time, would be Skitlandia, Evil Toobworld, Disaster Toobworld, and the Tooniverse.

Fogg was part of the main cast of 'The Secret Adventures Of Jules Verne' and he was a guest character in an episode of 'Have Gun Will Travel'.  The timeline for Fogg's journey meshed perfectly with Paladin's as the globe-trotters made their way from San Francisco to Reno in 1872.  And that got me thinking that over the years there were other TV shows in which the British adventurer, his valet Passepartout, and the Princess Aouda could have come into contact with other TV characters known to have existed in 1872.

The fact that the actors chosen to play Fogg & Co. over the years would never be the same from one show to the next would have been of no import.  We splain away such recastaways by saying that we are seeing them from the point of view of one of the characters.  That would apply to either historical figures or literary/movie character adaptations.  

So with that in mind, here is my Super Six List of TV shows in which the main characters could have met Phileas Fogg in 1872.  And I'll toss in the actors who could have played the role at that point in Time....


This Bondian Western was always out there with the sci-fi/fantasy plots and characters, with several standing out in their explorations of dreamscapes and time travel.  So I think if Phileas Fogg was to cross the path of Jim West and Artemus Gordon, it would have been the opposite situation from his interaction with Paladin: they would have been at odds with each other.  The Secret Service agents would have been ordered to intercept Fogg as a favor to the British Ambassador due to the allegation that he robbed the Bank of England.  And that means Jim and Arte would have been working with the bumbling Inspector Fix.  It could have been that the train which carried Fogg across the Great Plains had Jim's special train car attached at the back.  As an added bonus, Fogg would have been assisted in his escape by Dr. Miguelito Quixote Loveless.  I think eventually the agents would have arranged for it to look like Fogg had outwitted them and escaped, once they realized he was innocent.

Actor as Fogg? 

My choice would have been David Niven, once again trying his luck in American television.  It would have been quite a "get" for CBS to land the actor who played the role in the big-budget Oscar-winning movie. 

Somehow Fogg's journey would have imperilled the chances for Joshua Smith and Thaddeus Jones to get that pardon from the Territorial Governor of Wyoming.  Perhaps the rumor would be spreading that the notorious bank robber from England had teamed up with the equally notorious Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry.  Then it would have been in the best interests of the Kansas cousins to make sure Fogg and his party were safely out of the territory.  But getting them on board the train in time to keep to Fogg's schedule might have put them at risk of capture by Harry Briscoe and the Bannerman detectives.....

Actor as Fogg?

ABC was not known to be as free with the purse strings as CBS, so they wouldn't have gone after David Niven to return to the role.  As for another choice, it's a shame he had already appeared in the show and that I don't like recastaways, otherwise I might have suggested Patrick Macnee.  (But as I said, he had already been on the show in the episode "The Man Who Murdered Himself".)  So I have another suggestion in mind: Richard Briers, who was just two years away from playing Tom to Felicity Kendall's Barbara in 'Good Neighbours'.  He had a personality that would have fit the playful nature of that Western series.  (Briers is older in this picture than he should be as Fogg - probably from 'Monarch Of The Glen' - but it suggests the look I'd be seeking.)

Apparently, the rule of thumb for placing 'Bonanza' episodes on the Toobworld timeline is that they should have taken place 100 years before broadcast.  So looking at it backwards then, the storyline (in which Fogg arrives in Nevada after leaving Paladin's guidance) would  have to have been produced for presentation in 1972.  By then Pernell Roberts had been long gone from the Ponderosa and Dan Blocker was not long for the world.  I think Hoss would have been the best foil for dealing with Phileas Fogg and especially Passepartout, just remembering the episode in which he was going to test the wings developed by Ed Wynn's character.  But of course, if you wanted to put the spotlight on Princess Aouda, the go-to Cartwright would have to be Little Joe, when she perhaps wanted to make Fogg jealous.  And then there was always Candy Canady who could have been the featured character for that week.....

Actor as Fogg?

This patriarchal Western might have needed a British actor with not only a light touch if called for, but also the gravitas to stand toe to toe with the head of the Cartwright clan, Ben Cartwright.  (Ben might have given Fogg some help that would come in handy later - specifically, Ben might have offered to send his brother Aaron and son Adam for their aid in securing a ship to take Fogg and his traveling companions back to the Sceptr'd Isle.  With that in mind, I would suggest George Baker, who had not yet begun work as Tiberius in 'I, Claudius', but who was perhaps known to the American audience as one of the first Number Twos in 'The Prisoner'.

4} 'KUNG FU'
According to the "ever reliable" IMDb:  "[The] Pilot episode shows a telegram (59 min. in) dated November 1873, placing the character's birth squarely in the mid-19th century, 1840–1850.  (And I should point out that they were right this time.)

Just over a year before Dillon received that telegram, Kwai Chiang Caine could have been in Shanghai when Fogg and the Princess needed to board the Canartic which was bound for Yokohama.  Caine may have helped them overcome the obstacles that might have prevented them from reaching the steamer.

Actor as Fogg?

The aforementioned Patrick Macnee has been much on my mind since his passing a month or so ago.  I think that as the definitively dapper Englishman, he'd be a good choice for playing Phileas Fogg.  And since he only appeared in the show's sequel, 'Kung Fu: The Legend Continues', set in a much later time period, there is no impediment caused by being a recastaway.

This would have been the one show that had the most potential for a very humorous story.  I can envision Brother Bart Maverick in a card game with Passepartout rather than with Fogg.  And for most of the game, Bart would be winning, heavily, against the manservant.  It would get to the point where the onlookers would be pleading with Bart to put Passepartout out of his misery by ending the game.  And that's when the conniving valet would turn the tables on that tall dark stranger there: he not only would win back all his own money, but take Bart for everything he had and then some.  With no other recourse to pay Passepartout back, Bart accepts the only option offered him - to serve as Fogg's valet for two weeks while Passepartout enjoys a bit of a vacation.  (By the way, I chose Bart over Bret for this dream episode because Bart had a better handle on the humor when he was stuck in such a hapless situation.)  An added possibility: Phileas knew Beau Maverick when he had been banished to England by Pappy!

Actor as Fogg?

Because 'Maverick' was produced close in time to when 'Have Gun Will Travel' did their episode based on the Jules Verne novel, why not have those three guest stars all return to the same roles?  (The Princess and Passepartout are seen here.  Fogg is seen at the top of the page.)
  • Patrick Knowles as Phileas Fogg
  • Jon Silo as Jean Passepartout
  • Arlene McQuade as Princess Aouda
This would have been the easiest of the bunch to splain away for making sure the Doctor was shoe-horned into the journey's timeline at some point between October of 1872 when Fogg makes the bet at his club, and the week before Christmas of that year.  Personally, I would prefer that the Doctor encountered Fogg at some point in the Pacific between the time they left Shanghai on board the General Grant and before they reached San Francisco.  Why?  Because it was during that ocean voyage that Fogg had reached the half-way point in his journey.  In itself, that might not be so spectacular for a 'Doctor Who' story, except from an outsider's point of view.  That is, from the perspective of a Whovian in the Trueniverse audience.  You see, Fogg reached that point on November 23, a special date in 'Doctor Who' lore.  Most importantly, it was the date on which 'Doctor Who' premiered on English TV in 1963.  And within the television universe it's also the birthday of the Doctor's Companion Clara Osgood, who was born in 1986.  

As for the reason why the TARDIS  would bring the Doctor together with Phileas Fogg, first we'd have to decide on which incarnation of the Doctor would be involved.  I suppose I could run through the entire list of the Doctors and find an appropriate actor from each point in time.  But why put myself through all that work?  I'm going to look at it as a possibility for a future episode with Peter Capaldi as the current incarnation.

And since we're already dealing with at most four characters from BookWorld (if we include Inspector Fix), why not have the threat for this adventure be from the literary universe as well?  Why not have Fogg's vessel the General Grant be attacked by Cthullhu, rising from the watery depths of R'lyeh?  First off, H.P. Lovecraft's Old One would link 'Doctor Who' to several other TV shows.....

Actor as Fogg?  

So somebody current, easiest of the bunch to cast....  How about Toby Stephens?  Dashing, a proper age to play the role....

So those are my suggestions for Fogg's appearances in other TV shows.  Let me know if you have any ideas of other options.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Omg, your ideas for Wild Wild West and Maverick were absolutely fantastic!