Every season, I sit down to watch the latest and greatest in all things drama, and this month we have been blessed wtih two super exciting shows, starting wtih MASTERPIECE’s newest offering: Around The World in 80 Days. Adventure! Travel! Hijinks! What more could you want? Miss an episode? Check in each week for a recap following the show on Sunday evenings.

You know how sometimes, for whatever reason, your school just skips one of the classics? Around The World in 80 Days was one of those for me, so I’m going into this puppy totally blind, and I could not be more excited. Episode 1 opens with a gorgeous ticking clock, which we then see rendered in a drawing being carried upstairs by somebody with extraordinarily shaky hands. Is the person elderly? Unwell? Terrified? Some combination thereof? Couldn’t say, but I have a hard time believing anyone could be terrified of the gentleman to whom he’s bringing the tea tray: David Tennant, who we know from the promos is playing our protagonist Phileas Fogg, or as I will be calling him, Purple Haze. Purple Haze is obviously NOT terrifying, because even though Knock-Off Alfred (for this tea-bearing gentleman can be nothing but a butler) has sloshed a good portion of our hero’s tea into the saucer, Purple Haze merely sighs and suggests they upgrade to larger cups.

Purple Haze: Uh, what’s with the clock?
Knock-Off Alfred, blithe: It’s a postcard.
Purple Haze, flipping the card to see someone has scrawled “coward” on the back: Woah, who did this?
Knock-Off Alfred: Your guess is as good as mine!

Completely unhelpful! Anyway, across town, a young lady meets with a group of newsies who look like they were cast by the CW, i.e. all at least 30 years old. Very quickly we can tell that this gal is a) the daughter of the boss, and b) very eager to get her hands on the paper. Why? Because it’s her first byline, and she’s experiencing all of the emotions that go along with that. Finally, she's handed a paper hot off the presses and hungrily opens it in search of her story.

Meanwhile, a gentleman in a bowler hat makes his way into a building that proclaims itself The Reform Club. Is he a member? Nope: he heads into the staff area, where a maid gets her flirt on in a way that makes me think they are… not strangers. Unfortunately for her, they aren’t staying friendly despite her solid pronunciation of his French name, which is Passepartout. Did you know that that translates to Master Key, which of course made me think of this scene from Ghostbusters?

A woman opens a door and asks "are you the keymaster?"

Anyway, Monsieur Master Key (M. Master Key for short), is about to let this gal down as easy as possible.

M. Master Key: You know, I envy him.
Cute Maid: Who?
M. Master Key, smooth as hell: The man who’s going to steal your heart one day!
Cute Maid: But I met him! He’s you!
M. Master Key: You deserve more than me: a man who will settle down. I promise, it’s for the best. Anyway, bye!

And with that, he bustles off to work. Upstairs, a grumpy Purple Haze heads into the reading room where he gets lightly roasted for being late, and tries to subtly figure out if the two dudes he’s sitting with sent him the mean postcard. He doesn’t succeed.

Rich Guy 1: I say, this is a great piece in your newspaper, old boy. This guy claims you can get around the world in 80 days! Bullsh*t!
Me, obligatory:

A man looks concerned with the subtitle "hey, that's the name of the show!"

Purple Haze: It’s not BS — if you had a good plan, didn’t give up, and used technology… it’d be doable!
Rich Guy 2, newspaper owner and thus apparently the papa of our budding journalist from earlier: You and your technology!
Purple Haze: Seriously, last night I read about a new invention: a balloon you can ride on!
Rich Guy 1: LOL as if I’d go up in a balloon invented by a Frenchman!
M. Master Key, pouring drinks while French and “accidentally” throwing a sugar cube at Rich Guy 1:

A man says "Oops."

Rich Guy 1, perturbed, pretends not to be annoyed and orders everyone’s lunch, whilst Purple Haze continues to be distracted by this wild travel idea. You see, he once tried to be adventurous. Did he succeed? No! But now the idea is lodged in his head, and between that and Rich Guy 1 calling him boring, I think we all know where this is going. But before Purple Haze can start packing his suitcase, in walks Rich Guy 2’s daughter, Ginge Nellie Bly, and she’s NOT in a good mood.

Gatekeeper Butler: Uh, you gotta leave, this is members only!
Ginge Nellie Bly: Too bad, I’m coming in. Dad, WTF? Can you tell me what’s wrong with this article?
Rich Guy 2: Well, you know, I can’t offend my readers…
Ginge Nellie Bly, channelling the following iconic moment from Buffy The Vampire Slayer: I wrote this! You can’t just give me some male pen name without asking! It’s 1872: a lady can be a writer!

A woman says "this is the 90s - the 1990s in point of fact, and I can do both!"

Rich Guy 2: I don’t want to talk about this here. We can discuss it in my office at 2.
Gatekeeper Butler: Really, you have to leave, you’re frightening the members.

A woman rolls her eyes

While the “gentlemen” try to soothe their weirdly ruffled feathers upstairs, M. Master Key walks Ginge Nellie Bly out.

M. Master Key: Dude, believe me, you’re better off leaving: this place sucks.
Ginge Nellie Bly:

A little girl makes a face that says "yeah right."

And even though Ginge Nellie Bly didn’t get the byline she deserved (yet), her piece IS having an impact, because you guessed it: she was the one who wrote that article about going around the world in 80 days, thereby putting all the wheels of this very show in motion.

Purple Haze: Look dude, your daughter might indeed be a woman, but this is a great article. I think she’s right: it is possible, if you got lucky with weather and so on. Someone will do this.
Rich Guy 1: LOL, well it won’t be YOU.
Purple Haze, thinking about that postcard from earlier: It will though! It will be me!
Everyone else:

Two women laugh uproariously

Rich Guy 2: Are you ok? What’s wrong with you?
Purple Haze: Nothing! I’m leaving today.
Rich Guy 1: Ok, prove it. Let’s bet on it. 10,000 pounds.
Rich Guy 2: Oh, no, this is a bad idea.
Rich Guy 1: What are you, a chicken?
Purple Haze: 20,000. I’ll see you all back here, no later than 1PM 80 days from now which is... Christmas eve. Bye!!!

And this bet isn’t the ONLY male foolishness happening today: down in the servant’s area, M. Master Key gets into a tussle with a guy who’s annoyed that our French friend is trying to comfort that maid he dumped earlier. It’s not the world’s most exciting fight, but when M. Master Key pushes his attacker into a bunch of plates, the guy cuts himself, and faints. Perhaps sensing that things are not going to go great for him if he sticks around, M. Master Key bounces, running into the hall where Rich Guy 2 attempts to talk Purple Haze out of his quest.

Rich Guy 2: You can’t do this! Who’s going to go with you?
Purple Haze: Knock-Off Alfred, duh!
Rich Guy 2: Not duh! He barely made it up the stairs at the beginning of this very recap!

Unphased, Purple Haze heads off home to prepare, and who should greet him there but M. Master Key. How? Well, he overheard Purple Haze asking the bellboy at the club to get a note to an agency to send Purple Haze a valet, and, seizing the opportunity, M. Master Key has presented himself for the job.

A man smiles and nods.

Purple Haze: Ok, cool. Hey just FYI, I’m planning to go around the world in 80 days.
M. Master Key, inside: Yeah buddy, why do you think I’m here?
M. Master Key, out loud: Awesome!
Purple Haze: Wow, you’re weirdly chill about this. What languages do you speak?
M. Master Key: Well, French, obvi, and also Italian, German, Spanish, some Cantonese, Russian, and I can ask where the fire escape is in Swahili.
Purple Haze:

A man asks "do I know you? I feel like I know you."

M. Master Key, fibbing: I don’t think so?
Purple Haze: Ok! Well don’t just stand there, go pack! Knock-Off Alfred will show you what I need.

While M. Master Key heads off to do that, Purple Haze grabs the rest of what he’s bringing from his safe, which notably includes a whole stack of postcards like the “coward” one from this morning, and an engraved flask. Across town, Rich Guy 2 rants to his daughter about how unprepared Purple Haze is for this venture.

Ginge Nellie Bly: Well look, I’m going to need an expense account, and I’ll send updates from the road.
Rich Guy 2: I’m sorry, what?
Ginge Nellie Bly: Here’s my contract for my new regular column. I’m going with your buddy.
Rich Guy 2: Uh, no! Absolutely not!
Ginge Nellie Bly: I hate to do this, but I’m pretty sure your rival paper would love to read my column.
Rich Guy 2: You know less about the world than Purple Haze, and that’s saying something!
Me: Well, she knows she’s got you over a barrel, so…
Ginge Nellie Bly: What she said. Sign it, I gotta go.
Rich Guy 2: Ugh, fine. But I don’t like it.
Ginge Nellie Bly: I’m going to be a real writer, and I can’t do that here.
Rich Guy 2: Ok. Just be careful! He’s planning to leave at 6, assuming he gets to the docks.
Ginge Nellie Bly: He better, or he’ll have me to deal with.

Why do I have the feeling Ginge Nelly Bly and M. Master Key are going to end up being the backbone of this little adventure? Anyway, back at the house, Purple Haze says goodbye to Knock-Off Alfred, and jumps into a cab. Next stop: Paris!

M. Master Key: Wait, hold up, Paris?
Purple Haze: Uh, yeah, what’s the problem? We’re just going to change trains there.
M. Master Key, definitely lying: Nothing! Let’s go!

And with that, they’re off. Unfortunately for our buddy Purple Haze, it turns out that the first leg of their journey does NOT agree with him, and so he’s violently barfing over the side of the boat when Ginge Nelly Bly appears and explains that she’s here to cover his trip.

Purple Haze: What? No!
Ginge Nellie Bly: Think of the publicity!
Purple Haze, walking off: Exactly! Still no!
M. Master Key: Bummer, I think we would have had fun ;)
Ginge Nellie Bly: Wait, you’re the waiter from the club!
M. Master Key: Uh. Well, like he said, have a nice trip back home!

Oh, M. Master Key, there’s no way she’s giving up that easy. Later that night, our non-puking pals bump into each other on the boat deck and have a chat about Paris.

M. Master Key: Nice guidebook! You do know you can’t really learn about a city from a book, right?
Ginge Nellie Bly: You’re snarky, you know that right? Where’s Purple Haze?
M. Master Key: Barfing!
Ginge Nellie Bly: Tracks. And do you think he’s going to make it?
M. Master Key: LOL, no! Why do you think he doesn’t want you to come along? He’s worried you’ll publicize it when he fails. Anyway, got any booze?
Ginge Nellie Bly: No! And I believe in him!
M. Master Key: Ok, weirdo. Well, goodnight!

The next day, the squad arrives in a Paris overrun by demonstrators, and the protests have already thrown a wrench in the works: the train stations are closed until the unrest dies down, and in the words of M. Master Key, that could take years.

M. Master Key: Anyway, hang out here, I’ll get a cab. Don’t worry, they don’t guillotine the rich anymore… I don’t think!

And with that bon mot dispatched, he’s off, leaving Purple Haze to be buffeted by the winds of fortune, i.e., some angry French folks. Also getting knocked around is Ginge Nellie Bly, who at least tells off the guy who slams into her in passable French. Not one to miss a trick, she also notices that said angry labor leader is making some Significant Eye Contact with our buddy M. Master Key, even though he denies knowing his former countryman. As you might expect, a little roughhousing isn’t enough to stop our journalist, who follows M. Master Key to ye olde taxi stand to grab their ride. Whilst Ginge Nellie Bly waits in the car, M. Master Key fetches Purple Haze and the rest of the luggage.

Purple Haze: I told you to leave!
Ginge Nellie Bly:

A man says "I recognize the council has made a decision, but given that it's a stupid ass decision, I have elected to ignore it."

Purple Haze: So what’s all this about anyway?
M. Master Key: Well, they’re mad at the president. He’s taking away voting rights and closed the Paris commune: we don’t like him. Look, I’ll meet you at the hotel in an hour; I’ll go hire a carriage to take us to Italy. Just the two of us.
Purple Haze: Ugh, abandoned by my valet? I can’t drop out already, it’ll be embarrassing!
Ginge Nellie Bly: Look, what do you know about him anyway?
Purple Haze: I’m not talking to you, you’re not supposed to be here! Ugh, why aren’t we moving?
Ginge Nellie Bly: You know what, go on without me — if I’m going around the world I need to know who we’re dealing with.
Purple Haze: But you’re not going! Oh my god!

While Purple Haze nervously stays in the carriage to the hotel, Ginge Nellie Bly tracks M. Master Key across town and finds him looking at a damaged wall.

M. Master Key: You’re super annoying, you know that right?
Ginge Nellie Bly: Sure. What are you doing?
M. Master Key: This is where my father was killed. The government executed him for being strong, and brave, and kind. Because he believed in a better world.
Ginge Nellie Bly: You must be proud of him.
M. Master Key: I didn’t want a dead hero: I wanted a father.

From behind them, a new voice chimes in, saying “yes, we are proud of him!” You guessed it, it’s M. Master Key’s brother, Younger Master Key who’s clearly extremely happy about this mini family reunion and immediately gets a gigantic hug from our valet friend. But the brothers aren’t the only ones gathering in the courtyard: behind them, more mystery men approach.

Younger Master Key: It’s been a long time. Glad you’re back, today of all days.
M. Master Key: What’s happening today?
Ginge Nellie Bly, recognizing the guy behind them: Oh man, it’s you! You’re the guy who knocked me down at the station!
Younger Master Key: Who’s this annoying broad, your wife?
Both: LOL, no!
Ginge Nellie Bly: I’m a journalist.
Younger Master Key: And where have you been, brother?
M. Master Key: I’ve been all over, mostly working lower wage jobs.
Ginge Nellie Bly: Yeah, now he’s a valet, and he’s NOT good at it.
Younger Master Key: Well I’ve been continuing dad’s work! We made that commune, and now the government destroys it? Absolutely not.
M. Master Key, in French: Well. Let’s let the lady leave; she won’t care about that.
Ginge Nellie Bly: First of all, I speak French. And second of all, this lady is staying here, thanks very much.
Younger Master Key: You said you’re a journalist? I’ll give you the story of a lifetime.

Hard to pass up THAT bait. Wondering what’s happening to Purple Haze? Unsurprisingly, the carriage has been waylaid by the protesters, who’ve made off with all of the baggage. While he attempts to retrieve his belongings, a group of nuns drive away the kids who are ripping apart his luggage, but then basically force him to give them a donation, so… six of one? Feeling like a failure, Purple Haze pulls himself together to try and track down Ginge Nellie Bly, for whom he weirdly feels resonsible.

Anyway, our other two friends? They’ve stumbled into a resistance cell that’s planning to assassinate the president of France. Yes, this is a pretty good story, but even Ginge Nellie Bly has her limits. Unfortunately for her, the resistance isn't about to let a couple of witnesses go, so both M. Master Key and Ginge Nellie Bly are stuck in the hideout waiting around for the president to show up, and presumably be shot.

Younger Master Key: Do you know what our dad said to my brother right before the firing squad killed him? “Look after your brother.” You promised him one thing, and you couldn’t even do that!
M. Master Key: I wanted to forget! I was a kid too, and I needed to be away from here. But yes, I was a bad brother, and I’m sorry.
Younger Master Key: I’m sorry too. But now we can die together! Brothers forever!

Yikes! Ginge Nelly Bly is also not feeling this plan, especially when M. Master Key explains that if his brother succeeds, the gendarmes will come and the whole group will be killed, including her. For some reason, she has faith that Purple Haze will rescue them, but M. Master Key doesn’t buy it. Now obviously for plot reasons I have to believe Ginge Nelly Bly is right, but honestly, M. Master Key is right to be concerned: Purple Haze is kind of a human disaster.

Ginge Nellie Bly: Look, if you get out of this and I don’t, tell my dad not to be sad: this is exactly what I wanted to do with my life. If the reverse happens, who should I talk to for you?
Younger Master Key: LOL, he’s got no one! What a sad life, dude: no one to care if you die?
Ginge Nellie Bly, quietly, to M. Master Key: I would. I’d care. At least a little bit.

Well THAT is at least a little bit sweet! Anyway, before everyone can get TOO sentimental, the president arrives. M. Master Key tries to convince his brother to maybe NOT assassinate anyone, but it’s not going great: Younger Master Key is very committed to the cause. Meanwhile, Purple Haze rolls up to the very same police station the assassins have staked out, and starts trying to get inside.

Ginge Nellie Bly, spotting him out the window: Purple Haze! Up here!
Purple Haze: Oh hi! I’ve been looking all over for you — I’m going back to London!

But before they can continue this unproductive yelled conversation, Younger Master Key takes his shot. Luckily for the French president, Younger Master Key is not a very good sniper. Unluckily for Purple Haze, he gets in the line of fire, and goes down instead. Everything happens very fast from there: the gendarmes start firing on the window, and the revolutionaries return the volley. Upstairs, Younger Master Key tells his brother and Ginge Nellie Bly to leave, but refuses to go with them. With a cry of “Liberty!” he’s gunned down as his crying brother watches; M. Master Key only leaves when Ginge Nellie Bly drags him away. Outside, Purple Haze wakes up laughing, having miraculously survived the gunshot Teddy Roosevelt style (i.e. saved by something in his pocket). Wandering out of the crowd, he runs into the others, who all agree that they need to get the heck out of dodge, ASAP. M. Master Key wants to leave Paris altogether, but Purple Haze insists that they go to an address from a news clipping instead. So at M. Master Key’s direction, they flee into the sewers, pursued aggressively by the gendarmes. Eventually, they arrive at their destination, and you guessed it: it’s the house of the dude who invented the hot air balloon, which Purple Haze intends to buy.

Inventor, pulling out a shotgun: Uh, no dice, guy: it’s not for sale.
Purple Haze: Seriously, name your price!
Inventor: There’s no price! What’s the name of the balloon?
Purple Haze, looking at the inscription: The Marie Rose?
Inventor, taking a hard left turn into Pixar’s Up: Yeah, that was my wife. We were going to fly the balloon together. But she died before I finished it. Ugh, and now the cops are outside?
Purple Haze: You made this for your wife, but what honor does it do her gathering dust? It should fly! Please, no one knows more about lost opportunities than I do.
Ginge Nellie Bly: We need to leave. Now!

Inventor, convinced either by his dislike of the president/the gendarmes, or by Purple Haze’s speech, agrees. But he won’t be joining them, so… looking forward to our trio figuring out how to fly this thing on their own! Predictably, Purple Haze is brimming with unearned confidence, Ginge Nellie Bly is excited, and M. Master Key is annoyed. Up in the air, and safely away, Purple Haze officially welcomes Ginge Nellie Bly into the squad, and then hands around a flask for everyone to share (and given the new dent in said flask, we now know how he survived getting shot). They toast to their new adventure just as the sun rises over the alps, and yes, it’s just as glorious as you’d expect.

Whew, that was a lot of figurative and literal ground to cover in one episode! I, for one, cannot wait to find out what shenanigans this group gets into next week. A bientot, reader!