Around the World in 80 Days (TV Mini-Series 1989– ) - Plot Summary Poster

(II) (1989– )


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  • Michael Palin has taken on the task of duplicating Phileas Fogg's feat by attempting to circumnavigate the globe, beginning and ending at the Reform Club in London, in eighty days, using no air travel. He meets Python fans in Greece, eats snake in China, and generally goes from one adventure to another, all the while fighting to make his deadline.

  • Michael Palin attempts to copy the exploits of fictional character Phileas Fogg, by trying to travel around the world (without flying) in 80 days.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Michael Palin, of the British comedy troupe Monty Python, attempts to follow the infamous journey of Phileas Fogg around the world in only 80 days. Palin gathers a small group of friends who will act as referees: one of them is Terry Gilliam, an old friend and mate from Monty Python. The excursion takes Palin 79 days and 7 hours and takes him through 14 countries and four continents and covers approximately 28,000 miles. One of the steadfast rules of the excursion is that Palin must travel as Fogg did: by land and sea and never by air. Palin travels by ship, train and car.

    When Palin and his crew arrive in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a key connection to the city of Muscat is missed. Additionally, the Saudi government prohibits his filming crew to travel with him across the Arabian Desert. Palin is however permitted to take a car from Jeddah to Dubai, crossing the Arabian Desert in a single weekend.

    In Ancient Mariners, Palin arranges for himself and the documentary crew to make the next leg of the journey from Dubai to Mumbai (Bombay), India, aboard a dhow, named the Al-Shama. The crew are mostly part of an extended sailing family and Palin will travel with them while they ship cargo to India. The journey takes seven days and sees Palin sleeping on the top deck of the small boat, developing a case of diarrhea, loaning his headphones to the crew's oldest member so the man can hear Bruce Springsteen's "East Street Shuffle" and eating and socializing with the crew, who turn out to be very friendly and hospitable. When they arrive in Dubai and Palin disembarks, he shares a warm farewell with the crew and remarks that he may never see them again.

    Palin continues his journey, nearly missing a few connections but always managing to keep on schedule. He arrives in London at 4:00 Greenwich time on the last day, seven hours from his deadline.

    Twenty years later Palin filmed a followup BBC show chronicling his search for the crew of the Al-Shama. Palin finds some of them, including the boat's captain, in Mandvi in the Indian state of Gujarat. Two of the older crew members from 1988 have since passed away, including Kasim, the man whom Palin entertained with his headphones playing Bruce Springsteen.

    Michael also finds out from the shipping company that owned the Al-Shama, the vessel sank somewhere in the Arabian Sea after it had been sold to new owners. Fortunately, there was no loss of life.

    A short reunion shows Michael playing them the episode they all appeared in on a portable DVD player.

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