I’m pleased to discover The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne, a 22-hour series which was the flagship series for HD TV, back in 1998-2000 when HD was a new thing. They cast well, spent $2m an episode, had lots of VFX, and superb and inventive scripts. Judging by the first few episodes it seems it paid off, and is a welcome reminder of the days when TV stories were stories, not an excuse for a string of political lectures.
But who knew there was such a thing, in steampunk? I’d never heard of the show before, despite it being loved by a hardcore of (rather quiet) fans. Part of the reason for that is that the show has never been released on DVD. Comments in old Starlog magazines suggest there was a very poorly promoted HD showing, and one gets the impression that most sci-fi fans had no clue it was even running. Then it was badly converted to film (too dark and muddy), for showing on the American TV channels. At that point the channels could not handle HD, and the result looked disappointing to many. Thus it appears that the old VHS TV captures are all the fans have in 2020. Not ideal, with the sumptuous costumes being an especially regrettable loss — they get smudged into down into a dark haze. But it’s quite watchable, especially so if you can use real-time playback filters to slightly boost sharpness, saturation, contrast etc. A very fractious set of investors apparently prevent any new HD release in the 2020s, with the HD masters presumably crumbling away in a vault somewhere.
Starlog #287 (2001) has the best extended magazine article on the series and what it was trying to do.