Picture it. A high-rise in Manhattan, 1982. (As Sophia from 'Golden Girls' would start the story!) Voyager Phineas Bogg crash lands into the room of lonely and newly orphaned Jeffrey Jones. Phineas loses his precious Guidebook in a tug of war with Jeffrey's faithful dog Ralph and has to rescue Jeffrey from a fall out of the skyscraper window. Ralph is left behind with the Guidebook. And Jeffrey never returns home again. After a few cosmic trips full of bickering and bonding, Jeffrey proves to be an invaluable companion to Bogg.
As they travel through the ages keeping history on track, Phineas uses a brass device known as the omni. It shows him locations and dates. Bogg's omni only went up to the year 1970, however an apparent 'glitch' had sent him to Jeffrey's time-zone. When the omni light is red, it means history has hit a snag and it's a Voyager's job to correct it. A green light means success and they can move on to the next assignment. Why or how this occurs is never explained, but it happens.
Something special happened today, the Voyagers got green lights all the way. Created by VoyagerG.
The omni usually lands the Voyagers in the midst of their future or current assignment. Along they way they forge memorable friendships and have exciting, dangerous, and humorous encounters with notable historical figures. It's like a history text-book come to life. The Voyagers help inspire the creation of the airplane with the Wright brothers, and save Abraham and Mary Lincoln from Abduction by Rebel spies.
They attempt to solve the case of Jack the Ripper with help from Nellie Bly and Sir Author Conan Doyle, and rescue young Harriet Tubman from a hanging so she could start the Underground Railroad. Jeffrey gives Thomas Edison a push to create the light bulb, and Babe Ruth the confidence in the game. These escapades are all in a days work for this tireless duo.
This adorable video sums up Bogg and Jeffrey's relationship very well. Created by Margie Ochher.
Phineas Bogg (played by the incomparable Jon-Erik Hexum) is one of a society of time travelers called Voyagers that strive to keep history on its proper, current course. No explanation is given as to why history veers off course, but we accept the fact that this mysterious group, perhaps from another dimension, is in charge of keeping it all together.
Little is known of Phineas' early life, except that he was a pirate of sorts. This is obvious based on his choice of clothing. In the episode, Old Hickory and the Pirate, Phineas mentions that some of his best friends had been pirates. Blackbeard and Calico Jack to name two. This reference places his origins in the seventeenth century.
Throughout the series he drops little hints about his talents – which include dancing, boxing, card-playing and even a little baseball. He can definitely wield a sword and handles dynamite almost too well. (If you consider that a talent!)
Phineas' adventures really begin when he teams up with Jeffrey Jones. Phineas often relies on Jeffrey to help him throughout their missions. In the Pilot episode, Phineas casually explains that a "blonde in his class" distracted him from his studies and he later admits to sleeping in class during certain subjects. Perhaps all of them. Some of Phineas' character trademarks are his fear of dogs and snacking on old beef jerky he stashes in his pouch. And last but not least, Phineas is a great kisser! (Okay, in these photos he's just about to kiss, but it's true!)
This is only a personal opinion, but I love the 70's comedy series, Three's Company. There is something about the adorable, young John Ritter that reminds me of Jon-Erik in the Bogg role. It must be the goofball, friendliness, charming, cheesy wide grin and manic athleticism that Ritter displayed playing Jack Tripper. It was amazing.
I can imagine Jon-Erik being a total goof like that in a comedy series, complete with pratfalls and flips over the couch. Can you?
So seriously, WHO WAS BOGG? Phineas was one of the chosen to be "plucked out of time" and trained to travel through the ages, and there are references to Voyagers going to school to learn history and other time travel notions and concepts. In the last episode of the series Phineas explains that he had helped young Jules Verne out of a brawl in France, and Verne later used him as inspiration for his character 'Phileas Fogg' in his famous novel, Around the world in eighty days.
There's no doubt that Jeffrey is a stand-in for Fogg's loyal and harried sidedkick, Jean Passepartout. His name literally means, 'Goes everywhere,' which is basically what Jeffrey does with Bogg.
This gaze means business!
Despite the first impression everyone gets of the character being a block-headed mimbo, Phineas is very intuitive with a heart of gold. His ingenuity, creativity and his physical prowess should never be underestimated. Very often you can see the scheming glare in Bogg's eye and you know he has a plan in action.
in the series, the writing took a turn and made Phineas more
responsible and wise, complete with shorter hair and neater
clothing. While the changes seem seems blatant, (And possibly to appease the censors that cracked down on the show) that would've been a natural maturation for a second
season, considering he is now Jeffrey's guardian and has a moral
responsibility to be a father-figure and positive influence in his life. But it seems the adventures of season 1 may have occurred over 3 years. In that case, it's reasonable to believe in this change of character and appearance.
Phineas is often riled when Jeffrey gets too big for his britches or catches an attitude and will mutter catch-phrases like, "smart kids give me a pain" or, ''ll deal with that smart mouth of yours later!" If Jeffrey isn't certain about a fact in the time period, Phineas will point out that he's supposed to be the "history book in pants." Whenever situations go wrong, in the tamest pirate cuss language possible, Phineas will often mutter or shout, 'BAT'S BREATH!'
Phineas plays a mean game of strip poker! (Sorry, don't count on him ever losing!) Phineas has strong poker playing habits, (Though he's not a compulsive gambler.) He uses the method of an old Hungarian card game he learned called 'Schnibbitz.' It was a game that won him twelve goats from the Gypsies. He usually wins in time to save the day and once at the risk of losing the Omni for young Harriet Tubman's freedom.
Despite their frequent squabbles over the historical events and the roguish methods Phineas sometimes employs, the two become inseparable friends. They are a true family, bonding like brothers, and in many fan's eyes – a father to a son.
11 yr-old Jeffrey Jones (marvelously played by Meeno Peluce) first met Phineas when his omni malfunctioned and landed him in 1982, New York City. This was unusual because the circuitry of Phineas' omni only allowed him to travel up until the year 1970. He landed in the apartment of Jeffrey's selfish aunt, who was forced to be his guardian after his parents' death.
Jeffrey, although he acts like a smart-mouthed, streetwise kid, is very sensitive and often cries over his supposed failures on the voyages and the tragic death of his parents. He tearfully tells Phineas in the Pilot episode that he was with them when they died and couldn't get anyone to stop and help save them from the camper fire.
often becomes the supportive, father figure at these moments and
constantly reassures him that everything will "be okay." Jeffrey is a
very intelligent boy and truly knows his history because his father
was a history professor.
He essentially becomes a very convenient replacement for Bogg's lost Guidebook, however Jeffrey means so much more than that to Phineas. Throughout the series we see how Bogg even takes on a father-figure role, like when he reprimanded him for wanting to shoot guns with Billy the Kid.
Jeffrey proves his Voyagers worth in a number of episodes, where he helps Thomas Edison come to terms with his most famous invention and convinces J.P Morgan to continue funding of the lightbulb. Jeffrey's can-do attitude and sometimes precocious charm warms the hearts and turns the minds of many figures in history like pilot Charles Lindbergh, Queen Victoria, Teddy Roosevelt, J.P Morgan, and Babe Ruth.
Jeffrey is full of confidence and bluster and has a keen sense of justice for a young boy. He is brave, having saved Phineas' life on many occasions. The most harrowing when without reservation he snatched the omni and saved him from burning at the stake.
Jeffrey often displays his insecurities about being left alone. Even if you're inundated with cloying brats on 21st Century television, you never forget that Jeffrey is still just a kid. He's at the cusp of young manhood, so he carries a few childish traits like impulsiveness, and a rebellious attitude toward Bogg's authority at times.
Jeffrey is very attached to his partner. When Phineas was torn emotionally and decided to leave him with his great-grandparents, Jeffrey desperately reminded him that "I've already got a family! It's you."
It is discovered mid-season during Phineas' trial, that Jeffrey was supposed to become a Voyager. It was apparently not an accident Phineas landed in 1982.
You would think VHQ could have told Phineas and Jeffrey that from the beginning, but that's just not how they roll.
At the trial we also learn that Bogg truly loves Jeffrey and would never let anything happen to him. Jeffrey, though petrified that they'll be separated, vowed to Bogg that even if they tried to take his memories away, he would never forget him and all they'd been through.
No hero is worth his salt without a good villain to be the perennial thorn in his side. Voyager Drake (Deviously played by Stephen Liska) is Phineas' class rival since their days at the Voyager Academy. Even then, Drake was a cheater and harbors a lifelong grudge against Phineas for confronting him about it.
Drake is an extremely pompous and jealous man. He went on to become a harsh lawyer for the Voyager Tribunal as a Code Violation Prosecutor.
"I believe in discipline and order above all else."
Drake rigidly adheres to the Voyager code. He applies the philosophy, "The ends justify the means," claiming to be Machiavelli's best pupil. A manipulator without charm, he believes in discipline and order above all else and has had strong influence in falsely accusing Voyagers in every rank of code violations, and having them banished. It is never said exactly where they are banished too. But Bogg tells Jeffrey that it's an uncharted island without the omni.
It's possible Drake's name is inspired by 'Draco' which means 'Lawgiver' in Greek. Draco was the first Legislator of Athens, little is known of his life, but because he ruled with such a harsh law code, the word 'Draconian' has become a term to describe unusual and severe punishment. Under Draco's laws, the Death penalty was the punishment for even minor offenses. Some claimed he even wrote his laws in blood.
The show never mentioned it, but could it be possible that Voyager Drake himself is Draco? But that's probably not the case, the Voyagers would not have chosen to pluck such a harsh man out of time. Or would they? Thoughts to chew on. Who knows what Drake's past could've been like? A corrupted politician, legal student or prince looking to usurp the throne? It's possible that Bogg and Drake had dealings before Voyager Academy. There are many possibilities that I wish the show had explored.
Drake's career ended in humiliation after trying to convict Phineas Bogg on false charges. Phineas was cleared with the help of his old crush, Susan, the famous "blonde in his class" that he fawned about in the Pilot episode. She's also a lawyer for the Tribunal.
Drake is ultimately exposed as a fraud. He had made a career out of tampering with evidence and the omni memory banks of innocent Voyagers.
I think Headquarters seriously needs to put the Voyager Internal affairs people to work and start cleaning house. I highly doubt Drake worked alone on his schemes.
Because conviction means banishment, Drake's now a fugitive at large and Phineas' arch-enemy. It is up to Phineas and Jeffrey to bring him back and prevent him from ruining history. Drake escapes from the trial, but returns in London to ruin the history of intrepid American Reporter, Nellie Bly and Sherlock Holmes author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
He poses as the infamous 'Jack the Ripper' to lure Nellie from taking her famous trip. She was trying to beat the record of the literary character, Phileas Fogg. He is the hero of the novel, Around the world in 80 Days. After some confusion over the identity of the real Ripper, Drake's plot is foiled by Phineas and Jeffrey and he gets away...AGAIN!
At this point...anywhere your heart desires them. I'd always wanted the Voyagers to get involved in the French Revolution. Phineas could have assumed the role of the Scarlet Pimpernel and thus inspire the novel by Barroness Orczy. It surely works – Phineas Bogg=Percy Blakeney - A renowned, charming fop by day, yet a gallant, skilled hero and master of disguise.
There are so many key points in history and prominent figures to meet it would be impossible to list them all. I often look for the lesser known or underdog figures, whose contributions have made an invaluable impact on society and history. You can read about some in my Fan Fiction stories. However, I would have wanted them to meet Susan B. Anthony, nurses Florence Nightingale & Mary Seacole. A fun episode could revolve around the Circus and the boys meeting Phineas T. Barnum...which would have given Jon-Erik more chances to display his acrobatic skills. The Gold Rush was also a fascinating time in history.
It would have been interesting to see the boys go to the fifties, perhaps meeting Elvis and helping Rock and Roll. Voyagers! could have showcased Jon-Erik's great talent for the piano by having them meet Mozart or Beethoven or other classic composers.
I always love at the end of every adventure how Jeffrey would advise all the viewers to, "Take a voyage down to your public library, it's all in books."