Season 1 Episode 20

Jack's Back

Aired Sunday 7:00 PM Jul 10, 1983 on NBC
out of 10
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Episode Summary

Bogg and Jeff land in 1880 London and save famous world-traveller Nellie Bly from Jack the Ripper.

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  • Bogg and Jeff find themselves in dark, foggy 1890's London with Nelly Bly, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and... Jack the Ripper?

    "Jack's Back" makes for a truly satisfying (if premature!) end to the VOYAGERS! series. It has everything we've come to expect from the show--historical significance, action, Bogg and Jeff being separated and reunited, Bogg going goofy over a pretty girl. And yet it has MORE.

    Mainly? "Jack's Back" has a single powerful setting, and a nemesis! But first--the standard good stuff. Julia Duffy (Wizards and Warriors, Newhart) plays spitfire American girl reporter, Nelly Bly. She's supposed to be catching a boat to continue her attempt to break the fictional around-the-world record of Jules Verne's Phileas Fogg (and don't think Bogg's name doesn't maker her immediately suspicious of him!) But she'd rather solve the mystery of the century: the identity of Jack the Ripper! Except... it looks like the Ripper may have found her first, just as our heroes fell out of the cosmos to rescue her! It was enjoyable to have a female lead who, while petite and cute, has more on her mind than just falling for Bogg's baby blues! While her risk-taking gets our heroes into trouble, and thus is somewhat annoying, she isn't asking for anyone's protection. Girl power! Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, suffering from writers block, is equally fun as he uses Sherlock Holmes' ability to notice details in order to help Bogg and Jeff in their attempt to learn who attacked Nelly Bly -- was it, indeed, the Ripper? One of my favorite scenes consists of Doyle studying the detritus from Jeff's Nikes to try to deduce where he's been lately! The story focuses on Doyle only as a writer with Holmesian tendencies, not on any of his spiritualist interests, which might have been intriguing considering Bogg and Jefferey's encounter some episodes ago ("Agents of Satan"?)with Harry Houdini! But considering the necessity to keep the historic elements fairly straightforward, that editorial choice hardly hurts the story.

    But what stands out most about "Jack's Back" is the wholly eerie setting. Other than "Agents of Satan," with its spiritualism, ghosts, and witch trials, "Jack's Back" has to be the spookiest episode of the series. Bogg and Jeff's helplessness against a seemingly straightforward case of Bogg being Nelly's attacker adds to a surprisingly intense sense of claustrophobia throughout the episode. When we learn the true identity of Nelly's attacker--a call back to the earlier episode, "The Trial of Phineas Bogg," everything makes perfect sense, AND foreshadows more problems to deepen/personalize any further adventures. While those adventures never saw production, that doesn't mean we have to resign ourselves to them never having taken place....

    So there you have it. Voyager heroics, fun interactions with historical figures, inside jokes and references, and the continued partnership of Bogg's brawn and Jeff's brains. "Jack's Back" is a great way to end the series -- with the sense that any moment, Bogg and Jeff will be arriving somewhere else in time, to help history along and give it a push when it's needed.moreless
Julia Duffy

Julia Duffy

Nellie Bly

Guest Star

Michael Ensign

Michael Ensign

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Guest Star

Gerry Gibson

Gerry Gibson

Inspector Lestrod

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions