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The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

tn_youngindylucasminusstarwarsThe Young Indiana Jones Chronicles was an ABC TV show that ran from 1992-1993. I never saw an episode. I still haven’t, because the version that’s on video is called The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones and it’s re-edited. According to legend (as well as Wikipedia) the Chronicles were hour long episodes about Indiana Jones as a young man having adventures and/or chronicles in different exotic locations. The stories would jump around in time, so sometimes it would be Sean Patrick Flanery (BOONDOCK SAINTS) as teen/early-twenties Indy, sometimes it would be Corey Carrier (school band cymbal player in THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK) as 8-10 year old Indy. And the episodes would be bookended by George Hall (BIG DADDY) as 93-year-old Indy (with eye patch) remembering the stories.

Wait a minute – that would mean in the then-present day? I always think of him in the WWII era, but it turns out he stuck around a while. Think about that. Indiana Jones was around for Woodstock, for disco, for “We Are the World,” for “Baby Got Back.” If he had grand kids there might’ve been an Indiana Jones and the Elusive Cabbage Patch Doll adventure one Christmas. None of this is covered in the show though.

The first season (1992) was 6 episodes, the second season they made 22, but only aired 18 before cancelling it. Then from 1994-1996 they followed it up with four TV movies for the Family Channel. Finally, in 1999 they paired up the hour long episodes, plus a couple new ones, and re-edited them into movies, which came out on VHS and later DVD. One major change was to remove all the segments with 93 year-old Indy, so you never get to see Indiana Jones in contemporary situations, like the one where he tells the story of his teenage love of cars after seeing a monster truck at the gas station.

(Do you think they said if Indy went to movies when he was in his 90s? Do you think he saw UNDER SIEGE?)

The magic of Youtube has preserved what Old Indy was like. It’s not embeddable, but you can watch it here.

Okay, now that I see those horrible kids he was talking to in the pilot I understand why they wanted to hide these 1992 segments underneath The Star Wars Holiday Special. But I like George Hall as Old Indy. I like the eyepatch. It’s not his fault.

(What TV shows do you think Indiana Jones watched in those days? Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper or something? I guess maybe Murder, She Wrote.)

The other big change is that they put all of the stories into chronological order. What makes this weird is that the chronologically second story was one of the last ones filmed. Here’s how Indy looks in the first hour:

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And then all the sudden he looks like this:

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Which I was okay with, because the actor is more tolerable when he’s older, and it’s not specifically stated that time hasn’t passed. Maybe he’s been traveling for years by this point, or maybe this is a separate trip years later.

But then here he is in the third hour:

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So that’s kinda weird.

I wasn’t into these kid ones, so somebody please let me know if there’s one I should watch. I skipped ahead to Flanery’s first movie, Spring Break Adventure, and Indy’s look seems to change there too. On DVD this is movie #6 out of 22, but the first half was originally the twelfth episode, and the second half was the second half of the pilot. But that’s okay. I’m over it.

mp_youngindyThere are a bunch of notable names in the credits for the series. Several episodes, including the pilot, were written by Jonathan Hales, who later wrote THE SCORPION KING and co-wrote ATTACK OF THE CLONES with Lucas. Frank Darabont (SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3, KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL) wrote a bunch, Jonathan Hensleigh (DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE, THE PUNISHER [2004], KILL THE IRISHMAN) wrote some, even Princess Leia herself, Carrie Fisher, did a couple. Directors include Simon Wincer (QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER, THE PHANTOM), Vic Armstrong (ARMY OF ONE, Indiana Jones stunt double), Terry Jones (writer of LABYRINTH), Joe Johnston (Star Wars designer, CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER), Mike Newell (PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME), Bille August (SMILLA’S SENSE OF SNOW), Peter MacDonald (RAMBO III, also second unit location director for EMPIRE STRIKES BACK), Deepa Mehta (FIRE, EARTH), Gavin Millar (DREAMCHILD, FUNNY BONES), Nicolas Roeg (WALKABOUT, THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH), David Hare (Turks & Caicos), Robert Young (VAMPIRE CIRCUS), Michael Schultz (CAR WASH, KRUSH GROOVE, DISORDERLIES, THE LAST DRAGON) and Ben Burtt (sound designer for STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES serieses, also editor of many episodes).

I didn’t want to make you guys wait around forever while I watched the entire series, so I looked at those credits and the premises and chose a pretty big sampling of what seemed like the most promising ones to watch: My First Adventure, Spring Break Adventure, Demons of Deception, The Phantom Train of Doom, Attack of the Hawkmen, Adventures in the Secret Service, Mystery of the Blues and Hollywood Follies.

According to a 1992 New York Times article the series was filmed in Africa, India, Europe, Egypt and China (35 different countries, I read somewhere else), but cost about the same per episode as MacGyver or Quantum Leap. This was due in part to Lucas’s pioneering use of digital compositing. It’s cleverly done, and probly hard to spot at the time, but on DVD you can notice them using it to add extra soldiers, buildings, sunsets, bi-planes, hot air balloons, etc., or to put Indy into shots with wild animals. It makes this epic for a TV show of the time but of course overall the production is still cheap and crude compared to the movies.

One thing that does help give it a cinematic (and Lucasfilm) feel is the orchestral music. The great theme song by Laurence Rosenthal captures the adventurous feeling of the movies ,but with a sense of youthful frolicking. Here’s a weird thing I can’t explain: some of the music (mostly by Joel McNeely) really reminds me of music John Williams would make years later for the STAR WARS prequels. For example this theme from the Verdun episode (first half of Demons of Deception):

reminded me of… I don’t know, something that’s in one of the prequels, mixed with the ATTACK OF THE CLONES love theme:

I guess that just means they did a good job of creating John Williamsy music. Even predicting the John Williams sounds of the future.

In the episodes I watched the younger Indy travels with his parents as an entitled young rich kid, visiting pyramids and palaces. There’s a good supporting cast. Lloyd Owen (MISS POTTER, APOLLO 18) plays a much less silly version of Henry Jones Sr. than Connery did. You can see both his influence on Indy and his emotional distance, which continues into episodes that he doesn’t appear in as Indy has left the country, doesn’t want to come back to go to Princeton, and is afraid to face him again. I also liked Margaret Tyzack (A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, MATCH POINT) as his proper British tutor Miss Seymour. Like Yoda she first tries to reject him as a pupil (too young instead of too old) and he’s a little afraid of her at first. But she does good things like encourage his questioning of slavery to powerful people who practice it. Also I like Ronny Coutteure as his friend Remy, who he meets in Mexico and then joins the Belgian army with. I was surprised how much of this series is about Indy fighting WWI for Belgium! That seems to be most of the episodes.

Flanery (who reminds me of Ewan McGregor as young Obi Wan) does do a great job of establishing his own version of Indy, who is not yet cocky or abrasive, still naive, clumsy, and learning. While his skills and exploits far exceed that of the normal man, he still seems like an underdog because he’s pretty much always in over his head while surrounded by people who do know what they’re doing. Usually he ends up impressing them, but only after stumbling into success.

In the first half of Spring Break Adventure (directed by Joe Johnston, written by Matthew Jacobs [THE NINJA MISSION, PAPERHOUSE]), producer and story-provider Lucas indulges his AMERICAN GRAFFITI side in a story about Indy wanting to drive a cool car. Indy’s job and nickname to all the assholes at school is “soda jerk,” and he wants to show them up by borrowing his girlfriend’s dad’s Bugatti to drive to prom. Trouble is it’s in the shop, so he has to pull some strings to get it fixed in time, which gets him mixed up in a caper involving the theft of Thomas Edison’s plans for an electric car. He also ends up in an early high speed car chase.

The reason the dad (Lee Lively, PRINCE OF TIDES) has such a fancy car is that he’s Edward Stratemeyer, creator of The Bobbsey Twins, The Hardy Boys and more. He likes Indy, who helps him when he’s stuck on a Tom Swift story. The show leaves you to connect the dots that Stratemeyer created Nancy Drew, and here his daughter Nancy (Robyn Lively, THE KARATE KID PART III) basically is a real life Nancy Drew who drags Indy into the mystery solving business. Indy dated Nancy Drew!

This is also important because throughout the series Indy falls in love with many strong and capable women before Marion Ravenwood. These include historical figures like Mata Hari (Domiziana Giodrano, INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE) and fictional ones like Claire Lieberman (Allison Smith, JASON GOES TO HELL), depicted as Universal Pictures’ best screenwriter in the silent era.

In the movies Indy always encounters old friends and colleagues, and one cool thing about the show is that they’re able to show him actually meet people as a kid and then run into them again as an adult. Or when he’s an adult and he mentions his old friend Ned you know it’s T.E. Lawrence, who his tutor introduced him to at the Great Pyramids.

Lucas told the New York Times, “I told the network this is not going to be like the movies, that this is not an action-adventure film, but a coming-of-age film. It deals with issues and ideas. It’s not a high-tech adventure thing.” And despite what we saw in the prologue to LAST CRUSADE, most of young Indy’s coming of age doesn’t involve treasure. In what was originally the pilot he sees one as a boy in Egypt and catches up to its thief in Mexico. Otherwise he spends the series broadening his horizons pre-archaeology school. During his spring break in Mexico he ends up captured by Mexican revolutionaries and rides with Pancho Villa (Mike Moroff, DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN, DESPERADO) for a while, a story he tells Mutt in CRYSTAL SKULL, so it’s canon. Then he joins the Belgian army and goes to war in various capacities from infantryman to air photographer.

By far the best one I watched was The Phantom Train of Doom, a later episode intentionally released at movie length, but it’s basically two connected mini-movies. Both are directed by Peter Macdonald and written by Frank Darabont, with the first (superior) half co-written by Carrie Fisher. Indy and Remy get horribly lost in Africa and team up with the British Army unit the Royal Fusiliers, a bunch of badass old guys like a male Vuvalini. Their legendary leader Selous, inspiration for the literary character Allan Quatermain, is played by Belloq himself, Paul Freeman.

Using Indy as their train expert, the Fusiliers keep tricking Indy, getting him to help them on missions in the guise of helping him get back to the front lines where he’s supposed to be. The story is full of clever gimmicks and exciting action, especially in the first part where they attempt to find and destroy a mysteriously disappearing German train that tows a giant cannon. Obviously they hijack the train and get chased by troops and have a big shoot out and chase. One of the soldiers unhooks the cannon from the rest of the train and they throw him a rope and he walks across like it’s a tightrope. Also I noticed two Wilhelm screams.

Notes:

1. The phrase “hakuna matata” is used in this, following THE LAND BEFORE TIME in being ahead of the curve on stuff that’s in THE LION KING
2. The Phantom Train of Doom has no relation to either the Phantom Menace or the Temple of Doom.

In the second half Indy captures a WWI Flying Ace who’s the type of lady he’ll be attracted to later in life: acts like she hates him, also acts seductive, is on the other side, is a badass, says witty insults to him (after talking to him for a while she says “I’d like my gag back, please.”) He’s young though, so he doesn’t know what to do about that. He stays away.

Some of the episodes aren’t action-oriented at all, but when they are it’s impressive how much they do. There’s plenty of explosions and stuntwork.

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A less thrilling but still very interesting episode, Demons of Deception, deals with both the senselessness of war and the knocking of boots. Working as a motorcycle courier, Indy witnesses the mass death of trench warfare close up. He realizes that he and his fellow soldiers don’t even understand what the war is about until one guy explains it to them using the food on their table as a map. Indy takes an important moral step when a stubborn general insists on sending orders that will get a bunch of soldiers killed, and Indy decides to burn the orders and return to the front lines. Remy thinks he’s crazy for giving up the safer job, but he feels like an asshole living the sweet life while his friends are getting gunned down like cattle at a slaughterhouse.

Still, he jumps at the opportunity to go to Paris when his dad pulls some strings for him. He has to stay with an old friend of Henry Sr., played by Ian McDiarmid, who had already played the Emperor in RETURN OF THE JEDI, and would soon be Senator Ted Palpatine (R – Naboo) in the prequels. (Palpatine’s pupil Count Dooku appears in another episode when Christopher Lee plays a count.) Brought to a hoity toity party, Indy ends up in bed with Mata Hari. This episode was written by Carrie Fisher and directed by Nicolas Roeg.

One of the best and most distinct episodes I saw was The Mystery of the Blues. I had to watch this because it actually has Harrison Ford as Indy in the bookends, so they kept that for the video release. It’s 1950 and Indy is bearded, but man did he age in the 7 years between this and CRYSTAL SKULL.

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We find him in a pickup truck in a high speed chase in the snow with his friend Grey Cloud (Saginaw Grant, THE LONE RANGER), who bad guys are trying to steal a sacred peace pipe from. They have to wait out the storm in a cabin where Indy finds an old soprano saxophone that inspires him to tell the story of his days as a waiter at Colisimo’s Restaurant, where he won over the initially unfriendly Creole clarinetist Sidny Bichet (Jeffrey Wright), who gave him the sax. Indy practices and gets embarrassed until he understands the concept of jazz well enough to impress the band (which also includes Keith David). He has a few run-ins with stupid racists and segregation rules, and crosses paths with Louis Armstrong (trumpet player Byron Stripling) and Bix Beiderbeck (not sure who played him).

In the second part his boss is killed and he tries to figure out who did/dun it. The goofy part is he does it with his nerdy roommate Elliot Ness (Frederick Weller, BUFFALO BUSHIDO) and his fledgling reporter friend Ernie Hemingway (Jay Underwood, Johnny Storm from the Roger Corman FANTASTIC FOUR movie that that one asshole burned the negatives of when he made the much worse big budget version). They also talk to their bartender friend “Big Al” Capone (Nicolas Turturro).

I love that they were into doing episodes like this. It’s not that surprising that Lucas would be into jazz, especially of that era, but Indy? That’s some new insight into his character.

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In the chronologically last movie of the series, Hollywood Follies, Indy is hard up for work and naively takes a job from Carl Laemmle (David Margulies, the mayor in GHOSTBUSTERS) to fly to Hollywood and make sure Erich Von Stroheim (Dana Gladstone, BEVERLY HILLS COP II) finishes FOOLISH WIVES in ten days.

Being offered complete authority to do what he wants, Indy says, “Well, Mr. Laemmle, I think you ought to know that I don’t know anything about motion pictures.”

“You don’t have to,” Laemmle says.

This seems to be a joke about a director’s frustrations with studio bosses who don’t know or care about art, but there’s an eyebrow-raising conversation with Claire about Irving Thalberg (John Cusack’s brother Bill) wanting to change the system so producers are king instead of directors.

“Will that work?” Indy asks.

“If the producer is a genius,” Claire says.

At this point of course Lucas had spent more time on the producer side than the director one. In this show, at least, it seems the producer is in charge. Obviously I consider Lucas a genius producer, but it’s funny if he or his writers are trying to say that themselves.

In his attempt to be a genius producer Indy has to trick Von Stroheim into shooting something that can be edited into a movie-ending death scene before the 10 days is up. I have to wonder how personal this is to editor and producer Lucas, who tried to help or drastically change many movies in post-production. (In fact, one such movie was the one we’ll be looking at next, RADIOLAND MURDERS, which was released a week after this one aired.)

Von Stroheim is depicted as a genius and an out-of-control artistic madman trying to make the most expensive movie ever. In the second half Indy works with a very different type of director, John Ford (Stephen Caffrey, LONGTIME COMPANION), a cafeteria buddy who had given him some good tips on dealing with Von Stroheim. Ford is willing to tear out pages and take shortcuts to come in on time for his western. When a star dies from a rattlesnake bite Indy becomes his stand-in, and later he takes over for an injured stuntman, which allows the show to re-create the RAIDERS under-the-truck stunt, except under a horse-drawn carriage and in flickery black and white.

still_youngindyThis show really won me over. Some of the episodes I watched at first were on the dull side, but I guess they started to get the hang of it, and they do a good job walking the line between adding to the character and keeping him pulpy. I like that Henry Sr. teaches him to learn the language of everywhere he goes and plants in him a love of travel and new experiences. He’s also Seagal-like in his passion for being down with different cultures and groups, whether that means joining the Mexican revolution, taking on the name Henri Defense, or hanging out mostly with black people during segregation.

It’s very ambitious in how it brings him to different locations, involves him with different historical figures and different types of stories, breaking the standard TV series template. Lucas said from the beginning that he wanted the show to be educational, and he spent years preparing the DVD set with hours and hours of documentaries about all the related people and events. I think they do a great job of working those things in in a way that doesn’t seem intrusive and could definitely make people interested in learning more. As Lucas said in that New York Times article, “The show is designed to sparked the imagination and curiosity of students and just acquaint them, on the barest level, with these figures.”

It actually worked on me. I never heard of the Royal Fusiliers or Indy’s girlfriend’s dad.

That stuff also just works as a fun fantasy device. You wouldn’t guess from RAIDERS that this was a guy who personally knew Pancho Villa, Pablo Picasso and Wyatt Earp (when he was old), but hey… in the movies he ran into Hitler that one time. And that immortal Knight Templar. We knew he ran with some famous people.

And come to think of it, maybe the idea that Indiana Jones met Teddy Roosevelt and Norman Rockwell is a precursor to Yoda knowing Chewbacca. There are many ways The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles set the stage for the STAR WARS prequels. Back then Lucas had no interest in new INDY or STAR WARS movies, saying “Once you’ve done it a couple of times, then the thrill of it wears off and you really want to get into different territory. That’s why the TV show interested me.”

At the same time, he was excited about the possibilities of these new digital effects (here is one article from the time explaining the new concept). After having the chance to develop those techniques across 44 hour long episodes worth of adventures coming of age, while also experiencing the joys of expanding on the backstories he’d created for his character, Lucas started to get the itch to ruin your childhood by taking STAR WARS into “different territory” as far as story, style and technology. But first he had to try some of these tricks out on a smaller feature film, a project he’d never been able to get off the ground before but that computers would help him make affordable.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 4th, 2016 at 4:51 pm and is filed under Action, Reviews, Uncategorized, War. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

34 Responses to “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles”

  1. It’s all but certain old Indy was pretty into Cheers.

  2. I had no idea there was an episode of this show where Indiana Jones meets Erich von Stroheim AND John Ford. That’s completely crazy and I have to see this show now.

  3. I love that when these first came out on VHS, they would line them up on the shelf together with the real movies to make it look like a huge film series. They even changed RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK to INDIANA JONES AND THE RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK to make all the titles look similar. I wonder how many people looked at them and thought “When the hell did they make all these movies, and where the hell is Harrison Ford?”

  4. I love THE PHANTOM TRAIN OF DOOM and the ragtag group of old soldiers Indy meets “The Old and the Bold”(some actually based on real people) that fight the Germans in Africa.

    What was impressive when I borrowed the second volume of DVDs of the series(“The War Years”) from the libary were the 2 dozen supplemental documentaries about an hour long about each of the famous historical figure and event featured in each movie. They’re all extremely well done and informative with commentary from various experts and professors. I learned all about Charles DeGaulle, the Russian Revolution, the founding of Zaire, Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves, Franz Kafka, WWI air warfare, Sergei Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, the Battle of the Somme, and Albert Schweitzer.

  5. I remember the disappointment when I saw it during its first run. For me as a 10 year old (+- one or two years, too lazy to look it up), it really was super boring, compared to the movies. When the movie versions were a few years ago on TV, I appreciated them more, but can’t really remember much about them. Too bad that they haven’t aired since then and the DVDs are out of print.

  6. BTW, do you think that Indy, as the appreciator of different cultures that he is, listened to Hip Hop?

  7. Indy seems like a guy who would keep up with current trends, I’m sure he gave the Atari 2600 and Pac Man a try even if he was too old to understand it (or the lack of depth perception was too much of a hindrance) and yeah, maybe he gave hip hop a try as well.

    Anyway I remember seeing a few reruns of the TV show on the USA Network and it absolutely blowing my mind that they made an Indiana Jones TV show, I also remember playing a Young Indy video game for the Sega Genesis (which sucked shit though unfortunately), I had no idea about the VHS re-releases at the time and that’s really too bad because I would have absolutely flipped my shit for them.

    I’ve been aware of the dvd release since it came out, but it’s one of those things I’ve yet to get around to, this review has motivated me to get around to it sooner than later, but it is a shame the TV versions are not available though.

    By the way, all of this stuff absolutely is canon, when KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL came out there was a book I bought called something like “The Lost Diary of Indiana Jones” which was basically a cliff notes of all his adventures, including all the YOUNG INDY ones.

  8. When do you think Dr. Henry Walton Jones finally kicked the bucket? Do you think he lived to see the new millennium?

    I’m gonna say that it would have been fitting for Indy to finally pass away say the year 2000 at 101, it seems appropriate that the dude’s lifespan would literally encompass the entire 20th century.

  9. Bought the whole series a few years back and watched it over the course of a year. It’s a shame that Lucas had to tinker with them and delete the original versions but I do enjoy the experience of watching them in chronological order. I’ve got to admire his tenacity – getting all the cast back in 1996 so that he could re-edit them all and shoot extra bits of footage to tie all the episodes together.

    The only issue with deleting the old Indy segments is that occasionally they were integral to the story being told. I think there’s one with a vampire in it – Masks of Evil – which was more ambivalent in the original version because it was Old Indy trying to scare some kids with a creepy story. Without the bookend it become a “factual” story about Indy encountering a vampire.

    You’re right the episodes are a little dull, particularly if you go straight from watching one of the films, but there’s a lot of like about the series too. Not least the top notch performances, production design and music.

    By the way Vern, there’s a load more continuity mistakes to pick up on. One is Lloyd Owen’s eyes. Originally they got him to wear brown contacts to match Connery’s eyes but later they dropped that and reverted to his natural blue eyes. There’s a few episodes where his eyes go back and forth between brown and blue.

    I think you watched most of the good ones but I’d also recommend Trenches of Hell (which starts with Indy in the trench and finishes with him escaping a prison) and Treasure of the Peacock’s Eye (which is a swansong for Remy and the titular Peacock’s Eye is supposed to be the jewel he’s bargaining with at the start of Temple of Doom).

  10. I remember enjoying the show when it originally aired, but I also distinctly recall that I skipped most non-Flannery episodes because the stuff with the kid bored me to tears at the time.

    I didn’t really mind Indy’s Zelig/Forrest Gump-ing too much (just a lucky coincidence that he was almost literally EVERYWHERE and knew EVERYONE of historical importance, right?) but I think I stopped watching it soon after he met Dracula, in the episode Jack just mentioned – that was a step too far for me, even though it felt appropriately creepy to me back then.

    I caught some of it on TV years later, specifically the Jazz episode and the one where he gets involved with propitiously hot Suffragette Liz Hurley. I liked those well enough but still would’ve preferred to see more of old Ford-Indy’s adventures.

  11. Now I wish there would be an OLD INDIANA JONES CHRONICLES series, with Indy getting involved in stuff like the birth and/or rise of rap music, him getting involved with Atari’s secret E.T. game burial somewhere in the desert, probably fighting like James Bond and John Rambo during the 80s side by side with the Taliban against the Russians and witnessing how they turn into the pure evil that we associate with that name today. I’m sure just because he got old, it doesn’t mean he retired from being an adventurer or simply a guy, who has the talent to show up wherever history happens. (Maybe they can get Tom Hanks to reprise his role as Forrest Gump and let them talk about their life experience.)

  12. Glad to see Vern review this. I really enjoyed this series as a kid, and I keep on meaning to watch some of it again. Like others, I much preferred the Sean Patrick Flanery episodes, even though I should have been identifying with the younger Young Indiana Jones. I’m not sure if my memory is faulty here, but I seem to recall an episode where Old Indy starts telling one of his stories in a supermarket checkout line, which is probably one of the more realistic locations for a 90-plus year old man. He begins the episode talking to one or two people, but by the end of the episode he’s regaling an entire crowd with his exploits. I found this hilarious, because when some old dude in a supermarket starts talking about the old days people tend to flee in the opposite direction. Still, that eyepatch is pretty badass. Before Crystal Skull came out, my brother and I were hoping that we would finally found out how Indy lost the eye, but it didn’t come to pass. Maybe they’ll finally address it in Indiana Jones 5.

    I remember particularly enjoying an episode based off a real WWI battle in which a bunch of Australian light horseman had to charge a Turk encampment in Palestine. There was a 1980s Australian film called The Lighthorsemen that periodically played on TNT or some cable channel that I used to catch it as a kid, and it was based on these actual events. I really loved this movie at the time. The Turk encampment had a series of wells, and the Australians and their horses were on the brink of dying of thirst, so when they finally charge the Turks, the horses can smell the water and set off at a full gallop. There’s a great scene where the horses are moving so fast that the Turk forces are unable to adjust their sites quickly enough and keep shooting above the charging light horsemen.

    Anyway, the Young Indiana Jones episode is basically a remake of this film, and I remember thinking that it was really cool to see Indian Jones show up in what was one of my favorite movies at the time. I’m not sure why there isn’t more ancillary Indiana Jones stuff outside of the four major films. I would love to see them take another crack at the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. I actually learned a lot from this series, and it never felt overbearing or condescending when teaching history.

  13. I want to say that the Lighthorsemen episode – Daredevils of the Desert – was directed by Simon Wincer (who directed The Lighthorsemen film) and even used some of the same footage and cast.

  14. Griff- I also remember hearing at the time that KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL had a couple of subtle but clear reference to the events of the series, but I have no idea what they were or even if that was really true. Of course this was all around the time of the DVD releases, so it would have made (business) sense

  15. I recently rewatched it, cause I kind of got into a Lucas kick cause of TFA coming soon. Which also got me to watch a lot of Kurosawa and some Fellini.
    There’s some really great episodes there.
    “Travels With Father” might be my favorite. It was one of those later produced ones, but it’s with the kid Indy. They had all these episodes of Indy bitching about his dad and acting like he’s the worst parent ever, when by the standards of those years Jones Sr. was like some kind of hippie. I guess they realized they never really showed many interactions between the two of them. It’s a really nice episode, cause it shows them bonding and how it wasn’t all “stern dad just doesn’t understand young curious child” the way Indy presented it to anybody who’d listen. I’m pretty sure he nagged everybody from Mata Hari to Dracula with how horrible his dad is.
    “Trenches of Hell” is great as well. I remember watching the first part as a kid and that whole cliffhanger left me and my friend babbling about it for a week. It was before we got to watch ESB, so it was my introduction to the whole good guys lose thing.
    “Adventures in the Secret Service” and “Espionage Escapades” as also worth a watch, the second probably inspired by Lucas’ love of Buster Keaton and slapstick.
    I like how Indy was naive and idealistic, constantly spouting BS about how the war in Europe is a fight worth fighting for even if he didn’t even know why is everybody killing each other over there. And he kind of keeps that idealistic crap with him when he comes back to New Jersey, which led to one of my favorite scenes. While having a dinner with his dad he starts parroting some BS TE Lawrence fed him about how they fought the war to build a better world for children and his dad just verbally bitchslaps him into the ground.
    I didn’t mind them cutting old Indy segments. George Hall was alright, but Indy was portrayed as some kind of senile lunatic harassing people at every step and that 90s fashion was killing the atmosphere. It really dated the whole enterprise. Nobody’s gonna miss Dr. Jones’ grandson Spike. There was maybe one of two segments that were touching (meeting his old love or that Russian Revolution episode). Everything else was him teaching a lesson to a yuppie asshole with a mullet or a flat-top. It was actually kind of sad. This is what the great Indiana Jones was reduced to. Prattling about the glory days.
    I didn’t mind Remy when I watched it as a kid, but when I watched it a few years back, and recently, he came of as just an insufferable whiny selfish baby. I was hoping he’s gonna be eaten by the natives in Peacock’s Eye. They could eat for a year and I wouldn’t have to listen to him anymore.

    Anyway, what I liked about it was that they didn’t try to upstage the movies. Star Wars Expanded Universe is always about being bigger than the movies with bigger and more destructive weapons than the Death Star. And the Empire being back stronger than ever. Kind of like TFA when I think about it.
    Indy was more low-key (cause trying to upstage the Holy Grail is a fool’s errand) and it really had some great lighthearted episodes and at the same time dealt with some serious stuff in the war episodes.
    It’s a shame they didn’t do more. Lucas actually did a timeline and there was stuff about meeting Belloq in Brazil and how they used to be friends.

  16. Interesting, Jack. I had no idea that was the case, but it makes complete sense, because many of the scenes were incredibly similar.

    Also, who would have thought that Nicolas Roeg had directed an episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicle. This was probably the biggest surprise out of Vern’s review for me.

  17. I get what you’re trying to do, but shouldn’t Palpatine really be (S-Naboo)?

  18. I like that, Magnus. Wish I thought of that.

  19. @RBatty024 – “I’m not sure why there isn’t more ancillary Indiana Jones stuff outside of the four major films.”

    There is a series of novels, not as many as the Star Wars Expanded Universe though, I’ve never read them but the cover art is done by Drew Struzan so that’s cool, but the fact that they’re so obscure says to me they’re probably not any good, there’s also a 2009 novel where Indiana Jones encounters, I kid you not, zombies.

    What really surprises me is that there aren’t more Indiana Jones video games out there, it seems like such an obvious thing, outside of the 8/16 bit era there’s the Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis adventure game, there’s Infernal Machine for the PC which goes for a Tomb Raider vibe, but unfortunately has very clunky controls and there’s Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb which was not so hot either.

    There was going to be an Indiana Jones game for the 7th gen around time of the Star Wars: the Force Unleashed game, but it was canceled for being too similar to Uncharted (why would “uncharted but with Indiana Jones” be a BAD thing?) and that’s about it, there should be a lot more.

    “I would love to see them take another crack at the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.”

    I think this is what Disney should do with the franchise, essentially reboot Young Indy, not as a TV series but as a movie, not unlike the “young Han Solo” movie they’re planning.

    “Everything else was him teaching a lesson to a yuppie asshole with a mullet or a flat-top.”

    That’s pretty hilarious though.

  20. Yeah, woah, hold the phone here, Nicolas Roeg directed episodes of YOUNG INDIANA JONES? I can only assume they’re not as crazy and expressionistic as his films, but… what would a non-crazy Nic Roeg film even be like?

  21. Just that Paris 1916 episode about Mata Hari. But yes, Lucas was clearly going after world class directors, which was unusual in television at the time. I mean, Deepa Mehta did two of them!

  22. Count me in as another who’s shocked that Roeg worked on this show.

    I saw several of the movie versions when they showed up on daytime tv as a student, and I have to say for their flaws I found they could be surprisingly varied and enjoyable.

    I can’t say I ever really bought Flannery as a young Ford, and the parade of historical figures is hard to swallow if you try to accept this as Indy cannon, but just taken as a bunch of quasi-educational historical adventure tales they got the job done.

    The father/son stuff works well as a precursor to their thawing relationship in Crusade. The stern actor in the series is easier to swallow as this icy, distant figure than affable old Connery.

  23. I’m assuming he lost his virginity to Mata Hari? It figures that Indy would lose his virginity to Mata Hari of all people, because he’s just that awesome.

  24. “I remember particularly enjoying an episode based off a real WWI battle in which a bunch of Australian light horseman had to charge a Turk encampment in Palestine.”

    And Catherine Zeta-Jones played the double agent that Indy gets involved with! I love when Indy tells her “You’re beautiful.” and she says “I know.”

  25. Another director on the show was Dick Maas, the Dutch director with the weirdest and most inconsistent output this side of Uli Edel. He directed for example AMSTERDAMNED and THE LIFT (plus its Hollywood remake DOWN) and his episode (The Transylvania one, written by Jonathan Hensleigh) was his follow-up to FLODDER IN AMERICA.

  26. As far as ancillary stuff, there were also a few 4 issue comic book series put out by Dark Horse Comics. I remember the first one had to do with the lost city of Atlantis

  27. Finally, a chance to talk about Dick Maas! He recently made a comeback with SAINT, one of the many killer santa movies we’ve gotten in the last few years. I thought it was decent, like all of his work I’ve seen. I particularly like AMSTERDAMNED (arguably the best urban scuba-diving serial killer movie ever made) and not just for it’s amazing theme song. I think he’s got a good, slightly off-kilter eye that makes the most of his limited budgets, and I like that he often takes something unique to Dutchness and makes a horror movie out of it somehow. I appreciate that kind of nationalism.

    Mostly, though, I just like his name. He sounds like a German porn star or a holiday for penises.

  28. Loïs Lane - Amsterdamned (1987) [videoclip]

    (320 kbps stereo muziek) Titelsong van de gelijknamige Nederlandse speelfilm van regisseur Dick Maas (die ook deze clip Regisseerde). Het is geschreven door ...

  29. Griff – My brother’s a big gamer, and I was having a conversation with him about the lack of Indiana Jones video games. His theory was also that Indy had pretty much been elbowed out by Tomb Raider and Uncharted, which make sense to me. But you would think that they could just copy those games and put Indiana Jones in them and people would buy them. Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis was my absolute favorite as a kid, and I played that Emperor’s Tomb one, which was pretty much a Tomb Raider rip off, but I guess turnabout’s fair play. (My favorite part in The Emperor’s Tomb is a chase sequence where Indy is using a rickshaw, and he’s being a total dick. He keeps on telling the rickshaw driver/runner(?) to go faster).

  30. Indy always meets the obvious folks in those episodes, like Anastasia or Pablo Picasso and even the Red Baron, but he also ends up meeting a lot of weird folks, too. I remember in the Pablo Picasso episode he meets Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein! Which makes sense, Picasso hung out with them, but I love the idea of some 8 year old watching this episode and wanting to hear what this Alice B. Toklas person was up to.

  31. He also, fittingly enough as we gear up for the Centenary celebrations manages to partake in/be present during the Irish Easter rebellion/rising of 1916.

    Saw the episode as a less critical child but doubt that the Irish accents/historical accuracy will hold up well.

  32. “I love the idea of some 8 year old watching this episode and wanting to hear what this Alice B. Toklas person was up to.”

    Luckily, Toklas wrote an autobiography that could answer all of that kid’s questions.

  33. Marvel also put out Indy comics back in the 1980s, same era when they were also putting out Star Wars comics.

    http://indianajones.wikia.com/wiki/The_Further_Adventures_of_Indiana_Jones

  34. Yeah, I read some of those back in the day

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