Young Indy is back in America and exploring the world of the arts in the final three episodes of the show. Each episode covers a different part of the creative arts world: jazz, broadway, film, respectively.
Mystery of the Blues - Chicago, 1920
The first episode of the entertainment world triad focuses on Indy's early time at the University of Chicago. He is waiting tables at a nightclub where Sidney Bechet regularly plays with his band and quickly becomes enamored with jazz music. Bechet gives Indy a soprano sax to mess around with and by the end of the episode he has found a groove. Of course, mixed in with all of this, Indy's roommate (Eliot Ness, obviously) gets involved with helping Indy solve a murder at the nightclub, perpetrated by none other than Al Capone. All of that sounds awesome, and it was, but the cake topper in this episode was Harrison Ford's first appearance as Indiana Jones since Last Crusade in the prologue and epilogue of the episode. I remember how huge an event it was when I heard he was going to be reprising the role on the show. This episode also heavily influenced some of my own life choices almost as much as the pilot of the show. I decided to play the saxophone because of this episode, and for a while I really wanted to attend the University of Chicago to study archaeology. Looking back, that might be a little weird, but what can I say, Indiana Jones is a defining character in my life.
Scandal of 1920 - New York, 1920
In this episode, Indy gets a job on a Broadway production as part of the stage crew and (shocker!) juggles relationships with three different young women at the same time. I am over the revolving door of relationships aspect of this show, which tarnished my opinion of the episode overall. One standout, however, was the addition of George Gershwin as a friend for Indy. The music throughout the episode added little touches of Gershwin's music, an enjoyable easter egg, for sure.
Hollywood Follies - Hollywood, 1920
In the final episode of the show chronologically, Indy spends the summer working in Hollywood as an industry exec and then director assistant. The episode was fine and not particularly memorable, but I could tell that George Lucas enjoyed getting a little meta with the process of making movies in Hollywood. The end of the episode had an excellent reference to the classic Raiders truck chase sequence when Indy conducts a stunt on a western film by pulling himself along the underside of a carriage.
Now that I have completed my rewatch of the entire show, here are a few thoughts:
Young Indy finally sees the end of World War I in this second-to-last post covering the show!
Masks of Evil - Istanbul and Transylvania, 1918
While the first half of this episode in Istanbul was mostly forgettable, the second half in Transylvania took the show in a completely new direction. An appearance by Vlad the Impaler and some supernatural elements made this episode stand out over the others for its uniqueness. There was also some pretty graphic gore for a network TV show, which kind of surprised me. Overall, some great action and occult mystery make this episode a highlight.
Treasure of the Peacock's Eye - 1919
I have vague memories of this episode running as a TV movie back in the mid-90s, and rewatching it I understand why this episode in particular worked as a standalone TV movie. Out of the whole run of the show, Peacock's Eye has the most classic Indy elements: an historical artifact, globe-trotting, fist fights, malicisous Germans, and exotic locations. Also, Remy is back as Indy's sidekick! Their relationship was missed during the episodes where they were separated. I also enjoyed the relationship Indy develops with the anthropologist on the island and the lessons he learned about understanding cultures in their own context. Great episode overall!
Winds of Change - Paris and Princeton, 1919
I have to give the creators some credit for trying to turn the complex world of political negotiations around peace treaties into interesting TV, but it did not work. The ideas addressed in this episode are fascinating and important to think about, but they did not work well in this show. I was the most bored I have been in the show while watching the Paris half of this episode. When Indy makes it back home to Princeton, we get one more opportunity to see Indy's relationship with his dad. As you might imagine, it is still not great. I do think, however, that the way the show handles Indy and Henry's relationship is great, and I wish we could have seen more of that throughout the series.
Next up: Indy goes to college and Harrison Ford makes his first and only appearance on the show!
What started as a two-month project has now turned into an entire summer's worth of Indiana Jones! Not that I am sad about that, considering how much I love the character. My TV watching habits are also not conducive to finishing any show in a short amount of time. Here we are, however, for the next rewatch journal entry, and these three episodes are all over the place! Let's jump in.
Espionage Escapades - Spain/Prague 1917
The two spy stories in this episode are the wackiest the show has offered so far, and one of them aces it, the other less so. The adventure in Spain was directed by Terry Jones (of Monty Python, of course), and one can easily tell from the style and humor. I loved how wacky this episode was, especially when Indy does a dance on stage as a backup part in a ballet. The spy plot was solid and involved a few good twists, but the plot played major second fiddle to the tone and style of the overall story. Loved the Python-esque humor! The second adventure in Prague was a bit of a play on The Trial by Franz Kafka, in which Indy has to deal with layers and layers of bureaucracy to get a phone for his apartment. Indy even meets Kafka himself who somewhat helps him solve the problem. Maybe I am just not familiar enough with Kafka, but I found this episode an unwelcome departure from the series as a whole and quickly grew tired of the endless paperwork trope. I have enough of that to deal with in real life...
Daredevils of the Desert - Palestine 1917
By far the highlight of this set of episodes, Daredevils follows one storyline over the course of the episode. Indy once again meets up with his friend T.E. Lawrence in a recurring character bit that I love in this show. Indy takes on a spy mission for the British posing as an Arab merchant traveling with a beautiful woman (played by the amazing Catherine Zeta-Jones!) to help prepare the city of Beersheba for British capture. This episode has intrigue, great action, and some excellent fist fights! Indy even gets to trade punches with a German soldier played by none other than a young Daniel Craig! Overall, this episode was a highlight of the series so far.
Tales of Innocence - Italy/Monaco 1917
After a banger of an episode, we return to another somewhat underwhelming pair of stories. Both stories revolve around love, and both remind me of how mixed the show is in its portrayal of women. In the first half Indy befriends Ernest Hemingway and commiserates about being outdone in wooing a young Italian girl only to find out that Hemingway is the competition. The two men end up looking like complete fools while the females in the episode have zero characterization. On the other hand, the second half of the episode involves Indy traveling with the author Edith Wharton and discovering love outside the bounds of cultural norms. Wharton is a fascinating character who has interesting things to say about love and relationships, which is quite jarring after the female characters in the previous story. Despite being overall underwhelmed by both episodes, there was a quality spy plot in the second half that gave Indy a chance to show off some impressive deduction skills.
The war is coming to an end soon for Indy, so in the next post I will cover the final three World War I episodes.
Indiana Jones continues his adventures through World War I, and the viewers finally get a little break from trench warfare as Indy travels to Africa and then joins the French spies!
North Africa, 1916
First, Indy continues to find horror in the African trenches and has to deal with a commanding officer who values the mission over human life. Most importantly, Indy encounters the famous German doctor Albert Schweitzer while on the verge of death and learns a few lessons about the value of human life, regardless of what side one is on. This is one of the few older Indy episodes I have strong memories of watching as a child, mainly because the message of hope in the midst of terrible tragedy was so profound.
This episode starts on a bittersweet moment when Indy and Remy part to different jobs in French intelligence. Remy has the privilege of running a spy ring out of a bakery, while Indy joins the American airplane intelligence group. Of course, any trip Indy takes on this show leads him toward a famous or infamous figure from history, and this episode is no different thanks to an appearance by the famous Red Baron! Indy actually gets to witness the origin story of the Red Baron and even suggests the red paint. I enjoyed this episode for its fun spy plots and some classic Indy-style adventure and fist fights. The transition into the Intelligence force and out of the trenches was also a welcome change.
Austria and Russia, 1917.
Indy embarks on two different spy missions in the last episode for this post. His first mission involves sneaking two relatives of the Austrian emperor into the country in order to negotiate terms for Austria leaving its alliance with Germany. The second mission is in St. Petersburg where the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, are beginning to stir up trouble. Indy is trying to help prevent revolution because of its potential ramifications for the French in the war. Both episodes are tense with several situations where Indy has to make difficult decisions that put other lives in jeopardy. I found the Russia mission particularly engaging because Indy has befriended several Bolsheviks and has to juggle his job with his friendships. The Austria mission also includes a fun cameo from Christopher Lee, who plays an Austrian diplomat. Lee brings his usual level of gravitas, of course!
Indy continues his adventures as a spy in the next set of episodes, as we slowly make our way to the films!
Get ready for an epic recap post covering three whole episodes of Young Indy! These three episodes mark the beginning of the show's transition to the terrors of World War I, which it does surprisingly well for a show from the early 90s. Indy experiences trench warfare, German imprisonment, the world of spies, and a bunch of old soldiers in Northern Africa.
Trenches of Hell, France and Germany, 1916
The first World War I episode in this show does not shy away from showing how horrific war is. This episode reminded me of Saving Private Ryan without as much graphic violence, but all the same graphic terror. I remember appreciating these episodes less when I was young and first watching the show, but as an adult now, I found this episode by far the most engaging and fascinating story so far. As a "Belgian," Indy experiences a lot of discrimination from the French and gets sent to do jobs no one else wants, including trying to capture a highly defensible location controlled by the Germans. He also watches most of his company die in the assault before being captured at the end of the assault. The story is dark and definitely reminiscent of George Lucas' anti-war tendencies. Once captured Indy is imprisoned in a German fortress and meets Charles De Gaulle. He and De Gaulle hatch several escape attempts with one finally succeeding, but the message of hope in dire circumstances shines through after a very dark first half. Fun fact: While on a short leave from the trenches, Indy meets the author Robert Graves who wrote one of my favorite novels, I, Claudius.
Demons of Deception, Verdun and Paris, 1916
The two episodes combined to make this movie have minimal connective tissue, but there are a few thematic connecting threads. First, Indy is growing more and more disillusioned with the war effort based on his experiences. Second, Indy encounters lies and manipulation from both his superior officers and those he thinks he loves. I enjoyed the first half of the episode far more than the second half as the French commanding officers are sitting in posh residences giving orders while the grunts are being led to slaughter in the trenches. Indy develops a unique perspective on this contrast by running as a courier between the commanding officers and the front lines. Ultimately, he makes a dangerous decision to stage an accident on his motorcycle in order for some attack orders to never reach the front.
In the second half of the episode Indy's dad has a connection in Paris who pulls some strings for Indy and Remy to have some leave time in the city. In a fun little cameo, Ian McDiarmid (aka Emperor Palpatine) plays the Parisian professor who offers to house Indy for a week. Of course, you cannot keep teenage Indy away from adventure, and he happens to meet and fall in love with the infamous spy Mata Hari. Their love affair was full of lies, mistrust, and a surprising amount of sexual content for an ABC show in the early 90s. The plotline was fine but not nearly as engaging as the war plot, and Indy comes across as an annoying, whiny teenager, which I suppose he still is. Also, the last 10-15 minutes of the episode had some strange flash cuts of Mata Hari in front of a firing squad, which would be very confusing if you did not know anything about her story. They were still confusing and a strange editorial choice even knowing a little of her story...
The Phantom Train of Doom, North Africa, 1916
The final episode for today had perhaps the most "Indiana Jones" vibe to it. Indy joins up with some trope-filled old fart soldiers stationed in Africa, including Captain Selous, played by Paul Freeman (actor who played Belloq in Raiders of the Lost Ark), whom Indy had met way back when he was 9-years-old on his adventure with Teddy Roosevelt. The episode includes Germans, a hidden train mystery, a daring kidnapping and escape attempt, and lots of classic Indy blunders. Along the way Indy learns about trusting the wisdom of age (a theme I think might rear its head in the final Indy movie) and about how to be a better soldier, from a German colonel no less. This episode was a lot of fun and one of the few that seemed like it was originally meant as a two-parter. I also love that Indy's experiences in World War I take him to all the different areas of conflict in the war, however unrealistic that narrative conceit is.
Next up, Indy's adventures take him further into Africa and then back to France!
We begin the journey into Young Indy's teenage and young adult life with the final two episodes of Volume I of the DVD set, and the first two episodes of teenage Indy's life.
Young Indy is now played by Sean Patrick Flanery, who is excellent throughout the whole series. There is enough close resemblance to the young River Phoenix in Last Crusade to make it a reasonable jump from young teen River Phoenix to older teen Sean Patrick Flanery.
The two episodes covered here are Spring Break Adventure and Love's Sweet Song and include some very pivotal moments in Young Indy's life. Let's jump into the action!
Spring Break Adventure, 1916
The adventure starts in Princeton, NJ with Indy and his girlfriend planning to go to Prom. Of course, Indy's girlfriend is Nancy Stratemeyer, who was the inspiration for the Nancy Drew character. Because of the Nancy Drew connection, this episode was primarily a mystery involving one of Thomas Edison's assistants and stolen plans for an electric car. The mystery was entertaining, and the Germans even made their first appearance in the Indiana Jones timeline as potential villains. There was also a great moment where Indy found a bullwhip and used it to escape a situation, and it was clear he had used it before (a nice callback to the prologue of Last Crusade). You also cannot go wrong with the first appearance of the classic fedora!
Following this adventure Indy heads to New Mexico to visit his cousin where they take a trip across the border to visit a brothel (somewhat surprising choice for a show on in the 90s). While there Indy gets caught by Pancho Villa and his army and meets one of the most underrated sidekicks in all Indiana Jones storytelling, Remy Baudouin. Remy is a Belgian who ended up in Mexico and was allured by the idealism of the revolution. He and Indy bond quickly. I liked how this part of the episode tackled some of the difficult questions about revolutions and how they affect everyday citizens. You saw both the romanticism of joining a revolution but also the toll it takes on the people it is supposed to help. In a surprising move, Indy decides to join the Belgian army with his new friend Remy and leave his home and high school career behind. Thus begins the core of the Young Indiana Jones series, World War I.
Love's Sweet Song, 1916
Indy's first adventure on his way to join the Belgian army and ultimately the war takes place in Ireland, followed by England. Both parts of this episode relate Indy's experience with young love. In Ireland he meets a girl whose brother is connected with the revolutionaries fighting for Irish independence, and in England he has a more serious relationship with a suffragette who gives him firsthand experience with the challenges of the fight for women's rights. Indy's relationships with women are a common theme throughout the show, but the story in England stands out for its genuine sweetness and feeling of true love. The impending war also casts a gloomy pall over Indy's story and functions as a stand-in for all the relationships that were, and still are, affected by war.
We can be thankful for the sweet tone of this episode, however, because the next episode, Trenches of Hell, takes the series in a very dark direction.
In today's set of episodes Young Indy discovers a variety of religions and gets deathly ill in the Chinese countryside, and I fall asleep while watching.
Young Indy travels to Benares, India (also called Varanasi) and meets a very young Krishnamurti, who takes him on a tour around all of the sacred sites in the city, representing all of the major world religions. In addition, a B plotline explores the Theosophical society through the lens of Indy's tutor, Miss Seymour. I actually found the B plot far more interesting in this part of the episode and actually fell asleep during Indy's grand tour of religions. I suppose the episode was a success in the sense that it got me to do some research on what exactly the Theosophical Society was.
In the second half of the episode Indy, his mother, and his tutor explore the Chinese countryside with a local guide, and Indy comes down with a really terrible case of typhoid. There were a few interesting bits about Western and Chinese medicine, but otherwise this episode was fairly bland. My only real memory of this episode was something to do with collecting trading cards or promotional material, and I either had a bunch of the China episode cards or needed one to finish my collection.
I cannot say that I am sad to move on from the stories with the youngest version of Indy. There were a couple episodes that I really connected with and found entertaining, but I think the creators of the show had the right idea to alternate young and younger Indy episodes throughout its TV run. The upcoming six year time jump is where the show really starts hitting its stride, and I did not plan it, but the time jump came just in time for the end of the school year and more time in the summer for watching Indiana Jones! Since I have the time to watch more TV during the summer break now, I will be covering more episodes in each post.
Next up: We meet Sean Patrick Flanery as 17-year-old Indy in Spring Break Adventure!
Travels with Father or Why Indiana Jones Has So Many Daddy Issues
In today's episode Indy travels to Greece and Russia, while illuminating the difficult relationship he has with his father. I definitely found these two episodes more enjoyable than the last set, and they both tackled interesting questions of philosophy and politics in a very easy to understand manner. By far the most interesting part of these episodes, however, is the family dynamic, namely between Indy and his dad.
In the first part of the episode Indy and his dad are encouraged/forced to explore Athens and the surrounding Greek countryside together on a trip to a monastery for Henry, Sr.'s research. Henry and Indy connect over learning about philosophy and then having to navigate a tricky situation at the hanging monasteries, which brought out a lot of the father-son dynamic that made The Last Crusade so entertaining. Despite the clear distance between father and son, their time spent together in this episode hinted that the two of them have a lot more in common than even they thought. It was quite impressive how well this episode was able to capture the gradual warming of Indy toward his dad as they adventure together.
Continuing the family dynamic theme, Indy once again finds the sour end of his dad's personality in the second part of the episode when he keeps making clutzy mistakes at a fancy party. Indy is so fed up with his father that he runs away to the Russian countryside and encounters the great Leo Tolstoy, which is really what you should expect at this point in a series littered with icons of history and the arts. As it happens, Tolstoy is also running from some family drama, and the two quickly bond. I really enjoyed some of their off the cuff conversation about capitalism and communism without beating the audience over the head with it. The relationship between Indy and Tolstoy was sweet and made what otherwise could have been a pretty boring episode entertaining.
Next up: Indy heads east in Journey of Radiance!
In the next set of adventures for Young Indy, we travel to Austria and Italy while Indy discovers the ups and downs of love.
In the first episode of this duology, Young Indy and family travel to Hapsburg-era Austria where Indy develops his first crush on the young Hapsburg princess, Sophie (also the daughter of Franz Ferdinand, naturally). In the process he also has dinner with Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung to hear about the psychology of love. While the episode was not notable for any big reason, I do remember feeling the same crush feelings as Indy on the young princess. Recalling that memory led me down a path to wondering if my own 9-year-old son has felt any of the same feelings yet. Yikes...
In the second half, Indy and family travel to Florence where they are swept up by the romantic opera scene and the operas of Puccini. The biggest plot point in this episode revolves around Indy's mom getting involved in an emotional affair with Puccini, who almost convinces her to run away with him. My biggest takeaway from the episode was the tumultuous family relationships Indy grew up with. His father was mostly absent and emotionally distant, which led to his mother's short fling with one of the world's best opera writers.
Overall, these two episodes have not been my favorite so far, and other than living vicariously through Indy's crush, I remembered very little on rewatch. Next up is Travels with Father, and perhaps a chance for Indy to grow his distant relationship with his father?
The next episode in Volume I of the DVD set is called Passion for Life. The combination of episodes are aptly title because Young Indy discovers the importance of preserving wildlife and enjoying life through the passion of art. Some thoughts about each part:
British North Africa
This is another episode that stands out strong in my memory. Indy heads on a safari with Teddy Roosevelt to discover a rare antelope called an Oryx. While exploring the savannah and befriending a boy from a local tribe, Indy is also learning about the big game hunting world through the eyes of Teddy Roosevelt. Indy eventually stops Roosevelt from killing more animals and saves the herd of oryx from the big game hunters. I remember the impact this episode had on me because I did my third grade animal research paper on the Oryx, further cementing the fact that I was perhaps modeling my life too much on a fictional character. Watching it now, I am impressed by the conservationist tone taken in the episode, especially for a product of the early 90s. Fun fact: The actor who plays Belloq in Raiders of the Lost Ark plays one of Roosevelt's hunting guides!
The second half of this episode is much less memorable from its original airing, perhaps because I did not appreciate it as much at 9-years-old. Indy discovers the Paris art scene in this episode and meets Degas and Picasso, all while having an adventure with a young Norman Rockwell. Watching it with my current lens, I appreciated the way the episode depicted the transition of art styles, from the Impressionism of Degas to the Cubism of Picasso. In addition, the episode touched on the complicated nature of artistic ownership and how easy it is to copy someone's style and try to sell it as an original work. All of that was probably a little over a kid's head, but I can really appreciate the episode now.
Next up: The Perils of Cupid!
I love my family and this is the place to find all of the adventures we experience.