Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Young Indiana Jones -- Episode 11: Oganga, the Giver and Taker of Life

To Watch: Click Here

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
Indiana Jones is sent on a death-defying expedition across the Congo to bring back a marooned shipment of high-powered guns. Along the way, he leads a mutiny against his superior officer after the officer orders the men to abandon a sick child they find along the way. Then, Indy meets a German physician who encourages him to think for himself and have a reverence for life. 

Memorable Quote:
Tonight I received a stunning lesson in political science from the most unlikely of sources. If my sergeant is right, if this is nothing more than a white man's war for possession of black man's soil, then I have to ask myself just what it is I'm doing here.  ~Indiana Jones

Up until the final third, I was fully prepared to say the scene where Indy leads his men in mutiny and turns his gun on the major. It's a really well done scene, and Flanery is fantastic here. But you know I'm a sucker for great music, and I just can't put anything above the scene where Indy is watching the doctor heal the villagers while Bach's Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring flows from an oboe while backed by a full orchestra. At first I wondered why they chose that song (not a complaint, just seemed random), but then I read about how the doctor this is based on, Albert Schweitzer, was a Bach aficionado.

The opening battle was surprisingly violent and went on for quite a while. I put this episode on the big screen while Mrs. MacGyver Project was in the room, and I ended up shutting it off and putting on something happier for her to watch before she went to bed. The violent battle does, however, contrast nicely with the humanistic message that Indy later receives from the doctor.

Brushes with historical figures:
Albert Schweitzer

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • 14:37 mark -- I'm not sure who the picture is in Indy's locket. Could be his mother, but then I'm not sure why they didn't just use a picture of the actress that played his mother.  UPDATE -- My bad, that was the locket that Princess Sophie gave him in The Perils of Cupid. It's easy to forget things when you watch one episode a month. 
  • Seems like a bad idea to send a couple hundred men on a 2000 mile march through Central Africa -- why not take a boat around the horn or a plane?
  • The actor who plays the sergeant that cares for the sick boy is one of the villains in Casino Royale, which we'll get to once I start my (spoiler alert!) 007 countdown. 
  • 33:18 -- the picture on Indy's diary looks just like the one on my DVD case.
  • 59:43 - I like how Schweitzer calls Indy "Captain Dynamite, scourge of the Kaiser."
  • Great dialogue from Schweitzer when he's on the boat going to save the tribal chief, and he follows that up with several more memorable conversations with Indy. The dialogue between him and Indy is exceptionally well written, and full credit to writer Frank Darabont, who also wrote the screenplay to The Shawshank Redemption. 

Final Analysis:
Whoa! This was kind of a masterpiece. The first half alone was outstanding with the storyline of Indy struggling with the tension between his duty to obey versus protecting an innocent child and then finally rising up against his superior officer to save the boy. But the second half takes it up to an even higher level as Indy, initially suspicious of the German doctor, is transformed by Schweitzer's kindness and talk of reverence for life -- even I was feeling inspired. This is also Flanery's best performance so far -- he's crushes it. And as usual, the production value and re-imagining of the locale (in this case, Central Africa) is top notch.  Ranking this one firmly at the top of the list.


  1. Is there an episode guide on the DVD box that lists air dates by chance? I tried to look this up on the episode listing online to see if I could discern when during the series' run that it aired but it's way too convoluted. ABC aired them out of sequence big-time, in some cases airing "Part 2" weeks before "Part 1". How many total are in the DVD set? 22 two-hour episodes? That would match the episode listing.

    1. Yeah, the DVDs (there are 3 sets) have 22 episodes in chronological order and a ton of documentary-style special features about the real people and places involved.

      Wikipedia has the original air dates -- this one was Wednesday, April 8, 1992.

    2. Was the first half of the episode set in "German East Africa" and the second half in the "Congo"? If so, Part 1 must have aired on April 1, 1992, a week before the April 8th Congo episode. On all but three occasions, ABC never aired the two parts together on the same night. I'm surprised to see this was part of the original episodes ABC aired in its spring 1992 launch. It sounds like it was more exciting and action-packed than anything I remember from YIJ. I must have already checked out from it by then.

    3. Yeah that's right -- part 1 was on 4/1 the week before. I don't know if I'd call this episode action packed (other than the opening battle), but it was well executed.