Monday, February 17, 2020

Young Indiana Jones -- Episode 19: Winds of Change

To Watch: Click Here

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
Indiana Jones's has a front row seat at the Treaty of Versailles as a translator. Then he returns home to an icy reception from his father. 

Memorable Quote:
Change is painful. People will do anything to prevent pain.  ~Indy

Much like Spring Break Adventure, I like the vibe of 1920s Americana that they create in his hometown of Princeton. 

Jones Sr. is a flat-out jerk in this episode. His character has always been stuffy and too interested in his own work, but his behavior in this episode is unforgivable.

Brushes with historical figures:
  • Lawrence of Arabia (third time for Lawrence)
  • Arnold Toynbee
  • Gertrude Bell 
  • Woodrow Wilson
  • Prince Faisal
  • Ho Chi Minh
  • Robert Goddard 
  • Paul Robeson

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • The guy playing Woodrow Wilson doesn't look anything like Woodrow Wilson, not that people who look like Woodrow Wilson grow on trees. Turns out that the actor is the crooked cop from Witness. And other guest star with a Harrison Ford connection is the German negotiator who played Dr. Nichols in The Fugitive. Great scene at the end where Dr. Kimball interrupts Nichols during his speech -- ok, I'm off track. 
  • 9:00 mark - Wilson says that he's prepared to succeed where Jesus Christ failed. In basketball, they call that a heat check. 
  • 12:40 - "The answer to this problem therefore is simple. We go and consult the people themselves...we ask them what it is they want."  Wilson is on fire right now. 
  • Fun fact: I've been to the Woodrow Wilson presidential library and birthplace in Staunton, Virginia. My wife and I were passing through town on our way to West Virginia. We had no plans to see the historic site and didn't even know it was there until we made a wrong turn and saw it right in front of us. So we decided to stop and check it out -- we got a nice guided tour and saw some old cars, and I got a souvenir glass. 
  • 15:13 - the normally soft-spoken Lawrence of Arabia surprisingly blows a gasket and tells Indy to go to Hell. 
  • I was recently was watching the first episode of Ken Burns's Vietnam documentary, which relayed the story about how Ho Chi Minh was hoping to meet Wilson in Paris after WW1 but never got the chance. 
  • The actress who played Amy was the cheerleader and Keanu Reeves's love interest in The Replacements.
  • I didn't know anything about Robert Goddard other than knowing of Goddard Space Center in Maryland. I did know Paul Robeson (although didn't know he was a football player). Great voice

Final Analysis:
Decent episode with no big highlights or lowlights. Ranking it 7 out of 19. 

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Young Indiana Jones -- Episode 18: Treasure of the Peacock's Eye

To Watch: Click Here

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
As World War One comes to an end, Indiana Jones and Remy travel to Egypt and Indonesia in search of a legendary diamond that once belonged to Alexander the Great. Along the way, they meet up with other diamond hunters, pirates, and pacific islanders. 

Memorable Quote:
There are all kinds of ways of life in this world. One is not right, one is not wrong. Understanding others, we can accept them, and through acceptance comes a peaceful world.  ~Malinowski

The scene where the pirates board the ship is fun.

Too much Remy in this episode. In general his character is kind of annoying and doesn't bring much to the table, and at times it's hard to understand him with his thick accent.  Hopefully this will be his last episode.

Brushes with historical figures:
  • Howard Carter.  He also appeared in My First Adventure and is played by the same actor. 
  • Bronislaw Malinowski. I'd never heard of him, but apparently he was a famous anthropologist.

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • Why is everyone fighting even though the armistice is about to be official within the hour? Did that really happen?  Let me check the internet....yes, looks like it did
  • Finally, the war is over and there can be some episodes about something other than WWI. 
  • It sounds like Remy says that he's been married to his wife for three years and has only seen her for ten days. But then at the train station it seems like he has a bunch of kids. 
  • 8:28 mark - Shouldn't Indy know Greek instead of Remy needing a scholar to translate?
  • Hard to believe that Indy and Remy are so quick to leave home and travel halfway around the world immediately after returning from a long and grueling war. Even more surprising is that Remy's wife not only tells them to go but gives them some of grandma's jewelry to finance their trip. "Even though you've been gone for three years and home for only an hour, why don't you leave right away on a wild goose chase and leave me to manage the home and the children!"  Maybe she finds Remy annoying, too. 
  • 13:12 - It's the Indiana Jones traveling-on-the-map picture! I don't recall seeing this in any of the earlier episodes -- too bad, because it's cool and evocative of the movies. 
  • 22:05 - Some sloppy editing when they're supposed to be looking at a newspaper that is clearly blank. 
  • Nice ending where Malinowski helps Indy to prioritize archaeology over diamonds and fortune. Unfortunately, Indy forgets this lesson at the beginning of Temple of Doom. 

Final Analysis:
After a litany of war episodes, it's nice to see Indy going back to some good old-fashioned treasure hunting. Ranking it 4th out of 18. 

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Young Indiana Jones -- Episode 17: Masks of Evil

To Watch: Click Here

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
In Istanbul, Indiana Jones is undercover as a Swedish journalist whose mission is to communicate French peace terms to a Turkish general. Next, he goes to Transylvania to investigate a mysterious Romanian general who has kidnapped some allied POWs. 

Memorable Quote:
Naturally, the loss of an innocent life is to be regretted, but the operation has been a wonderful success.  ~French intelligence officer

Here's a fun fact: the name of the Romanian vampire is Mattias Targo. The name of the Hungarian tough guy in Die Hard 3 is Mathias Targo. Both were written by the same person, Jonathan Hensleigh.

I didn't think anything could be worse than the second half of Espionage Escapades, but the last 25 minutes of this episode is my new series lowlight. One thing I've appreciated about the series thus far is that it didn't delve into the magical elements that the movies did (and which were my least favorite parts of the movies). In the Transylvanian castle, however, things get wacky with lightning balls, frozen floors, and of course blood-sucking vampires. Not my cup of tea.

Brushes with historical figures:
  • Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • Indy pulls off a pretty good Swedish accent. I recently watched Boondock Saints where he does a good Boston Irish accent. 
  • It's bad enough that Indy is stringing Molly along as part of his cover, but then he makes it worse by asking her to marry him and accompany him to Sweden. Clearly he likes her a little bit but not enough to tell her the truth. 
  • It's easy to see who the mole is going to be when Stefan pushes the guy who was willing to talk off the roof. 
  • Molly's not the most dynamic personality, but it's a sad moment when she dies.
  • Getting back to the Memorable Quote, how was the operation a wonderful success?  At least in the part that we see, the Turkish general says he's not interested in the French terms. 
  • Some great shots of Venice in the middle of the episode, and interesting that they made the effort to get the shots even though the location has no bearing on the plot. 
  • The American colonel seems too high ranking to go on a two-person mission. Little does he know that he's about to be dismembered by a vampire. 

Final Analysis:
I'm not a fan of this one. The first half was just ok, and the second half was irredeemable. Ranking it second to last. 

Friday, November 15, 2019

MacGyver Trivia: Question 2 Added 11/27

Trivial Pursuit Game: Classic Edition

The comments in this post will be updated periodically with some MacGyver trivia questions that I'll try to stump you with (original series only).  Check them out and see how well you know the show! 

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Young Indiana Jones -- Episode 16: Tales of Innocence

To Watch: Click Here

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
In northern Italy, Indiana Jones gets into a lover's quarrel with Ernest Hemingway over an Italian country girl. Then, he goes to North Africa on a mission to find out who's been supplying guns to anti-French marauders. 

Memorable Quote:
You rat!  ~Indy
Me?  ~Ernie
You dirty, two-timing rat!  ~Indy
Judas!   ~Ernie

Two amusing scenes between 4:30 and 7:30, first where Indy gets frazzled by an Italian soldier that almost hits him with friendly fire (great acting by Flanery here), and then in a jeep where Indy pretends to not speak English.

The romantic tension between Indy and Edith Wharton was a bit uncomfortable given their age difference, similar to MacGyver and Viktoria in The Enemy Within. As I said in that post, I'm not against older women and younger men hitting it off, but this lady looks like she should be Indy's mom.

Brushes with historical figures:
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Edith Wharton
  • Lowell Thomas

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • I like how the episode starts in medias res and how we're not sure what exactly Indy is doing or why he's pretending to be missing an arm. 
  • 23:46 mark -- a clever Farewell to Arms reference. 
  • A few notes about the co-stars:
    • The wikipedia page of Veronica Logan (Giulietta) says: "On the set of Young Indiana Jones, she met the actor Sean Patrick Flanery, with whom she cohabited for a period in Los Angeles."
    • The actress who plays Giulietta's mother also played Shmi Skywalker (mother of Anakin) in Star Wars Episode 1, and she was married to Bille August who was the director of this episode. 
    • Hemingway is played by Jay Underwood, who I vaguely remember as Chip the robot from the 80's movie Not Quite Human
  • Originally I assumed that Ernie was the "other guy", but then I figured he wasn't when I saw the photo of the Italian guy in the living room, so I was surprised when it was revealed to be Ernie even though I had predicted it initially. 
  • It doesn't take long for Indy to forget about Giulietta, as evidenced by his dalliance with Nurse Sophia. 

Final Analysis:
Overall, a good episode. The first half was well-written and amusing, even if I'd prefer the series to emphasize action over comedy. I wasn't wild about the Edith relationship in the second half, but I liked the subplot involving the French traitor and the swordfight at the end. Ranking it 4th out of 16. 

Friday, October 18, 2019

Young Indiana Jones -- Episode 15: Daredevils of the Desert

To Watch: Click Here

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
Indiana Jones journeys across the desert to the town of Beersheba (in modern day Israel) to protect the wells for the incoming British Army. He travels with Maya, a mysterious agent whose motives are unclear. 

Memorable Quote:
What's it like, the desert?  ~Indy
It's like nowhere else on this earth. It's the most terrible place there is. And the most wonderful. ~Lawrence

Between Catherine Zeta Jones and Daniel Craig, we got some big-time star power in this one! Catherine Zeta featured in The Mask of Zorro, one of my all-time favorites, and I'll talk a lot more about Daniel Craig once I get to my James Bond Project (that's right, it's coming at some point down the line -- at the rate I'm going, maybe by 2036). Both give good performances (Craig has a decent German accent), and it's fun to see them at the beginning of their careers -- per IMDB, it's Catherine Zeta's 7th-ever credit and Craig's 8th.

The fake fight between Indy and his partner was a stretch insofar as they were able to foresee the opportunity they'd have and how the "dead" partner was able to get away without being spotted. And how did they manage the fake blood?

Brushes with historical figures:
  • Lawrence of Arabia

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • I watched this episode about a month ago on a bus. Fortunately I took notes because I'm having trouble remembering the details. 
  • 7:52 mark -- When Indy sits down at the tavern table to get his assignment, it looks like he puts a whip next to his side. I kind of forgot about the whip as a potential tool because he never uses it in this series -- it would have been nice for him to break it out every once in a while. 
  • Col. Meinertzhagen, the British intelligence officer, apparently appeared in the Phantom Train of Doom. His appearance there isn't ringing even the slightest of bells with me -- not now, nor when I was on the bus. 
  • Lawrence of Arabia is back after appearing in My First Adventure, but this time it's a different actor who has a more boyish appearance. 
  • While Indy's Middle Eastern accent actually isn't too bad, it's hard to see how he'd fool anyone into thinking that he's an Arab. 
  • Indy makes a reference to flying a plane with Houdini in Australia -- maybe that was an episode that got cut?
  • Seems like a bad idea for the defenders of Beersheba to blow up the wells without a clear escape plan, because then they run out of water too. 
  • 56:45 -- Abrupt turn from CZJ (that's what her friends call her) as she goes from "prickly" to "kiss me Indy" at the drop of a hat. 
  • 1:03:03 -- A goof when Daniel Craig slams the knife down on the desk and the point of the blade sticks in the desk. Later, we see that the knife is not real and that the blade collapses when pressure is applied.
  • The fight scene at the end is like a manifestation of Indiana Jones vs. James Bond. This round goes to Indy. 

Final Analysis:
This episode is pretty good -- I like the desert setting, and the storyline with the Australian unit was a nice touch. And getting to see young Daniel Craig and young CZJ was a lot of fun. Ranking it 6 out of 15. 

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Young Indiana Jones -- Episode 14: Espionage Escapades

To Watch: Click Here

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
While in Barcelona, Indiana Jones goes undercover as a ballet dancer with the goal of manipulating a German spy who fancies another dancer, but the plan goes awry when they learn that both the German and the dancer are double agents. Next, Indy travels to Prague for the purpose of receiving an important telephone call, but he discovers that his room has no phone to receive the call, so he sets out on a quest to get a replacement phone. 

Memorable Quote:
No, no, I'm not upset. I'm incandescent with rage!  ~Indy

Mildly amusing moment when Indy is snooping around the dancer's dressing room and falls down after being startled by Delfina, the old assistant who has lost her marbles.

Everything around the missing telephone (more on this later).

Brushes with historical figures:
  • Pablo Picasso
  • Sergei Diaghilev
  • Franz Kafka

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • Rough opening, maybe the worst 5 minutes of the series thus far as we're introduced to the "spy ring" which consists of a goofy band of buffoons. 
  • And then the next 5 minutes aren't much better. While I like the concept of bringing back characters from previous episodes, Picasso is my least favorite character of the series. 
  • Somehow the German Colonel, who's supposedly a master spy, never recognizes Indy after seeing him in the opening scene at the tavern. Or maybe he does and doesn't say anything because he's a double agent? I'm confused. 
  • The first half of the episode is startlingly reminiscent to Honest Abe between the farcical plot, the character that speaks in exaggerated Italian expressions, and the protagonist using light reflections to deliver a message in Morse code.
  • So when the Count learns that the letters were a hoax, does he ask any follow-up questions, like why did you do that to me?  Do they see Indy and the other spies in the car?  Again, I'm confused.   
  • We now transition to Prague, where Indy pretends to be "Amadeus Schubelgruber" on a quest to get a phone for his hotel room so that he can receive an important call. He's foiled at every turn by what turns out to be a vast, out-of-control Czech bureaucracy where everyone speaks with an English accent. There's a cartoonish spy named Clousseau who serves no purpose to the story, and the phone call that finally arrives merely tells him to go to Berlin. I can't describe the level of silliness and farce in this episode -- you have to see it for yourself (or better yet, don't see it). 

Final Analysis:
I didn't think that I was going to rate any of the older Indy episodes lower than the young Indy episodes, but this one was by far the worst of the series. After painfully enduring the episode's first half, I didn't think it could get any worse, but the second half made the first half look like The Last Crusade. Speaking of which, the Indy movies can't get here soon enough. Ranking it 14 out of 14.