Saturday, February 17, 2018

Young Indiana Jones -- Episode 1: My First Adventure


To Watch: Click Here

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
Indiana Jones embarks on a trip around the world with his parents, and the first stop is in Egypt where Indy accompanies legendary archaeologist Howard Carter on an excavation. A tomb robber commits a murder and steals a Jackal headpiece, and he claims to have hidden it where it cannot be found. Next, the Joneses go to Morocco where Indy befriends a slave and gets captured by slave traders.

Memorable Quote:
If he were a peasant and had to earn his own living, life would be much harsher. He is better off as a slave.  ~[Name Unknown]
I do not believe anyone would trade freedom of choice for a roof over their head, no matter how lovely the roof.  ~Miss Seymour

Highlight:
Lawrence of Arabia is a cool dude in general (great name and great headgear), and I like his character in this episode.

Lowlight:
It's sad enough that all the slave children weren't able to be rescued, but I was additionally bummed that the writers didn't find a way to let Omar go free. Are we supposed to feel better that he has some hope because Indy gave him his map?

Brushes with historical figures:
  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • Howard Carter (vaguely heard of him)
  • Walter Burton Harris (never heard of him)

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • "It's me, I'm back!" Indiana Jones says that after being freed from his bad blood spell in the Temple of Doom, and I'm saying it right now.  I've been relatively quiet on the blogging front lately, but I'm ready to get back in the game with the Indiana Jones Project where I'll hit the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and then each Indy movie. Jones is on my Mount Rushmore of heroes along with MacGyver, 007, and...I'd have to think some more about the 4th one.  The first three Indy movies are among my favorites of all time (was there a 4th one? -- I don't remember).  I watched the Chronicles when I was a kid and remember next to nothing, but I did re-watch the first couple episodes about 10 years ago -- other than that, I'm coming at it with a mostly blank slate. Of course there will be episode rankings, and I'll be watching them in the order that they're on the DVDs (which is different from the order in which they originally aired).
  • That's pretty daring of Mrs. Jones to put a new puppy in the crib with baby Henry. 
  • Henry Jones Senior is more present in Indy's life than I would have thought based upon the Last Crusade, where Indy calls him a deadbeat dad who was more interested in people who had died 800 years ago. Lloyd Owen, who plays Senior, really nails the Sean Connery voice -- in fact, he sounds just like him.  JUNIOR!
  • It's hard to imagine the little guy with the "Jeepers/Aw Shucks" attitude turning into the hard-nosed Indiana Jones, but Corey Carrier is a likable kid, and he's a good actor for his age.
  • The production quality is incredible for a network television show -- it looks like they're really in another country.  (Update: According to wikipedia, they actually did film in other countries).
  • 20:54 mark -- the diggers' chant should sound familiar to the hardcore Indiana Jones fan -- think Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indy's crew is digging for the ark.  "Oll-ee-ay, mes-ee-mee."
  • When you think about it, what archaeologist wouldn't invite some little kid who they met five minutes ago to accompany them into a newly-discovered tomb?
  • Demetrios is played by Vic Tablian, who had two minor roles in Raiders.
  • Young Jones reminds me a bit of little Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace, and I thought the guy who plays Lawrence might have been Ewan McGregor (aka Obi-Wan), but it wasn't. Interestingly, per IMDB, the scene at 41:46 was re-shot during filming of Phantom Menace with a different actor playing young Indy, and while it's hard to tell, it's conceivable that it was the kid who played Anakin (probably not, though -- the replacement Indy looks too tall for Anakin).
  • The transition from the Egypt scenes to the Morocco plotline is quite abrupt, made even more so by the fact that Indy looks like he's aged five years. This is because he actually did -- the Morocco episode was filmed much later and was slapped together with the Egypt episode as part of the DVD. I remember that the Jackal storyline comes back into play for 17 year-old Indy. 
  • Walter Burton Harris, the correspondent in whose house they are staying, is played by Kevin McNally, who I know as the nasty grandfather of Ethel's baby in Downton Abbey.
  • 1:03:55 -- When Indy is in captivity, he bristles at the sight of a mouse. The mouse footage looked like it might have come from somewhere else, and I was reminded of the mouse in Henderson's cell in the MacGyver episode Bushmaster. Like MacGyver, Young Indy is part of the Paramount family, as was Mission: Impossible which borrowed MacGyver footage in Holograms. I rewatched the mouse scene in Bushmaster, and it's not the same mouse (that would have made my week if it was). 
  • 1:18:52 -- "First I want you to promise me you will never do anything as foolish as this again." ~Harris. Sorry, Harris, but I remember enough about 9 year-old Indy to know that he runs off by himself in pretty much every episode.

Final Analysis:
It's not exactly an action packed first episode, and my memory is that the lack of action theme continues throughout the series. But the production value is impressive, and I like the settings and time period. Plus, it's Indiana Jones -- my love for the movies are enough to keep me motivated to continue watching.

4 comments:

  1. This is one I've longed mused about revisiting as an adult to see if it kept my grown-up eyelids open more than it did when I was 14. I was very disappointed by the lack of action when I first watched the show in 1992, and the ratings suggested I wasn't alone with this takeaway. The show got a trial run in the spring of 1992 and was long planned as "MacGyver's" successor leading up to "Monday Night Football" for the fall. That lasted all of four weeks until disastrously poor ratings shelved the show. I remember hearing the episodes were aired badly out of sequence, which is often what happens when a series stalls out and its remaining episodes are burned off, in Young Indy's case, on Saturday nights in the middle of the summer of 1993.

    I remember being dazzled by the production quality even as a teen, and knew the series was filmed almost if not entirely overseas with a higher budget than any other TV series at the time. It's telling how big of a flop this show was that even with that kind of investment, ABC still burned off more than half of these expensive productions on Saturday nights, many of them in the middle of the summer, the slot that yields the lowest ad revenue of any show on their schedule. I can't even fathom how much money the network had to have lost on this series.

    Anyway, I'll have to read your reviews and live through you on this one, checking the series out again if you think the show holds up better than either of us recall. Can't say I'm encouraged by your takeaway of episode 1 though.

    On my end, nostalgia got the better of me for "New York Undercover", the only quality police drama that came out of the 1990s. Unfortunately, the show was filled with musical performances and the fact that those music rights were never secured for DVD distribution means the show will never be out on DVD. Still, I couldn't go any longer without revisiting the show so I bought a bootlegged DVD set of the whole series, recorded from cable reruns. It looked like this gambit was gonna work perfectly for me as the burned discs were playing just fine...until I put Disc #4 in my player and it said "Cannot play disc". I'm now concerned how many of the 24 discs in the set won't play. It was a gamble but at least I'll have gotten most of the series.

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    Replies
    1. I didn't know it was billed as MacGyver's successor -- that's interesting. I've never seen New York Undercover.

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  2. I don't know if "Young Indy" was necessarily "billed" as the Monday night successor to "MacGyver" but it was certainly groomed for it. I recall reading an interview with Stephen Downing where he said he was in talks with ABC and was told they were moving into the direction of "Young Indiana Jones" for the time slot, and that Downing was pleased to see ABC was planning to fill the slot with an adventure series friendly to younger audiences, and ultimately disappointed that it failed in the slot. For much of the 1992-93 TV season after "Young Indy" was shelved, the Monday slot was filled with clunky reality crime series "FBI: The Untold Stories" and "American Detective".

    "New York Undercover" was unique in many ways, but primarily in that it was set in Harlem and most of the cast and supporting players were African American or Puerto Rican. The storytelling regarding both the crime stories and the police officers' personal lives was reflected from that angle amidst the crime-ridden mid-90s. It seemed shockingly authentic as well. I think you'd like the series overall but would probably find it too depressing overall for your palate. Some of their most powerful episodes dealt with the death of children.

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