the studio gate

the backlot

the screening room
The Screening Room

For a show that was dismissed by even the biggest Indiana Jones fans, Lucasfilm has pulled out all the stops for this gigantic DVD set.  And it's a good thing, because "The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones" is worth a look the second time around.     

I consider myself a big fan of the Indiana Jones mythology, though I don't don a fedora and wear my beaten leather jacket out in 90-degree weather.  "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is my absolute favorite film.  The elements meshed together perfectly on that one.  I just hope the next installment of Indiana Jones closes the series with a bang.  Indy, as played by Harrison Ford, is one of the all-time classic heroes.  In the meantime, fans should rejoice in the earlier adventures of this plucky adventurer.

George Lucas has gone back to the origins of his heroes a few times since this series first aired in the early 1990s.  We all know of, and have experienced for better or worse, the prequels to the "Star Wars" franchise.  Lucas seems to enjoy telling the story of young kids growing into the heroes and villains we've come to know.  In "Young Indiana Jones," Lucas and his filmmakers embarked on a different route with Indy.  If you've never seen this show, or don't remember it much, it's quite a different beast.  More historical (though it uses history quite freely with Mr. Jones) and grandiose than the Indy films, "Young Indiana" is lovingly brought to life.  Lucas clearly loves his creation and it shows.         

As Lucas said in an interview about young Anakin Skywalker, he was indeed a kid.  So was Indy, and we had seen his young self in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989), played by the late River Phoenix.  His expanded adventures in Volume One are at times a little slow, and they're a little far fetched with Indy meeting the 20th Century's most famous people.  But the concept of Indiana Jones is pretty far fetched anyway.  Nothing wrong with how Indy's stories are done, that's for sure (except for "Temple of Doom").  At their best, whether it's the films or television series, they're entertaining. 

"Young Indy" is a romanticized epic tale.  If you're expecting two-fisted action and supernatural events, this isn't going to be your ticket.  Rather, this show places Indy in various exotic location like Africa and Europe without the hocus pocus.  In a sense, Lucas is showing us how much of a world traveler Indy was.  He mixes in historical detail with Indy's own point-of-view of the world around him. 

The biggest surprise for me was how little action there is in this series.  I don't recall watching the show when it was on.  I may have watched one episode expecting Indy to shoot first and ask questions later.  At that point, I may have been disappointed this wasn't the Indy I was used to.  Now that I'm older, I can appreciate what Lucas and his filmmakers accomplished with this show.

Indy is played mostly as a sweet kid with a romantic heart and a desire to learn.  He's adventurous and goes off into dangerous locations, much to the chagrin of his parents and Teddy Roosevelt. 

The series has a heart, which is something that may surprise Lucas fans who didn't watch the show.  Not only is Indy a loyal friend to whomever he meets on his adventures, but he's a young womanizer.  Indy seems to fall for a lot of women, including a young Elizabeth Hurley. Indy's a player!    

The series is romantic from how it's presented, as well.  The production is rich with detail and the  cinematography is stunning by David Tattersall and Jörgen Persson.  The nostalgic angle with glossy photography and beautiful set design gets you into the mood of each episode. The score, by a group of composers, is John Williams "Lite."  The music is well composed and fits into the style of the series.

The show occasionally moves slowly, and there isn't a lot of Indiana Jones style action.  It does get "talky" at points.  This doesn't take away from how well presented the series is a whole.

Lucas not only used this show as a way of educating audiences on the early 20th Century, but he also used it as an experimental lab for his visual effects.  Some of the effects look great, some look a little fake.   

What impresses me about the series is how good the acting is.  Lloyd Owen, as Indy's dad, channels Sean Connery, but makes the role his own. Both Carrier and Flanery make their roles believable.  Also worthy of praise are Ruth de Souza (as Indy's mom) and Margaret Tyzack as Indy's teacher, Miss Seymour. 

The screenplays are excellent. For all the grief George Lucas has received over the years for commissioning or writing screenplays, the episodes are well written.  Dialogue is quite good, and the back-story of Indiana Jones is constructed with an eye for detail. I even found that the series was touching and sincere in its portrayal of loss.   

I can't say that I'm familiar with the original series with an older Indiana Jones opening the show.  Leave it to Mr. Lucas to re-edit his creations.  The new DVD set, though, is rich with storytelling and worth watching. This is a pleasant surprise that is worth revisiting.

Bill Kallay

Special thanks to Click Communications

Photos: © Lucasfilm/Paramount/CBS. All rights reserved.

Quick Glimpse


Overlooked TV show gets a second chance on DVD

Director: Various

Cast: Sean Patrick Flanery, Lloyd Owen, Corey Carrier, Margaret Tyzack


Disc o'suppliments to keep you busy

Not Rated (some violence and scary images) 


Picture: Excellent
Sound: Excellent

Not your father's Indy Jones

Look out for the real Indy to show up

Aspect Ratio (1.33:1)

Dolby Digital 2.0

October 23, 2007