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Peter T Chattaway

The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

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Links to the threads on Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), the original trilogy (1981-1989), Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), and the question 'Is it fair to call Indiana Jones a Christian hero?.

I have never watched this series before, but I happened to see a set containing three discs from The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles at the library yesterday, and since one of the discs contained an episode depicting Lawrence of Arabia, and another disc contained the episode with the Harrison Ford bookends, I picked it up.

I'm about halfway through the first disc, and right away, I can tell that, as a completist, I'll need to look up one or two other discs from this series as well. When Indiana Jones first meets Lawrence, at the Paris peace conference in 1919, they refer to a previous meeting that took place during the war ... and sure enough, the IMDb indicates that there may have been not one but TWO previous episodes featuring Lawrence (played by two different actors, including the one who plays him in the episode that I'm watching now).

It's interesting to see how this episode ties the events of 1919 to events that were fairly recent when the episode was made in 1993. Ho Chi Minh makes an appearance (though historically, he apparently didn't go by the name Ho Chi Minh until at least a couple years later), asking for better treatment from the French in Vietnam and being ignored instead, which of course foreshadows the Vietnam War -- just as the Allies' punitive treatment of the Germans foreshadows World War II. And there are repeated references to Britain getting control of "Iraq and the oil fields", which of course foreshadows the Gulf War that took place only two years before the episode was made. (But how developed were these oil fields in 1919?)

All of this takes place in the context of a conference that begins with President Wilson declaring that he and his colleagues will succeed where all religions, even Christianity, have failed: in bringing peace to the world. Even Christ, says Wilson, failed, because he did not provide a "practical" way to apply this call for peace. But he, Wilson, and his League of Nations will provide this "practical" element, or so he says. (A brief bit of Googling indicates that Wilson did not say all this stuff about Christianity publicly, but privately; it comes not from the public record, but from a later recollection of David Lloyd George's.)

George Lucas, as is his wont, decided to re-edit these episodes after they were first broadcast, so the episode on this disc is actually two TV episodes put together, with the first half taking place in Paris and the second half taking place in Princeton, as Indy goes back home to America. At one point, he meets a rocket scientist, and Indy marvels at something as incredible as "space travel" lying on the horizon. As it turns out, the last Indiana Jones movie -- Crystal Skull -- takes place in 1957, the year of Sputnik, the year the Space Age began. And it concerns a flying saucer, literally.

Anyway, just some random notes here. Anyone else seen this, or any other episodes from this series?

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After our conversation on Facebook earlier today, I decided to give "The Treasure of the Peacock's Eye" a spin. Featuring an appearance by Howard Carter and, um, E.M. Forster, for some reason. Fortunately, the episode doesn't try to horn in references to all of Forster's novels into a single scene--which puts it a cut above certain Doctor Who episodes I could name. The episode itself is fine--I can see why it's the one that people tend to go to bat for when the asked whether YIJC is any good. Part of that, however, may be down to the way the episode very directly references the movies by repeating plot-points, quotes, etc.

 

Sean Patrick Flanery is serviceable, at least, as Indy.

 

EDIT: "Masks of Evil" gives us spy action in WWI Istanbul and includes a sequence that's directly modeled on The Third Man. So that's nice. And I will say, these are some very good-looking productions, particularly for their time (in my experience, late-80s/early-90s television hasn't aged as well as, say, stuff from the 60s and 70s).

 

EDIT EDIT: If nothing else, these episodes are giving me a greater appreciation for how relatively seamless Netflix's work on Empresses in the Palace was. 

 

Also, as I posted on Facebook, it's kind of funny seeing, for instance, a youngish Timothy Spall in "Espionage Escapades"--with Terry Jones, no less! And Tim McInnerny--Lord Percy from BLACKADDER--as Franz Kafka. And William Hootkins--Porkins, no less!--as Sergei Diaghilev.

Edited by NBooth

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