Series: Young Indiana Jones

Before the world discovered Indiana, Indiana discovered the world.

A television series featuring the adventures of the silver-screen archaeologist Indiana Jones in his childhood and teen years, wherein he had a remarkable tendency to keep encountering famous people and events. The series was conceived and produced by the films' co-creator George Lucas, who drafted a 70-item timeline of interesting moments in Indy's young life for writers to take story ideas from.

It originally aired from 1992 to 1993, taking the form of hour-long episodes, as The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. The series principally showcased Indy at the ages of 9-10 (as played by Corey Carrier) and 16-up (as played by Sean Patrick Flanery). The Carrier episodes focus on Indy touring the globe alongside his parents as part of a world lecture tour given by his father, a noted medieval scholar. The Flanery episodes primarily deal with Indy's service in World War One, in just about every theater you can think of. In each episode, Indy would meet some famous person from the early 20th century, and learn some sort of moral lesson. Yes, Lucas very openly envisioned the series as edutainment.

Notably, the show aired in an extremely Anachronic Order, with Carrier's and Flanery's episodes often alternating. This may have hurt the series in the long run. The writers produced scripts for three seasons' worth of episodes, including some stories that would introduce more characters from the films. However, the show was cancelled after its second season, before those episodes could be shot. Nonetheless, four additional TV movies were later broadcast from 1994 to 1996, which incorporated some material from the various unproduced scripts (though not from the ones which featured more of the films' characters, sadly).

George Lucas prided Young Indy on managing a film-level quality production on a television budget, helped by revolutions in digital technology, and he has said that the show was partly a test to see how far he could take the later Star Wars prequels. Also like Star Wars, the series was subject to subsequent furious re-editing by Lucas, the new cuts first showing up during re-airings in the late 90s.

This re-cut version, with new footage added and other parts removed, is the only one currently available on DVD: it's known as The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones. The Adventures combines the original Chronicles episodes into two-hour tele-movies, two shows per film (often in a quite different, and much more strictly chronological, order than in the original airings). Again, some of the newly shot material was based on the unfilmed Chronicles scripts. In keeping with the show's semi-educational nature the DVDs also feature numerous well-researched half-hour documentaries, which place the historical personages and events of the various episodes in context.

A notable proportion of Indy fans, regardless of their opinions of the series as a whole, refuse to accept the Chronicles Framing Device, which depicts Indy as a one-eyed, possibly-senile nonagenarian (played by George Hall), pottering around suburbia and boring people with reminisces of his Glory Days. It may or may not be significant that the Old!Indy sequences were the first thing to be thrown out of the Adventures release, although his hand can be glimpsed closing Indy's diary at the end of the closing titles.

Young Indiana Jones provides examples of:

  • Anachronic Order
  • Affably Evil: The Red Baron was very much so in "Attack of the Hawkmen."
  • Badass Grandpa:
    • The four old soldiers still fighting on the Allies' side in Africa in The Phantom Train of Doom movie.
    • Old Indy taking a cane against some rude young ice cream cashiere in Verdun 1916.
  • Bandito: "Mexico, March 1916"
  • Been There, Shaped History: Befriending T.E. Lawrence, drinking with Pablo Picasso, losing his virginity to Mata Hari, inspiring the The Red Baron to paint his plane red, helping Lawrence of Arabia take Jerusalem, killing Dracula, competing for a girl's affections with Ernest Hemingway, and hunting Al Capone: just some of the less extreme contrivances in young Henry Jones Junior's life. If he or she's famous in the 20th century, Indy has probably met, befriended, fought, fallen in love with, killed or slept with that person. Ah, the life of a historical edutainment hero.
  • Black Best Friend:
    • Sgt. Barthelemy to Indy, in "Oganga, the Giver and Taker of Life".
    • Paul Robeson in "Winds of Change".
  • Breather Episode: "Barcelona: May 1917", in which Indy meets a bunch of bumbling international spies (led by Monty Python's Terry Jones) and "Prague: August 1917", in which Indy embarks on a quest to install a telephone in his room...and meets Franz Kafka. The two are combined in the Adventures version as "Espionage Escapades".
  • California Doubling: Yes and no. Most of the series was shot in London, South Africa, Spain, Morocco and the Czech Republic, but they still managed to send the actors to many actual locations and film more than the Establishing Shot there.
  • Character Development:
    • Watch the Young Indy series and see him slowly grow more and more cynical and wily, especially during his activities during WWI.
      • The first time he shoots someone ever (during the Mexican Revolution) he actually apologizes afterward.
    • Young Indy has to learn his famous Indy Ploy the hard way, as when he does try to plan things out they never go as he intends.
    • In The Treasure of the Peacock's Eye, the originally warm and joyful Rémy becomes chilly and unpleasant as he obsesses with finding the title treasure. This finally leads to the two friends breaking up and Indy deciding to return home.
  • Darker and Edgier: "Trenches of Hell" and "Demons of Deception", since despite the Bloodless Carnage, they show a gritty picture of WWI trench warfare.
  • Deadly Gas/Fog of Doom: Indy witnesses poison gas attacks while serving in France. In at least one instance, the terror is amplified when flamethrower teams emerge from the gas cloud.
  • Downer Ending: A few episodes end on a less-than-high-note:
    • "Love's Sweet Song" ends with Indy's girlfriend rejecting his marriage proposal, and even failing to talk again just before Indy is sent to the front lines of World War I.
    • "Adventures in the Secret Service" ends with Indy failing to warn his Bolshevik friend activists that the Cossack army is waiting for them with guns ready, as a result one of his friends is killed.
    • "Mystery of the Blues" ends with the corrupt police chief burning the evidence that incriminates Capone and warning Indy not to meddle, a depressed Indy then starts playing the Blues.
  • Edutainment Show
  • Expanded Universe: The Chronicles spawned a 12-issue comic book series in 1992-3 from Dark Horse. These comics were more-or-less faithful adaptations of eight early Chronicles episodes, including the two-hour pilot. They even included the Old Indy bookend narration segments (although unlike his TV counterpart, the Old Indy of the comics doesn't wear an eyepatch, still having both eyes intact). There was one comic not based on an episode: Mid-Atlantic, April 1916 (placed chronologically between Mexico and Ireland).
  • Eyepatch of Power: Senior-citizen-Indy sported one of these over his right eye, complete with a nasty facial scar trailing out from beneath. Because of the large time gap between the present-day (well, 1990s) Chronicles framing segments and the 1930s period films, this is also an Eyepatch After Time Skip.
  • Foreign Correspondent
  • Framing Device
  • Genre Shift: Taking an action film franchise and using it to create an edutainment series rankled a few people.
  • Girl of the Week: To the point where he ends up dating three girls at once, and gets his face shoved in a cake for his troubles.
  • Great White Hunter: Theodore Roosevelt is portrayed this way in an episode set in Kenya in 1909. He kills dozens of rare animals in order to have them shipped back to America so that they can be displayed in museums, where ordinary people can come to be educated about them. Indiana eventually gets him to see the contradiction of someone who has such high regard for animals shooting so many of them.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Indy and Remy.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Indy meets many people who were already famous during his lifetime or would be become more famous in later decades.
  • Hotter and Sexier: The Mata Hari episode has a lot of bed scenes with her and Indy, and has her belly-dancing for his pleasure.
  • How Unscientific!: The Transylvania episode.
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: The... Eye... of the Peacock! THE EYE... OF THE PEACOCK!!
  • I Know Karate: Indy himself briefly, Northern-Style Kung-Fu to be exact, on the South-China seas.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Selous destroying an entire train in East Africa, with a single shot, from about a mile away!
  • Indy Ploy: We find out where Indy learned it from.
  • In the Past, Everyone Will Be Famous: Indiana Jones meets countless celebrities of his day. Some people who were already famous around the time he met him, others would become celebrities in later decades. Among them T.E. Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia), Winston Churchill, Joseph Joffre, Albert Schweitzer, Karl I of Austria, Charles De Gaulle, Mata Hari, Pablo Picasso, Sidney Bechet, Thomas Edison, Vladimir Lenin, George Gershwin, Princess Sophie of Austria-Hungary, Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Franz Ferdinand of Austria, Franz Kafka, Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, Sean O'Casey, Norman Rockwell, Krishnamurti, Annie Besant, Mustafa Ataturk, Giacomo Puccini, Erich von Stroheim, John Ford, Manfred von Richthofen (aka The Red Baron), Anthony Fokker and Leo Tolstoy. Even that 6 year-old he saved from a plague-striken village in the Congo! note 
  • Line-of-Sight Name: When joining the Belgian Army underage under an assumed name. Remy points out how dumb this is and explains that he didn't even have to do it in the first place as the Belgian army at the time accepted almost any able-bodied volunteer regardless of age or nationality.
  • Love Triangle: Between Indy, a young Ernest Hemingway, and a beautiful Italian girl. In the end the girl marries her childhood friend.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Probably not originally intended that way, but with as often as Sean Patrick Flanery takes his shirt off...
  • Ms. Fanservice: The legendary Mata Hari, of course, in the series' big Hotter and Sexier episode. Also, Catherine Zeta-Jones has a belly-dancing scene in Daredevils Of The Desert.
  • Musical Episode: Both "Mystery of the Blues" and "The Scandal of 1920"
  • Noodle Incident: The history of the eyepatch.
  • Nostalgic Narrator: Senior-citizen-Indy. And, in "Mystery of the Blues", MOVIE Indy.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat/Vast Bureaucracy: In "Prague, August 1917" Indy encounters these in Czechoslovakia, and is driven mad with frustration.
    • Although the bureaucrat in charge of dealing with bureuacratic errors is actually quite helpful - his department even issues simpler forms.
  • Oireland: The episode featuring the Easter Rising. Humorously, the first half or so of the episode consists of Sean O'Casey and Sean Lemass complaining about the stereotypical "Oirish" portrayal of their nation, then drops straight into the same stereotypes that were lambasted earlier.
  • Omniglot: Following the advice of T.E. Lawrence, 8 years-old Indy takes care of learning the local language of every country the family visits during their world tour. At 16 he bets the daughter of a diplomat that he can speak more languages than her, but loses because he can't speak Welsh. Later in the series he makes the same bet with an American Intelligence officer and wins because Indy knows sign language.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: The team of Allied spies Indy meets in "Barcelona: May 1917" are initially operating this way - they tell Indy that it's easier to hang out in the same bar and get drunk with the city's German agents instead of faffing around with a bunch of cloak-and-dagger nonsense. Naturally, Indy's arrival causes some espionage hijinks to ensue.
  • Planning with Props:
    • One of the WWI episodes used this to explain the complicated tangle of alliances and old grudges that set off the war. One notable segment had Austria (salt shaker) threatening Serbia (plate of meatballs) depicted by salting and eating the meatballs.
    • In another episode Indy and his Bolshevik friends illustrate the differences between Feudalism, Capitalism, Socialism and Communism by cutting Indy's birthday cake in different sized slices... and then one guy illustrates Anarchism by grabbing the entire cake.
  • Pocket Protector: In the episode "Oganga".
  • Punch Clock Villain: The Germans (in this case Imperial Germany) reprise their original films' role as antagonists. Justified, as the stories are set during World War I where the Germans fought against the Allies.
  • Puppy Love: Eight year old Indy and Princess Sophie of Austria-Hungary.
  • Re Cut: In the original Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, each show began and ended with short scenes featuring a 93-year-old Indy (with an Eyepatch of Power) circa 1992. He'd narrate adventures from his youth—the titular "Young Indy" stories, here told in flashback—to basically anyone who'd bother to listen (and some who didn't). However, in the later Adventures re-edits, the Old Indy segments were edited out entirely. Instead, newly (and often, poorly) shot linking footage, starring the other original members of the Young Indy cast (that is to say, the characters from the around-WWI era) was used to bridge the gaps.
    • The recut also removed Old Indy's daughter and grandchildren. An early script for the fourth film also gave Indy a daughter, but Spielberg decided against it as he felt it was too similar to Ian Malcolm's situation in The Lost World. The daughter thus became a son as seen in the final film.
  • Red Right Hand: By the time Indy meets Demetrios again in Mexico, he has lost a hand and is nicknamed "Claw".
  • Scenery Porn: The series loves to linger nostalgically on famous landmarks as establishing shots for the country of the week Indy is adventuring in. The series was intended to be semi-educational in nature.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right:
    • In the first part of "Demons of Deception", Indy purposely crashes his motorcycle that's carrying a message to an army commander with orders to start an attack that intelligence knows it's going to be useless and will result in hundreds of allied casualties.
    • In "Oganga the Giver and Taker of Life", Indy refuses to leave behind a child who's the sole survivor of a plague-ravaged village, and defies his superior officer for it.
  • Shout-Out:
    • When Indy and a couple other men have escaped from the Austrian secret police by hiding in the sewer, one of them remarks "What an incredible new smell you've discovered!"
    • There's a throwaway gag in "Attack of the Hawkmen" where Indy, after being captured, has been invited to dinner by Baron von Richtoven:
      Von Richtoven: (Snaps fingers) Sergeant! Pepper!
    • Part of the "Prague, August 1917" episode involves Indy (who's just trying to get a phone installed so he can take an urgent call) struggling with insane bureaucracy and even being arrested, tried and jailed for no very good reason. note This is a massive Shout-Out to Franz Kafka's The Trial - not surprising, since Kafka later turns up as a character - but very much Played for Laughs, as is the entire episode.
    • In the same episode Indy's espionage contact is an incompetent buffoon with a strange accent... who's named Clouseau.
    • Indiana Jones' best friend during his days in the military is a Belgian named Rémy. This could be a shout-out to Tintin creator Hergé, whose real name was Georges Remi (though he is not intended to be Hergé himself at a young age, because the real life Hergé was just a teenager during World War One). Steven Spielberg became a fan of Tintin after people told him Raiders of the Lost Ark had the same atmosphere as the Tintin comics. He had never heard of it, bought an album and was immediately hooked.
    • The first half of the Congo storyline (aka Oganga, The Giver And Taker Of Life) has a lot of parallels both to Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Apocalypse Now, with Indy's regiment going through a long trek through the jungle and down the Congo river that increasingly threatens everyone's sanity.
  • Something Completely Different: For the most part the series was grounded entirely in the real world, sometimes during real-life events from history, with none of the supernatural shenanigans that appear in the movies... Except for one episode where Indy fights Dracula.
  • Spinoff Babies
  • Stock Footage
  • Tactful Translation: While fighting in the Mexican revolution, Indy is tasked with translating the title cards of captured American silent films and newsreels. When the reel turns to the revolution from an American perspective, Indy attempts to play off the footage as respectful to Pancho Villa, but fails: the revolutionaries shoot up the theater.
    Title Card: To the Halls of Montezuma! US troops sweep into Mexico.
    Indy: US troops ... pay a courtesy visit to Canada.
    Card: General Pershing: "We shall soon have that cowardly bandit Pancho Villa on the run."
    Indy: It says General Pancho Villa ... is a great man.
  • Timeshifted Actor: Corey Carrier as Very Young Indy, Sean Patrick Flanery as Young Indy, George Hall as Old Indy. And, for one episode only, Harrison Ford as No Longer Young But Still Not Old Indy.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Both Indy and his father take this opinion of Indy's mother after her death. Notable because one episode is all about showing her as a regular person who is tried and tempted (notably, with cheating on Henry Sr. with a handsome and charming composer) and makes mistakes like anyone else.
  • Two-Timer Date: Actually three-timer in "The Scandal of 1920"
  • Überwald: "Transylvania, January 1918"
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Just like in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy has a strained relationship with his father; In his early years his father was a stern but loving family man if a little emotionally distant, but after Indy's mother died his father in grief shut himself in his work. More poignant in the episode when after being away for several years fighting in WWI Indy returns home and is received by his father as if he just left the last week.
  • Worthy Opponent: Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck in the East Africa episodes.
  • Young Future Famous People: The Series
  • You Look Familiar:
    • Paul Freeman (Belloq!) as real-life explorer Frederick Selous in two episodes.
    • Actors would often play multiple roles in the series; sometimes this could get a little confusing. The most iconic example is Vic Tablian, who already had two different roles in Raiders (Barranca and the Monkey Man). Here he plays villain Demetrios in the two-parter "The Curse of the Jackal" and an Armenian saboteur in "Istanbul, September 1918".

Alternative Title(s):

The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, The Adventures Of Young Indiana Jones