- "Before the world discovered Indiana, Indiana discovered the world."
The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, commonly refered to as Young Indy, is an Emmy Award-winning American television series created by George Lucas, which ran on ABC from 1992 to 1993. It explores the youth of the fictional character Indiana Jones, who is portrayed as taking part in many significant events of the early 20th century. The series features four incarnations of the title character; Sean Patrick Flanery played Indy aged 16 through 21, Corey Carrier played the 9 through 10 year-old Indy, and George Hall portrayed an elderly Jones for the framing bookends of most episodes. Additionally, Harrison Ford reprised his role for a season two episode, taking the usual place of Hall.
Lucas, who had previously served as executive producer and provided the stories for the Indiana Jones feature films, began developing the series in 1990 as "edutainment" that would be more cerebral than the films. The show was his first collaboration with producer Rick McCallum. Lucas again served as executive producer, and wrote the stories for many of the episodes. Writers and directors on the show included Carrie Fisher, Frank Darabont, Vic Armstrong, Terry Jones and Ben Burtt. In the show, Indy crosses path with many historical figures, who were played by stars such as Christopher Lee, Bob Peck, Jeffrey Wright, and Marc Warren.
Young Indy debuted on ABC on March 4, 1992. Though critically acclaimed, it lasted two seasons before being canceled in 1993 due to low ratings. Four made-for-TV movies based on the series were produced from 1994 to 1996, and aired on The Family Channel. The series was comprehensively re-edited and re-packaged for home video as The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, which was partially released on VHS in 1999, and released in full on DVD in 2007 and 2008.
- "This is a work of fiction. While Young Indiana Jones is portrayed as taking part in historical events and meeting real figures in history, many of the characters in the story as well as the situations and scenes have been invented. In addition, where real historical figures and events are described, in some cases the chronology and historical facts have been altered for dramatic effect."
- ―End credits disclaimer, beginning with the third episode[src]
The series was designed as an educational program for children and teenagers, spotlighting historical figures and important events of the early 20th century, using the concept of a prequel to the films as a draw. Most episodes feature a standard formula of an elderly Indiana Jones (played by George Hall) in present day (1992/1993) New York City reminiscing on his life as a child (Corey Carrier) and young adult (Sean Patrick Flanery). For a season two episode, a fifty-one-year-old Indy (Harrison Ford) is seen reminiscing. The initial plan was for the series to alternate between the two young versions of the character, but eventually the episodes featuring Flanery dominated the series.
Episodes were produced and intentionally aired out of chronological order, with episodes covering either Indy's adventures during his father's 1908-1910 lecture tour, his adventures as a soldier in World War I, or his early days in college. The show provides a lot of the back story for the films; Jones' relationship with his father, first introduced in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, was further fleshed out with stories about his travels with his father as a young boy. The series also revealed that in his later years, Indy has a daughter, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Many of the episodes also involve Indiana meeting and working with famous historical figures. For example, the pilot prominently involves Indy in the adventures of T. E. Lawrence and Pancho Villa. Some of the historical characters have recurring roles: Jones develops a lifelong friendship with T.E. Lawrence, becomes friends with Ernest Hemingway, and re-encounters characters such as Pablo Picasso.
Cast and characters
- Corey Carrier as Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr. (ages 9 to 10). Carrier was 11 when he was cast for the role. His manager had given him a list of TV series he could try out for, and after his initial audition, he was called back several times before getting the role. Like Flanery, Carrier had viewed the Indiana Jones films before production began on the series, finding Henry Jones, Sr. to be his favorite character. During the first year of production, Carrier's family was able to travel with him, and his mother served as his tutor. Carrier also was able to do some of his own stunts. Carrier and co-star Flanery spent little time together during production, as they were often shooting episodes simultaneously around the world.
- Sean Patrick Flanery as Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr. (ages 16 to 21). For the role of young Indy, Lucas wanted an actor who could effectively portray Jones as idealistic and naive. River Phoenix, who played Young Indy in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, was originally offered the role, but turned it down because he did not want to return to television. Flanery, who had never done a screentest prior to auditioning for Young Indy, played the character for six scenes from what would become "German East Africa, December 1916" in full make-up and wardrobe for his Young Indy audition. Three weeks later, Flanery was informed that he got the part. Upon receiving the role, Flanery was given a large amount of research material on the historical characters who would be involved in the series. Vic Armstrong, who had previously served as stunt double for Harrison Ford and stunt coordinator for the Indiana Jones films, assisted Flanery in many physical acts in the show, such as using a lasso, using a whip, and mounting a horse. However, Flanery prefered to do his own stunts whenever possible. Producer Rick McCallum provided Flanery with copies of the feature films, which Flanery used to study Harrison Ford's mannerisms he would later attempt to emulate in the series.
- Harrison Ford as Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr. (age 51). Ford appeared as a middle-aged Indy in the episode "Young Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues", which aired in March 1993. Ford sported a beard for his appearance, as he was on break from filming The Fugitive (1993) at the time his scenes were shot, and didn't have time to shave it.
- George Hall as "Old Indy" (ages 93-94). The idea for an Indy in his 90s originated with author Rob MacGregor, who originally wrote an older Indy bookending his novel Indiana Jones and the Peril at Delphi. Although these segments were cut from the book, the "Old Indy" concept later resurfaced in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Harrison Ford was first offered the role of the older Indiana Jones, but turned it down because he felt television had nothing to offer his career. Hall was eventually cast due to his acting ability, and was required to wear makeup for the role. His scenes were shot at Wilmington, North Carolina, and are set in the present day (1992/1993). Refering to the character, Hall remarked "He's heroic in the sense that he's past the age of caring whether people appreciate what he's saying or not. He's old enough to know that truisms are truisms and should be believed because they are true. He's a good storyteller and he makes people want to listen to him and learn from listening to him. And then they go off and learn something else and continue the process of learning."
- Ronny Coutteure as Remy Baudouin. Coutteure's native language was French, and he spoke very little English, so he worked extra hard in memorizing his lines. His wife accompanied him during the filming of each episode.
- Lloyd Owen as Professor Henry Jones, Sr. Since Sean Connery had previously played the role in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Owen prepared for the role by viewing many of Connery's films in order to learn to imitate Connery's accent.
- Ruth de Sosa as Anna Jones. Very little had been established about the character prior to production, so de Sosa was allowed to create many aspects of the character, in additon to the basics that had been established by Lucas.
- Margaret Tyzack as Miss Helen Seymour. Indy's childhood tutor.
Several actors from the film series returned to the franchise to play different characters in the show. From Raiders of the Lost Ark, Paul Freeman returned to play Frederick Selous, William Hootkins to play Sergei Diaghilev, Wolf Kahler to play a German diplomat in the episode "Barcelona, May 1917" and Vic Tablian to play Demetrios. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom actor Roshan Seth played Kamal while Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade's Kevork Malikyan played the Armenian Agent.
- "The films are like a fictionalization of a real person, but in the series we're doing the "real" person. The films are completely action-oriented. They have a very, very small and minor plot — something happens and Indy has to do incredible things to save the world. What can we do for the next hour and a half to move this thing at lightning speed? Whereas the Chronicles is totally about character development. There is some action, but mostly it's about a boy who learns about life, which is unusual for global television. Everything he learns about, from his relationship to food, women, ethics, morality, to the way he interrelates with people, he learns from the rest of the world, not America."
- ―Rick McCallum[src]
During the early development of what became Raiders of the Lost Ark in the early 1970s, George Lucas conceived of a backstory for the Indiana Jones character, then known as "Indiana Smith", which didn't explore his origins at all, focusing instead on just his lifestyle. Throughout the production of the Indiana Jones feature films, cast and crew frequently questioned Lucas about the Indiana Jones character's early life. As Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was conceptualized, Lucas and director Steven Spielberg decided to reveal some of Jones's background in the film's opening scenes. For these scenes, Lucas chose River Phoenix to portray the character, as Indiana Jones star Harrison Ford believed that Phoenix most resembled himself as a young man (Phoenix had previously appeared as Ford's son in The Mosquito Coast). This decision led Lucas to the idea of creating the series. Once he had made the decision to produce the show, Lucas asked the opinions of Spielberg and Ford, who were supportive of the project. During the same time, Disney proposed an stunt show called Young Indiana Jones and the Adventure Spectacular due the successful reception of Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!, but the project never materialized.
- "By the time this is finished, you'll have a good picture of life from the age of five to twenty, and then from thirty-five to forty, and then ninety to ninety-five. So you'll have these little bits of his life that have been documented."
- ―George Lucas[src]
According to the series' director of research Deborah Fine, the crew originally developed a timeline extending from 1908 to 1922 of all major events and people of the time period. Each episode was outlined before writing began, and included the location and date the story would take place, as well as the historical persons, major characters, and themes involved. After all of the writers were hired, they met at Lucas' Skywalker Ranch, where they lived and worked together while writing the scripts. They worked on one story per day, with each writer being assigned specific episodes.
According to writer Frank Darabont, the writing staff wrote a total of three seasons worth of scripts before the series was canceled. After the series' cancellation, Lucas claimed to have had "70 hours worth of scripts", of which "32 hours" were completed. There were plans for later episodes to include characters appearing and referenced in the feature films; the third season would have introduced Indy to Abner Ravenwood and René Belloq in "Jerusalem, June 1909" and "Honduras, December 1920" respectively. Other episodes would have filled in the gaps between existing ones ("Le Havre, June 1916", "Berlin, Late August, 1916"), and there would have been at least one episode involving a five-year-old Indy ("Princeton, May 1905"). Lucas intended to produce episodes leading up to a 24-year-old Jones, but the series was cancelled with the character at age 21.
- "I think we've given a whole new meaning to location shooting, at least in television."
- ―Rick McCallum[src]
Lucas envisioned each episode as being "like a feature film for television". As a result, directors were hired who had mostly backgrounds in feature films, and each director was hired to fit the script in question. A wide variety of filmmakers were involved with the writing and directing for many episodes. On May 13, 1991, shooting began in Almeria, Spain, the same location used for the tank chase in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
The show was shot across over 25 countries for over 150 weeks. Partly to offset the cost of the extensive location shooting, the series was shot on 16mm film, rather than 35. Each episode cost about $1.5 million and the filming with Young Indy usually took around 3 weeks. Each production was looked at as one film, and the production's episodes were produced nonlinearly. Series one shot from March 1991—March 1992, while the second series began two months later and wrapped in April 1993. Filming for the four Family Channel TV movies took place from January 1994—May 1996. While the crew was filming in Prague, Steven Spielberg visited the set to view the production.
A second unit crew was in charge of the Old Indy segments, referred to as bookends, in which "Old Indy" (played by George Hall) recalled events from his youth. Filming an episode's bookends typically took a day. Most were shot at Carolco Studios in Wilmington, North Carolina and on location in Wilmington. The only episodes produced without bookends were: "Young Indiana Jones and the Phantom Train of Doom", "Istanbul, September 1918", "Paris, May 1919", "Prague, August 1917" and "Palestine, October 1917". Although Hall was in the bookends for the U.K. episodes "Chicago, April 1920" and Chicago, May 1920", new bookends were shot (in an effort to boost ratings) with Harrison Ford, and were combined with the "Chicago" segments to make the U.S. episode "Young Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues".
While the episodes were being shot, McCallum would send the footage to Lucas in California. This allowed Lucas and the editors to request specific pick-up shots. In 2008, McCallum described the process to Star Wars Insider: "For George, it was like mail-order filmmaking. He loves to come up with a story, but most of all he loves to edit.
The series was one of the first to make extensive use of digital technology. It was an experimentation ground in digital effects for Lucasfilm. The show also made use of stock footage from other films, which was spliced into several episodes.
The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles debuted on ABC on March 4, 1992 with the feature-length pilot episode, "Young Indiana Jones and the Curse of the Jackal". ABC was unsure of Lucas's cerebral approach, and attempted to advertise the series as an action-adventure like the films. The series aired weekly until mid-April. Ratings had been decent, if unspectacular, and ABC was nervous enough to put it on hiatus after six episodes until September, when four more episodes were aired weekly.
The series was re-launched in March 1993 with "Young Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues", which guest starred Harrison Ford in an attempt to boost ratings. Seventeen subsequent episodes aired regularly until June, when ABC cancelled the show. With four episodes left of the second season to air, ABC eventually sold the show to The Family Channel. They changed the format from 45-minute episodes to 90-minute TV movies. The Family Channel later broadcast the unaired episodes and also produced four TV movies that were broadcast from 1994 to 1996.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, US cable companies rebroadcast portions of the series. In 1996, Lucas and editor T.M. Christopher re-edited the series into 22 feature-length episodes known as "chapters", which make up The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones. While the original television broadcast versions skipped around chronologically in the character's life—alternating stories between Indy as a child and Indy as a teenager—the chapter versions present Indy's life in chronological order. The chapters correspond to two one-hour TV episodes, combined together, with the George Hall bookend segments removed. In order to connect some episodes, Lucas shot a large amount of bridging footage, while he also expanded some episodes with new footage. In 1998 and 1999, the Fox Family Channel (now ABC Family Channel) rebroadcast the four TV movies that it shown earlier as The Family Channel.
Marketing and spin-offs
Young Indy was first announced in 1990. To promote the series, Paramount released each of the original films on VHS through participating McDonalds restaurants. The Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade VHS included a one and a half minute preview of the series. Pizza Hut was another marketing partner.
Four volumes of music from the series were released on CD. The show also spawned a series of adaptations and spin-off novels, a Sega Genesis video game entitled Young Indiana Jones and the Instruments of Chaos, trading cards and other products. Following the series' cancelation, four made-for-TV movies were produced by Lucasfilm and The Family Channel based on the series: Young Indiana Jones and the Hollywood Follies, Young Indiana Jones and the Attack of the Hawkmen, Young Indiana Jones and the Treasure of the Peacock's Eye and Young Indiana Jones: Travels with Father. According to Hasbro officials, there was a possibility of Young Indy figures being produced as part of the Indiana Jones action figure line that began in 2008, but the toyline was cancelled the following year before any such plans were made.
During production of the series, Lucas became interested in crystal skulls. He originally called for an episode which would have been part of the third season involving Jones and his friend Belloq searching for one of the skulls. The episode was never produced, and the idea ultimately evolved into the 2008 feature film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. In 2005, a person claiming to be a LucasArts employee started an internet rumor that a Young Indiana Jones film was in the works. However, nothing came of the rumor.
The series received its first home video release on April 21, 1993, when a Laserdisc box set was released in Japan containing fourteen of the earlier episodes and a short documentary on the making of the series. The discs were formatted in NTSC and presented with English audio in Dolby surround with Japanese subtitles.
In November 1993, six volumes of episodes were released by Paramount Home entertainment and CIC Video on VHS in PAL format in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Finland. The first three volumes were released on November 8, 1993, and the final three volumes were released on November 22, 1993. In 1994, eight NTSC format VHS tapes with a total of fourteen episodes were released in Japan.
- "In short, "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles" is lavishly produced, ranks among the best hours on TV, and still seems doomed to virtually certain commercial failure."
- ―Brian Lowry reporting for Variety, March 12, 1993[src]
The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles received mixed reception from fans, although it won 10 Emmy Awards from 23 nominations, and also earned a 1994 Golden Globe nomination for Best Drama series. In 1993, Corey Carrier was nominated for the Young Artist Award in the category of "Best Young Actor Starring in a Television Series". In 1994, David Tattersall was nominated for the ASC Award in the category of "Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Regular Series". Though the series won many awards, it also earned its share of criticism. The New York Times called the pilot "clunky", felt that the show's educational elements were too obvious and forced, and felt that the show relied too heavily on the audience's prior knowledge. The National Coalition on Television Violence named the series the most violent television series of 1993, with an average of 60 acts of violence per episode. The series has been criticized for its purposefully inconsistent tone and style, and the fact that two actors play Young Indy.
During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, which was conducted when he was on the set of "Young Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues", Harrison Ford remarked "This show as far as I'm concerned is the best thing on television and has nothing to do with my connection to Indiana Jones". The characters of Mystery Science Theater 3000 reference the show in several episodes from the early 1990s. As noted by film historian Laurent Bouzereau and Jody Duncan, the series had a tremendous impact on the making of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, the first installment of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, serving as a template for its making, as according to producer Rick McCallum, Young Indy was a testing bed to learn a new way of making films, stating that when they made seventeen episodes, they treated them as one film. For George Lucas, making the show was one of the happiest times of his career and helped nurture an interest in pursuing an ultimately unrealized live-action Star Wars show.
In the 2000 film Wonder Boys, a clip from the Young Indiana Jones episode "Ireland, April 1916" can be seen on a TV while a character is changing channels. A 2006 episode of the Cartoon Network stop-motion series Robot Chicken features a young Indiana Jones in a parody of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Family Guy producer Seth MacFarlane released an album with Joel McNeely that included an expanded version of the Young Indy song "She's Wonderful, Too", originally composed for "Young Indiana Jones and the Scandal of 1920". Jonathan Kasdan, son of Raiders of the Lost Ark writer Lawrence Kasdan and who had worked on the development of the script for the fifth Indiana Jones installment, loved the show and has stated that he personally takes the adventures as canon.
Notes and references
- YoungIndy.com - Official site
- - archive containing some of StarWars.com's Young Indy articles
- The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles - at Lucasfilm.com
- The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles [TDE] - official thread at the StarWars.com message boards (web archive)
- Other Lucas Films - topics related to Young Indy at the StarWars.com message boards (web archive)
- Innermind.com - Primary Young Indy fan site
- The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles - at TheRaider.net
- Young Indiana Jones Chronicles - discussion board at TheRaider.net
- Unfilmed episodes of Young Indy - discussion at TheRaider.Net
- LucasFilm Projects / Indiana Jones 4 - Discussion board at TheForce.net
- IndyintheClassroom.com - a fan site that covers the educational aspects of the series
- Young Indiana Jones at The IndyExperience.com
- Young Indiana Jones at IndyFan.com
- The Indiana Jones Timeline
- Young Indy Film Location Adventure - An extensive guide to the show's filming locations
- Young Indiana Jones Music - A detailed look at the show's music