The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones Volume One

The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones Volume One
The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones was a hugely ambitious family show that was originally broadcast beginning in 1992. It attempted to teach history in a way that was fun and didn’t feel like typical educational programming. Of course, it helped to use a familiar movie character to pull in viewers, even though Harrison Ford only made a few cameo appearances. Critically, it was well received but that didn’t translate to ratings and it was cancelled midway through the third season before all the episodes were broadcast. In 1996, the episodes were re-edited into the feature-length programs, with the first seven presented here, creating some issues with continuity, as child actors have this habit of growing up as filming progresses, especially from season to season. It does mean that the focus in this first set is the very young Indiana, played convincingly by Corey Carrier, although there are a couple of adventures featuring the teenaged Indy, played by Sean Patrick Flannery. The whole show hung on the premise that as Indiana was growing up, he found himself in various locales, meeting all kinds of historical figures, such as Thomas Edison, Pablo Picasso and Lawrence of Arabia, giving it an annoying Forrest Gump-like quality where a little too much disbelief has to be suspended in order to buy Indy’s knack for constantly crossing famous paths. It also provided some of the back-story to the character, which was hinted at during the three movies, adding an air of authenticity. Care, attention to detail and high production values make The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones a lot more entertaining than a wholesome family show should be. But the real care and attention have gone into the additional material. This is one of the first collections where the extras are actually just as important than the original TV show. The set contains an embarrassing amount of extras, with the additional material actually surpassing the running time of the main feature. Not only that, the extra documentaries add historical context, with every single episode having at least four 20- to 30-minute features to explain what really happened. It’s no coincidence that the History Channel in the U.S. is actually broadcasting the extras to try and get children interested in the past. This is the most impressive collection for a television show in ages, due to its 38 documentaries and additional interactive timelines. It’s no wonder that it took four or five years after the set was announced for it to show. But with 12 DVDs, this is a lot of young Indiana, so chances are the most receptive audiences would be school classes, who will get the most out of the factual content. Still, fans of the movies will probably get a kick out of the many inside jokes, and with two more sets to come, it will be the perfect way to get ready for the release of the long awaited fourth film in May. (Paramount)