Old Indy telling
story to the 2 boys.
The series premiered on the United
States through ABC
on March 4, 1992 with the pilot episode entitled
Young Indiana Jones and
the Curse of the Jackal. The pilot was
actually two different stories, Egypt
1908 and Mexico
1916, tied together by an Egyptian artifact
and Old Indy’s narration. The pilot began
at the Metropolitan Museum
of New York where Old Indy encounters two
school boys trying to cut off from the rest of
their class during a visit to the museum. Seeing
that the two boys have no interest in the antiquities
on display Old Indy decides to indulge them by
telling a story how he got in love with archaeology
for the first time when he was about their age.
It is from that point that the Young
Indy Chronicles actually start by taking
a trip back to early 1900s.
of the Jackal.
The pilot had a fair share of adventure
and sense of what the series was going to be.
The series fueled by the popularity of both, Lucas
and Indy, made a good start and earned many fans.
Unfortunately, people who had enjoyed the trilogy
purely for its action and adventure content didn’t
appreciate the series’ educational value
and found the series too educative and…
boring! Another element that viewers found unattractive
was the appearance of Old Indy as an old man crocheting
and preaching in the most unimaginable and irrelevant
places. Especially, the apathy with which his
audience responded to his stories the exact moment
he walked away made viewing a bitter experience.
Many of the series’ most impressive episodes
were ruined by cutting back to the old man talking
to strangers who were at least not interested
in his stories. Very soon ratings started to drop
and the network started constant reschedules,
making it difficult for viewers to follow. Finally
and after running it for only six consecutive
weeks the network dumped the series leaving 12
The explanation offered from the
network suggested that the series was more cerebral
and less action-oriented than the films upon it
was based, by this letting down viewers who expected
something similar to them.
Despite its short run the series
received five Emmy
awards and was nominated for another three the
same year. The awards the series received along
with George Lucas’ creative and financial
status persuaded ABC
to enlist the series in its program for a second
season, in the autumn of 1992.
ABC’s failure to support the series
Lucas continued the production of Young Indy’s
ventures. "I’m fairly confident that
ABC will play
the majority of them," said Lucas in Starlog
magazine about the future of the series. "If
they don’t, obviously I want to continue
on with them. I have at least 20 stories I would
love to see on the screen. I’ll get them
made somehow. I’m just not sure in what
venue they would play."
Lucas arranged a new round of meetings
with the series’ scriptwriters to create
the stories for the new episodes. Some changes
had to take place from the writers’ part
since Reg Gadney, who had written the Paris
1908 episode, had to bow out and he was
replaced by Jule Selbo, a lady who lived in Los
Angeles. Soon a new group of episodes began filming.
Harrison Ford and
Lucas working on the special cameo appearance.
For the second season’s first
episode Lucas had the idea of making a two-hour
movie entitled Young
Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues
that featured Harrison Ford in a special cameo
appearance. The scene, replacing an already shot
sequence with Old Indy and his grandson Spikes,
featured Indy and his Indian friend Gray Cloud
snowbound in 1950s Wyoming trying to escape their
pursuers who are after an ancient Indian pipe
in Gray Cloud’s possession.
of the Blues.
Lucas phoned Ford, who was shooting
The Fugitive at
the time and they agreed to film the small part
at Ford’s home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
McCallum flew from Prague to Wyoming, got a little
crew together and spent a week preparing filming.
The actual filming of the scene, although in screen
time it did not exceed a total of four minutes,
lasted a day. Ford arrived on location on his
snowmobile and between takes he talked with his
friend George Lucas. Another thing that has to
be mentioned is Indiana Jones’ external
appearance. Since Ford had grown a heavy beard
for The Fugitive
and filming on the big-screen film hadn’t
rapped up yet he appeared as a 50-year old graybeard
Indy. When talked to Entertainment
Tonight Ford said about his involvement
with the Chronicles,
"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."
He also had to say a nice word for his life-long
collaborator Lucas, "I think he’s taken
the great popular success of Indiana Jones and
turned it around as something worthy of it."
Talking to Starlog
magazine about Harrison Ford’s cameo Lucas
said, "I liked the idea of including Harrison,
because now we’ve got Indy at all ages,
everywhere from nine to 93."
of the Blues.
Unfolding the back-story behind
the Mystery of the Blues
Lucas said, "We established in Raiders
of the Lost Ark that he went to University
of Chicago and we had put the War in there, too.
So, we decided that when the World War I ended
and he went to the University of Chicago, it would
be 1920, that he would be a freshman. I said,
‘Let’s find out who was at the university
then, what was going on in Chicago at the time.’
I knew gangsters were starting up, that Prohibition
was also just starting at that point. We had established
earlier, throughout the show’s episodes,
that Indy liked jazz. That was one of his big
things. He was a jazz aficionado. So, I said,
‘Well, Chicago would be a great place for
jazz, and maybe we can do an episode about jazz.’
We decided he plays the soprano sax and that he
learned to play it from Sidney Bechet. In researching
it, we discovered that Al Capone was in Chicago
at the time, and that Eliot Ness was going to
the University of Chicago at exactly the same
time. Those things just pop in and you say, ‘Wow!
This is great. Look at all of the people who were
there.’ Sometimes an episode just happens
by accident, like that one."
The second season was actually a
mixture of unaired first season episodes and completely
new ones. Only one episode featured the Corey
Carrier’s Young Indy while the rest were
headlined by Flanery. The bookends with Old Indy
became briefer and less frequent before being
But even this couldn’t make
the network happy, so after 21 episodes the series
was cancelled, leaving four episodes unaired.
What was remarkable though was the fact that the
series managed to win critic success only to succumb
to the lack of ratings. During its two years on
the air the series won 11 Emmy
awards and was nominated for 25.
Flanery in Treasure
the Peacock's Eye.
Loyal to his promise that he would
find a way to continue Young Indy’s stories
Lucas cut a deal with USA
(now Fox) Family
Channel to broadcast the four unaired episodes
plus four new TV movies, three with Sean Patrick
Flanery and one with Corey Carrier, in 1996. Actually,
what Lucas did was to match eight different stories
he had already developed for single episodes to
make four TV movies out of them. Unfortunately,
these TV movies were noticeably cheaper than the
rest of the series. Still, the second of the four,
Treasure of the Peacock’s
Eye, was perhaps the closest the series
ever got to emulate the tone of the feature films.
In total the Young
Indy Chronicles crew traveled around the
globe for on location filming in 100 cities in
21 countries, including Egypt, Africa, India,
England, France, Spain, Czechoslovakia, Russia,
Ireland, Austria, Italy, Greece, China, Turkey
and the United States. Producer Rick McCallum,
in an interview, asserted that "we actually
shot for 152 weeks; we served over 120.000 meals
and traveled as a group over 165.000 miles-that’s
over six times around the world. We shot with
over 50.000 extras, had over 1.500 speaking parts
and shot enough 16mm film to go from New York
to Phoenix. It was a huge production: The longest
location shoot in film history."