Crossing Streams is an article where we randomly select a television show currently streaming on Netflix and randomly pick 2 episodes for our two columnists, Rob and I to watch. This week we’re watching The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones. I’ll be watching Volume 3, episode 2, “Masks of Evil”. Rob will be watching Volume 2 episode 6 “Adventures in the secret service”.
So when the randomizer landed on The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones I was pretty psyched at first. I had nothing but fond memories of watching the series as a kid. Just to start off I’d like to say that I was…..disappointed. That’s the nicest way of putting it. The most realistic description is that I was bored out of my mind. Since I can remember as a child I’ve been an Inidana Jones enthusiast. Growing up we didn’t have MANY movies, but I always had my brother’s old ass VHS Star Wars and Indiana Jones tapes. Just around the time that I was very much getting into these amazing films, a television show came on that chronicled the adventures of a Young Indiana Jones. It was so exciting. Every episode felt like the length of a movie, too! Though I was very young so I don’t recall specifics, I specifically remember loving the program.
So now I went into this experience with a very open heart, ready to reconnect with a childhood favorite. Unfortunately that’s just not what happened. To start off with the show felt like a full movie as a kid because it IS a full movie, at least lengthwise. 90+ minute episodes, something I don’t generally have time for. Or maybe I do have the time, I just never really feel like committing so much time to watching something. It’s totally a hypocritical mindset because I’ll sit down and watch 3 hour long episodes of something on Netflix. Maybe it’s because I like the freedom of being able to jump out whenever, as opposed to a movie where you’re committed to watching the fucking thing. Anyhow 90 minutes I sigh, but still I sit down expecting to see some top notch action, maybe even enough to keep my two year old son somewhat entranced. What I got instead was 90 minutes of some of the most boring, mundane pseudo-espionage crap I’ve ever seen. Indiana Jones is all about action, they’re action movies through and through. Moving from one big action set piece to the next, exhaustively until the movie is over, never wasting a second. This show featured almost no action whatsoever. It was 99% very unriveting dialog about spies and Indiana Jones being in love with a girl. Blergh.
To be PERFECTLY honest I didn’t really follow along very well. Indiana Jones is trying to get close to a Turkish general or something to get him to side with the Allies and……it’s a total snoozefest. Before long I found myself on the ground playing with my toddler’s toys rather than pay attention to Indiana Jones promising to marry some Turkish gal or other. Checking my phone, almost nodding off. I did not enjoy this nearly as much as I thought I would, as much as it greatly saddens me to say. A few things wrong with the series, Sean Patrick Flanery as Indiana Jones. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a capable actor and I enjoyed him in The Boondock Saints as much as the next pinhead, but he just never feels like Indiana Jones to me. He’s a handsome young dude, but just doesn’t pull of a cocky young Indiana like River Phoenix did in The Last Crusade. Maybe it’s because I already associate River with the role, but I still feel like he did it better. So the main actor is off, that’s bad news, and maybe even worse is the writing. There’s no excuse to make Indiana Jones boring. Maybe they couldn’t afford big action sequences on a tv show back then, but they should have found some way to make things exciting. It was an exciting era with an exciting character. Maybe I just watched the wrong episode, but there was not an exciting thing going down in the ep I just watched. Maybe if they couldn’t make Indiana Jones exciting, they shouldn’t have been making an Indiana Jones show at all. Except they had stupid kids like me watching so….whatever. Final verdict is a don’t waste your time. Even if you’re like me and adore the fuck out of the films.
Rob – I must preface this review with some blasphemy: I do not like Indiana Jones. I have watched the films a few times and something about them just does not interest me. Perhaps it is the time period: I do not have a lot of interest in the early 20th century. Or perhaps it’s the action sequences? I can appreciate some of the famous scenes and dialogue from the series, but overall, I would not choose to watch an Indiana Jones movie and do not enjoy them when I catch them on TV.
With that said, I was not eager to perform this Crossing Streams assignment. I vaguely remember when this show aired at the time in 1992 and I had no interest in it then. Much to my shock and dismay, I loaded the episode up on Netflix and discovered that it was 95 minutes long! This show was a two-hour program on ABC? WTF. But Joel is a cruel mistress, so I had to proceed.
I will admit that I did not pay full attention during this viewing, but I could not help it. It was boring. Clearly the show was aimed at a younger crowd; after all, it is “The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones” (or “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles”…I’m not sure what the true title of it is supposed ot be). Sean Patrick Flannery plays young Indiana, and has an early 90s surfer haircut that somehow still seems realistic for the time period of the show (the 1910s). This particular episode took place during the Bolshevik Revolution in Austria. The show does a solid job of physically portraying the time period, as the costumes and set design were fantastic. The show appears to borrow the John Williams score throughout the episode. If only the show had the budget to borrow better actors and screenwriters. The dialogue was incredibly dry and uninteresting, and it was delivered by mediocre actors.
It seems to me that the show producers were trying to capture young and old viewers by using the nostalgia of the time period as well as the feel of the movies, but by using younger actors, it feels like we’re watching a fantastical young people adventure but without any true gravitas. The storyline places Indy in a real-life historical event, but the whole episode comes out like a boring ham-fisted history lesson for children. The whole time I was half-watching this show, all I could think was “this actually entertained people?”.
Sean Patrick Flannery’s Indiana Jones has no charisma and just can’t carry the role and Harrison Ford is so iconic that this is a near-impossible task. This show also lacked some of the elements that make the Indiana Jones movies so much fun. There was no recovery of ancient artifacts. No face melting. None of the spirituality and mysticism. It was like a boring re-telling of a historical event. I suppose that if you really really enjoy Indiana Jones, this show would be a good fix for you.