The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

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 I, 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.

A notable proportion of Indy fans, regardless of their opinions of the series as a whole, refuse to accept the Chronicles frame story, which depicts Indy as a 93-year-old man (played by actor George Hall) pottering around suburbia and boring people with reminiscences of the days when he was young and interesting. (It may or may not be significant that the old-fart-Indy sequences were the main thing edited out of the Adventures version of the series.)

Tropes used in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles include:

  • Anachronic Order
  • 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.
  • Non Sequitur Episode: "Transylvania, January 1918". It comes out of nowhere and even years later still makes no freakin' sense. (In the original, never aired cut, the Transylvania episode was told as a ghost story by the old Indy to some children in Halloween. So there was the possibility that it was completely made up. But then the new cut had to screw it completely...) It does, however, feel closer in tone to the movies which often have supernatural shenanigans and goings on.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Cast Showoff: One episode features a brief snippet of Indy singing in the bathtub as he cleans up for a date. Another is about him learning to play soprano sax in Chicago at the height of the Blues craze. Sean Patrick Flannery is an accomplished musician, as he proves here.
  • 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.
  • Dawson Casting:
    • Sean Patrick Flanery, playing Young Indy, was a decade less Young than his character.
    • Corey Carrier got in on it as well, albeit unintentionally. When the episodes were recut and put together in more chronological order, episode that were supposed to be chronologically one right after the other (but were filmed years apart) show how much Carrier grew during the series. The first two episodes are Egypt and Morocco, and Carrier looks about a foot taller in the second.
  • 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
  • Girl of the Week
  • The Gump: Befriending T.E. Lawrence, drinking with Picasso, losing his virginity to Mata Hari, inspiring the Red Baron to paint his plane red, helping Lawrence of Arabia take Jerusalem, killing Dracula, 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.
  • 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!
  • In the Past Everyone Will Be Famous: Even that 6 years-old you saved from a plague-stricken village in the Congo.[1]
  • 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.
  • Musical Episode: Both "Mystery of the Blues" and "The Scandal of 1920"
  • Noodle Incident: The history of the eyepatch.
  • Nostalgic Narrator: Senior-citizen-Indy
  • 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 Other Darrin: T. E. Lawrence is played by two different actors.
  • Pocket Protector: In the episode "Oganga".
  • Recut: 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 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.
  • Recycled: the Series
  • 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.
  • 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!"
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Two-Timer Date: Actually three-timer in "The Scandal of 1920"
  • Worthy Opponent: Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck in the East Africa episodes.
  • Young Future Famous People: The Series
  1. He is Barthelemy Boganda, the first president of the Central African Republic.