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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Adventure > History > Television > The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones - Volumes One & Two (aka The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles; Paramount/LucasFilm/TV)

The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones - Volume One and Volume Two (aka The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles; Paramount/LucasFilm/TV)


Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: A     Episodes: B+



Finally arriving on DVD are two great box sets of The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones- Volume One and Volume Two [separate releases of what is also known as The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles] of a planned three.  The series that many fans having been pining to own since DVD series became available is here in almost its full glory.  The series basically fills in the life history of our favorite hero Indiana Jones from his childhood through his early 20’s.  Throughout his adventures Indiana meets (or bumps into) a multitude of historical figures that help him along his path to becoming a heroic, treasure hunter.  The interesting infusion of history with adventure was always George Lucas’ intention, so that young audiences would have a chance to learn about the amazing history that has inspired so many films and television series.  The series does a good job and is rarely boring.


George Lucas chose to make a ‘more coherent’ storyline for the series by coupling many episodes together into a sort of telefilm format; as opposed to the much shorter and non-chronological episodes that were originally aired.  Volume One follows the young Indiana Jones on some of his first adventures as a child and fills in the gaps about his relationship with his father and how he gained many of his inquisitive talents.  Volume Two (dubbed ‘The War Years’) follows an older Indiana as he goes to war in World War I and a little later on in his life as he becomes an army spy.  The story arches are no where near as dangerous or adventurous as the films, but definitely have their merits for an epic television series that is also highly educational.


Well, George Lucas manages to botch up a couple of classics again with his disgusting editing techniques.  HAN SHOT FIRST, DAMMIT!  These two box sets are nice in that they give viewers a chance to own all the original Adventures of Young Indiana Jones episodes, but at what cost you may ask?  LucasFilm has decided for the purpose of these box sets (and presumably in order to promote Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) to edit the episodes into feature length (1.5 hrs) episodes that chronologically map out the life of Indiana Jones.  What is the problem with this?  Well, for starters the episodes were not originally aired like that (from young too old), but rather were aired with an intermixing timeline between Indiana as a child and a teenager (about 16-21).  LucasFilm, however, felt it better to not ‘confuse’ audiences and stick with a stricter, fabricated, chronological timeline that most definitely takes away from the series.


So at this point you may say; ok, Mr. Lucas may have moved around some episodes, but as long as they all come out what is the problem with that?   The problem is that not only do these sets present the episodes out of original aired order, they are at times cut in half because the first half of the episode (that presented the conflict) started when Indiana was a child and was not resolved until later in his life.  Instead of leaving those episodes as is, the episodes are essentially cut in half, unresolved and in turn made confusing and aggravating.  As if that editing debacle was not bad enough, LucasFilm also decided to TOTALLY dispose of all the original episodes’ openings [that presented each tale] of the old Indiana Jones (about 93 years old and with an eye patch) reminiscing of his old adventures.  Disposing of the original openings is an absolute disgrace.  The disposal of the elderly Indiana Jones openings starring actor George Hall is Lucas’s odd attempt to sanitize the Indiana Jones series as a ‘just in case,’ since one day he may to explore the elderly Indiana Jones in a different manner.  Overall, no matter how much this reviewer loves this series and these box sets it remains a disgrace that the episodes were butchered by careless (or perhaps overanalyzed) editing.  The elderly Indiana segments truly stabilized and bookended the episodes and that was lost.


The technical features are excellent on these two DVD sets and their amazing quality can and will only be improved once they are put onto a better quality, High Definition format.  The sound and picture on these sets have been remastered from the best quality masters LucasFilm could find, and it shows.  The picture has had its original 16mm footage cleaned and is presented here in a 1.33 X 1 Full Screen format, which is accurate.  Though this reviewer would have liked a nice Anamorphic Widescreen presentation and it might be possible to make it that way in a future 1.78 X 1 HD release.  Even block style, I must admit the picture is crisp, clear, color balanced, and is basically fantastic.  The sound on both sets is presented as crisp Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo soundtracks that decode to standard surrounds that are excellent and balanced.  Overall, LucasFilm did an amazing job remastering the picture and sound of this epic series cleaning it up and making it look better than it ever has.  Lucas had used the show as a ground to experiment for future digital work on feature films and you can see that at times too.


Where there are a plethora of shortcomings in the area of editing on these box sets, LucasFilm makes up for those shortcomings with the multitude of extras and documentaries available on these sets.  Volume One offers fans 38 in depth documentaries and Volume Two offers up 26 more great documentaries.  The documentaries are interesting as they chronicle the moments and figureheads of history that are featured throughout the various episodes of the series.  These documentaries only further George Lucas’ original intention of the series to act as a teaching tool as well as entertainment to younger generations.  From Picasso too Churchill, they are all there waiting to be explored in these documentaries.  The special features also include interactive timelines (another attempt to organize the poorly edited sets), a videogame, and few more special tidbits that are sure to excite, teach, and entertain.


A small complaint about these two releases is that both come in VERY flimsy packaging; not at all firm cardboard like the Indiana Jones film sets that were released a few years back, reviewed elsewhere on this site.  This reviewer is sure that fans are putting out the money for these sets because they love this series and plan on holding onto them for a long while; so the least they could expect is well designed sturdy packaging.


There is no doubt that the releases of these two box sets (and a future third) are making fanboys all over the world jump out of their pants like a snake is in their boot.  The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones is a great and wonderful series that this reviewer highly recommends to all history buffs and Indiana Jones fans alike.  If it was not for the bad editing job by LucasFilm, this reviewer would have given these episodes an A-.  Though the set has its shortcomings the overall essence of the series and the extra feature documentaries well makeup for all the less than stellar editing jobs that need to be fixed.  Be prepared to embark upon a ton of new, exciting adventures with your favorite whip flinging, history rider…Indiana Jones.



-   Michael P Dougherty II


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