In three blockbuster movies, he was a dashing, whip-wielding hero whose only weak point was a fear of snakes. Archeologist Indiana Jones, portrayed by Harrison Ford on the big screen, combined moral rectitude with a macho approach to women and danger. Now, “Indy” is coming to television—as a boy and a young man. Director-producer George Lucas, whose credits include the Star Wars movies as well as the Indiana Jones trilogy, has spent the past three years creating The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, on which he served as executive producer. The 16-part series, airing on CTV and ABC, combines the excitement and energy of Lucas’s movies with stories that stimulate the mind as well as the adrenaline.
Many of the shows are narrated by Jones at age 92, portrayed by a suitably crotchety George Hall. Through flashbacks, he recalls his many breathless adventures as a young man. In the opening two-hour episode, which is double the length of the ones that follow, Jones (played by a spirited Corey Carrier as a child and Sean Patrick Flanery as a teenager) revisits two adventures, years and continents apart, that are tied together by a common thread of intrigue. Looking back to 1908, the elderly Jones recalls a trip to Egypt with his parents. Exploring the pyramids, he meets T. E. Lawrence, who would later gain military and literary fame as Lawrence of Arabia.
In between discussions about hieroglyphics and life after death, they become involved in a spine-tingling saga that involves a mummy’s tomb, an ancient curse and a mysterious murder. In the show’s frenetic second hour, a teenage Jones travels into the thick of the Mexican Revolution, where he discusses politics with rebel hero Francisco (Pancho) Villa— and finally solves the Egyptian murder.
Chronicles, filmed in 11 countries, has a visual richness that is rare in the medium. And Lucas drew on an international roster of directors, including England’s Nicolas Roeg and Canada’s Deepa Mehta, as well as an impressive cast of guest stars. In one show, Vanessa Redgrave plays a British suffragette leader. As audacious as the swashbuckler himself, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles is a smallscreen extravaganza.
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