Monday, March 12, 2018

Young Indiana Jones -- Episode 4: Travels with Father


To Watch: Click Here

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
After getting in trouble with his parents for disturbing a wedding, Indy runs away into the Russian countryside and meets up with Leo Tolstoy. Then, in Greece, he discusses philosophy with his father on their way to a monastery.

Memorable Quote:
Are we being skeptical, cynical, or stoical?  ~Junior
Junior?  Shut up.  ~Senior

Highlight:
There's not one that jumps out at me. I guess I'll go with the comedic aspects of Junior destroying property at the wedding.

Lowlight:
Once the rope supporting the wooden mountain gondola begins to fray, Senior and Junior somehow construct a ladder in less than a minute using wood from the gondola itself. And then they somehow secure this ladder so that they're able to climb up to the top of the mountain. We haven't seen such speedy woodworking since MacGyver built an airplane in 20 minutes.

Brushes with historical figures:
  • Leo Tolstoy
  • Nikos Kazantzakis (never heard of him)

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • After the first wedding incident where Junior pushes a cart full of glasses into the orchestra, I'd say it's time for the Joneses to go, but instead Dr. and Mrs. Jones just leave Junior by himself with the wedding cake while they stay at the party as if nothing's happened. Needless to say, Junior ends up obliterating the cake.   
  • It's unclear why Tolstoy is on the run and who he's running from. 
  • Some of this episode was clearly filmed in Greece such as the scene at the Parthenon.
  • 1:01:05 mark -- I wasn't expecting that double dose of backside nudity.

Final Analysis:
While it's nice to see Senior and Junior bond at the end, the rest of the Greece portion is like watching a documentary about philosophy. The Russia scenes, by comparison, are a bit better, but not by much as there's little in the way of highlights or excitement. Ergo, as they say in philosophy, I'm ranking this one 4th out of 4. 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Young Indiana Jones -- Episode 3: The Perils of Cupid


To Watch: Click Here

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
In Vienna, Indy develops a crush on Princess Sophie, daughter of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Then, in Florence, Mrs. Jones falls for the operatic composer Puccini.

Memorable Quote:
Anyone can see by his operas that signore Puccini is a passionate man. But let us remember, passion burns bright when it's new.  ~Miss Seymour

Highlight:
My favorite scene so far from the series: Indy on the loose in the castle trying to elude everyone on his way to see Princess Sophie. In general I enjoy when the protagonist is being chased and/or performing evasive maneuvers, which is what this series should have had more of when Indy was nine and too young to fight.

Lowlight:
It's too bad Puccini didn't get more comeuppance for how overly aggressive he was toward Mrs. Jones, like if Indy would have tripped him and caused him to fall into a lake or something.

Brushes with historical figures:
  • Archduke Franz Ferdinand
  • Princess Sophie
  • Sigmund Freud
  • Carl Jung
  • Giacomo Puccini

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • 2:07 mark -- Indy's way too short to be able to reach Sophie's hat on the ground while staying on his horse.
  • 2:30 -- I like the "Herr Jones" reference from the ringmaster -- makes me think of the good old days when grown-up Indy is whooping up on the Nazis. 
  • I googled the Archduke (whose assassination set off World War One) and Sophie to see what they looked like, and they actually looked reasonably like their characters here.
  • While I admire Indy's powers of evasion, there's no chance that one of the 15 musicians (facing in his direction) wouldn't have noticed him moving a chair, standing on the chair, and turning the lock on the door.  
  • Indy, next time don't throw irons off the Leaning Tower of Pisa -- you could kill somebody!

Final Analysis:
I like this episode best so far on the strength of the Vienna portion. It's a great setting (you don't often see shows or movies in Vienna), and it's cool to think of Indy crossing paths with the Archduke, someone that casual students of history are aware of but might not know much about. I also like the dialogue in the scene around the dinner table with Freud and Jung.

The Florence part is also well written with the discussion of physics mimicking Mrs. Jones's feelings and also the conversation between her and Miss Seymour at the end (some sage advice there from Miss S). The ending is a little abrupt (and Indy and his mom could probably use some therapy after that emotional roller coaster), but it's nice to see Mrs. Jones's character having her moment in the Tuscan sun.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Young Indiana Jones -- Episode 2: Passion for Life


To Watch: Click Here

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
In East Africa, the Joneses join President Teddy Roosevelt on a hunting expedition. Next, the family travels to Paris where Indy pals around with Norman Rockwell and spends time in the artist community. 

Memorable Quote:
Some artists live extraordinarily colorful lives. Lives of danger, daring, passion, eccentricity, and outrageous behavior. But, eh, you're a little too young to know about that just yet.  ~Henry Jones Sr.

Highlight:
I like the actor who plays Teddy Roosevelt -- he has the right look, and he acts as I'd imagine Teddy to act.

Lowlight:
On the flip side, the Picasso performance is quite loud and over-the-top. Did young-adult Picasso really have a goofy mustache and scream all his words?

Brushes with historical figures:
  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • Norman Rockwell
  • Pablo Picasso
Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • Paul Freeman appears as Selous, a hunter in Roosevelt's party. Freeman previously starred as Belloq, the main villain in Raiders of the Lost Ark. 
  • Africa marks the 2nd time that Henry runs away. "Don't you ever, ever do that again," Mrs. Jones says. Let's see how long that lasts. 
  • Similar to some scenes from the previous episode, the train scene must have been filmed years later because Indy looks much older, and then he's young again once he gets to Paris. 
  • Norman Rockwell is played by Lukas Haas, who I know as the little kid from Witness (which is at some point coming to a Movie Project near you). 
  • And there he goes! Off into the Parisian night. That's now the 3rd time he's run away, although I like how he saves it by coming back and pretending to be in the closet all along. He then runs away again but gets caught this time by Mrs. Seymour. Let's hope that the next episode has a different plot device.
  • At the end when Indy's parents come back, he's older again. 

Conversation:
Matthew Jacobs, episode writer (first half: "British East Africa")
British East Africa was one of George's fav stories, got turned into a book, and a comic book and a game I think - or that may have been Lassie (?). For him it was what Young Indy was all about, an educational show.

I got nominated for the Environmental Media Award for best TV hour for that one. Lucas sent my wife and I down from San Francisco to Los Angeles to sit at a table with the other Paramount execs. It was a very strange experience -- I just remember the second they knew we didn't win, the table emptied in two seconds flat!

Final Analysis:
I thought the Kenya section was decent, and they did a great job of creating the look and feel of an African hunt. The Paris scenes, however, were practically unwatchable with the sluggish plot combined with the insufferable Picasso. As a result, I have to rate this one a hair below Episode 1.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Young Indiana Jones -- Episode 1: My First Adventure


To Watch: Click Here

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
Indiana Jones embarks on a trip around the world with his parents, and the first stop is in Egypt where Indy accompanies legendary archaeologist Howard Carter on an excavation. A tomb robber commits a murder and steals a Jackal headpiece, and he claims to have hidden it where it cannot be found. Next, the Joneses go to Morocco where Indy befriends a slave and gets captured by slave traders.

Memorable Quote:
If he were a peasant and had to earn his own living, life would be much harsher. He is better off as a slave.  ~[Name Unknown]
I do not believe anyone would trade freedom of choice for a roof over their head, no matter how lovely the roof.  ~Miss Seymour

Highlight:
Lawrence of Arabia is a cool dude in general (great name and great headgear), and I like his character in this episode.

Lowlight:
It's sad enough that all the slave children weren't able to be rescued, but I was additionally bummed that the writers didn't find a way to let Omar go free. Are we supposed to feel better that he has some hope because Indy gave him his map?

Brushes with historical figures:
  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • Howard Carter (vaguely heard of him)
  • Walter Burton Harris (never heard of him)

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • "It's me, I'm back!" Indiana Jones says that after being freed from his bad blood spell in the Temple of Doom, and I'm saying it right now.  I've been relatively quiet on the blogging front lately, but I'm ready to get back in the game with the Indiana Jones Project where I'll hit the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and then each Indy movie. Jones is on my Mount Rushmore of heroes along with MacGyver, 007, and...I'd have to think some more about the 4th one.  The first three Indy movies are among my favorites of all time (was there a 4th one? -- I don't remember).  I watched the Chronicles when I was a kid and remember next to nothing, but I did re-watch the first couple episodes about 10 years ago -- other than that, I'm coming at it with a mostly blank slate. Of course there will be episode rankings, and I'll be watching them in the order that they're on the DVDs (which is different from the order in which they originally aired).
  • That's pretty daring of Mrs. Jones to put a new puppy in the crib with baby Henry. 
  • Henry Jones Senior is more present in Indy's life than I would have thought based upon the Last Crusade, where Indy calls him a deadbeat dad who was more interested in people who had died 800 years ago. Lloyd Owen, who plays Senior, really nails the Sean Connery voice -- in fact, he sounds just like him.  JUNIOR!
  • It's hard to imagine the little guy with the "Jeepers/Aw Shucks" attitude turning into the hard-nosed Indiana Jones, but Corey Carrier is a likable kid, and he's a good actor for his age.
  • The production quality is incredible for a network television show -- it looks like they're really in another country.  (Update: According to wikipedia, they actually did film in other countries).
  • 20:54 mark -- the diggers' chant should sound familiar to the hardcore Indiana Jones fan -- think Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indy's crew is digging for the ark.  "Oll-ee-ay, mes-ee-mee."
  • When you think about it, what archaeologist wouldn't invite some little kid who they met five minutes ago to accompany them into a newly-discovered tomb?
  • Demetrios is played by Vic Tablian, who had two minor roles in Raiders.
  • Young Jones reminds me a bit of little Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace, and I thought the guy who plays Lawrence might have been Ewan McGregor (aka Obi-Wan), but it wasn't. Interestingly, per IMDB, the scene at 41:46 was re-shot during filming of Phantom Menace with a different actor playing young Indy, and while it's hard to tell, it's conceivable that it was the kid who played Anakin (probably not, though -- the replacement Indy looks too tall for Anakin).
  • The transition from the Egypt scenes to the Morocco plotline is quite abrupt, made even more so by the fact that Indy looks like he's aged five years. This is because he actually did -- the Morocco episode was filmed much later and was slapped together with the Egypt episode as part of the DVD. I remember that the Jackal storyline comes back into play for 17 year-old Indy. 
  • Walter Burton Harris, the correspondent in whose house they are staying, is played by Kevin McNally, who I know as the nasty grandfather of Ethel's baby in Downton Abbey.
  • 1:03:55 -- When Indy is in captivity, he bristles at the sight of a mouse. The mouse footage looked like it might have come from somewhere else, and I was reminded of the mouse in Henderson's cell in the MacGyver episode Bushmaster. Like MacGyver, Young Indy is part of the Paramount family, as was Mission: Impossible which borrowed MacGyver footage in Holograms. I rewatched the mouse scene in Bushmaster, and it's not the same mouse (that would have made my week if it was). 
  • 1:18:52 -- "First I want you to promise me you will never do anything as foolish as this again." ~Harris. Sorry, Harris, but I remember enough about 9 year-old Indy to know that he runs off by himself in pretty much every episode.

Final Analysis:
It's not exactly an action packed first episode, and my memory is that the lack of action theme continues throughout the series. But the production value is impressive, and I like the settings and time period. Plus, it's Indiana Jones -- my love for the movies are enough to keep me motivated to continue watching.

Young Indiana Jones -- Episodes by Ranking

Every Young Indiana Jones episode in order from most favorite to least favorite, updating as I go along. The episode number (when it aired) is in parentheses.



The Perils of Cupid (3)
My First Adventure (1)
Passion for Life (2)
Travels with Father (4)

The Indiana Jones Project






EPISODES (by DVD order)
Journey of Radiance
Spring Break Adventure
Love's Sweet Song
Trenches of Hell
Demons of Deception
Phantom Train of Doom
Oganga, the Giver and Taker of Life
Attack of the Hawkmen
Adventures in the Secret Service
Espionage Escapades
Daredevils of the Dead
Tales of Innocence
Masks of Evil
Treasure of the Peacock's Eye
Winds of Change
Mystery of the Blues
Scandal of 1920
Hollywood Follies


MOVIES
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Temple of Doom
Last Crusade
Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Sunday, January 21, 2018

George Vecsey: Outstanding Author


Author:
George Vecsey is an author and former columnist for the New York Times. We talk about his experience covering soccer detailed in his book Eight World Cups.  Visit George online at georgevecsey.com, and follow him on twitter @georgevecsey


Conversation:
Total run time: 55:13

  2:29 - The state of soccer coverage in America in 1982
  6:41 - Turning his experiences into a book
10:07 - The great fans from Trinidad and Tobago
12:53 - US vs. Brazil: July 4, 1994
14:49 - The joy of traveling
20:12 - Best player, team, and national anthem
28:11 - Alternatives (or lack thereof) to penalty kick shootouts
31:39 - The state of American soccer
38:35 - Baseball talk, including best players and Hall of Fame voting
46:01 - The future of American football
48:14 - Crossing paths with Donald Trump


The embedded player works best in Google Chrome.  You can also download the mp3 by clicking here, and the podcast is available in iTunes.

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