Just forget the words and sing along

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Young Indy Hits DVD

Well, one of the most anticipated DVDs comes out today. But, since it's a George Lucas production, it's been "special editioned," and that's got a few people upset.

As the story goes, lots of people were fascinated with the character of Indiana Jones, and wanted to know more about Indy's origins. George Lucas started turning this over in his mind, and he came to a startling discovery. With the timeline he created for Indiana Jones, Indy would have been a teenager at the dawn of the 20th century. Indy would live in a world where all these monumental historical events were taking place right outside. And George Lucas had his big idea: Indiana Jones could be used to teach history!

And so, when The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles hit the airwaves in the fall of 1992, a lot of people were taken aback. Rather than a rollicking adventure show, they got a historical drama, where Young Indy was shaking hands with all these historical figures. It was more Forrest Gump than Temple of Doom. Or, as one DVD critic put it today, it was "edutainment, with a big emphasis on the 'edu.'"

Even though it was supposed to be about Young Indy, people soon became fascinated with the bookends to each show, which featured a 93-year old Indy in the present day. It usually featured Old Indy running into some kid or seeing something that reminded him of his childhood. He'd then launch into his story, and the episode began. And then, at the end, we'd come back to Old Indy and the person he was telling his story to, and he'd deliver the message. And the audience, they wanted to know more about Old Indy! I think it was because Old Indy sported an eyepatch, and people wanted to see the adventure where Indy lost his eye.

In all, 44 episodes of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles were made, and that's where George Lucas once again showed his talent for making revisions. To make it more attractive to classrooms and the home video market, George decided to take those 44 episodes, and edit them into 22 TV-movies. Naturally, the opening segments with Old Indy had to be dropped and, in some cases, George Lucas even filmed new footage to link the episodes together. And that's what got released to video as the 1990's drew to a close.

And that's why some are complaining about today's DVD release of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles - Volume 1. Rather than the 1-hour episodes, as originally broadcast, these discs contain the 2-hour TV movies. The bookends with Old Indy seem to have been relegated to the vaults where Han shot first.

Plus, that also means that the TV-movies play out in chronological order, not broadcast order. See, originally, the series would alternate between 10-year old Young Indy, and 16-year old Young Indy. Watching these TV movies in chronological order means that the bulk of Volume 1 is dedicated to the 10-year old Indy. And people loved 10-year old Indy as much as they loved 10-year old Darth Vader in Episode I.

Anywho, on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles: Volume 1, you get the first 7 of the 22 TV movies. For bonus features, there's almost 40 mini-documentaries, fleshing out the historical events that Young Indy wanders into and the historical figures that Young Indy shakes hands with.

Volume 2 is slated for December 18, and that's where things pick up. That's where the 16-year old Indy lies about his age to fight in the trenches of World War I. Volume 3 is going to come out in the spring, and of course, the long-awaited fourth movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull comes out in May.

No word if Indy loses his eye in it, but it would be cool if he did.

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