A documentary series twice as long as the Young Indy Chronicles
Indy creator George Lucas and series producer Rick McCallum have often stated that the reason it took so long for the Adventures of Young Indiana Jones (formerly known as the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles) to be released on DVD was because they were working on a whopping 94 documentaries to compliment the series. Lucky for Lucasfilm they managed to finish them all just before The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was due to hit theaters. And lucky for IMDb that The History Channel picked up the rights to broadcast all of them, so that they can be listed as a TV series instead of 94 separate entries.
The question remains how big an audience the series got, being broadcast early Saturday and Sunday morning. Also, how many of the die-hard Indy fans purchased the three expensive boxed sets (subtitled "The Early Years", "The War Years" and "The Years of Change") will really be interested in plowing through hour after hour of background material on three boxed sets consisting of nearly as many bonus discs as it does actual features?
The documentaries vary in length, from approximately 19 to 36 minutes. Of the 22 chapters in the complete Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, some get more historical background than others. For instance, chapter one (My First Adventure) gets a respectable four featurettes on the same disc, while chapter two (Passion for Life) gets six of them that occupy an entire bonus disc of their own. Strangely, one of the documentaries on volume one, disc one "Colonel Lawrence's War: T.E. Lawrence and Arabia" is repeated on volume 2, disc 8 when Indy meets Lawrence of Arabia for the second time. Thankfully it is not featured a third time when Indy and T.E. catch up again on volume 3. The last disc of each of the tree volumes features a longer historical lecture by H.W. Brands to tie everything together, as well as an interactive time-line and DVD-Rom game.
As an educational tool, the combined volumes are an impressive package. Only time will prove their value to history classes, which is where Lucas and McCallum claim these boxed sets really belong. With the character of Indiana Jones going through his own renaissance period of late, perhaps the time is right for the next generation of budding archaeologists and students of history to embrace the chronicles of Indiana as a youngster...
8 out of 10
PS Volume one othe Young Indy is now available in some European counties - without the documentaries. Go figure.
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