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Customer Review

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable if shallow history series, 20 Mar. 2009
This review is from: The Adventures Of Young Indiana Jones Vol.3 (10-Disc-Set) [DVD] (DVD)
The concluding volume of the "Adventures of Young Indiana Jones" typifies much of what is very good about this series but also shows the kind of flaws that let it down at times. As ever, the documentaries that accompany the episodes (detailing further the events and historical figures Indiana Jones becomes involved with) are as engrossing as the episodes themselves.

This box-set sees Indy (again played by Sean Patrick Flannery) survive World War One, attempt a reconciliation with his father back home and become involved with gangsters, Broadway stage actors, and Hollywood film directors during his time at university.

The best episodes are "Masks of Evil", where Indy has a tragic love affair working in Istanbul and is then sent to Transylvania, in probably his first encounter with the supernatural, to tackle a crazed descendant of Vlad the Impaler who is raising an army of the dead. The first part is notable for it's complex realism, and the second part for it's hoary but still enjoyable Gothic horror imagery.

An intriguing episode is "Winds of Change" where Indy finds himself in France at the end of World War One, and faces the horrifying treatment of the Germans, who unfairly shoulder blame for the entire war as well as marginalised individuals like the Vietnamese whose fate is cruelly ignored in the process. This episode some good thoughts on the nature of war and evil, and an excellent recreation of the tortured President Woodrow Wilson by actor Josef Summer. Lloyd Owen also makes a welcome return as Indy's distant father.

"Mystery of the Blues" is bookended by 1950 segment with Harrison Ford playing an older Indy recounting his days at college playing the blues. It is terrific to see Ford playing Indy again, and it also features great performances from Jeffrey Wright as jazz musician Sidney Bichet and Nicholas Turturro in a chilling depiction of a young Al Capone.

The series suffers significantly in translation to these DVD editions, and many of it's flaws are exposed. The DVD documentaries, in exploring the people Indy meets in more depth, expose at times their comparatively shallow portrayal in the series. As the series was originally shot out of chronological sequence (with George Hall playing an elderly Indy randomly recalling events from his youth), the episodes don't always follow on coherently from each other in the DVD format. Crucial to this is the depiction of Indiana Jones himself. In spite of all he goes through (war, intrigue, countless love affairs and near-death experiences), he never seems really affected or changed by what happens to him. It's not really Sean Patrick Flannery's fault, as the original format of the show would have hindered his developing a proper through-line for his character, but throughout the show Indy is played in pretty much the same way. This reduces the audiences ability to properly relate to him and damages his believability as a character.

These are tiny nit-picks, though, and it shouldn't put anyone off buying this boxset, as it continues the high performance and production standards of the first two. Recommended for history buffs and hardcore Indiana Jones fans.
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