The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones 2.08: “Daredevils of the Desert”

Currently, I’ve been rewatching and blogging on The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, continuing last week with the fourteenth chapter, “Espionage Escapades”. Before proceeding with the next chapter, here are a few things you should know, if you haven’t read the earlier post:

  • You might have noticed that I referred to this show as The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones instead of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and this is why: When the show originally aired, it was called The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, and would bounce week-to-week from stories of Young Indy as a 10-year-old to stories of him from the ages of 18 to his early 20s. After it was canceled, Lucas decided to recut all of the episodes into 22 90-minute-long films intended for home video, and retitled it The Adventures of… All of the stories were now placed into chronological order. In some cases, this even meant reediting pieces of certain episodes into other episodes.
  • While seeing the story in chronological order is worthwhile, the decision to divide them into 90-minute installments can feel strange if you don’t realize that each “episode” is really made up of two distinct episodes. You have to just remind yourself that they weren’t originally meant to be viewed in this format and instead think of them as separate entities.
  • And so to make things easier, in these posts, I’ll be listing the new episode title, and then breaking it down into its component pieces.
  • If you want to rewatch along with me, the series is on Netflix!

2.07: “Daredevils of the Desert” 

Palestine, October 1917 – Original airdate: Unaired

"Daredevils of the Desert"

“Palestine, October 1917”

[Note: This is a unique episode of Young Indiana Jones up to this point, in that it is the first 90-minute-episode (well, actually, closer to 85 minutes) that isn’t compiled of two episodes but is instead an expanded version of a single episode that never made it to air but first saw the light of day in this format, on home video. Therefore, this will be the rare Young Indiana Jones post that won’t be divided into two sections, the only previous one being “Phantom Train of Doom,” which was different due to (a) having aired on the Family Channel and (b) being composed of two distinct unaired episodes, rather than a single expanded one.]

I really wanted to like this one. I really, really did, and yet, for some reason, it never quite connected for me. Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood. Maybe I’m just getting a bit tired of the war stories, and since this one featured more prominent battlefield-type scenes than any in quite a few now, I mentally tuned out. It probably also didn’t help that Indy didn’t show up for a while in this one, and I never found myself really engaging with any of the plans to fool the Germans from discovering the actual target.

Here are the things I did like:

  • The funny coincidence of both Catherine Zeta-Jones and Daniel Craig both appearing in an episode–and even sharing a scene together–before either were famous.
  • Zeta-Jones’ performance as a belly-dancing spy who, in true Indiana Jones fashion, turns out to be a double agent for the Germans.
  • The long sequence in which the two of them are traveling together across the desert, including a great shootout over a rickety bridge from which Indy, of course, finds himself dangling precariously. She may be revealed to be a bad guy, but she’s a competent fighter. In an earlier off-screen sequence, we learn that she has taken out a group of thugs by herself, fighting some singlehandedly, knocking others out with some sort of sleeping potion, and stealing their clothes to boot.
  • The very knockdown, drag-out fight between Indy and Craig’s German general. This was one of the most brutal moments of hand-to-hand combat we’ve seen on the show and while the actual punch effects sounded a little too ridiculously over-the-top, overall, it’s a very effective sequence.
  • Indy’s bonding with the Australian soldiers.
  • Indy’s reunion with T. E. Lawrence, a man who has been a major presence on the show ever since Indy met him as a young boy, even though we haven’t seen him since then. Unfortunately, I found myself wishing they spent more time together, which might have contributed to some of my disappointment with the story. As it is, though, it was nice to see the two reminiscing, and I particularly liked that he asked about both Miss Seymour and Henry, Sr., pressing Indy to get in contact with him, just as Miss Seymour did.
  • Indy pretending to stab his compatriot for revealing information to the Germans. Because we had seen fake blood earlier in the episode, I was 90% sure he hadn’t actually killed the man, but it was staged so convincingly that there was the tiniest room for doubt left in my mind.
  • The moment where Indy hints at a time back in Australia when he apparently flew in a balloon with Harry Houdini. And although there’s something kind of niftily Doctor Who-ish about this remaining a a positively unbelievable-sounding adventure with a historical figure that is referenced but not seen, apparently, had the series gone on longer, this is an episode that would’ve been produced (and which in chronological order, we would have seen by this point), which can’t help but make me a little sad.

It isn’t a bad episode. I don’t have a subsequent bullet-pointed list of dislikes, because there aren’t really any in particular. It mostly just has to do with slow pacing, not finding myself as interested in the events of this one as I was with others, and–as previously mentioned–growing a bit tired of World War I by this point. Given that there are still a few more episodes set during the war, I hope that this is just a one-episode blip and I haven’t fallen out of the mood all together. The previous two stories managed to be more removed from the more direct military aspects of the war, so I’m hoping that the same holds true for the next bunch.

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Previous: “Espionage Escapades”

Next: “Tales of Innocence”

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Author: Robert Berg

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