×

The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles: Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues

Demonstrating both what's best and most disappointing about George Lucas' meticulously crafted series, this leisurely paced two-hour return squanders the promotional value of a brief cameo by Harrison Ford and shouldn't help Indy in his most maddening crusade: The quest to find a sizable TV audience on Saturday night.

With:
Cast: Sean Patrick Flanery, Harrison Ford, Jeffrey Wright, Jay Underwood, Keith David, Frederick Weller, Maria Howell, Frank Vincent, Ray Serra, Nicholas Turturro, Saginaw Grant, Jane Krakowski, David Arnott, Victor Slezak, J. Leon Pridgen II, Byron Stripling, Mark Kiley, Damon Whitaker, Malachy McCourt.

Demonstrating both what’s best and most disappointing about George Lucas’ meticulously crafted series, this leisurely paced two-hour return squanders the promotional value of a brief cameo by Harrison Ford and shouldn’t help Indy in his most maddening crusade: The quest to find a sizable TV audience on Saturday night.

Opening with Ford as a 50-year-old Indiana Jones snowbound in Wyoming (and featuring the series’ first use of John Williams’ original “Raiders of the Lost Ark” theme), the action soon turns to a flashback of 20-something Indy (Sean Patrick Flanery) as a waiter in Chicago, enamored with jazz in general and a group of black jazz musicians led by Sidney Bechet (Jeffrey Wright) in particular.

Exploring the ambience of the jazz era as well as racism during that period — with obvious parallels to today — the action abruptly shifts gears midway through the two hours, when Indy and his college roommate, a rather geeky Eliot Ness (Frederick Weller), embark on an adventure, along with young newspaperman Ernest Hemingway (Jay Underwood), to solve the murder of a club owner,.

Unfortunately, the first hour includes too much music to hold the interest of those who aren’t jazz enthusiasts, and the second half — with its sleuthing and action sequences — probably arrives too late to entice the many who will have changed channels or nodded off.

Lucas, in fact, remains seemingly disdainful of television convention in the way he presents the show, what with its emphasis on history and historical figures and limited bursts of action. If adventure had a name, it certainly wouldn’t be this Indiana Jones.

That said, the series is extremely well crafted, and its failure to follow TV norms is welcome to those tired of standard series fare; unfortunately, they’re probably seeking diversion elsewhere, particularly on Saturday night.

Flanery’s consistently strong presence as Young Indy provides the show’s backbone, buoyed by uniformly solid supporting performances, especially Wright as the at-first aloof Sidney.

Lucas deftly weaves history into his scenarios (fleshed out admirably here by writer Jule Selbo and director Carl Schultz) without being overbearing about it.

In short, “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles” is lavishly produced, ranks among the best hours on TV, and still seems doomed to virtually certain commercial failure.

The long-shot hope is that CBS’ “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” audience may migrate over to the series, but it’s more likely that in his third prime time scheduling adventure — and most treacherous time period yet — Young Indy’s time has probably run out.

Popular on Variety

The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles: Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues

Sat. (13), 8-10 p.m., ABC-TV

Production: Filmed by Lucasfilm Ltd. in association with Paramount Network TV. Executive producer, George Lucas; producer, Rick McCallum; director, Carl Schultz; writer, Jule Selbo.

Crew: Camera, David Tattersall; editor, Edgar Burcksen; production designers, Jeff Ginn, Barbara Kretschmer; sound, Carl Rudisill; music, Joel McNeely.

Cast: Cast: Sean Patrick Flanery, Harrison Ford, Jeffrey Wright, Jay Underwood, Keith David, Frederick Weller, Maria Howell, Frank Vincent, Ray Serra, Nicholas Turturro, Saginaw Grant, Jane Krakowski, David Arnott, Victor Slezak, J. Leon Pridgen II, Byron Stripling, Mark Kiley, Damon Whitaker, Malachy McCourt.

More TV

  • Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth WarrenSecond 2020

    ABC News Sets Moderators, Rules for Third Democratic Debate

    ABC News has announced the moderators for the third Democratic debate, as well as the qualification rules. The debate will be held on Thursday, Sept. 12, and will spill over to Friday, Sept. 13 if more than 10 candidates qualify. The moderating team will consist of chief anchor George Stephanopoulos, “World News Tonight” anchor and [...]

  • James Corden Paul McCartney Carpool Karaoke

    James Corden Got a Little Help From Paul McCartney on His Drive to the Emmys

    Saying “Baby, I could drive your car” has proven to be a very good strategy for James Corden — never more so than when he put Paul McCartney into the highly sought passenger seat. The primetime special “Carpool Karaoke: When Corden Met McCartney, Live From Liverpool” is a contender in five Emmy categories this year, [...]

  • Starz Logo

    Starz Orders Horror Comedy Pilot 'Shining Vale'

    Starz has put out a pilot order for “Shining Vale,” a horror comedy which hails from “Divorce” creator Sharon Horgan and “Trial & Error” co-creator Jeff Astrof. The prospective series is about a dysfunctional family that moves from the city to a small town into a house in which terrible atrocities have taken place. But no one [...]

  • Bethenny Frankel at the showtime Emmy

    Bethenny Frankel to Exit 'Real Housewives of New York' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bethenny Frankel is stepping away from the “Real Housewives” franchise. Variety has learned exclusively that Frankel is poised to exit Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New York” ahead of its upcoming twelfth season. Frankel first joined the acclaimed reality series back when it premiered back in 2008 before exiting the series in 2010 during the [...]

  • Dolly Parton

    BBC Commissions Dolly Parton Feature Documentary

    The BBC has commissioned a feature length documentary about country music legend Dolly Parton, it announced Wednesday. The documentary, tentatively titled “Dolly’s Country” will air on BBC Two this fall as part of a season of programs dedicated to country music. The broadcaster announced earlier in the day that it had acquired Ken Burns’ upcoming [...]

  • UCP to Develop Ann Shen’s 'Bad

    UCP to Develop Ann Shen’s 'Bad Girls Throughout History' as Anthology Series

    Universal Content Productions (UCP) is developing an anthology series based on Ann Shen’s book “Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World.” The project will be titled “Bad Girls,” with each episode featuring a different influential woman throughout history, including famous figures like Ada Lovelace, Rosa Parks, Mata Hari, and Ruth Bader [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content