Young Indiana Jones 1.3 – British East Africa, 1909

The British East Africa installment, which guest starred James Gammon as President Teddy Roosevelt, was the third episode shown on ABC during its spring 1992 tryout. It would also be the last time anybody would see the Corey Carrier version of Indy for more than a year. Despite piles of merchandising that featured the younger character, ABC was much happier with the more action-packed Sean Patrick Flanery segments and shelved these, even apparently making a last-minute schedule change to get the kid out of the way, as I’ll discuss later this month.

This time out, Indy and his family meet up with Roosevelt during his celebrated year in Africa hunting and cataloging game for the Smithsonian. This gave us a great opportunity to talk with our son about conservation, and how attitudes have changed about wildlife over the last hundred years. We certainly appreciate all that Roosevelt did for conservation and our national parks, but it’s a little hard to get into the mindset of people from that time believing that the best way to “preserve” rare species was to gun them down in absolutely shocking numbers to bring back to American museums. I’m not sure what number I might think is too few, too many, or just right for an expedition like this. I am sure that I think that 11,400 is too many.

It builds to a climax where young Indy realizes that maybe he shouldn’t have enlisted the help of a local kid about his age to track down an elusive species of oryx. Mostly the hour is kind of soft and gentle without much incident, just lots of pretty animals, but seeing the hunters take positions around the antelopes really is shocking, and there’s not a great deal a ten year-old kid can do about it. I wouldn’t call this great television, but it gave us a chance to talk about something important to us.

This was one of a handful of Young Indy episodes written by Matthew Jacobs. Later on, he was announced as the writer of the ’96 Doctor Who TV movie and I remember punching the air because I recognized his name and was ready to expect great things. Stick around the blog for a couple of years and let’s see how he did, okay?

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