A quick little recap: since the adventures of Young Indiana Jones were shown very haphazardly in this country, with some episodes never shown on American television and others made especially for the home video releases, the numbering you see in the titles for these stories doesn’t correspond to any TV season. “2.1” doesn’t mean “first episode of season two,” it means “the first hour of the second DVD set.”
So, I had promised our son that Young Indiana Jones would be much more exciting once Indy got to the front, and if you can get past Sean Patrick Flanery’s incredibly long hair for 1916, this is a breathtakingly wild hour of ugliness and carnage on the front lines. Previously, Indy had enrolled in the Belgian army under the name Henri Defense, and his company was decimated at Flanders shortly before this episode begins. All of their officers are dead, leaving Corporal Defense in charge, barely.
So they get shipped to a different set of trenches and get new French officers. Indy has a troublemaker in the ranks, played by Jonny Phillips, who may have murdered their old captain, and from there it’s forty-five minutes of machine guns, mustard gas, flamethrowers, and hand grenades, with two days’ leave in the middle to break up the bloodshed and let the Belgians play the British in tennis. A couple of familiar faces are in the cast this week, including Stevan Rimkus as the poet Siegfried Sassoon and Edward Petherbridge as a French major. Petherbridge had played Lord Peter Wimsey for the BBC a few years earlier. (Wimsey had also been a major in the war, and was probably stationed a few miles down the trenches from his French counterpart.)
Our son was much, much happier with this installment than the ones we’ve watched. It’s a terrific hour, with some unbelievable production values as mobs of extras get gunned down between the trenches and explosions are going off all over the place. It’s true that some of the visuals are pepped up a little bit with colorized stock footage, and you can tell every time, but it’s still remarkable that they put this much huge effort into an episode of a TV show.