Back to Young Indiana Jones and the first story on the last DVD set, which was the second hour of the series directed by Bille August. I was a little concerned that our smoochy-stuff-hating seven year-old would not like this episode, but while it features plenty of wooing, there’s only a small amount of actual smooching. Our son rolled his eyes for a couple of minutes, but rapidly came around when we learn that Indy and some other fellow, a no-good rat, are courting the same young Italian lady. The competition escalates until the inevitable revelation that the rat is, of course, none other than the same man who’s been egging Indy on, his pal Ernest Hemingway. Then it stops being a competition and becomes war.
Our son enjoyed this a lot more than I honestly thought he would, thanks of course to the series of pranks and obstacles that Indy and Ernest throw in each other’s way. But there’s also a scene where the two rivals are forced to share a meal together with Giuletta’s family and, in foolhardy drives to impress her mother, they eat their combined weight in pasta and red sauce. I had to spare a thought for poor Sean Patrick Flanery and Jay Underwood, who plays Hemingway, and hoped that August got this scene in as few takes as possible. Remember the “that’s a spicy meatball” commercial for Alka-Seltzer? I sure did.
“It’s a good thing they didn’t invite me to dinner,” our kid told us, “because I would totally eat all that pasta.” He’s still at the age where he doesn’t need Alka-Seltzer.
The Vienna installment was one of six episodes of Young Indy shown in the spring of 1993, and the only Corey Carrier one, before the show was taken off the air ahead of the May sweeps period and quietly cancelled. When the show came back with the highly-publicized appearance of Harrison Ford for the bookends of Young Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues that March, it was to a very respectable audience of 18.2 million viewers on a Saturday night. But audiences, whose numbers were inflated anyway by a massive snowstorm that paralyzed the East Coast and kept everyone indoors that night, weren’t going to stick around without Ford. Just four weeks later, this episode, written by Matthew Jacobs, only had 6.9 million watching.
Young Indy falls in love a lot during this show, but his first crush is shown in this story, and for a guy with decades of women troubles, he certainly started with a humdinger. He meets Princess Sophie, the daughter of Austria-Hungary’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand, at a riding school while his parents are staying at the American embassy in Vienna. Sophie would have been about seven at the time of their meeting – the real Sophie passed away at the age of 89 about two years before this was filmed – and Indy almost causes a diplomatic incident by sneaking her away to ice skate, having no idea that there were people in Vienna who’d love to see her dead.
So with the butterflies of puppy love in his stomach, Indy turns to three other guests of the embassy for advice: Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Alfred Adler, who are all conveniently in town for a conference. Not only does their frank discussion of sex and biology send the women away from the table, it turns out to be downright terrible advice. Indy is told that he must find balance before his love destroys him, and his literal storming of the palace had our son grumbling “Oh no, he should not do that. This is crazy…”
I had to do a fair amount of walking our son through this one. Everything up to the palace hijinks is very quiet and stately. It looks beautiful – it was helmed by the acclaimed director Bille August, who cast his wife Pernilla in the role of Sophie’s governess – but it’s very talky and hushed. I think he was every bit as confused by the dinner with the psychoanalysts as Indy himself was. Famously, they cast Max von Sydow as Freud. That got a fair amount of publicity in 1993, but it unfortunately didn’t translate to viewers!