Young Indiana Jones 2.13 – Barcelona, 1917

“I didn’t understand that at all,” our son grumbled. Who can blame him? This is a story about politics delivered by men talking very fast in outrageous accents. Usually while running very fast and getting stuck in doorways three at a time. It’s wonderful.

I’ve read that Terry Jones is in very poor health, and that did kind of hang over tonight’s story for me. Jones directed this lovable, ridiculous comedy escapade written by Gavin Scott. Indy gets sent to Spain to work with a trio of mostly competent spies, looking for some way to cause a breach in the neutral government’s favor one way or the other. For cover, Indy bumps into his old friend Pablo Picasso, played again by Danny Webb and who we met before in Paris, nine years earlier, who gets him a job at the Ballet Russe as a eunuch.

The spies are played by Jones, Timothy Spall, who you may know best as Wormtail in Harry Potter, and Charles McKeown, a frequent collaborator of the Pythons who appeared in Life of Brian, Fawlty Towers, four episodes of Ripping Yarns, Erik the Viking, and at least three of Terry Gilliam’s movies. They hit on a great scheme to make the Count of Toledo believe that the German cultural attache is making moves on the countess. But then a dancer at the Ballet Russe’s production of Scheherazade, played by Amanda Ooms, lets Indy know that she may be Russian, but she’s working for American intelligence, and putting these two men at odds is going to create an entirely different kind of international incident.

I love this episode. I think it’s completely ridiculous and hilarious. My wife and I chuckled and laughed all the way through the thing while our poor son scratched his head and asked what was so funny. Well, you can’t always please the entire audience!

Young Indiana Jones 1.4 – Paris, 1908

I think this is the only occasion in all of Young Indiana Jones where the chronology of the stories was rearranged to make the compilation movies. The three European segments originally took place prior to their trip to British East Africa, but after they were re-edited, they met Roosevelt first and then went back to Paris, Vienna, and Florence. The story was written by Reg Gadney and was one of four Corey Carrier episodes to air on ABC during the summer of 1993, just after the network had finally given up and was burning off stories. ABC also required that one of the scenes in this episode was censored when it was shown. French actress Nathalie Cardone has a short nude scene as her character models for Picasso. The broadcast version has a table in front of her.

I really enjoyed this one when it was shown and still think it’s quite good, my favorite of the four we’ve seen so far. In it, Indy and Miss Seymour bump into an American kid, fifteen year-old Norman Rockwell, while visiting the Louvre. Indy and Norman conspire to get away from the tutor, and witness Degas and Picasso having a spirited argument in a cafe. Rockwell defends Degas’s honor after the master has left, and Picasso decides to show them a thing or two about art.

Picasso paints an imitation Degas and conspires to get the old man to sign it as one of his own, while at the same time he doesn’t see anything wrong with putting his own signature to Rockwell’s sketch of his own, as yet unexhibited, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Very amusing hijinks ensue, including a brawl at a cafe, a chase through a graveyard, and cameo appearances by Henri Rousseau, Gertrude Stein, and Alice B. Toklas, because Indiana Jones has to meet everybody in the 20th Century.

Our son was polite. He certainly didn’t love this, and he was incredibly worried for Indy when he snuck out and traveled across the rooftops to get to Picasso’s party, but the fight pleased him, and he loved the use of a fake ghost to drive off some troublemakers. Plus, Picasso was enough of a nut to go around firing pistols into the ceiling, so the show had enough punctuations to keep his interest.

Above, that’s Lukas Haas as Rockwell, which I think is great casting. Haas was probably best known then for his role in Peter Weir’s film Witness when he was about nine. As Picasso, there’s a face who is very familiar to anybody my age who was watching music videos for hours a day in the early eighties. Danny Webb was that stockbroker-type guy having a horrible, horrible day in Yes’s clip for “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” He’s had almost two hundred bigger and better roles since, but some music video parts are just iconic for the generation that wanted their MTV. Just ask those three girls who drove around in ZZ Top’s old Ford.