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Young Indiana Jones 3.11 and 3.12 – New York City, 1920 (parts one and two)

I always enjoy selecting an image from the story that we have watched, and wondered what could possibly best illustrate tonight’s minor disaster. In this feature-length story, first shown on ABC as Young Indiana Jones and the Scandal of 1920, Indy goes to New York for a summer job and ends up romancing three beautiful women. He’s immediately in over his head, since he’s living with one, working with another, and the third’s father is signing the paychecks. And yes, as the billiard balls shown above so cheerfully symbolize, they’re a redhead, a brunette, and a blonde. The background for this calamity is the production of the second year of George White’s Broadway spectacles, Scandals of 1920, although our son protested that the destruction of an amazing-looking cake toward the end of the picture is the real scandal.

This is lightweight stuff, but it’s unbelievably entertaining and very, very funny. There are great slapstick moments and wonderful comedy-of-errors-and-manners moments. Tom Beckett plays Indy’s latest famous friend, George Gershwin, and while Gershwin has a ball with Indy’s situation, he also does an exemplary job running interference for our hero… at least until the inevitable, and hilarious, climax.

Jeffrey Wright and Jay Underwood also have teeny scenes as Indy’s pals Sidney and Ernest, giving a little continuity tie to the previous story, but the real joy is in the casting of the women, who are all portrayed as so incredibly likable that it’s no wonder Indy finds making any kind of decision about them a nightmare. Alexandra Powers plays the rich Park Avenue socialite, Jennifer Stevens, in her only role of any real substance, is the singer, and Anne Heche gets the fun role of the bohemian poet and literary critic. Heche’s character would be the obvious pick – she’s intellectual, sexy, and has a seat with Woolcott, Parker, and their crew at the Hotel Algonquin – but the others are also wonderful. Stevens plays a sweetheart, and she gets to steal the opening night of Scandals with an anachronistic but amazing performance of “The Man I Love” (dubbed, actually, by Linda Ronstadt, to my surprise just now), and Powers may be playing posh, but she seems like the most fun companion a fellow could have for a summer in New York.

Indy doesn’t finish the scene in the photo that I chose by missing the three balls entirely and scratching into the corner pocket… he does that to himself a little later on, beautifully, perfectly, and scandalously.

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Young Indiana Jones 3.10 – Chicago, 1920 (part two)

Because Indiana Jones has to meet everybody, here he is at the funeral of Big Jim Colosimo. From left to right, that’s Indy’s old pal Ernest Hemingway, played again by Jay Underwood, along with Ben Hecht, Al Capone, and Eliot Ness. At this stage in his time in Chicago, Capone is going by the name Al Brown and nobody yet suspects that he might possibly have been the gunman who carried out the hit on Colosimo.

Our son enjoyed the second half of Young Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues far more than the first. Indy, Hemingway, and Ness team up to solve Colosimo’s murder, and run afoul of another Chicago gangster, Dion O’Bannion, while also finding the local cops to be completely corrupt and in the pocket of the mob. No wonder Ness would end up forming the Untouchables about ten years later.

The story’s huge fun and it features a terrific sequence where our heroes bumble their way out of a warehouse with vital evidence while avoiding about ten thousand bullets, ending with wrecked cars and crates of illegal hooch spilled everywhere. It’s played for laughs and our son howled all the way through it.

The story ends with a far, far too short bookend back in 1950 as Harrison Ford’s Indy finishes his story and uses his newfound saxophone to get out of trouble. It sure could have used another minute or so with Indy telling his friend a few more details of what became of the players, and confirming that Colosimo’s murder is officially unsolved to this day, but it’s hard to complain when Indy gets to exit the scene to his familiar theme tune!

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Young Indiana Jones 3.9 – Chicago, 1920 (part one)

I can tell you exactly where I was on March 13, 1993, when The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles started its third season on ABC. Like millions of other people, I was stranded by a massive winter storm. ABC had given the show its biggest publicity blitz yet for its new Saturday night home, hoping that bringing Harrison Ford in for a couple of “bookend” scenes set in Wyoming, 1950 would get audiences interested.

Then the snowstorm hit, and everybody was stuck at home, and ratings were massive. 18.2 million people tuned in. They lost half the audience the next week, because the ice had melted and Harrison Ford wasn’t in it. And as for me, I didn’t see it for several days. I was stuck at my parents’ house without any power. I had to ask somebody to tape it for me.

The first half of Jule Selbo’s Young Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues is a slow and entertaining introduction to jazz and gospel. Jeffrey Wright, who later played Felix opposite Daniel Craig’s James Bond, plays Sidney Bechet, who befriends Indy and helps him stop being a gushing jazz fanboy and learn how to play soprano sax. Not much else happens in this hour. The music drove our son bonkers. He hasn’t learned to appreciate much music, and certainly not this. I thought it was all quite wonderful myself. There will be some gunplay in the next hour, he’ll be relieved to learn.

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