A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this show isn't just a TV version of the immensely popular Indiana Jones movies -- although, like the films, the series features plenty of excitement as young Indy pursues adventure (and sometimes romance) around the world; there's plenty of action (including fights with weapons); and the series does a decent job of emulating the films' mix of thrill-a-minute drama and light comedy. But with the show's stronger focus on Indy's involvement in historical events and interactions with major historical characters, there's less of a feeling of wall-to-wall escapades. The fight scenes are less polished, and the plots are sometimes thinly developed. But, on the flip side, there's more time for Indy to discuss important ideas about politics, love, friendship, and life.
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What's the story?
When the world was first introduced to Indiana Jones, he was deep in the Peruvian jungle in 1936, hunting for an ancient golden idol. His practiced ease at avoiding booby traps in Raiders of the Lost Ark made it clear that he was at the peak of his career as an archeologist and adventurer. So how did this daring, whip-wielding buccaneer get his start? That's the premise behind THE ADVENTURES OF YOUNG INDIANA JONES, a thoughtful, entertaining, Emmy-winning series that traces Indy's life from about age 10 through his early 20s as he careens around the world in search of excitement. Some episodes focus on Indy's life as a young boy, with Corey Carrier in the lead role, while others follow his escapades as a young man (Sean Patrick Flanery). In both periods, the adventurer frequently finds himself at the center of major historical events and meeting some of the most important people of the 20th century, from Ernest Hemingway to Sigmund Freud to Winston Churchill and Ho Chi Min. As he spends his youth on archeological digs, hunting for treasure, and joining up with some of history's great military leaders during World War I, it's easy to see how Indiana Jones developed both a sense of daring and his noble character.
Is it any good?
That said, don't expect a straight adaptation of the movies as the character moves to the small screen. Though there's plenty of action, and the series manages to capture the entertaining blend of thrills and comedy that made the movies so much fun, the plot twists sometimes seem a bit forced as the writers must engineer ways for Indy to run into the next big historical character. And it's hard for even the best action sequences to match the sheer audacity of Indy's big-screen exploits, some of which remain among the best ever filmed.
On the plus side, while the movies were non-stop thrill rides from start to finish, the TV version of Indy's life takes time to introduce some important ideas. When Indiana Jones sits down to discuss philosophy or love or art or military strategy with some of history's greatest thinkers, the series adds an enjoyable element of education that's missing from the films.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about history. Is a show like this a good way to get viewers -- especially kids -- thinking about history? Does seeing history "come alive" make it more interesting? Why or why not? How accurate do you think the events and people portrayed here are? How could you find out more about the facts of Indy's adventures? Also, what historical figures would you like to meet? Is there any historical moment you wish you could have witnessed -- or changed?
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