It’s only two months to go before Indy gallops back to the multiplexes, but there’s just enough time to squeeze in some revision. And ‘revision’ is the word, because this ’90s TV show is edutainment at its least subtle. Set in the early 1900s, the first eight episodes follow the nine-year-old Henry ‘Indiana’ Jones Jr (Corey Carrier) as he accompanies his archaeology professor dad and insipid mother on a round-the-world lecture tour. Being rather well connected for a small boy, he’s invited to explore the Egyptian Pyramids with Lawrence of Arabia, discuss the meaning of love with Freud at a dinner party and witness Picasso’s genius in his Parisian studio.
Each $1.5m episode was shot on location, which means we’re treated to some stirring scenery. Just as well, because Carrier is one of the most unlovable kid actors since the brat out of Problem Child. Things improve when Sean Patrick Flanery takes over as teen Indy. And there are a few bizarrely distracting cameos, like So Solid Crew’s Asher D as a Moroccan slave and Lukas Haas as painter Norman Rockwell (the Steven Spielberg of all-American art).
But what’s really notable about these boxsets is the quality of the add-ons. Not so much a teatime-telly marathon as a complete primary education in a box, the package is awash with documentaries expanding on themes central to each episode – covering subjects as diverse as the 1916 Easter Rising, Tolstoy and Tutankhamen. Alas, this eagerness to inform carries over to the show and Young Indiana is often too clogged with fun facts to cut loose with any proper whip-snapping action. Factor in a sense of humour pitched squarely at the under-12s and the two-hour instalments can get a bit draggy. A must for die-hards and teachers, but casual fans may want to hang on for the (grown) man in the hat’s return.