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DVD Reviews

HTF DVD Review: The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Volume One



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24 replies to this topic

#1 of 25 OFFLINE   JustinCleveland

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Posted October 26 2007 - 10:47 AM

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Studio: Paramount Home Video
Year: 1992-1994
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Discs: 12, 7 Feature-Length Episodes
Audio: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
Subtitles: None
MSRP: $129.99
Street Date: 23 October 2007
Review Date: 25 October 2007

Spanning both time and the globe, “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles” was intended to bring history alive in the minds of young viewers, following the formative years of the boy who would be the greatest adventurer ever known. While the history is suspect, featuring impossible scenarios, the show’s production values and sheer sense of fun makes up for any of the programs shortcomings. Nicely honoring one of the finest series of films of all time, the newly-rechristened “The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones” will delight fans of Henry Jones, Jr.

This first set contains an astounding twelve discs of information, presenting seven feature-length episodes from the Jones’ family trip around the world. Paramount’s new DVD set retains the anachronistic presentation of the episodes; however the logic of the presentation is not immediately apparent. Not recollected in broadcast order or production order, these shows jump between the adolescent Indiana and the post-pubescent version portrayed by Sean Patrick Flanery. If the logic were explicated, I would have no qualms about altering the original episodes. As it is end up as a mash up of themes, excising the contextual bookends from the reflective "old
The first episode in this set, “My First Adventure” suffers the most from the extrication of the episodes from their original context. The first half of the episode is the first half of the original broadcast premiere “Young Indiana Jones and the Curse of the Jackal.” Transitioning abruptly from a cliffhanger ending in Egypt to a disparate storyline dealing with slavery in Saudi Arabia, this is one of the few instances where the change in the presentation order doesn’t work nor make sense.

The program’s casting is pitch-perfect, with the young Corey Carrier channeling Harrison Ford’s mischievous, irreverent, iconic performance. It is easy to see the connection between the boy in these shows and the man he will become. Lloyd Owen’s aloof Henry Jones, Sr. is eerily reminiscent of the absentminded-yet-brilliant routine perfected by Sean Connery in 1989’s “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” Likewise young Indy’s taskmaster and tutor Miss Seymour is a fascinating character, torn between her dedication to education and her personal desire for adventure. Margaret Tyzack takes a part which could be easily played as a stereotypical teacher and injects a sense of warmth and humanity, a clear model for “Indiana” Jones, a pedagogue with a penchant for adventure.

Ruth de Sosa’s Anna Jones, the mother of the legend, is the only part that doesn’t work, primarily because she is left largely undefined. Never terribly maternal or interesting in her own right, she serves only to fulfill her description in “Last Crusade” as a woman who never understood her husband’s obsessions. While I don’t argue with portraying her based on that premise, leaving her so simplified results in a disinteresting character.

The elder version of Indiana Jones, played dashingly by Sean Patrick Flanery, is brilliant. While it’s cute watching young Henry get into mischief, his participation in a bar brawl felt somehow silly. Flanery, however, melds equal parts River Phoenix and Harrison Ford, yet adds his own distinct flourishes to the part, creating a fascinating portrait of the adventurer to be.

I absolutely adore this show, there is no denying that. Equal parts fun, excitement, adventure, and education, “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles” is a great program. Compiling the episodes as they have here makes little sense. The subjects jump from Africa to France with little explanation; amalgamated to present a feature-length story based on a loose theme, such as the respect for life. This method of presentation hinders the show’s connection to its audience. I would much rather have seen these shows recorded in season sets or in chronological order. As it is, despite the quality of the programs, I find it very difficult to recommend this box, particularly knowing that there are two more major investments that need to be made in order to complete the series.

Video:
I am utterly disappointed with the video quality on this set. While I grant that the originating material is over fifteen years old and comes from broadcast source material, it should still look better than it does. Presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio, the set looks atrocious. Colors are dull and lifeless, and details are washed out. A distracting amount of moiré becomes apparent during fast cuts and rapid motion. At other points the transfer appears soft, almost blurry, and shadows blend into a murky darkness that looks green and blue. While I wasn’t expecting the quality of the theatrical Indiana Jones movies, I was hoping for better than this inconsistent mess.

Audio:
Properly recreating the original stereo broadcast, the 2.0 Dolby Digital English audio track is serviceable without being remarkable in the slightest. The music cues are underwhelming and dialogue clear and unimpressive.

Extras:
Fulfilling George Lucas’ intention for the program to open up history to a generation who has seemingly no interest, each episode is a plethora of documentaries talking about the lives of the guest stars, such as T.E. Lawrence and Pablo Picasso. Serving as an introduction to the characters, the documentaries are largely superficial but still useful in introducing our youth to historical ideas.

Likewise these documentaries talk about the reality of archeology as opposed to the cavalier adventuring done by Indiana Jones, and the history of slavery. Asking interesting academic questions and entering into longstanding discussions, the documentaries Paramount are a fascinating expansion on the themes brought up in the respective episodes. The amount of material on this set is almost overwhelming. The quality of the content is largely on par with cable programs, as found on the History or Discovery channels.

I could repeat myself ad nauseum, but the fact is that these brief documentaries are of above-average quality.

The last disc of the set features a few different features, including an interactive timeline and game that can be accessed through your computer’s DVD-Rom drive. The program crashed thrice on my Vista computer, so I was unable to access them. There is a 40-minute documentary that tracks the progress of the 20th century, focusing on the characters that crossed paths with the young Henry Jones, Jr. Enjoyable, but not particularly original or illuminating.

Overall:
This pains me. It does.

Do not buy this set.

I waited patiently for a release of “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.” This is not that show. It is a program that takes pieces of that show and amalgamates them into a series of feature-length episodes. Changing the name to “The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones” was more than merely cosmetic: it signifies a massive alteration to the product.

I earnestly hope the makers of this set revisit this product, give it a proper DVD restoration, and present it as it was fifteen years ago on television. The A/V quality varies from bad to mediocre, and while the extras are plentiful, I invested time in this set because I remember loving the show as a child.

Although I respect the noble admirations of Lucas and company in constructing an educational tool, this program deserves a simple release to appease fans like myself in our desire for a classic television project. This release does a disservice to the fantastic production design and writing that marked the original program.

#2 of 25 OFFLINE   Peter Overduin

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Posted October 26 2007 - 04:36 PM

Thanks for the review. What a strange situation this is with the magnitude this release could have been. Scratched from my 'buy' list; may try to rent one or two of them and see if there's enough there to change my mind.
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#3 of 25 OFFLINE   Demis G

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Posted October 26 2007 - 09:53 PM

Dissapointed Posted Image

#4 of 25 OFFLINE   Paul Arnette

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Posted October 27 2007 - 01:54 AM

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Lucas can't leave well enough alone. I had considered buying this set as I have never seen this show before, but, ultimately, HDM wins out over SD DVD for me now, and your review was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Thanks for the informative review, even if the end result was disappointing.
Universal Blu-ray Discs I will not be buying while they're offered only as Blu-ray + DVD 'flipper' discs:

The Jackal
, Out of Africa, and Traffic.

#5 of 25 OFFLINE   streeter

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Posted October 27 2007 - 02:44 AM

Lucasfan.com stepped out of its grave to issue a stern warning about this set.

*cough*
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#6 of 25 OFFLINE   Tom_S

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Posted October 27 2007 - 03:51 PM

I am truly baffled by some of these reactions.

These changes to Young Indiana Jones were made almost a decade ago. About half the series was released on Video Tape in this current "The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones" format. The rest that did not get a Video release did air on USA network and Sci Fi Channel. I know because I taped all the new versions that did not get an official release back in 1999 and 2000. So no one should be surprised as to what these DVD feature at all! They may not be happy with it...but not surprised.

I suspect many of these "shocked" reactions are from those who knew very well what to expect. The episode titles for what's on the DVDs are those of the edited movie versions, not the original ABC airing titles. That information has been readily available for months to anyone who bothered to look.

#7 of 25 OFFLINE   Travis Brashear

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Posted October 28 2007 - 03:50 AM

And, really, all the re-editing has lost is the woefully banal and infantile Old Indy sequences, which never matched the wit and charm of anything else in the show anyway. I think this DVD presentation is fine, and find the comments on the video quality to be mostly overwrought, unwarranted and inaccurate. Also, am I reading the review incorrectly? Justin says the episodes are presented according to themes (jumping back and forth from child Indy to teen Indy, like the original broadcasts did), not chronologically, but my set is presented chronologically, and gets all of the child Indy episodes out of the way first, before settling in with the Sean Patrick Flanery episodes.
Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part...
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#8 of 25 OFFLINE   JustinCleveland

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Posted October 28 2007 - 04:18 AM

Travis,

You are entitled to your opinion, however I very much enjoyed the Old Indy bookends, and believe they should be included. I don't have an inherent problem with presenting the episodes in chronological order, but some of the jumps are completely nonsensical. My First Adventure, as mentioned in the review, is ridiculous, jumping ahead without resolution.

Tom,

Just because these cuts were made a decade ago--a fact of which I was not aware--we should accept them? The changes made to the Star Wars trilogy were done a decade ago, but I still find them largely unpalatable.

Considering the exorbitant amount of money being charged for this set, I don't think I am wrong to come in with high standards. The video quality of these sets is nothing short of atrocious. My father dropped by while I was watching this, and mocked my equipment because he thought the Blu-Ray player and Plasma TV were faulty. I put in Transformers to silence him. But the fact remains that my father, who has less-than exacting standards, thought this set looked bad.

As I said, I love this show. The content of the episodes is largely good. Some of the reedits work, some do not. I won't say they are all bad, but the ones that don't stick out like a sore thumb, and I want people to know what they are buying. To purchase the whole set, you are making a 250 dollar (at least) investment. Had I spent money on this set, I would be upset. Because I didn't, I am merely disappointed.

I didn't receive the set until release day. Much like movies that don't screen for critics in advance, you have to think that the studios is trying to pull a fast one.

#9 of 25 OFFLINE   Travis Brashear

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Posted October 28 2007 - 04:44 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by JustinCleveland
The video quality of these sets is nothing short of atrocious. My father dropped by while I was watching this, and mocked my equipment because he thought the Blu-Ray player and Plasma TV were faulty. I put in Transformers to silence him. But the fact remains that my father, who has less-than exacting standards, thought this set looked bad.

What a grossly unfair comparison--a 15 year-old TV show designed as a period piece and a brand-new, high-contrast $200 million science-fiction motion picture? Give us all a break, man...
Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part...
--Det. William Somerset, SE7EN

http://www.dvdanthol...-movielist.html), http://LDDb.com/coll....user=Filmmaker

#10 of 25 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted October 28 2007 - 04:47 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by JustinCleveland
To purchase the whole set, you are making a 250 dollar (at least) investment.
Presuming that stores have the same sale price for all three sets, it'll be $210.

#11 of 25 OFFLINE   Glenn Overholt

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Posted October 28 2007 - 05:44 AM

How in the world can anyone compare Transformers in HD? to an older TV series done in SD? Justin, I think that you should get your SD player back out of the garage and hook it back up.
Equipment:
Display: Toshiba 57LX177
SD Player: Pioneer DV-F07
Receiver: PioneerVSX-47TX

I haven't finished them yet, but from what I have seen and heard so far, the only complaint that I have is that I wish that I could have gotten this without the extras. I don't need the education, I just want to be entertained!

Glenn

#12 of 25 OFFLINE   JustinCleveland

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Posted October 28 2007 - 07:17 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Travis Brashear
What a grossly unfair comparison--a 15 year-old TV show designed as a period piece and a brand-new, high-contrast $200 million science-fiction motion picture? Give us all a break, man...
It was a joke, settle down. I was being joshed that my equipment was faulty, I put in a newer film to prove it wasn't.

That said, I continue to assert that this show looks terrible. It looks worse than Family Ties and Beauty and the Beast, two programs that are comparable in terms of age and had a much lighter production budget. Just look to The Fugitive for how a proper production should look.

I don't blame Paramount for this, I think the blame rests squarely on the Lucas properties.

Also, Glenn, are you saying I should downgrade my equipment? I don't buy things because I'm a reviewer: I own them because I like the best picture quality. If a brand new DVD set looks atrocious, I'm not going to pull out my old Denon 1910 to see if it looks better on that. That's just silly. I'm sure it would look serviceable on the 20" TV I've got in my garage, too, connected via composite cables.

I ran it on both my BD and HD-DVD player, and it looked bad on both. I'll hook it up to my old Sony 42" RP, see if the limitations are there too.

Travis,

I'm not going to assume anything on the pricing. At Circuit City and Best Buy this set is running 80-90 dollars.

I reaffirm my contentions: Ridiculously expensive, edited content, and poor video quality results in a discouraging, disappointing presentation.

I wanted to love this. I was extremely excited when I heard it was announced. That's why it was so hard for me to post this review. But when people are being charged 100 dollars for a DVD set, it had better be perfect. This is far from.

#13 of 25 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted October 28 2007 - 07:27 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by JustinCleveland
At Circuit City and Best Buy this set is running 80-90 dollars.
The sale price at BB was $70 last week.

#14 of 25 OFFLINE   Tom_S

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Posted October 28 2007 - 09:26 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TravisR
The sale price at BB was $70 last week.
Also on Amazon. Which is how I ordered it. It also qualifies for free shipping. Which is the option I took.

The price is the only real issue I have. But even at that price its only about $20 more than most other season sets. I maybe in the minority but I am really looking forward to watching all the documentaries.

#15 of 25 OFFLINE   Travis Brashear

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Posted October 28 2007 - 10:07 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by JustinCleveland
That said, I continue to assert that this show looks terrible. It looks worse than Family Ties and Beauty and the Beast, two programs that are comparable in terms of age and had a much lighter production budget.

One of three things has to be the case here:

1) Your equipment or DVD copy is faulty in some manner.
2) You lack the basic and proper facilities to be a worthwhile DVD reviewer.
3) You are lying.

I know that seems like a harsh personal attack, but this is my honest assessment of your critique, and I shudder at the possibility that said critique might carry any weight with potential buyers.
Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part...
--Det. William Somerset, SE7EN

http://www.dvdanthol...-movielist.html), http://LDDb.com/coll....user=Filmmaker

#16 of 25 OFFLINE   Glenn Overholt

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Posted October 28 2007 - 10:20 AM

I think it's your equipment. Wasn't there a question or two on putting SD disks in an HD player via HDMI with getting the proper conversion to your TV?

See if you can output your player via component - just to get the TV to default to 480.

As for the content, I am sure that originally these were never meant to be put together into 90 minute films, but he ended up with several 2 part shows, and hastily fixed them all up.

Ok, the price is a bit high, but I did look at it as getting 7 movies at 90 minutes each, and if I were to pay $20 each for a new release, it can be justified, but barely.

Glenn

#17 of 25 OFFLINE   Tom_S

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Posted October 28 2007 - 02:47 PM

Some episodes mixed and matched stock footage from many different sources. On the original airings and on video the differences from shot to shot would not be noticeable. But due to the higher resolution of DVD it will be noticed. I think that was unavoidable. This show was produced at the time when video editing first came to be used. Most TV series from that time have this problem on DVD as well.

As for the bridging footage - I think it is mostly going to be a problem for those who know the original broadcasts very well. Having watched them more than once. I saw the show a few times on ABC. I really became a fan from the 1999/2000 videos and cable airings. I did not find the transitions between stories to distracting. Of course I had nothing to compare them too. But that is going to be the likely reaction from other new viewers too.

#18 of 25 OFFLINE   Jon Martin

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Posted October 29 2007 - 03:12 AM

While I haven't seen the show for myself (didn't care for it enough to justify the sticker price), I remember when it aired on TV, George Lucas made a big deal about the fact that he intended them to be released on laserdisc. He said he was essentially making a laserdisc box set, that was going to be airing on TV first.

I don't think the LDs were ever released, but he knew what he was doing as far as the video quality goes.

#19 of 25 OFFLINE   StarTrooper

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Posted October 29 2007 - 04:19 AM

Thanks for the indepth review. I've been holding off on getting this set until I could find a proper review. Most of the customer reviews on Amazon only talk about the price. Those that did review the set made no mention about the video quality.

To me, the quailty of video is a major selling point. Honestly, I'm surprised that this set includes bad video, as it was reported on the offical Star Wars site and IGN that:

Lucas mentioned how the series was shot on 16mm, which allowed more money to be spent on the production and allow for longer shooting schedules than it would have otherwise had. However, he said, "we're in the process of enhancing and cleaning up [the picture] for DVD." Having mentioned the cost constraints the The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles was under, he also humorously stated, "We're spending more to clean things up then we did to shoot it."

Source: dvd.ign.com/articles/770/770161p1.html

I won't be purchasing this set. Don't know who is the larger evil: Lucas or Paramount.

#20 of 25 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted October 29 2007 - 04:27 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by StarTrooper
Don't know who is the larger evil: Lucas or Paramount.
Why? The quote you posted shows that they tried to spend money on making the best set they could.


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