‘Young Indiana Jones’ is coming to Disney+, suggesting it’s still Canon
Remember “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles”? No, not the opening sequence of ‘The Last Crusade’ starring River Phoenix as the teenage version of Harrison Ford’s iconic archaeologist. We’re talking about the short-lived 1990s series starring Sean Patrick Flanery as the title character. The Two-Season Curiosity has largely lagged behind in its decade, but now Disney has acknowledged it — and putting it on Disney+, no less.
The news was announced Tuesday afternoon during The Walt Disney Company’s Upfronts presentation. The show will be available to stream on Disney+ starting May 31, pending the release of “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” in theaters next month. In addition, all four of the first Indiana Jones films – “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “The Temple of Doom”, “The Last Crusade” and “The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” will also be added to the series. the streamer, after inexplicably shutting down since its launch in 2019.
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Although largely forgotten today, “Young Indiana Jones” had serious pedigree and a very complicated release history. It originally premiered on ABC as “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles”, and ran for 28 episodes from March 1992 to June 1993. Four made-for-TV movies were released between 1994 and 1996, and the series was later edited into 22 TV movies under the name “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles”. title “The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones” in 1999; based on Disney’s title, it’s likely the final cuts will be put on the service.
As for what the show was about, it was essentially “Forrest Gump” or “Midnight in Paris”, but set in the 1910s and based on young Indiana Jones (played by Flanery as a teenager and Corey Carrier as a younger child) traveling the world and having adventures, often interacting with historical figures including Leo Tolstoy, John Ford, Sigmund Freud, TE Lawrence, Al Capone, Louis Armstrong, Winston Churchill and many, many more. The series also featured George Hall, as an elderly Indy in flashforwards, although Ford appeared in an episode set in 1950.
Ford wasn’t the only member of the original films involved with the series; George Lucas created and executive produced, in addition to providing the stories for most episodes. “Young Indiana Jones” also attracted many prominent directors and writers to work on it, including Joe Johnston, Terry Jones, Nicholas Roeg, Mike Newell, and even Carrie Fisher, who wrote an episode where Indy romanced the French dancer/spy Mata. Harry.
The show’s Disney+ debut marks the first time the series has made the leap to streaming after decades of being hard to find. VHS editions of several episodes were released in 1999, but not the entire series. The last time the series was available to watch at home was in 2008 when it was released on DVD to tie in with the release of “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”. The DVDs also included a whopping 94 historical documentaries made by Lucasfilm, which told the true stories of the historical figures featured in the show. (Rick McCallum, who produced the series, went on to become the main producer of the “Star Wars” prequel films alongside Lucas, before leaving Lucasfilm before Disney’s acquisition in 2012.)
There was some doubt that, given its decades of lack of accessibility, this series was still considered Indy’s official backstory by Lucasfilm (let alone Disney). If indeed it was still canon. Simply because Disney may have wanted to tell its own separate story about Indy’s childhood at one point. But posting the series to Disney+ feels like confirmation that this is Indy’s official history and won’t be rewritten anytime soon.
While Flanery (presumably) doesn’t make a cameo in “Dial of Destiny,” the fifth movie in the beloved series will feature a sort of young Indiana Jones, in the form of a digitally aged Harrison Ford. The film, which sees James Mangold take over directing from Steven Spielberg, also stars Phoebe Waller-Bridge, John Rhys-Davies, Mads Mikkelsen, Boyd Holbrook, Thomas Kretschmann, Toby Jones and Antonio Banderas. The film will be released in theaters on June 30.
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