20 March 2008 | Chip_douglas
On TV, George Lucas dared to be different
This third chapter sees Indiana Jones falling head over heels for the first time - at age 10. And with Sophie, an Austrian princess, no less. Though the romance is doomed from the start and the pair of them are really far too young to even consider such feelings, she does present him with a locket that the teen-aged Indy (Sean Patrick Flanery) can be seen wearing in many subsequent episodes of the The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones (formerly known as the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles). In fact, in the original broadcast order, the locket had already saved the young adventurer's life at the start of 'German East Africa, December 1916'/'Oganda, the Giver and Takef of Life' long before 'Vienna, November 1908' hit the airwaves.
The first half of 'Perils' is one of two Young Indy adventures directed by Swedish director Bille August. Both of them featured his wife Pernilla (aka Shmi Skywalker) in supporting parts and a great deal of Swedes to work in front of and behind the camera (though the story is actually set in Austria). Most prominently amongst them is Max Von Sydow, who gets a rare supporting part with actual substance as Sigmund Frued. For Star Wars fans there is another familiar face to look out for: Bruce (General Rieekian) Boa in a blink and you'll miss him bit part. It also features the first chronological use of Indiana's catchphrase 'Trust me'.
As usual, the bookends featuring George Hall as 94 year old Indy have been cut, meaning some helpful exposition is missing. Originally, the old man mentioned that his father was there to attend the world's first psycho-analytical conference in Vienna. Without this explanation, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and Alfred Adler seem to all attend the same diner party by pure happenstance. Also, at the end of the story, ancient Indiana hinted at another meeting between Princess Sophie and himself. But unfortunately this follow up story never saw production.
'Viena' was a first season episode that got pushed back to the second season in the states and is here combined to form 'The Perils of Cupid' with 'Florence, May 1908' (which was part of the second season shoot). Never mind that the chronology has been changed, both episodes share the theme of love. In 'Florence', it is Indy's mother who is being wood by Italian opera composer Giacomo Puccini. This part marks the first of only two occasions Ruth de Sosa, as Anna Jones, actually gets to do more than just follow young Indy around in the far background. Strangely enough, this time it is Indy himself who remains almost completely unaware of what's happening to his mom and the fact she is considering leaving her husband and child for the persuasive Puccini (romantically played by George Corraface).
When experiencing 'Perils of Cupid' as a whole, it seems young Indy simply forgets about his infatuation with the princess and all he's learned about love from Freud and co and becomes obsessed with studying the laws of physics. This is exactly where George Lucas' plan of shooting and broadcasting a historical series out of order begins to show it's biggest flaw: it is impossible to keep the continuity straight when you keep inserting new episodes into an already crowded time line. The tight continuity there was between the first season episodes (which were planned and written well in advance) became muddled during the second series when new stories were added to continuity. Once again it is up to the main guest star (in this case Corraface) to breathe life into the story and have the viewer get caught up in the romance to such an extend that they forget about nit-picking. But in the case of 'Florence', the story premise itself is working against the viewers enjoyment of the piece: how can one root for Anna when she is contemplating to leave her husband?
Both of the stories that make up 'Cupid' are about as far removed from the familiar adventures of Indiana Jones as possible. George Lucas wasn't kidding when he announced this series to be different. He also wasn't joking about it being educational, as the principles of physics, opera and love are all crammed into one small package. Young Indy, in all it's many forms is an interesting experiment, but if this chapter had not been part of a boxed set, chances are it would have been an extremely slow seller.
7 out of 10