thrift store finds: the young indiana jones chronicles coloring/activity book

The Internet was aflame earlier this week when this profile piece from The New York Times indicated George Lucas, mastermind behind many of the most successful blockbuster movies of the last thirty years, would be retiring from big budget moviemaking and instead focusing on “personal films.” According to Lucas, he’s depressed by the nasty backlash which accompanies his new takes on both the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films, all of which received a sound drubbing by fanboys and girls upon their release.

I could write 10,000 words on what George Lucas’ movies meant to me growing up and how deluded I’ve found him to be in regards with his perplexing choices regarding the Star Wars franchise… but I’m not going to. Instead, for today’s Thrift Store Find, I’d like to talk about the first time I remember been truly disappointed by George Lucas and why it doesn’t really matter.

I will talk about this by using a coloring/activity book I bought for fifty cents.

The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles premiered on ABC in the spring of 1992, three years after Indy’s last theatrical outing. The show was designed to focus on the youthful exploits of the character, both as a child and a teenager. I’m guessing Golden Books published this coloring/activity book around the same time. The book I found was in pristine condition and still has the price sticker on the cover.

Imagine being eleven years old and hearing that premise. The idea you were going to see INDIANA JONES, one of the greatest cinematic heroes of all time, as he was when he was YOUR age? Incredible! Appointment television! I tuned in with bated breath, waiting to see Indy fight loathsome bad guys and adventure through exciting set pieces. Hell, hadn’t we had already had a taste of what to expect from a “young Indy Jones” TV series? The opening of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, with Indy running across the top of the circus train? That was awesome! Surely this TV show would be awesome too, right?

Wrong. The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles was laboriously dull in my recollection. Any excitement I could muster over seeing an Indiana Jones similarly aged to myself were crushed by how boring those episodes of the show were. As should have been immediately obvious to anyone but eluded me at the time, the creators of the show couldn’t risk placing a ten year old kid in perilous danger week in and week out.

As such, those sections of the show were tempered to the point of boredom. I mean, look at some of the coloring pages from this book.

If adventure has a name, surely is is NOT this kid wearing a stupid looking bow tie.

Oh look, Indiana Jones and the Adventure of the Pretty Pink Bonnet! That’s MUCH better than The Holy Grail or The Ark of the Covenant. Da da da DAAAA… DA DA DA!

Although I’m being a bit facetious, I think you see my point. If these are the best escapades mustered together for a freakin’ coloring book, imagine what watching the show was like!

The eleven year old me was infinitely disappointed in the tepid adventures of the 10 year old Indiana Jones… and the later episodes where Indy appeared as a 16 year old teenager fared only slightly better. I suppose the problem had everything to do with my expectations for the show versus the reality of what the show actually was.

I expected a rollicking good adventure series with humor and action.

The reality was, The Indiana Jones Chronicles was designed as an educational series focusing on world history. Indy would, at different points during the show, run into major characters and events from the late 19th and early 20th century, like a less brain-damaged Forest Gump.

For example, the one of the episodes had 10 year old Indy meeting Teddy Roosevelt in Africa, admittedly a cool idea.

My reaction to this show is precisely why George Lucas wants to quit making blockbuster movies. Our expectations for him and his work do not meet the reality of what he can deliver for us… or what he WANTS to deliver. Just because we built the Star Wars movies up in our minds to be kick-ass doesn’t mean the new prequels could ever meet or exceed twenty years of pent-up expectation. Even though I don’t think any of Lucas’ later movies are very strong, I’m hard-pressed to think of a way that he could have possibly delivered an experience as great as the one I had spent years building up in my mind.

The coloring book is fine. It’s a coloring book. There are some puzzle pages and whatnot. I’ m sure my sons will enjoy this one rainy afternoon when I give it to ’em.


One Response to “thrift store finds: the young indiana jones chronicles coloring/activity book”

  1. George Lucas is the Billy Joel of Movie Making. Super-hot and relevant in the 70’s and 80’s with hit after hit that spoke for an entire generation, did a few things in the 90’s that made people go “Uhmmmmokay” and then only the hardest of hard-core fans are still behind them in the new millennium.

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