The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

Season 2 Episode 1

Austria, March 1917

Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Sep 21, 1992 on ABC

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • Indy undertakes a dangerous mission for the emperor of Austria!

    Young Henry Jones Junior continues his Secret Service missions to end the war and maybe this time he might do it? Those watching the 2000 version of this story may wish to know that 'Austria, March 1917' was later re-edited to form the first part of what would end up being the TV movie 'Adventures in the Secret Service'. The out of order story continuity of the original airings continues to confuse when Indy in this episode defends his war life career to his Belgian soldier/Princes stating he saw the horrors of war in the trenches. The confusion comes from the fact that we the viewer only see this in the next story, the two-parter 'Trenches of Hell'.

    Having failed in his mission to get Anthony Fokker to defect Secret Service give Indy another chance to redeem himself. They need him to smuggle two Belgian Princes through Austria to Emperor Karl I. But the Emperor disillusioned, by the war uses this as an opportunity to bring World War I to an end. He needs Indy's help to deliver a signed treaty. As mysterious figures lurk in the shadows our hero must deliver a top secret message or risk being caught. If he's caught death awaits him!

    Indy's adventures in the Secret Service continue to entertain although 'Austria, March 1917' while still being a fun episode doesn't quite reach the level of quality of other episodes of the show. This isn't necessary a bad thing as even the weaker episodes of 'Young Indy' are better than a lot of television produced at the time as well as today however much like our title character 'Austria, March 1917' is a bit haphazard when it comes to telling a complete story. Certainly the story concept is fine: Indy is given another chance to prove himself by delivering some Belgian royalty through occupied Austria to Emperor Karl I. There are contacts who Indy can meet up with and as the Belgian Princes he's delivering prove quite clueless he really does need all the help he can get. Structurally Indy does manage to complete his mission about half way through the episode so the other half is where the real plot picks up. It transpires that the Emperor needed the Princes to send a signed treaty back that would end the First World War. The tension builds as Indy and his two colleagues race back to the border while being stalked by a shady agent wearing a monocle (Joss Ackland). It's where Frank Darabont's script really comes to live. We never really learn the back story of this man but it's good he's kept to the sidelines as it creates a mysterious tension. The corrupt clearly favour the shadows and famous stunt arranger now turned director Vic Armstrong creates the paranoia of occupied Austria superbly with Prague locations from the claustrophobic Ann's Square to the warm but foreboding Konopiste Castle for Emperor Karl I. The performances from the guest cast are pretty good. Patrick Ryecart does a commendable job of bringing Emperor Karl I to life. Ryecart's performance presents a man who should have the power to stop the World War I and wants to but has absolutely no control over it regardless of his actions. There's also a nice performance from the great Christopher Lee as Count Ottokar Graf Czernin, a diplomat who like the Emperor wants what's best for the country although doesn't always share his leaders views.

    I think if 'Austria, March 1917' falters slightly is that Frank Darabont's script spends half of the running time delivering the Belgian royalty to the Emperor, then stops, then begins again with the Belgians trying to escape with a signed treaty. It's the dramatic build up that suffers, characters (there are many here) aren't given enough time to develop. Script wise the re-edit of this story later tells us the whole mission for peace fell apart but we're never shown this, only told of the events. Historically we can look this all up but for those like myself who just want to watch there is no narrative resolution to this episode. Also in terms of action while it's fun seeing Indy jump from one train carriage to another or hanging from a staircase it's like the show is going through the motions. We've seen this before. Of course I'm nitpicking which is what happens when you have a show of this quality. However good something is it's also going to be lesser to something else. But even a journey through occupied Austria is going to provide some hidden jems. Watch out for a scene where a paranoid Indy almost beats up a man he mistakes for a spy when in fact Indy just got the wrong train carriage compartment. As well as an amusing turn by veteran actress Elizabeth Spriggs (my age may remember Simon and the Witch) as a contact who provides Indy and the Princes with what we think of as some kind of weapon but is in fact actually some muffins for the journey. Even diplomats on a mission need to eat. Good stuff!