The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

Season 2 Episode 22

Prague, August 1917

Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Unknown on ABC
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Episode Summary

Prague, August 1917
Indy is shipped off to Prague for another mission, this time a very mysterious mission, where Indy is thwarted continuously and Franz Kafka offers him assistance.

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  • Indy is plunged into a bureaucratic nightmare!

    Finding a telephone becomes more than our hero can handle... Those watching the 2000 version of this story may wish to know that 'Prague, August 1917' was later re-edited to form the second part of what would end up being the TV movie Espionage Escapades'. The first part being 'Barcelona, May 1917'. New material as usual was filmed to bridge the gap in stories. It's worth noting also that 'Prague, August 1917' is one of four episodes from the second season that never originally aired as the show by this point had been cancelled.

    Indiana Jones is sent to Prague (under the alias Amadeus Shooblegrueber) and his mission is to receive an important phone call that could save lives. Realizing his apartment doesn't have a telephone he goes to the 'Ministry of Telephones' in order to get one. Being sent from one department to another Indy soon discovers how maddening bureaucracy can be and as time is running out all hope seems lost. That is until an office clerk called Franz Kafka, a man with similar frustrations towards this system, comes to Indy's aid...

    This affectionate homage to Franz Kafka's ideas and work doesn't always succeed in being funny but the spirit of Kafka translates well to 'Prague, August 1917'. While the episode has one too many misses with it's humour his ideas of an unfair and disorganised legal system shine through. The episode to begin with doesn't let us in on that fact that it does draw on Kafka's work. It's really only until Franz Kafka himself turns up that people clued up on the man will understand what this episode is all about. In this case this has it's disadvantages as the viewer wonders why writer Gavin Scott has spent the whole episode tying Indy up in the legal issues of something as simple as trying to obtain a telephone. Maybe it would have been better to bring Kafka in towards the beginning rather than the last 15 minutes? Who knows, maybe Kafka was too overloaded with insurance work to make his presence known to Indy earlier. 'Prague, August 1917' plays out like a loose adaptation of Kafka's book The Trial. Indy is imprisoned for no actual reason, thankfully unlike the character in Kafka's story doesn't die in prison but manages to get out after it's discovered the whole thing was a mistake. Franz Kafka's ideas were that not only was bureaucracy wrong in how it treated people but how unstable and illogical it could be. It's something we can all relate to as we've all been in a similar situation. Kafka was definitely thinking of how impersonal and unjust the system had become although he mixed his views with satire and surreal qualities. For instance of the challenges Indy faces in getting a telephone installation he's forced to go from one person to another getting his form stamped and at one point chasing it through Prague. Every possible bad thing that can go wrong for Indy trying to get a working telephone does go wrong, very much sticking to what is known as the 'Kafkaesque' qualities of his novels rather than the man's actual true experiences.

    Although a less noticeable guest cast than previous episodes the acting here isn't too bad. Indy's crazy mission is lead by Colonel Clouseau (surely a reference to Peter Seller's Pink Panther movies?) played by Nickolas Grace. His role is a bumbling, arrogant caricature but fun to watch while Tim McInnerny's take on Kafka is surprisingly motivated and optimistic unlike what I've been lead to believe about the real man. Here he understands what Indy is been going through and genuinely wants to help, ending his involvement by quoting the title of his famous novel The Trial. As the episode is set in Prague it means location shooting doesn't have to double up for Russia or Barcelona so locations are in the country the story is set in. Director Robert Young does a good job of showing off Prague with locations like Charles Bridge and Czernin Palace. There's a lot of rushing about from point A to B to Z and back again so the locations all come in useful. As mentioned before not all the humour works much like 'Barcelona, May 1917'. The biggest offender is the scene where Indy and Kafka launch down the stairs on a filing cabinet which could sort of work had it been directed better. As it stands it seems unlikely the cabinet could have momentum to go round corners while falling down the long staircase but Robert Young use of speeding up the action to cover this implausibility makes it more fake than it should look. At some points during this sequence it seems like Sean Patrick Flannery is helping push the cabinet down the stairs with his foot. An amusing idea on paper but needed more planning. The digital matte paintings and visuals are also quite dodgy. The integration of the visuals is especially noticeable during the climax/ending where Indy is hanging from a telephone pole. It does look flat and unconvincing and the show being filmed on 16mm doesn't help shots like this.

    Flaws aside however, 'Prague, August 1917' is a lovely nod to the labyrinthine and dehumanizing bureaucratic madness of Franz Kafka's work. His work was prophetic towards the treatment of humans during the war. We can relate to jumping through hoops, filling out paperwork to get what we need. If he were alive today he would see that things haven't changed much. Society is still governed by systems put in place that causes people confusion and frustration. It occasionally tries too hard with humour but 'Prague, August 1917' still remains an entertaining and thoughtful episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.moreless
Corey Carrier

Corey Carrier

Young Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr. at age 8-10

Sean Patrick Flanery

Sean Patrick Flanery

Young Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr. at age 16-20

George Hall

George Hall

Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr. at age 93

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions