One has to wonder what his father's response will be... Viewers may like to note that 'Princeton 1919' was one of several newly filmed episodes that were produced for the show to be re-ordered and re-edited into a continuity for it's 1999/2000 home video release. Originally a small amount of this story was produced for 'Travels with Father'. When the show was re-edited the Princeton segments were taken out and new footage was shot to expand the running time. This episode was then paired with 'Paris, May 1919' to form the TV movie 'Winds of Change'.
Returning home from World War I and his duties to the Treaty of Versailles Indy is not surprised that his father hardly notices his arrival. Little does his father know that Henry Jones, Jr. is not planning to enrol in Princeton University but Chicago University. Tough times are ahead, especially when Indy is in love with a new girl he's forbidden to see. Indy must also defend his friend Paul Robeson from racist discrimination while keeping his job working for Professor Robert Goddard whose close to perfecting a liquid powered rocket. Will Indy be allowed to go to Chicago University? More importantly can Indy and his father reconcile?
So much for the heroes welcome. At least when it comes to his father Henry Jones, Sr. 'Princeton 1919' is one of the those episodes that initially offers very little in excitement but is so well executed both in terms of writing and directing that it becomes the quiet classic of the series. At the centre of this episode is the dysfunctional relationship between Indiana and his father Henry played so well again by Lloyd Owen. He doesn't notice his son has come home and is too caught up in what he's doing to even say hello. The only thing he has to say to his son is the time of dinner (7.30pm sharp). The two have never been close when Indiana was younger and with his mother having passed away that emotional link between them is now gone. It's all quiet sad and frustrating for Indy as he's still finding himself treated as a child by his father. He's seen many horrors and been through so much but his father calls it his "little adventure". I suppose Indy expected more recognition from his dad. Henry Jones, Jr. sure has been through a lot since he left Princeton. While he's left the Treaty of Versailles the full extent of what's happened finally begins to hit him while going home. In another bit of foreshadowing of World War II he's horrified to learn from a young boy that when there's another war he wants to sign up. Asked who he will fight the boy responds the Germans. Indy finds it incredible when his father can't understand his son's disappointment with the outcome of the treaty. His father sees the treaty as just another government law while Indy sees it as something more, optimism that doesn't sit well with Henry. It's good writing by Jonathan Hales in showing how different they are.
'Princeton 1919' works so well in spite of Hales trying to juggle four storylines. The primary storyline as mentioned is the difficult relationship Indy has with Henry, the second storyline has to do with Indiana's blossoming relationship with a new girl he's met Amy Wharton (Brooke Langton). Unfortunately he isn't allowed to see her as Amy's mother doesn't approve of her meeting someone who fought in the war. Langton does well in the role, presenting charm and beauty in equal measure. It's nice to see a strong willed woman who unlike Indy isn't afraid to stand up to relatives. Like his old mentor Miss Seymour Amy understands the relationship problems he's having with Henry Sr. and implores him to resolve these issues before he leaves for Chicago. Third storyline involves Indy meeting up with his childhood friend, the talented Paul Robeson (Kevin Jackson) who is trying to cope with the continued racial discrimination he's receiving. Flanery and Jackson have believable camaraderie between them, you really do believe they've been friends since they were children. Interestingly one of the cancelled episodes would have featured a five year old Indiana Jones meeting Paul for the first time which would have tied into this episode. Unfortunately like a lot of episodes it wasn't produced which is a shame. Indy sees Paul as more than just colour but a real friend who should be treated as such. Cue fist fight in the park with some racist goons. Finally the fourth storyline involves Indy trying to raise money to go to Chicago University by working for the very private scientist Professor Robert Goddard (Stephen Michael Ayers), the man who eventually will invent (with some help from out hero) the first liquid powered rocket. Ayers has the difficult task of projecting enthusiasm and childlike wonder with a real life man that was private and slightly paranoid but Ayers succeeds. Goddard was a man inspired by Jules Verne and HG Wells, someone who allowed us to travel to the moon and Ayers gets this across perfectly. While there's a bit of revisionist history going on with the model test scene (his wife was there, not Indy) it feels like the beginning of a new era. Certainly we get the feeling there isn't much left for Indy at home. This becomes obvious when we get to see Indy's old girlfriend Nancy (an uncredited cameo by Robyn Lively) one more time but to show the passage of time that has passed him she's now married and got a child. Indy feels out of touch and comes to the realisation that a new dawn is approaching and new challenges awaits.
Writer Jonathan Hales and director Michael Schultz do an excellent effort of providing the episode on one side with emotional family disconnect but on the other side also real friendship and love. The music by Joel McNeely and Lawrence Rosenthal works well within the heart of the story. Visually Schultz brings back old locations from previous episodes using Wilmington, North Carolina for a lot of the episode giving the feel of Old America, . home sweet home. The fact that Hales manages to give the four storylines their own depth in 45 minutes is an accomplishment in itself. Sure, we could have had more but it's still impressive. As mentioned the real primary storyline is Indy's relationship with his father Henry. Sean Patrick Flanery and Lloyd Owen provide their best acting performances in the their roles and you can feel the conflict between them. Henry at one point tries to hug his son but can't, he realizes he doesn't know how to be a father. He also doesn't seem that bothered when Henry, Jr. packs up to leave for Chicago. No goodbye or farewell. Nothing but an empty house for lonely Henry. It's really sad to see this happen between them, a sad ending to the episode.
'Princeton 1919' is one of the show's classic episodes. It subtly provides the most emotional episode the series ever did. Running through all four plotlines Hales employs themes of emotional alienation and the need for acceptance. Both father and son won't see each other for another 20 years tying into the film 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade'. The next time we see Henry he'll be played by the original Henry Jones, Sr. aka Sean Connery. As Indy walks off down the street he is no longer a child but one step closer to the incredible hero of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'. He steps forth into a new era of history to meet new people and provide us the viewer with more exciting adventures. Not just a classic episode but a pivotal one as well. Well done to everyone who made this!