The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

Season 2 Episode 13

The Phantom Train of Doom, German East Africa, November 1916 (1)

Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Jun 05, 1993 on ABC
out of 10
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Episode Summary

The Phantom Train of Doom, German East Africa, November 1916 (1)
When Indy is ordered to locate and destroy a powerful German gun that is magically able to appear and disappear at will, an odd group of soldiers accompany him.

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  • Indy must destroy the Phantom Train of Doom!

    An exciting, fun adventure awaits us. This is quite a rare story for 'The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles'. Although known as 'German East Africa, November 1916' both parts were originally aired together in a feature length format or as a TV movie called 'The Phantom Train of Doom'. What this means for the eventual VHS and DVD versions of this episode is that there aren't any continuity problems. As far as I'm aware there are no edited out bookends or linking footage that fans always raise issues with. 'The Phantom Train of Doom' is pretty much identical to what originally aired back in the early 90s.

    After bad directioning takes Indy and Remy further away from the their infantry unit, the two become lost in German occupied Africa. Indy is recruited by members of the 25th Royal Fusiliers, a group of elderly men taking part in a war that has forgotten them. Their mission: to locate and destroy a heavy artillery transport capable of helping Germany win World War One. Can this motley team of soldiers find the Phantom Train of Doom when it has the power to disappear right in front of their eyes?

    A brilliantly written story by Frank Darabont with exciting direction by Peter MacDonald, 'The Phantom Train of Doom' captures every good aspect of 'The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles' whether it's the show's sense of adventure, educational value or moral drama. It works exceedingly well in every one of those categories. Thanks to Indy's bad navigation as to where their next post is both he and Remy become lost in German occupied Africa. They're a little surprised by the 25th Royal Fusiliers, a group of men who I think it's safe to say are getting on a bit. It's not surprising everyone's forgotten their existence. You see how old they are and you wonder how could they have survived this long. As Young Indy soon realises appearances can be deceptive. The moral of the story is that you're only as old as you feel. Taking on the Phantom Train is something they welcome rather than fear. They show the bravery of skilled soldiers prepared to defend their countries from Germany. At one point in the episode one of the characters uses the rope between two train carriages as a tightrope, successfully balancing himself past a hail of bullets from the enemy. We think it's a crazy performance but can't help admire (or even envy) such skill from an elderly soldier. In a nice bit of continuity the leader of this motley team is Frederick Selous, who accompanied a nine year old Indy and Teddy Roosevelt on safari back in 'British East Africa, September 1909' (alas no Edward Tudor-Pole). Obviously as the main character Paul Freeman (yes everyone…it's Ivan Ooze!) gets more to do here unlike in his previous story. His friendship with Indy feels real thanks in no small part to Freeman's charming take on the role of Selous. I've mentioned the theme running throughout about age being a simple excuse to ignore what is still possible. To be honest they don't go into much depth with this. It's just an excuse for a cool rollercoaster ride (or should that be railroad ride?) which moves at a terrific pace like its Phantom Train. As for the aforementioned transport it's as much of a character as the 25th Royal Fusiliers. It's a metallic beat of a machine. This thing looks unstoppable and only slows down to fire massive rounds to a far distance. The plan to detonate explosives while on the train does quite literally take some detours. The train has of course gained an infamous reputation for disappearing. It's soon discovered that the train has no magic per say, except a network of concealed tunnels where German soldiers prepare the train's artillery for it's next attack. By the end it's all exciting stuff. Director Peter MacDonald is action director. He knows about pace and about blowing things up as shown in 'Rambo III', which is why he should never direct a fantasy (I'm looking at you 'Neverending Story III'). The sequence near the beginning is terrific, showing a full-scale war with Selous and the team driving through a warzone of gunfire and powerful barrages of bombs. The train sequences are also amazing, showing a sense of speed in both the train as well as the 25th Royal Fusiliers being perused by Germans over the tops of carriages.

    As the Phantom Train is destroyed in a big and spectacular explosion Remy (who's been defending the beach) breathes a sigh of relief, fully aware that the Germans have been kept at bay, at least for the day. 'The Phantom Train of Doom' is a fun and hugely entertaining escapade that recalls the original 'Indiana Jones' films series as well as the adventure serials the franchise is an homage to. It never disappoints much like it's geriatric team of soldiers.moreless
  • Part 1 and Part 2 of The Phantom Train are an excellent depiction of World War I in Africa.

    This is one of my favorite Young Indiana Jones episodes. While getting hopelessly lost on his way to his new posting in Africa with the Belgian Army, Indy and Remy end up with some "creaky old geezers," members of the 25th Royal Fusiliers. Africa is often forgotten as a theater of World War I, but with France, Belgium, Britain, and Germany all having extensive colonies there, it's only natural that they bump elbows. Among the factual characters that appear in this episode are Captain Frederick Selous (a British hunter), Richard Meinertzhagen (an eccentric British intelligence officer), Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck (the only German leader who wasn't defeated by the Allies), and Jan Smuts (South African general). It is quite amusing to watch a seemingly stodgy Indy loosen up with the "creaky old geezers" as they try to solve the problem of a phantom train that is hauling a massive piece of artillery that is shelling Allied forces on the beaches of the Indian Ocean. The only frustrating thing was watching Indy going through one of his whiny phases. Fortunately, the "creaky old geezers" make it quite bearable!moreless
  • Indy teams up with a group of old soldiers.

    Indy teams up with a group of old soldiers and is hijacked into assisting them find The Phantom Train of Doom used by the Germans to blow up entire regiments with a massively huge 50 foot cannon. I like this one because the older men that Indy teams up with a very youthful and sassy and they run the mission like it's nobodys buisness. Remy, Indy's Belgian partner in crime, is only in this part for a very limited amount of time and spends most of it whining about being lost. Indy whines alot too in the beginning of his adventure with the older me, but he gets over it.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


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • TRIVIA: Frederick Selous joined the 25th (Frontiersmen) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, as a Captain when he was 64 years of age. During his stint with this unit, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1916. He was killed by a German sniper on January 4, 1917 in a minor engagement at Behobeho, along the banks of the Rufiji river.

    • Frederick Selous' unit, the 25th Royal Fusiliers was actually formed by the Legion of Frontiersmen. Originally founded in England in 1905, the Legion was based on romantic concepts of imperialism and was designed to help augment the defensive abilities of the British Empire. Among some of its more famous alumni over the years are Arthur Conan Doyle and Lord Louis Mountbatten.

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Selous: How do we set off those charges?
      Indy: Why set them off? Why don't we keep going straight through the German lines? We can take the cannon back to the General.
      Big Mac: Hey! The kid's right!
      Donald:It would be a lovely gesture.
      Selous: Are you making this up as you go along?
      Indy: Yeah.
      Selous: All right. Well done, lad.
      Big Mac: (yelling) Well boys, we just hijacked ourselves a train!

    • Indy: So how'd you all end up in the same unit?
      Donald: All us "creaky old geezers?" When war broke out, nobody would have us. So we formed out own.
      Selous: Sad thing about growing old, my boy. The world thinks your used up, no good to anybody. Terrible waste, really. Spend your life gaining wisdom and experience and then nobody wants it.
      Indy: Yeah, that's great, but we're talking about blowing up a train.
      Donald: True, we're not as fast as we used to be, and the bones DO creak from time to time.
      Selous: But age and treachery will always triumph over youth and speed. (as he successfully steals Indy's cooking food from him)

    • Indy: I'm not going on some suicide mission with a bunch of creepy old geezers who belong in a retirement home!

  • NOTES (4)

    • As both parts originally aired together in a feature length format very little re-editing was required for the eventual VHS and DVD versions of The Phantom Train of Doom.

    • This episode and its companion documentaries are included on Volume 2 Disc 3 of the DVD collection, they include:
      -Chasing the Phantom - Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck
      -Dreaming of Africa - The Life of Frederick Selous
      -At Home and Abroad - The Two Faces of Jan Smuts

    • Indy first meets Frederick Selous in the episode Passion For Life when Indy, his parents, and Miss Seymour join Teddy Roosevelt on safari in British East Africa. Frederick Selous served as Roosevelt's guide.

    • Part 1 of the video Phantom Train of Doom with The Phantom Train of Doom, German East Africa, November 1916 (2).