Poor Indy... This is one of those rare stories for 'The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles'. Although known as 'New York, June 1920' and 'New York, July 1920' both parts were originally aired together in a feature length format or as a TV movie called 'The Scandal of 1920'. What this means for the eventual VHS and DVD versions of this episode is that there aren't any continuity problems and does indeed flow nicely on from the previous story. As far as I'm aware only the bookends with George Hall were edited out and I believe a bit of footage was added to expanded the running time. Apart from that 'The Scandal of 1920' is pretty much identical to what originally aired back in the early 90s.
With summer approaching Indiana has decided to use the time to get work in New York. Getting there without a job he runs into Broadway composer George Gershwin (Tom Beckett) offering Indy a job working at the theatre for George White's (Christopher John Fields) Scandals. Although totally over budget and no leading lady found yet the show must go on but Indy gets more than he bargained for when he starts dating three women at once. There's aspiring singer Margaret "Peggy" Peabody (Jennifer Stevens), writer/poet Kate Rivers (Anne Heche) and rich socialite Gloria Schuyler (Alexandra Powers). Attracted to all three Indy soon realizes he's going to gave to give up two of them, but which? He'd better not let them meet or they'll be hell to pay!
Oh Indy what are we going to do with you. What is it about Indy and women anyway? He must either be the most unluckiest guy in the world or the most incompetent. 'The Scandal of 1920' plays like a more coherent version of 'Barcelona, May 1917'. At one point the events of that story are even referenced although no one wants to believe Indy was in the Russian Ballet. Plus 'The Scandal of 1920' does have some amazing music and production design. So good in fact that this story is multiple Emmy Award winning. It ended up winning awards for best music, best costume design and best special effects, more on that later. Director Syd Macartney (his only directional job on the series) does an excellent job of making us believe Indy is living in a 1920s New York. Filled with authentic set dressing, lovely costumes and great music by Joel McNeely the New York of this period comes to life in a breathtaking way. The interior theatre was filmed in Wilmington's Thalian Hall while exterior shooting used the Screen Gems backlot also in Wilmington in a very convincing manner. Then there's the visual effects. What visual effects? Macartney makes use of digital matte paintings to extended or add buildings. You the viewer of course wouldn't notice this as this two-parter is one of the few times in the series where the digital matte paintings are used seamlessly. Most of the time on the show the matte paintings are either acceptable or a bit rubbish but here they convince you they actually went on location to New York to film. It gets even better in Part 2 but I'll save that for the next review.
Jonathan Hales script is a jolly comic romp through the New York society of the 1920s. The script is a lot more clever than we first give it credit for. Each girl Indy has fallen for represents a different type of society class at that time. Take the idealistic Peggy for instance who we meet before Indiana even arrives in New York. She comes from a country working class background and hopes to become famous on Broadway although she lacks confidence in her abilities. Jennifer Stevens is lovely in the role and you do feel sad they don't get together. In retrospect out of three women she seems the one most suited to Indy but a series of events drift them apart and then by the time they meet again Indy is already seeing someone else. This second woman is Kate played by now famous actress Anne Heche who puts in a mesmerising and charming performance as a writer and poet. Kate is knowledgeable about life like Indy but would rather understandably spend time with her novelist/writer friends of the 'Algonquin Round Table' than go to White's notoriously sleazy productions. It's here that Henry Jones, Jr has to explain to them where his name 'Indiana' comes from which unsurprisingly gets a laugh from everyone. Kate represents the career orientated self made woman. She goes out to work and then invites writers/critics round for parties. The third woman is glamorous and rich Gloria. Actress Alexandra Powers is seductive in the role and plays up the comedy really well. Indy is taken in immediately. With too much money to spend as well as her awful taste in oysters and caviar she seems like the most obvious out of the three for Indy to stop seeing. Unfortunately as revealed in the second part of this story Gloria has got her father to come to the rescue in terms of money for the production of George White's Scandals. Things don't look good for Young Indiana.
The other cast members equally put in enjoyable performances. Tom Beckett is charming as composer George Gershwin. With cigar in one end of mouth and a big smile on his face Beckett presents Gershwin as a likable person struggling to get his ideas across to his colleague George White. Gershwin sees the potential in Indy and is the one to give him a chance while others won't. Christopher John Fields plays White as this bored and arrogant theatre director. He sees this Broadway production as his big chance to be seen as a legit theatre director. He favours his shallow girlfriend Ann Pennington (Michelle Nicastro) for the lead singer part in the production, not realizing the potential of Peggy. Other notable guest cast include Bill McKinney as the militaristic drunk Mack who barks out orders to Indy on a daily basis and Robert Trebor, always fun to watch playing White's long suffering accountant Schwarz. Jazz musician Sidney Bechet and singer Goldie Williams played again Jeffrey Wright and Maria Howell respectively also make cameos at the beginning of the episode.
My only real complaint about the first part of this story is that while we've become at this point used to hapless Indiana Jones how many relationships realistically can he have over the course of the series? I suppose love interest of the week is one of the demands of a weekly television series. It doesn't stop this story being fun to watch but the real fun is in the second part when White manages to get his show going. The stage is set and the show must go on (see what I did there?). Part 1 of 'The Scandal of 1920' is entertaining enough and the strong group of guest actors help bring atmosphere to the whole production but as you'll see the second part is where the Emmy Awards are really deserved.