Can Indy find the diamond before German treasure hunter Zyke does? Viewers may like to be aware that this was originally filmed as one of four TV movies to be shown as a proposed third season. The episode as a result of its revised format abandons the 90-year-old Indy segments along with the original opening intro. Although both parts were originally titled 'London/Egypt, November 1918' and 'South Pacific, January 1919' the TV movie has always called this story 'Treasure of the Peacock's Eye' and will be referred to as such throughout my review.
Reunited on the battlefield Indy and Remy discover a map on a dead traitor. As World War I comes to a close investigation shows that the map leads to the long lost diamond of the Peacock's Eye. Setting out on one last adventure together both find themselves targeted by a German treasure hunter who is also after the diamond of the Peacock. Willing to kill anyone who gets in his way Indy realizes he's not just in a race against time but also of life and death to find the precious stone before the treasure hunter does. But can he stay one step ahead of everyone else to become rich or end up having to give such a valuable stone over to a treasure seeker who'll kill him and his friend?
Please note due to the structure of this story this review will cover the first 45 minutes of the story. I'd like to start by saying that one of the reasons 'The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles' met with underwhelming viewing figures is because the public were disappointed with this translation of the fun, action adventure of the Harrison Ford movies to the world of television. Sure it met with critical success and won numerous Emmy Awards but the show never found an audience interested in it and that's why it got cancelled. Some viewers were rather critical of the series, critical of the show for lacking the excitement of the movies instead going for episodes of Indy learning morals and meeting real life figures that mostly had nothing to do with the treasure seeking fun we know Indiana Jones from. To be honest the Old Indy bookends combined with the out of order storytelling probably didn't help. Needless to say when some remember the show to this day comments such as 'boring' are often made. Why couldn't the TV series be like the films? Well that's not what Lucas and company designed the series to be. Right or wrong the end results are still spectacular. However the criticisms weren't lost on the writing team and with 'Treasure of the Peacock's Eye' we finally get an adventure that may not exactly match the films in terms of scale but writer Jule Selbo still makes a brave attempt to ape it.
Indy and Remy are finally reunited in the trenches. Remy is still as greedy as ever . still eating everything in sight), a theme running through this story. They find a map on a dead soldier and we finally get to see the end of World War I. Perhaps this means Indy won't have to keep being called Henri Defense? The map leads to a missing diamond and this is where the theme of greed comes in. Everyone is after the Peacock's Eye. The only person strangely that's indifferent to finding it is Indiana. I'm still trying to work out whether this is a good thing for the character or whether it takes away tension the story could have. German treasure seeker Zyke who instigates the whole plot in the first place is greedy enough that he'll backstab (maybe literally) his business colleagues to become rich. Played by Adrian Edmondson who British viewers may know as the ginger haired crazy one from 'The Young Ones' Zyke is a shady villain in the classic Indiana Jones style. It's a shame he doesn't last longer as he does a good job of looking shifty. Another person who has an ulterior motive in finding the diamond is his colleague Lily (Jayne Ashbourne), a young woman who puts greed before common sense although her intentions aren't made known until the second part of the story. Ashbourne does a perfectly fine job in the role. Beautiful and gorgeous she can go from charming to hysterically obsessed in under a minute. She's made her life by herself. For better or worse a self made woman although Indy learns later her self made life of greed will be her downfall. This TV movie also sees the return of Howard Carter from Indy's first adventure 'The Curse of the Jackal'. Carter once again played by Pip Torrens is on an archaeological dig and real life writer E. M. Forster (William Osbourne) is along to take account of his findings. On a more sad note this story sees the passing of Indiana's old mentor Helen Seymour. Margaret Tyzack always did an excellent job in the role bringing authority, common sense and humanity. Her death begins the road to Indy's eventual path to understanding that there's never enough time in one's life, we should make the most of it in doing what will have us happy. Director Carl Schultz gets the most out of the locations and it looks for a TV movie of the time quite epic. From the Bridge of the Sighs in England to the Wat Phra Si Sanphet Buddhist temple in Thailand to the movie style red line through the map sequences this slots in quite nicely with the Indiana Jones films.
The only issue with 'Treasure of the Peacock's Eye' is that either due to budget or it's own construction the film can't have the same scale as the movies it's trying to imitate. This TV movie lacks the supernatural aspects and booby traps that made the movies so exciting. Indy at one point does a vine swing which lasts about five seconds but that's about it. Even that stunt shows the limitations of the TV format. Viewers wanted to see 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' every week on a TV budget which would have been impossible and repetitive to achieve. In my opinion the re-edited 'The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles' on it's own terms does the Indiana Jones history justice. Although while 'Treasure of the Peacock's Eye' doesn't always succeed in duplicating the adventure of the movies it's still hugely entertaining in it's own right and allows us as the viewer to finally see a glimpse of the young man who will one day become Harrison Ford.