“Before the world discovered Indiana, Indiana discovered the world.” Back in 1992, those words introduced audiences to Lucasfilm’s newest television series, The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones (known at the time as The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles). Today, this one-of-a-kind story is available once again on Disney+. As it meets a new audience, let’s peel back the curtain on one of George Lucas’ passion projects.
After completing Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) in partnership with director Steven Spielberg and actor Harrison Ford, Lucasfilm was venturing into live-action television. The company’s first project, Maniac Mansion (an adaptation of a popular Lucasfilm computer game), aired on The Family Channel in 1990.
George Lucas was also passionate about education. Committed to experimenting with alternative forms of classroom study, the Lucasfilm Learning division helped innovate new technology, including partnering with Apple Computer to bring their machines into schools. Lucas was also interested, however, in using storytelling itself as a learning tool.
The Last Crusade had featured a memorable prologue where actor River Phoenix portrayed a teenaged Indiana Jones. Joining this concept with his educational interest, Lucas devised the idea for a television series involving young Indy’s adventures around the world, from boyhood to young adulthood. In each episode, he would encounter historical figures inspired by their true-life counterparts, witnessing and participating in events that have shaped the culture, politics, science, and philosophy of our world today.
Lucas himself had been inspired to learn about the past by reading narrative history books when he was a child. Young Indy would be a new spark of curiosity for another generation, with all the fun and entertainment value of a Lucasfilm production.