Frank Darabont pens Indy’s (Sean Patrick Flanery) adventures this week when he encounters The Phantom Train of Doom. Originally broadcast as a television movie on 5 June 1993, this story sees Indy, with his friend Remy (Ronny Coutteure) returning to Africa, where they are promoted to lieutenant.
The episode begins with the running gag that Indy is always running to catch the train as it is leaving. Course, they also end up in the wrong place and find themselves in a new adventure.
They end up joining up with a group of elderly soldiers, including big game hunter Selous (Paul Freeman making a return appearance). Their mission is to stop a giant German rail gun, but it seems all of the odds are stacked against them.
Indy is less than enthused by the mission when he first gets shanghaied into it, but soon he gets caught up in it, and the tale rockets along, set against the beautiful African backdrop.
It’s a great story, featuring some fun performances, including Freddie Jones, and the story is fun and involving, even as the German train disappears right before their eyes.
It’s fun watching these older men show Indiana a thing or two, and Darabont handles the characters nicely, and this Indy is very much recognisably the character he will become, or rather you can see the connective tissue that is going to make Indy the character he becomes.
Course, just because the train is taken care of doesn’t mean that Indy and Remy are going to get back to the Belgian army unscathed or without further adventures.
In fact, the train is taken care of fairly quickly, and Indy gets lassoed into another mission on their way back to their army. And of course, there’s a pretty girl involved, a German messenger and pilot named Margaret (Lynsey Baxter).
There are some great sequences and fun moments, including a fist fight as Indy hangs from a hot air balloon with a captured German colonel (Tom Bell), which leads to a full out chase involving the German army. In fact this one feels like a nice bridge between the adventures and the history that the series and the character has tried to do since its beginning.
The pacing, the story, the excitement all of it works, and you can also see the continually developing special effects that series creator George Lucas and producer Rick McCallum would use with the Star Wars prequels.
This one is a great little story, which is good, because the next story takes us back to the true horror of war as Remy and Indy continue their service in Africa in Oganga, the Giver and Taker of Life.