Revisiting Harrison Ford’s Forgotten ‘Indiana Jones’ TV Episode
Harrison Ford has played Indiana Jones for more than 40 years, establishing the archeologist as a legendary hero in the process. Often forgotten in his history portraying the character is a brief television appearance in 1993.
After the initial Indiana Jones trilogy – Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) – had come to a close, George Lucas decided to create a prequel television series designed around the character’s early adventures.
The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles debuted on ABC in 1992. Sean Patrick Flanery played the heroic archaeologist during his 20s, while George Hall often appeared as the 90-year-old version of Indy to serve as narrator and bookend the episodes.
The series had a decidedly family-friendly feel. Indy still engaged in hair-raising adventures, but he indirectly gave younger viewers a history lesson as he interacted with famous figures of the past.
Despite debuting with strong ratings and earning several Emmy Awards, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles suffered waning popularity by its second season. Desperate to revive public interest, producers were able to lure Ford back into his famous role for a single episode.
Watch Harrison Ford's Scenes From 'The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles'
Airing March 13, 1993, the episode "Young Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues" finds Ford (as Indy) hiding out in a snow-covered Wyoming cabin. He stumbles upon an old saxophone, which leads him to reminisce about his adventures in Prohibition-era Chicago.
The episode then goes into a flashback, leaving Ford behind. Indiana (now played by Flanery) learns jazz from Sidney Bechet, gets caught up in a murder investigation alongside his roommate, Eliot Ness and encounters a young freelance journalist at the Chicago Tribune named Ernest Hemingway. Several future-familiar faces appear in the episode, including Jane Krakowski (30 Rock, Ally McBeal, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Nicholas Turturro (Blue Bloods, NYPD Blue) and Frank Vincent (The Sopranos). Still, it’s Ford’s star power that steals the attention, even though he appears in only the opening and closing scenes that bookend the show. The actor’s appearance is also notably different than any other time he played Indy, as Ford sports a full beard that he’d grown for the film The Fugitive, which was shooting at the same time
Thanks to the star’s appearance, "Young Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues" gave the series a brief ratings boost. The episode saw an increase of more than 10 million viewers compared to the previous one, but the success was fleeting. With production costs high and viewership low, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles aired its final episode in July 1993 (though a few made-for-TV movies would follow).
Following the cameo, Ford wouldn’t don the fedora and bullwhip again until 2008 for the much-maligned fourth film of the franchise, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Interestingly, the actor’s brief 1993 return to Indiana Jones marked an incredibly rare occurrence: Ford’s appearance was his only scripted TV credit across more than 40 years (not counting voiceover work), a streak that ended in 2022 with his role in the drama 1923.