Album 20: A Journey of Choices

263: When Bad Isn't So Good
264: Making the Grade
269: Fences
261: Afraid, Not!
268: Pet Peeves
265: War of the Words
270: The War Hero
271: The Secret Keys of Discipline
272: Two Brothers...and Bernard, Part 1
273: Two Brothers...and Bernard, Part 2
266: It Began with a Rabbit's Foot...
267: ...It Ended with a Handshake


After all of the "event" episodes of the last album, this album dealt far more on "normal" AIO episodes with regulars kids in regular situations.   This results in some good episodes, but unfortunately some of them feel very routine and unoriginal.

The good "normal" episodes of the album begin with When Bad Isn't So Good, which confronts an issue that often troubled me (and continues to trouble me at times) and gives it a satisfactory conclusion.  The Secret Keys of Discipline is a pretty good episode, but in general feels likes it has been done before.  Have we heard the formula?  You have to practice to get it right.  War of the Words is an interesting spin on the use of bad language, particularly when you see that episode speaks about the subject without actually saying any bad words.

The not-so-good "normal" episodes comprise about an equal amount of the volume.  I thought that Making the Grade was unnecessarily depressive and didn't really a valuable message other than "you need to do your work." In fact, the episode is very similar to The Secret Keys of Discipline, which was better done.   Fences deals with very similar issues to Father's Day, with basically the same conclusions.  Also, I thought the object lesson with Mr. Mitchell was pretty silly.  Next, Afraid, Not! is another AIO showing you how not to be afraid, which was not very original or especially well-handled.

The best episodes of the series come towards the end.  The War Hero is touching story with a twist.  It's rare to hear stories with fractured heroes like this one.   All of the scenes in the "inner" story are well scripted, well acted, and contain wonderful sound effects.  Perhaps AIOs best "war" episode.   Two Brothers...and Bernard presents another Biblical story narrated by Bernard and is a good one at that, though not Bernard's best and certainly not up to Bernard & Esther standard.

The final two episodes really advance the main AIO storyline of the time: Eugene and Katrina.  (Do you notice that back here in the albums before number 21, there were only a few major storylines?  After 21, there are storylines floating around everywhere!)  Both episodes advance their characters and the surrounding characters.   We also get to relive the creation of the Bible room and meet Fred Holstein.

Favorite Episode: The War Hero

Rating: 2 1/2 stars

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