|Album 24: Risks and Rewards|
Episodes:307: Poetry in Slow Motion
308: Subject Yourself
312: Rewards in Full
313: Top This!
314: The Underground Railroad, Part 1
315: The Underground Railroad, Part 2
316: The Underground Railroad, Part 3
317: B-TV: Envy
318: A Touch of Healing, Part 1
319: A Touch of Healing, Part 2
320: Where is Thy Sting?
322: The Turning Point
This is one of the most emotional albums in AIO canon, and possibly the best one of all. More than half of the episodes are the type to make the eyes wet, and all are perfectly done.
The album begins with a few episodes that seem to show that AIO remembers it is a kids show and should show normal kids doing normal things for a few episodes. (This isn't an objection, rather it helps the series and gives it variety to focus on kids and adults.) Poetry in Slow Motion and Rewards in Full are the two most "standard" episodes in the set, but both are very well put together and brought off, with careful dialog and good conclusions. Subject Yourself is a seemingly more important episode that shows when it is right to stand up to authority and answers questions I have wondered about myself.
Top This! is a hilariously funny episode as Bryan Dern takes over his radio station. It truly is inspired comedy and livens up the album before its many emotional episodes. BTV: Envy is surrounded on both sides by "important" material, but is an excellent episodes with two especially good skits (the David one and the NVPD one).
Now we come to the seven "big" episodes. The Underground Railroad is arguably the biggest project AIO ever undertook and the results are wonderful. These three episodes could stand on their own as a radio drama even if they weren't attached to Adventures in Odyssey. They have well-developed characters, great sound effects, and an emotional and original storyline that leads to a teary-eyed conclusion. They also started a major trend in AIO to have stories told from the perspective of a character rather than to have an Imagination Station adventures. Some have argued that Imagination Station adventures confuse some children who listen to them. They associate the children in the adventure with the actual story. In other words, there may be some out there who think Digger Digwillow was actually at the cross. They may not know which parts of the story are made up and which parts are actually in the Bible or part of history. Having a character tell the story avoids this. (Although since this episode is fictional, it doesn't play as big of a role.)
A Touch of Healing is also one of my favorite episodes, not due to Connie and June's part of it (although that part is very good as well), but for the intense idea. What if you could imagine walking again after not being able to walk for so long. What if a machine could help you imagine that and then the whole experience was taken away from you and you were told that you would never be able to experience it again. I sympathize immensely with Zach in these episodes. We who are able to walk really cannot imagine the incredible pain (emotional and physical) a character like this had to go through. To have experienced this joy for only a few minutes, and then have it crushed? Just the thought makes me want to cry.
The final two episodes deal with important stories. Death seems to be a popular topic with many television programs, but none of them handle it as well as AIO. We see how various people react to death and how Christians should react. June Kendall's salvation is finally assured. Then the ending of the emotionally tumultuous Turning Point, we find that the couple we listened to for so long was breaking up.
All of the episodes in the album are well done technically. AIO had reached such a high plane as far as technical quality went by this time, that I rarely thought about the sound effects since they are so well done. They envelop the listener perfectly into the story and never let them out until its done. If you close your eyes and listen to the episodes, you can probably "see" what's happening more clearly than you ever could on any video.
Favorite Episode: The Underground Railroad
Rating: 4 stars
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