Album 29: Signed, Sealed and Committed

372: For Whom the Wedding Bells Toll, Part 1
373: For Whom the Wedding Bells Toll, Part 2
374: For Whom the Wedding Bells Toll, Part 3
375: The Pushover
376: Chores No More
377: Just Say Yes
378: The Painting
379: Best Face Forward
380: The One About Trust, Part 1
381: The One About Trust, Part 2
384: Amazing Grace
382: Viva La Difference



After a very long year and a half hiatus, AIO came back in full force with a big album full of interesting storylines.  It all began with a three-part episode to bring us back up to speed on what was happening in the lives of nearly every major AIO character.   It showed us the futures of Jack, Joanne, Whit, Tom, Margaret, Bart, Doris, Eugene, Katrina, and even Odyssey in general.  This wonderful episode contained so many storylines and yet it managed to keep up the suspense of tying them all done until the last five minutes.  When it was over, it set the stage for dozens of potential projects and interesting directions.  Jack and Joanne's marriage, Eugene and Katrina's future, Margaret Faye as a new mayor, among others.  Also notable on this episode is its interesting cutting style.  Most AIOs use music as a transition from scene to scene.  This episode usually cuts directly from one scene to another.

Then, as nearly always happens with AIO, after a major episode that updates us on all current storylines, we drift back into "normal" episodes.  This happens with The Pushover, Chores No More, and Best Face Forward.  While all are "good" episodes, only Chores No More stands out as funny and very entertaining.   Best Face Forward is a little average and The Pushover is very disappointing coming from Marshal Younger.  All of his normal wit and emotions are lacking.  Amazing Grace is the first "historical" episode in the new Odyssey and it does a good job of explaining things few of us knew before.  It also continued a growing trend in AIO to have the story told from the perspective of a character.

The Painting is a very well-crafted mystery story with real suspense that does not come from action.  The characters ask the questions we want to know.  They don't follow leads that are silly.  They act like the very intelligent people that they are and draw us in instantly so that we are very interested in the fitting conclusion comes around.  The One About Trust has a lot of unexpected things happening all through it.   Many of the things we have come to believe about Odyssey are put to the test.   It's another wonderful episode and also one that finally focuses on Connie, who often seems left out.  The final scenes with Connie and Whit are very powerful emotionally and perfectly acted.

Just Say Yes and Viva La Difference introduced us to the Mulligan family.  It seems obvious that the Mulligans are the replacements to the Barclay family as the central AIO family, the one we check in every five episodes or so.  The main difference between the two families is that the Barclay family was a pretty normal family; it was one who many listeners could relate to easily.  They were a two-kid family with one boy and one girl.  The mother worked at home until the father lost his job and she had to work.  The father trained to be a minister and they had a baby boy.  Sounds pretty typical, eh?  Not only that, but many of the arguments that the family had sounded JUST LIKE my family.  The Mulligans on the other hand have a blind daughter, an adopted teenager, a pair of adopted twins, and another adopted boy.  They also have a small zoo in their backyard.  Not that any of this is bad, mind you.  It is just harder to relate to the Mulligans than it was to the Barclays.  Overall these are good episodes, just not as good as the Barclay episodes. One quibble was that in a few spots they relied too much on action that was a little difficult to portray only on the audio medium such as the cougar confrontation or the ostrich attack.

I still don't think that AIO has fully explored having Margaret as mayor.  The only real thing she has done is try to stop the Timothy Center (vol. 31).  Maybe something more drastic is coming.  Overall a good "re-introduction" and new beginning to Odyssey.  Interesting characters were established and all kinds of new storylines were created.

Favorite Episode: The Painting

Rating: 3 1/2 stars

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