Collections
Album 34: In Your Wildest Dreams

Episodes:

437: Sunset Bowlawater/The Long Way Home (Split)
438a: The Lyin' Tale
/ 442a: Two Roads
440: I Slap Floor
441: What Do You Think? / Idol Minds (Split)
444b: The Bad Guy (Split) / ???: Bethany's Flood
443: Changing Rodney
445: No Boundaries
446: A Matter of Manners/The Seven Deadly Dwarves (Split)
447: Potlucks and Poetry
448: Mandy's Debut (It's All My Fault/I'll Do It My Way) (Split)
422: Passages, Part 1
423: Passages, Part 2


Review:

There comes a time in almost every series where things drag. Problems come up, writing gets stale, fans loose interest somewhat, and the stories go downhill. That time has come for Adventures in Odyssey. The Spring 2000 season represented the culmination of what I believe to be the lowest period in Odyssey history since near the very beginning. Iíd have to say that this is the weakest album since way back around Album 4, and back then they were just learning how to do a dramatic series.

I think the primary problem with this period in Odyssey history is the philosophy behind it. We heard way back before the fall season that the writers/producers thought the series was getting too "serious" and should be more light and funny. I couldnít have disagreed more and said so at the time, but little did I realize that they would make the series nearly complete "fluff" for most of the episodes produced. Split episodes, weak or non-existent storylines, shallow characters, and lack of engaging stories for older listeners have all been a result of the decision to entirely focus on kids.

The irony of the decision to "focus on kids" is that I believe that more than anything it has driven kids away. There is only way to do VeggieTales and thatís VeggieTales. Anything else is just a dim reflection on that score. Adventures in Odyssey has and hopefully always will be an entirely different genre than VeggieTales and it worked for twelve years. Why a radical change in direction? Why an abandonment of everything that kept the series afloat for so long? I know many of the kids in the target age range for Odyssey and they love the action, the storylines, and even some of the more serious episodes. What sources of secular entertainment are popular with kids in that age range? Pokemon trading cards (some thinking involved), Disney movies (adult characters, romance, storylines), and Saturday morning cartoons (action galore). Iím not saying that Odyssey should cater to exactly what the secular market is feeding todayís children, but I am saying that it needs to take it into account. If some form of entertainment is very popular with kids, there must be a reason. VeggieTales is popular for its fun energy and off-beat humor. And Adventures in Odyssey is popular for its own reasons.

So far this "album review" has been more of a rant than a review, so Iíll at least get on to that. Some of the worst episodes on the album are so because they simply donít belong in Odyssey. The characters are miscast and written for zombies that walk around pretending to be long-term characters. Idol Minds features the epitome of this as Whit, Connie, and Eugene are kidnapped from a parallel universe and hijacked into Whitís End for a strange lesson about Whitís seeming divinity. The Bad Guy and A Matter of Manners feature the new and improved "mean Whit" and canít tell much of a story, anyway. And Two Roads shows the breaking down of an AIO pillar with its poor use of "The Twilife Zone".

Other episodes were based on some wacky ideas, but couldnít really find a place in the "reality-based" Odyssey. These included Sunset Bowlawater, Seven Deadly Dwarves, and Bethanyís Flood. There were episodes that could have been great if they were just developed a bit more (What Do You Think?) and there was one episode that just didnít really have much of a original idea to begin with (The Long Way Home).

There are bright spots on the album, like every cloud and its proverbial silver lining. No Boundaries, Potlucks and Poetry, and Changing Rodney featured some great discussion starters and had some stunning performances in the process (Alex Jefferson, the Shepard girls). Mandyís Debut was a fun jaunt into a live show, with any inconsistencies explained by the fact that the two plays were written by a ten year old girl. Passages was an epic story in the grand tradition of Odyssey adventuresósuperior in music, production values, and intriguing story. The only thing I still donít understand about this episode is its mysterious distinction as a "special presentation" rather than a regular episode. And then thereís I Slap Floor, the ultimate fan treat, and Marshal Youngerís masterpiece parody of Adventure in Odyssey. These episodes manage to rescue this album from obscurity and hopefully will point the way to a more enjoyable fall season.

Favorite Episode: I Slap Floor

Rating: 2 stars

Notes:

The album versions of episodes does not contain the AIO short skits that appeared in the broadcast versions.

This is the pre-release version of the album cover.

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