|Album 35: The Big Picture|
Episodes:449: The Big Deal, Part 1
450: The Big Deal, Part 2
451: Life Trials of the Rich and Famous
452: Missionary: Impossible
453: The Great Wishy Woz, Part 1
454: The Great Wishy Woz, Part 2
455: Best Laid Plans
456: Worst Day Ever
457: Opportunity Knocks
458: Red Herring
459: Slumber Party
460: Nova Rising
The first episode is a great Bible story. Great acting, music, great writing, etc. come together to form a wonderful epic Bible story. One of the things that really make this episode stand out is that it is first 'event' episode since 422-423: Passages, I & II. Everything since, with the exception of 424-425: Blackgaard's Revenge, I & II, has been fluff. Sure, we had an occasional good episode but they've all been slice of life. No history or Bible shows. No 'epic' stories that could stand on their own apart from the series. The Big Deal does just that. It does seem obvious that Aubrey is the new challenger, the unbeliever who refuses to swallow what everyone tells her. She's very much like Connie was before she became a Christian. I think this could turn into an interesting storyline.
Life Trials of the Rich and Famous, Worst Day Ever, and Slumber Party are all good episodes dealing with average characters and average stories. Some of the best slice of life episodes in a very long time. Slumber Party is very funny and features what could be the last time we'll hear from David Straussberg.
Missionary: Impossible and Best Laid Plans let us hear from Jason Whitaker, who seemed to have fallen off the face of the earth after 406-408: Malachi's Message, I-III. We find out he HAS been doing missions work. Best Laid Plans introduces the Timothy Center as something more than just another place for Aubrey to hang out. They actually have a real event take place at the Timothy Center, something that had only been mentioned before. Even better, it's a retreat for the kids in Connellsville. If you'll remember, it was some kids visiting from Connellsville that showed Tom the need for the Timothy Center.
Opportunity Knocks, Red Herring, and Nova Rising are the introduction to the NovaCom storyline. Opportunity Knocks was a good episode, introducing Arthur Dent, the tower on Tom's property, and Whit's uneasiness about NovaCom. Red Herring has a really great mystery/intrigue feel to it. Nova Rising on the other hand was a completely pointless. It didn't further the NovaCom storyline at all, though it was well written and well produced. All it seems to do is clarify, in case there was any doubt, that NovaCom is bad. What's to be learned from NovaCom buying BTV and then selling it back to Bernard and hiring then firing Cal and Alex? It is the weakest on the album, though not a bad episode overall.
The best episode in the album is The Great Wishy Woz. It is the first non-Christmas musical in the history of AIO. It's a great spoof of The Wizard of Oz, including a lot of nods and jokes. It is also an episode that fans are split over. Many really like this episode, but some find it quite annoying. I personally enjoy it immensely. The music is superb, the characters are hilarious, and the last scene is one of the most moving in AIO history. There are a few corny parts to it, but those parts don't tarnish the fun of the rest of the episode. This episode also continues the idea of Mandy writing plays that was introduced in Mandy's Debut.
The biggest gripe with the album is the complete and total absence of Eugene. He is mentioned in Red Herring, but that's it. As many people know, Will Ryan left AIO for a time, and this was the first album in which he didn't appear. Eugene's absence would be explained in upcoming episodes, but for now he's just not there. I do think, even with the absence of Will Ryan, the AIO team could have given the illusion of Eugene's presence with an episode like BTV: Redeeming the Season, BTV: Grace, or BTV: Obedience (by including some of the skits from the previous season that featured Eugene). The quality of the first two is slightly less than the episodes included on this album, which is probably why the team didn't include them, but that's not such a big deal. It would have been worth hearing from Eugene to have one of these episodes in this album.
This album includes everything we've missed the last two albums. A Bible story, a KYDS radio broadcast, an Imagination Station ride, the introduction of a storyline, the continuation of old storylines, introduction of new characters, and check-ins with some familiar characters.
Favorite Episode: The Great Wishy
Rating: 3 1/2 stars
Contained the beginnings of the Novacom saga.
GOOF ALERT: The summary for "Best Laid Plans" uses the word "supercede." The word is actually spelled "superSede." (Contributed by Ben Lou)The pre-release version of the cover is shown at left.
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