APRIL 2000

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A Special Announcement about Me

April 30, 2000—Nathan Hoobler, the webmaster of AIOHQ, will be working as an intern with Adventures in Odyssey this summer. I’m very excited about this opportunity to work with the people I’ve admired for many years. My first day will be May 11, 2000. I’ll be going to the last two days of the writer’s meetings/strategy sessions at Focus on the Family.

While I’m not sure exactly what I’ll be doing as an intern, I may be working on the AIO website, working on the Odyssey Writer’s Bible (Marshal Younger and John Beebee’s epic work), and possibly helping with some of the scripting ideas for the fall season

Official Site Updates

April 28, 2000

The Official AIO site has updated with a script of the AIO episode A Class Act which includes a few bits cut from the release version. (Boy, I wonder where they got that idea...)

The official site also gives a theme of "Career Moves" as "Discernment in internet use", perhaps left over from an earlier pairing of The Bad Guy with "The Hoaxs on You."

Order Ben-Hur from Radio Theatre

Focus on the Family is now offering the Radio Theatre drama Ben-Hur on both cassette and compact disc.  It is based on the extremely popular fiction story by Lew Wallace.

Order on CD from FOTF
Order on cassette from FOTF
Order on CD from CBD
Order on cassette from CBD
on the CD
on the cassette

Another Schedule Change

April 23, 2000—The Official AIO site announced that the episode "No Boundaries" will be airing on May 6, 2000.  This is presumably to replace "Changing Rodney" (originally scheduled for that day), which was moved to April 22 to replace "Turning Paige."

The Official Site Launches...Here's my take

Official AIO Site Link

April 1, 2000 — The official AIO site opened today.  Here are some of the highlights along with my commentary:

Kids Radio — A look at the upcoming schedule for the next two weeks of Radio Shows...nothing too new here.
Soda Shop — A site poll and some copied sections from the Complete Guide, and a revamped Odyssey Store section of the Focus on the Family Resources portion...again, nothing new.
Imagination Station — A couple cool Shockwave games to play.  There are three more that say "coming soon."
Little Theater — A mixed bag of "behind the scenes" and downloadables
Sights Around Town — A decent screen-saver and some images of the Odyssey gang
Sound Effects — A few nice Odyssey effects that really should be RealAudio files so they don't take so long to download.
Backstage Pass — One of my favorite parts of the site
Meet the Cast — Mainly material from the Complete Guide with the exception of a cool cartoon of Chris Anthony and some comments by Walker Edmiston
Read a Script — Download the "You Win Some, You Lose Some" script in Adobe Acrobat format.  A great feature.  I'd love to see a few more.
Wonder World — This section of the site isn't finished, but there will some sort of "Kids Club" here.
Library — Far and away the largest part of the site, but also a bit hard to navigate.
Radio Shows — A listing for every Odyssey show.  Each listing contains a theme, episode number, writer listing, scripture reference, album, orginal air date, episode summary, and discussion questions.  For some reason, the production engineers (who have just as much to do with the success of episodes as the writers) are completely left out of the web site so far.  The pre-1997 episodes are basically duplicates to information in the Complete Guide (including the same mistakes).  Another note is that many of the post-1996 episodes seem to have the wrong scripture references.  You can search through this database by:
Writer — This page has some wonderful cartoons of the main three AIO writers and their biographies.  However, it also shows one of the major weaknesses with the database setup.  When you click on an author to see their list of episode, you see the first twenty they wrote and then have to click "next" to see the next twenty and so forth.  For the two guys who have written over 150 episodes, this means eight clicks to look through all the episodes.  There is no option to "show all episodes."
Year (Original Airdate) — This part of the database listing is fine and helpful accept that the years 1997 through 2000 have some misplaced episodes.
Main Characters — This section contains biographies of a few of the main characters of Odyssey, though I haven't a clue why Rodney (who appears in 36 episodes) was included and Tom Riley (96) or Jack Allen (59) weren't included.  I can only assume they are still coming.  These section shows the major problem with the database setup again.  To see Whit's full character listing, you must click "next" 15 times.
Albums — This is a nice (boy, it's familiar from somewhere) section of the site, but it has it's problems, too.  When you click on the initial album page, you must wait for 34 album covers to download.  Additionally there is no mention of the "Classics" albums (aside from "Welcome to Odyssey."  The bigger problem with this section comes in the Album listings themselves.  When you open an album listing and click on an episode, the episode listing comes up.  Great.  But then when you click on the Album button in the Episode listing, it takes you to the link to order the album.  The album episode listing and ordering information should be integrated into one place to make it a bit less confusing.
 Books — Listing of the AIO story books.
Novels — Very short summaries of the "classic series" of books, with ordering links
Passages — Very short summaries of the Passages books, but, unfortunately, without ordering links.
Videos — Listings on each of the 13 videos in the original series, but no information yet about the new ones.
Etc.  — This "picture frame" on the site doesn't have a name, but seems to be where they put stuff they don't know where else to put.
Timeline — The early history of AIO from the Complete Guide.
Parent's Page — Sort of an introduction to the radio series.
History — Some articles from the front of the Complete Guide.
Meet the Characters — This section feels way out of place here.  But it contains some biographies of the main characters of the AIO audio series and video series, though it doesn't distinguish between the two.  (And we know from "I Slap Floor" that the writers of the audio series do not think of the two series as one.)

Overall, I think that the opening of the Official site was an excellent first step.  It's already far better than many official sites and thankfully, it didn't focus entirely on the video series.  The graphics look very good and the roll-overs are fun.  The site still crashed my browser pretty often, but I'm sure they'll work that out.  

My main suggestions would be to fix a few of the annoyances of the database setup and add things that some more grown-up fans really want to see.  Throw some RealAudio clips of the writers up there.  Have some "Behind the Scenes" features.  Give some more detailed information on Odyssey merchandise such as the devotion book coming out.  

One other request.  Since most Odyssey fans will be interested in checking the site just about daily, make a page of "recent updates" so people can see what's new each time they enter instead of having to search the site each time.  Overall, kudos to the website staff for a good start. 

Changes to the Spring 2000 Season

April 1, 2000 —According to the Official AIO Site, the following changes have been made to the Spring Season line-up:

"The Bad Guy/Bethany's Flood" is not airing in the foreseeable future.  It's original airdate was March 25.  It's likely this episode is "lost forever."
"Changing Rodney," an episode that originally was scheduled to air May 6, will be airing on April 22 instead, replacing "Turning Paige."  It's unknown if "Turning Paige" will air.
"Seven Deadly Dwaves" has either changed its name to or been replaced by "The Hoax's on You," as the episode airing with "Career Moves" on April 29.  This means we will now have AIO episodes named The Jokes On You and "The Hoax's on You."
See the April Radio Schedule.
UPDATE — April 11, 2000: The Official Site reports that "The Bad Guy" will be airing on April 29 with "Career Moves," which up to this point has been reported as being paired with both "Seven Deadly Dwarves" and "The Hoax's on You." 

Adventures in Odyssey is a presentation of Focus on the Family.  All characters and episodes are copyrighted by FOTF.  This site is not in any way affiliated with Focus on the Family.