Trends in AIO Internet Fandom

Back to Jaw About Odyssey

by Nathan Hoobler

When a franchise goes beyond having fans who just praise the series constantly and actually think about what they donít like, it's achieved something special.  As Christians, it's sometimes easy to ignore the entertainment value of our entertainment.  (And as strange as that sentence sounds, it may ring true for some.)  Some Christians forsake entertainment in their media for the sake of just being wholesome. However, what's been shown again and again is that the most popular Christian entertainment is the stuff that's well done AND wholesome.  Adventures in Odyssey has reached the point where it has informed critics.  And informed critics help fans, help the writers, and help the series in general. 

AIO fans are a vocal bunch.  The program has encouraged listeners to voice their opinion from the beginning and have they ever.  The letters from Odyssey writers pour into Focus on the Family, while other fans voice their opinions on the Internet.  While nearly always praising the series, many are frank about what they like and don't like.  

Why the writers love having "Internet fans"

In the real world, we usually get instant feedback from our actions.  If we make a joke, people will laugh.  If we make a somewhat reckless traffic decision, we may hear about it through the relentless honking of a horn.  If you're performing a live drama, you can usually tell by audience reaction just how well your work is coming off.  Even in the motion picture industry, movie-makers can gauge their financial success by the weekend box office tallies and their artistic success from reading the various critical responses.  With a radio series like Adventures in Odyssey, it was a lot harder to tell how fans in general were reacting to an episode.  Sure, you'd get feedback via the mail, but that usually came sometime after the episode and it was often only from people who really liked it or really didn't.  At least it was difficult until the origin of Internet fans.

Over the last couple seasons, the writers, producers, and production engineers have been able to get nearly instant feedback from fans via the various reviews, message boards, and websites of fans on the Internet.  I can't speak for all the writers, but I know that if I were writing an episode, one of the things that I would want the most is a gauge of the reaction to it.  Internet fans provide the quickest way to see what people think of what you've created. 

Internet fans have heard every episode

And it wasn't just "guy on the street" opinions either!  The typical Internet fan has heard pretty much every episode and read through the Complete Guide.  This isn't to say that there aren't fans out there who haven't heard them all or certainly not to say that you're not a "real fan" if you don't do such and such.  But unlike fans of some other series, the most vocal and adoring fans of AIO are typically the ones who are also the most critical.  They care about the series so much that they feel it's necessary to "keep it in line."

Internet fans have helped the series

Having fans keeping watch on the series is a definite plus.  For one thing, there's no doubt that the Internet has influenced the storylines of the show with the proliferation of "web-savvy" characters showing up and websites and e-mail being talked about at length.  But more importantly, AIO writers are more careful in their writing when they know how the Internet fans will react to it.  Writing a script has always meant being careful with your facts but having people out there who are actively looking for errors meaning being extra careful.

So what do AIO fans like?  Well...

AIO Internet Fans In General

They Like:

They Don't:

Eugene and Katrina getting married A long, drawn-out seemingly never-to-end engagement 
The Barclay family The Mulligan family
"Gifts for Madge and Guy" "The Seven Deadly Dwarves"
The caring, gentle Mr. Whittaker The gruff, kick-em-outta Whit's End Mr. Whittaker
Richard Maxwell Liz
The Twilife Zone Episodes pretending to be "The Twilife Zone"
The Last Days of Eugene Meltsner The Knight Travelers
The "classic" Odyssey kids The new Odyssey kids
Storylines Unresolved questions
The Blackgaard saga "Blackgaard's Revenge"
Developing characters Shallow one-dimensional characters
A plot/B plot episodes ("Top This!") Split episodes ("Where There's Smoke/The Virtual Kid")
"The Time Has Come" "Idol Minds"
Connie and Eugene "Idol Minds"
John Avery Whittaker "Idol Minds"
Characters reappearing Characters disappearing
Episode references Cliffhangers that keep hanging
Real information Like/Don't like lists