|1: Whit's Flop|
Most series would steer clear of beginning with an episode about failure, but not AIO! When compared to any of the newer episodes, this one, like some of the other "early" ones, has nowhere to stand. Not only the technical quality, but the story originality and timing, are not even close to achieving the standard set in, say, post 1991. However, judged on its own and trying to pretend that it is 1987 and this is one of the few family radio broadcasts around the episode appears in a better light. As a radio series with no past, the series had to begin somewhere. Personally, I would have rather seen AIO begin on a grander note, but perhaps that was not the point. To begin with a simple little episode at Whit's End with Whit solving a "small" problem was probably intentional to show that the series was supposed to relate to real life. An everyday incident for everyday people. But where would AIO be if Blackgaard was around back in the early days? All things considered, however, some parts of this episode are still hard to listen to and "looking back" we can't give the earlier episodes any help just because they were the beginning.
Rating: 1 1/2 stars
|4: Connie Comes To Town|
Connie's introduction to Odyssey, again, like many things in early Odyssey is rather low-key. (Compare her entrance to Jason Whittaker's or Jack Allen's or even Eugene's.) However, the character of Connie herself was a spectacular addition to Odyssey. Her upbeat zippy personality has added to the show in countless ways (and added even further with the introduction of her counterpart, Eugene.). Through the entire episode (and for years to come), Connie shines as a superb character, a great counterpart and addition to Whit. The dilemma is a little more lackluster in this episode, but it is appropriate for Connie. I'm not exactly sure that I agree with Whit that Connie should skip her trip to California just because she made an off-hand comment to Bobby. Was this really the best way to show contentment, having a character be forced to choose between living with one parent or another over the chance of hurting someone's feelings. Overall, a wonderful character addition to AIO, surrounded by a slightly less than wonderful story.
Rating: 2 1/2 stars
|5: Gifts for Madge and Guy|
Ah! This is my favorite AIO episode in album 1. I think that this is the first time that the writers were truly "liberated" from their creative bonds and simply made an all-out crazy and hilariously funny episode, and yet one which still had a strong central message about giving everything for another person. Gleefully using O'Henry's story of the The Gift of the Magi, this great episode has some genuinely funny and original humor throughout. Gags are played not just once, but twice or three times and each time they work. I've always thought that Guy seemed to be a forerunner of a later Will Ryan character, Eugene. Truly a wonderful episode that set up AIO as a series which could tell a good comedy just as well as a good drama.
Rating: 4 stars