|254: Truth, Trivia, & 'Trina|
This is an important episode because of the introduction of Katrina. This episode also shows that Eugene is actually a male, and can find a girl "interesting".
Okay. As I was listening to the episode Truth Trivia &
Trina, it got me to thinking about several things. The main one (which most
of you probably have already guessed) is of course, why haven’t E&K gotten
To many of us it may seem that E&K have been going
back and forth in their relationship forever. Well the truth of the matter is....they
have. Truth, Trivia & Trina first aired on Jan. 8, 1994. Since then we’ve
seen them: Like each other, go to “just being friends”, end up ending the relationship,
try to patch things up, break up again, get engaged, and talk about eloping.
I’ve never seen such a roller-coaster in my life. But I
have to admit, the E&K relationship has kept me on my toes. I never know
exactly what to expect when they’re together. Although I, as many of you do,
want E&K to get married, I have to remember that it probably won’t happen....AIO
is for “children” ages 8-12 after all.
Well this is just my out look on the E&K relationship.
Rating: 4 1/2 stars (out of five)
Aloha, Oy!, Part 1
257: Aloha, Oy!, Part 2
258: Aloha, Oy!, Part 3
A hilarious multipart series. Adds to the Barclays and Rathbones characters.
|259: The Potential in Elliot|
Nice episode, and very well done. Neat way to tell kids that giving up is the wrong way to go.
|260: Naturally, I Assumed...|
Very funny episode. Humorous way of teaching an important lesson. Also helps in developing Eugene and Katrinas relationship.
|262: A Prayer for George Barclay|
SPOILER WARNING! Unless you are new or something, you probably know that George is a preacher. This is the episode where he announces that calling.
|265: War of the Words|
War of the Words was Hal Smith's last episode to be recorded. It is a pretty normal episode, but well-done and well-written. The only problem that I had with the episode was that it seemed "shallow" and didnt have as much substance as other episodes. The reason probably is that the story itself lasts only about sixteen minutes and the entire episode lasts about twenty-one, far shorter than the usual twenty-six.
The episode is about using bad words and yet it never says a bad word. Marshal Younger was clever in inventing words that could be bad words in the right context.
The episode deals mainly with Charles and Henry, who happen to overhear Connie and Eugene arguing and hear Eugene use the word maladroit. Both Charles and Henry confuse the word to be "milajoit" and think the word is bad word. Much of the rest of the episode follows as the word spreads over the school until finally the boys are reprimanded by a teacher and their parents are called. Both Charles and Henry are good in this episode and seem to act like normal kids. As sometimes happens in AIO, the two children are better actors than the adult librarian.
The scenes include the ones between Connie and Eugene are good ones. They seem very "natural" in their arguments, no doubt because they used to doing them so often. Eugenes line and laugh about re-calibrating his barometer is funny. However, the best scene of the show comes with Whit at the Thomas house. His emotional reaction to realizing that parents are keeping children from his shop is heart-breaking.
A good episode overall, just a little on the short side.
Rating: 3 stars
|267: ...It Ended with a Handshake|
Occasionally I will listen to an episode and get something entirely different out of it than the previous times that I've heard it. Sometimes I'll enjoy the episode a lot more (this happened recently with Gloobers) or sometimes I'll hear the episode and see that it is an absolute classic. This happened recently with the episode of the week. It is rare for the writing, the acting, the direction, the sound design, and the music to come together so perfectly as they did on this episode. An excellent blending of Odyssey characters into the relationship of Eugene and Katrina, this show has one of my all time favorite scenes, the "I left Katrina in my laptop" scene. The sound design is so well done, the performance so convincing, and the music so perfect, the scene is one of the few that I have to rewind and listen to a few times every time I hear the episode. Other classic scenes include the one where Bernard brings his computer to Connie and the one where Connie tells Eugene that Katrina has his disk.
Rating: 4 stars
|268: Pet Peeves|
This ep didn’t quite make my top ten list, for various
reasons, however it does make the runners up list.
Donna falls in love with a mangy mutt that she sees at
Whit’s End. She wants it really bad and despite the fact that he doesn't like
it, George lets her take the dog. The next few days are nothing but misery for
the Barclay family as their newest member tears everything up during the day
and keeps everyone up all through the night. Donna tells Connie that she thought
having a dog would make her family “normal” but she was finding that to be anything
but. Connie talks with her and gets her to see that basically, “normal” is a
stereotype....whatever a person is accustom to is “normal”.
I think I was drawn to this ep so much because I’ve always
been the type of kid who would occasionally come home with that look on my face
“Mommy, look what followed me home.....can I keep it?” This phrase was used for a number of things that would follow me home—dogs, cats, birds, lizards, snakes, rodents (moles, rabbits, etc.)
Rating: 4 1/2 stars (out of five)
|270: The War Hero|
brought tears to my eyes in several spots. Joe Finneman thinks
he's a coward because he ran away from danger. But when push came to shove,
he came back and did the right thing. Bravery is not
having no fear -- it is doing the right thing in spite of your fear.
Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
|277: It Happened at Four Corners|
A wonderfully told story about a search for treasure begins quietly on a desert road. Suddenly, Eugene and Bernard are launched on an exciting and interesting story of a hidden treasure of gold by a crazy traveler. After an exciting opening incident, the story develops just quick enough for us to follow along and not get bored, but slow enough to carefully draw out the mystery and allow us to suspend our disbelief at Eugene and Bernard. If the story was told more rapidly, it would have been more difficult for us to accept their actions, but as it is, we completely believe their decisions all the way up to the final confrontation in the cave. The surprise ending takes us completely open-mouthed.
Eugene and Bernard are two of the best developed characters on AIO and this episode gives them many chances for a little humor and some tense lines. The scene in the hotel room is classic, with both of them trying to keep their halves of the map.
Rating: 3 1/2 stars
The Fifth House on the Left, Part 1
279: The Fifth House on the Left, Part 2
This story, is, in my opinion, an oft-neglected gem. There is a good plot, and Eugene and Kelsey's debate is particularly memorable. The earthquake comes out of the blue and twists the whole story, with most of part two showing the results and reactions to it. It's also good to see Bernard telling a story to someone without hearing it allit helps prevent his story telling being just a device to tell a Bible story to the listeners, as it were.
Rating: 4 out of 5
This AIO episode begins like so many others, with Whit, of all people, introducing the episode. Eugene and Bernard drive into town, seeing signs of someone leaving Odyssey. All is well. But then, in a very pivotal scene, Connie rushes out to tell them that Whit has moved away for an indefinite amount of time. And then we cut to a commercial break. At this point, when I first heard the episode, I thought, "Right." I didn't know about Hal Smith's death and had no idea that Whit was going to leave. Throughout the entire episode I was thinking how the whole thing was some kind of setup for reaction or something like that. Even when it ended I thought was going to be one of those cheap things they do on TV a lot to get you to cry. They make a character "leave" only to come back a few episodes later and "all is well". But it didn't happen in Odyssey. Whit was away for over two and a half years.
The only thing I dislike very strongly about this episode is the completely unnecessary and horrible scene added to the album release. In both the radio and album versions, there is a very short scene where Connie tries unsuccessfully to delay Whit's flight. The scene ends with Connie slamming down the phone in the radio version, but in the album version it continues with an awful scene with Harlow Doyle. I'll say right off that Harlow is not my favorite character. Often I strongly dislike his stereotyped complete bumbling dialog. However, in lighter episodes, Harlow may have a place. I think The Boy Who Cried Destructo (AIO255) was a good use of Harlow. However, in this highly emotional episode, his dumb humor is a just plain terrible addition. It breaks up the tension built up and makes me wince every time I hear it. It doesn't tell us anything we need to know, it doesn't contribute to the episode in any way. The "humor" was not even needed. The "who/whom" verbal ballet between Eugene and Bernard is well done; this is not. This may be the only case where the radio version is better than the album version.
Onto the positives of the episode (which are FAR more lengthy). Eugene's reaction is typical Eugene, but through it all we can sense his feelings and grief. Bernard's very necessary line about it making sense for Whit to leave really adds to the episode. We do start to understand this turn of events just a little. I also liked Connie's line, "I already cried my eyes out once this week," and Eugene's line that it will have to be okay. Whit's final scenes feel slightly pieced together (since they were), but still carry a strong impact. We can really sense Whit's pain at having to make this decision, especially in his heartfelt line, "Lord, help me relax about this."
Most of the episode is spent running or driving or talking quickly, completely keeping the suspense. The entire episode keeps a frantic pace, barely giving us time to react until near the end, when it all comes together. When Connie plays that videotape of Whit saying goodbye, the episode has us right where it wants us and the emotions pour out. This continues all the way through the excellent closing scene with Eugene reading a letter from Whit. The emotional impact is furthered by the fact that Chris doesn't say anything to "make it better". She simply signs off, which is a wonderful way to allow us to think about the episode and wonder. As another side note, I have to mention the perfect music on this episode. John Campbell really went over the top on scoring this one, adding to the episode in every scene. I especially liked the flourish surrounding the introduction of Jack Allen (what an entrance!) and the final five minutes or so.
It was quite the episode. It was a lot to take in, and I think this episode was the best possible way to turn the series in a new direction.
Rating: 4 stars
I was waiting for this episode with a tape player every week for a while. I just recently heard this audio version for 1st time. Yes, this Harlow Doyle thing is unnecessary and stupid. If the show needed humor and it is cut it defeats whatever reason the scene was used on tapes. The kids KNOW BY NOW Whit left. I am glad they had Whit leave and not die. so he could come back. I somehow wish they had let kids know right away that Hal smith had died tbey waited until Summer 95 to include it in focus magazine. I may be wrong here but my opinion is they should have let people know right away. I do like the way they do this having Whit leave and Jack enter while reassuring viewers soonthat Jack is not "new Whit. Aside from Harlow Doyle...
Rating: 5 stars (out of five)
|281: ...But Not Forgotten|
After the frantic pace and relatively shallow depth of Gone AIO needed this slower episode as a follow to Whits departure. In every respect this is a good follow-up, exploring deeper issues and longer-term consequences that there wasnt really have time for in first episode.
I have to comment up front about the spectacular music in this episode. All of it is up there with some of the best motion picture soundtracks for its quiet grace and power. It starts with a beautiful opening flourish and continues into a quiet, thoughtful version of the opening theme. The scene that always amazes me most of all is the initial scene between Connie and Scrubb. The music for this scene may be the best in all of AIO history. Its thoughtful, meaningful, and yet very sad at the same time. It does not overwhelm the scene, but adds to it quiet dialogue and emotions. I cant say enough good about the music because it is absolutely wonderful.
The episode is filled with characters reacting to Whits departure after the fact. It is filled with scenes where the characters realize what a big part of their lives Whit was. It shows the truth that you never really appreciate something until it is taken away from you.
We see Connie, Eugene, and Tom desperate for help at Whits End and Jack ready and willing to help, only needing to be asked. Eugene and Tom are willing to accept some one knew, but Connie, as fits with her special bond to Whit, has a harder time adjusting to Jack. Eugene has always been more independent. Connie has tended to form tighter bonds with the people around her. We see in this episode that she was not as stable in Whits absence as she seemed in the earlier episode. It took listeners many episodes to find out that Eugene was not really that stable with it either.
The best scene in the episode is definitely the first scene between Connie and Scrubb where we find out just how difficult it is for these two people. The scene is filled with perfect lines and, as mentioned above, wonderful music. Scrubb wonders what will happen to Whits End and why Whit had to leave. Connie tries to explain but realizes that she doesnt really understand either. No one does. Then comes that great innocent question. "If he doesnt come back, wholl be Mr. Whittaker wholl take his place?" Connie responds that no one can take his place. "Whit will always be Whit." "But I need Mr. Whittaker right here," responds Scrubb. The scene is so innocent, yet so powerful and true.
There are other good scenes as well, where Jack shows Tom how to make a curly q on an ice cream cone (album version only, see below) and Connies first reaction to seeing Jack in the shop. She feels as though she has things under control and objects to some one she sees in a place that no one can fill. And then there is one famous scene where comes where Connie nearly has breakdown in front of everyone. "Youre trying to replace Whit," she says. "I see how it is. Whit goes out and Jack comes in. One big happy family. You guys are all chums. Theres only one Whit and Mr. Jack whatever his name is isnt him. He isnt!" I think its great that AIO confronted this issue. Some people have a very hard time adjusting to change. Even as an AIO listener it was hard for a while to get used to not hearing Whits reassuring voice.
A final good scene is the one where Jack and Connie and Scrubb are outside and Jack explains to Scrubb about losing his tooth. "You cant have change without feeling something, even hurt sometimes change is Gods way of preparing us for something better." One of the great things about this scene is that Jack doesnt say something condescending to Connie like "You know, that could apply to our situation, too." Connie realizes that Jack was saying it to Scrubb and to her. She agrees to "allow" Jack to run the shop.
Jack Allen was a wonderful addition to the cast, a quiet but strong Christian who knew how to deal with the kids at Whits End. His later relationship with Jason is similar to Connie and Eugenes in many respects in that they both complement each other nicely.
The only problem I have with the episode is much like the problem in Gone , Harlow Doyle. Although hes not anywhere close to as glaring here as in the Gone addition, he is still unnecessary. He doesnt get it the way too much, but he still adds something unnecessary to the episode. He isnt really funny except in a few lines ("Following me?" "No thank you, I already am."). If the writer could have at least given him something to do, Harlow would have been okay here.
The production values are high on this episode, especially in the scene and the end which takes place outside Whits End. With cars going by, wind blowing, birds chirping, and grass crackling, it really sounds outdoors. The only glaring error is where the scene is cut out in the broadcast version (see below). One confusing thing about this episode is Chris's monologue at the end of the program. For some reason, Chris is very "stiff" in her talk, almost speaking monotone through the entire section. What happened to her usual joy? This episode ended on a high note.
Overall, a wonderful follow-up to the previous episode and a good episode to get things back to as close to normal as possible.
Rating: 4 stars
|282: The Fundamentals|
This is one of my least favorite Odyssey episodes. The story isn't terribly original and, for me, the fact that the episode is very American flavor, and I live in Wales, diminished my enjoyment of it.
Rating: 2 stars out of 5
|285: George Under Pressure|
Funny episode, nicely done. Really shows how hard following God's will can be sometimes.
Tom For Mayor, Part 1
287: Tom For Mayor, Part 2
The show quickly gets to the appearance of "the human weasel", Glossman. This time he's trying to close Tom's farm. This is an interesting and good episode, but I don't understand Glossman's motive behind it. He seems to be acting on orders from "higher up" and yet I can't see how the closure of Tom's farm would gain anything apart from personal satisfaction. I particularly liked the Eugene/Sam duo at the beginning of Part 2. It was a clever and original version of "previously.." This was a good episode, and the ending was brilliant. Glossmans groveling, his closing monologue, the brilliant music (also heard back in Waylaid in the Windy City).
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
|289: A Call for Reverend Jimmy|
Wonderful episode. Well done.
A very funny story line. George Barclay needs a substitute
Sunday School teacher - the only problem is no one will take it because Lawrence
is in the class. George turns to Jimmy. At first Jimmy is really excited because
people in the church have been saying that he should become a pastor like his
dad. Jimmy goes though the week preparing a lesson plan that on Sunday just
bores the kids to sleep. After the experience, Jimmy isn’t sure he has what
it takes to be a pastor.
I think I like this episode so much because the writers
knew what they were talking about. I know from personal experience that teaching
isn’t that easy. I started up my own Youth Bible Study since we lived out in
the middle of nowhere and our local church only had adult Bible study. The kids
in my class where all from the same church I attended so I asked my pastor if
we could have the Bible study in the church sanctuary about two hours before
the adult Bible study (allowing time to clean up in between).
One of my first problems was too wide of a variety. At
the church I was attending at the time, you were an adult (as far as Sunday
School classes, etc.) at 13 years old. So I was teaching 20-30 (depending how
many showed up) 3-12 year olds. It was difficult to keep everyone’s attention.
The third week I came up with a master plan - AIO eps I’d listen between Wed.
and Mon. pick one and create my study off of it, including the ep.
As I said, all in all great episode.
Rating: 5 stars (out of five)
A Name, Not a Number, Part 1
291: A Name, Not a Number, Part 2
Few times in AIO history does an episode pop up that is as spectacularly exciting and interesting as A Name, Not a Number. It is certainly in my top five episodes. It contains all kinds of edge-of-your-seat action dialogue and is wonderfully written. In addition, it is really the heart of the entire Blackgaard saga, the one that really ties many of the major pieces together.
Unlike many other AIO adventure stories, this one jumps right into the action and barely ever pauses to jump back out. Through a smash cut from the opening theme, we are quickly shown a toy shop in Switzerland. A spy operation is being torn down. Papers are being burned. Tasha speaks of a secret tunnel. Donovan is called for a brief chat. The whole scene is a wonderful introduction to the spy world that Tasha lives in and the excitement which will fill this episode. Then, we are introduced to Dr. Blackgaard again! We know this is going to be an interesting episode. This scene leads into a sequence in which Tasha is captured by Red Scorpion.
Every action scene in this episode is well done because they are written by a man who knows just how to do AIO action Phil Lollar. He knows that on an audio only series most of the action must be represented by tense dialogue. He knows that two characters talking to each other can be just as tense as, say, a car chase. That's why the tightly-written scenes between Mustafa and Tasha or Mustafa and Jason are so good. The dialogue has sting. It's the kind you want to repeat over and over because it's so "cool".
What's also exciting about the episode is the way we follow along with the characters and even though we know more than they do, we are able to solve things along with them. Jason's decryption of Tasha's code is perfectly set up in the episode so it makes sense when it happens and doesn't seem contrived. The slips of the tongue (Mustafa knowing about Tasha's blink code) in part two seem logical when you listen to the episode again. The clue sent to Donovan in the phone conversation pops out when you hear it the second time, but the first time through it flies by, just as it would for someone tapping the line.
The scenes in this episode are dripping with detail. We learn an incredible amount in a relatively short time, not only about the new characters in this episode, but also about much of the past of Odyssey, Whit, Dr. Blackgaard, and how the entire threat of biological terrorism has been hanging over Odyssey for years. Scenes between Tasha and Jason assume that you know the earlier episodes; they don't retread on information fans of AIO should already know. Of course, (just like in Star Trek) you can enjoy the episodes even if you are not a veteran fan, but it helps to know the past history. Even major AIO fans will have to listen to this episode multiple times to pick up all of the information. There are so many double reversals in the first half, it's difficult to keep track. I'm not sure how much work went into constructing the entire plot about TA-418 and the Ruku virus, but it must have taken an immense amount of time to plan out this storyline and also to slowly bring it forward with episodes like this, but also episodes like AIO301:The Good, the Bad, and Butch, AIO316:The Underground Railroad, Part 3, and AIO293:A Code of Honor. Little pieces of the Blackgaard saga show up everywhere.
The sound design and music quality of these episodes is also phenomenal. Pay attention as Red Scorpion storms into the toy shop, or as Jason spies on Enterlocken Castle and hears a subtle click of a gun behind him, or as the clock chimes seven o'clock in the prison cell during the conversation between Tasha and Jason. The music is perfect for every scene, drawing us into this world of spies and adventure. I've always liked it when original music is composed for a single AIO episode instead of simply using certain sections from previous episodes over and over again.
The episodes have a very exciting and open-ended ending. It's wonderful how we know that Blackgaard is back and then for the next year we were waiting for him to strike. It was only a matter of time...
Rating: 4 stars
|293: A Code of Honor|
Good episode, and has Billy, who is one of the main characters in some of the Darkness Before Dawn episodes.
|294: Unto Us a Child Is Born|
Finally! The baby is here! Stewart Reed Barclay has come, but at the worst possible moment for Jimmy. Also, this expands Eugene and Katrina's relationship more. (Contributed by Luke)
I must say this is one of my favorite episodes. It has an excellent balance of elements. It is both funny, interesting and emotional. I like the fact that we see more of "behind the scenes" of this Kids Radio production - it's very interesting. The Eugene and Katrina part of the story is well done too. The chemistry between most of the characters is very good, in particular Eugene/Katrina and the Barclay family. Eugene and Katrina seem to come within a hair's breadth of admitting to each other that they're in love, yet don't. Of course, the highlight is.. (SPOILER WARNING) the birth of the Baby Barclay. It's a fitting climax, although by now the writers didn't seem to have much to do with the Barclay's, with them not popping up much between this episode and Pokenberry Falls.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5
|295: Soaplessly Devoted|
I was hoping for one of those funny parody episodes, perhaps along the lines
of 350: The Time of Our Lives, but I didn't really
enjoy it that much. Perhaps it's because I don't watch soap operas, but
anyway I didn't find it funny enough to outweigh the silliness. The diary
scene is the only one memorable to me, but the whole thing is too tiresome and
falls somewhat flat.
Rating: 2 1/2 stars out of 5