Malachi's Message, Part 1
407: Malachi's Message, Part 2
408: Malachi's Message, Part 3
Adventures in Odyssey has started a process lately in the "new" Adventures in Odyssey. When sequencing episodes, they begin with a multi-part series which functions as a "catch up episode" or one in which all of the major characters (Connie, Eugene, Katrina, Whit, Margaret, Tom Riley, Jason, Jack, Joanne, etc.) are around and have some kind of adventure or experience to broaden and advance their characters. Then theyll have some episodes involving just the Odyssey kids doing regular Odyssey things, check in with the main family (before it was the Barclays and now its the Mulligans), have a few Bible episodes, and then start the "cycle" over again. This way they provide variety in the show and dont bring out their storylines too quickly. Sometimes its annoying to have to wait so long to have to "wade through" regular episode to hear about Eugene and Katrina later on, but in general the sequence works.
Malachis Message is one of multi-part stories along the vein of For Whom the Wedding Bells Toll. Its a fun, interesting, and surprising story that advances nearly every single AIO character and incorporates many past episodes as well. The writing, the music (especially during the second scene with Tom and Margaret and the final scene), the sound effects, and even the humor are all very well-done and entertaining throughout.
The episode begins with Eugene and Connie powering up the displays in the Bible Room as they discuss their possible future lives. As always, Connie and Eugene sound natural whenever they converse since they are barely acting anymore. They have been together as characters for so long that it never seems odd to hear them talking about anything. Notice the exchange: "Connie, far be it from me to give you advice." "But your going to anyway." "Well, of course " The subtle sound effects in the background are especially good. Just then they discover an unconscious man in the Imagination Station.
The episode then shifts to its other major focusTom Rileys farm and Tom himself. Tom has decided to have some of the kids from Oswold Heights come to his farm, so he can "do something helpful" while he is retired. Whit is called away to the hospital and the episode's focus begins. The man Connie and Eugene found in the Imagination Station claims to be an angel and says his name is Malachi.
Every scene with Malachi in it is great. Malachis voice, confident speech, and quiet wisdom work in every scene. It is very interesting to see the way the others react to Malachi. Connie and Jack are ready to believe from the beginning. Tom and Whit are skeptical at first, but then ready to believe. Jason and Eugene have a hard time believing until the end.
Previous storylines of Adventures in Odyssey are nicely brought into the central focus. The events of AIO224: Greater Love, down to even the necklace worn by Timmy, are reintroduced and brought to their proper closure. Nearly all of the present storylines are brought up, including Connie and Toms future, Eugene and Katrinas plans, Jasons restlessness, and Joannes work. All are nicely tied together.
The humor and the emotions in this episode work in perfect harmony. Listen to Eugene and Katrinas little argument, some of Connies good lines, or Eugenes meeting with Dean Rogers (who sounds suspiciously like the bad guy from The Perfect Witness) for good humor. Listen to Toms discussion of his sons diary or Malachis final speech for touching emotional dialogue. However, some of the best scenes of all involve those where the entire gang is together at Whits End, discussing the events that have occurred so far.
The episode even include the "Lewis triumvirate" when talking about Malachi. The Lewis Triumvirate, which is discussed in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (applied to Lucy by the professor) and Mere Christianity among other Lewis books states that there are three possibilities for Christ. He was either a horrible liar, a raving lunatic, or who he claimed to bethe Lord of all. Lewis used this to illustrate that you couldn't simply pass Jesus off as a "great teacher". He had to be more than that. Whit uses the same argument for Malachi. What a great way to incorporate Lewis idea!
Overall, this is a sometimes fun, sometimes emotional episode with a great, touching ending.
Rating: 4 stars (out of four)
SECOND OPINION REVIEW: Malachi's Message is very, very well written. Is Malachi who he says he is? You don't really know until Jason is convinced; it kept me interested, especially the spy spin on the whole situation, courtesy of Jason. The introduction of the Timothy Center sets up many new possible plot lines, as well as providing yet more variety to AIO. This episode also gives us a chance to check in with all the "standard" AIO characters except Bernard, my personal favorite. Bravo!
Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5
|409: Natural Born Leader|
I have long wondered in English class if some poets simply would write something vague and then let people think they were writing something profound. Leave it to AIO to write a story exactly along those lines. Even though this is not the main focus of the story, the fact that people can take whatever others say and interpret it however they want is very true.
The main focus of Natural Born Leader is on Jared and Charles Van Horn. Charles has written a poem that others interpret as being a biting satire on the student council. It doesn't take long for Charles to become a candidate for the student council and for much of the school to be behind him.
There are many excellently scripted scenes where Jared passes Charles off as incredibly knowledgeable on the student council. It's almost like The Emperor's New Clothes where everyone agrees with Charles simply because they don't want to look like they don't know what he is talking about. Soon, the students are applying all kinds of meanings to what Charles said. Then there is the sweet scene where Whit gets to the heart of the matter. He doesn't try to reprimand Charles or Jared on the spot. He doesn't even tell Charles that he is wrong. Another good scene is the one where Charles shows his mother and Whit the certificate he got in Sunday School. The final scene is another excellent one, especially as the music swells into the conclusion.
The story on one level is an innocent little story about judging people on how they act. However, on a deeper level the story asks the questions of why we accept people. Do we accept them because they agree with us? Because they sound intelligent? Because they stand for our ideas? Do we often accept what people say because it sounds convenient to us?
Rating: 3 1/2 stars
|410: BTV: Forgiveness|
Where is the inventiveness of the other BTV's, especially BTV: Compassion? Where are all of Bernard's punchlines? This episode of BTV is essentially flat, punctuated by an interesting but not-so-memorable "Story By Bernard." In contrast to the other BTV installments, it lacks a real message and also the wacky voices and sound effects of the other BTV's. I mean, a bunch of fairy tale characters forgiving a wolf who was just pretending isn't my idea of forgiveness. Give me Marty the Shoemaker anyday. Overall, a weak episode, and comes closer to the description "filler" than "variety show".
Rating: 2 Stars out of 5
|411: In All Things Give Thanks|
In All Give Thanks takes us to the Amazing and Beyond Belief Mulligans once again. Who are the Mulligans? Why did they just pop up out of nowhere with no intro story? Do they live in Odyssey or in Podunk Falls? The Mulligans are just a touch too separate and unbelievable. Does Mr. Mulligan work? I've never seen him work anywhere but on his property. How does he make the mortgage payments? Other than those problem, the episode, though rather bland, does work. Nick, is probably the reason. He, sort of a "Bernard" character, has all the really good lines, with a sort of Will Smith take on life. Hector is good, too, and actually sounds as if he is authentically Colombian. Especially when unleashing a barrage of Spanish - not that I would know what a real Colombian sounds like. But next to Nick, Winona has the best lines awards. And Winona is a monkey.
Rating: 2 Stars out of 5
|412: A Lesson From Mike|
Yet another touching Marshal Younger episode, this one deals with Mike, a kid to whom no one paid attention, until he died. We follow Julie in this episode as she gradually reacts to Mike's death. Additionally we follow the reaction of people around her to her (in their words) "obsession with a dead person". Julie is well-played in this episode. She's searching for an answer, but she doesn't know exactly what answer for which she's searching. Maybe she's trying to find the reason for Mike's death. Maybe she wants to reassure herself. Maybe she even just wants to do a good turn. But I think the answer is that Julie simply realizes her actions could have been better and now she can change them for the next Mike that comes along.
Good scenes here include the scene with Mike's mother, where Julie doesn't know exactly why she is looking into this. Mike's mother shows Julie many of Mike's things and we have the line, "I think we would have been good friends." There's also a good exchange between Julie and Heather where Heather says, "He's gone and you didn't even know him." "That doesn't mean I can't get to know him now." "That's exactly what it means! There's no Mike Foulton to know!" The final scene in the lunchroom is a nice touch as well. How many Mikes are there in my life? I need to start looking.
Rating: 4 stars
|413: The Devil Made Me Do It|
This Episode was really funny. It contains three skits:
Rating: 3.567 stars out of 5
|414: Buried Sin|
Buried Sin is good, but too abrupt and a little too hurried. A standard Odyssey mystery, one in that doesn't think it's smarter than you, one that lets you solve along with the characters. Also, of all the new kids in Odyssey (whatever did happen to Sam and Lucy after "It's A Wrap"?) Dwayne and Jared have the best on-air chemistry - in fact, work almost as well as Melanie and Robyn Jacobs, my all time favorite pair. Jerod the conspiracy-freak and Dwayne the under-achiever: it makes for great listening. Maybe a two-episode stretch would have helped here, but overall this story is great.
Rating: 4 Stars out of 5
This one has a nice premise: running a virtual reality program in the Room of Consequence (a place we haven't heard from in a LONG time). The idea that life and time are interchangeable is certainly an original thought, but others, such as the disembodied brain sound just a touch too familiar. However, the lines about that very Brain are hilarious! In one scene, they meet someone who told the Brain he would never get a head in lifeeven I had to laugh at that. Okay, so maybe this isn't the most intellectual episode ever, but the kid test (my 4 brothers and 3 sisters who can understand english to any degree) turned out positive.
Rating: 3 1/2 Stars out of 5
|416: The Tower|
The Tower plunges us into the first Imagination Station Bible story for a very long time. It develops fast, and the dialoge is excellent. The sound effects, however, are where The Tower excells; the scene where the denizens of Babel bow to Marduk is extremely powerful. Some great lines, and an exciting story.
Rating: 4 Stars out of 5
|417: Not-So-Trivial Pursuit|
Not-So-Trivial Pursuits presents a rather "standard" Odyssey story line (if there is such a thing:) -- Bart Rathbone is once again involved in subterfuge and general, well, bad stuff. A kid almost gets fooled, but on the advice of Jack Allen, does the right thing. However, the other plot of gossip, how does it tie in? It seems not only unrelated but sound part of a different story altogether. Dwayne never meets Jared and the two girls, and apart from the fact that they are both advised by Jack, the two plot lines never really converge. The connection is just a little too weak, and in the style of two-people-learn-the-same-lesson-at-the-same-time, it's not as good as, say, Poor Loser. However, Not-So-Trivial Pursuits is fragmented, but it works.
Rating: 3 Stars out of 5
|418: Opening Day|
This is a "decent" episode beginning for the Timothy Center and possibly a major family for Odyssey. The problem with the episode is that its just a little too average. So many average things happen that when something out of the ordinary happens, the characters are still reacting like it was average.
We have a girl who dislikes her parent's new religion, and runs away, but not far away. She has a run-in with Whit, but nothing major happens. Her parents find out she's gone, but they don't get too concerned. Then at the end all plot elements are brought together and it ends. A decent episode, but really a not at all memorable one.
The story basically introduces the Timothy Center and describes its surroundings. It introduces an interesting new family, the Sheperds. I wonder where they will take the Sheperds in the future.
Rating: 2 1/2 stars
|419: Another Man's Shoes|
This episode began a little slow and I got all ready not to like it. Oh, Jared steals Brock's shoes. What a surprise! (This also happened back in The Fundamentals!) Then, after experiencing a new invention at Whit's End, Jared gets to experience life in Brock's shoes. At first, we get the typical responses. (We dealt with a very similar premise not long ago in More Like Alicia) People don't really like him. He gets in trouble due to his past deeds.
But then the episode becomes more surprising. Brock's age is revealed. Then, in a great twist, Brock (Jarred) gets flowers from a friend. Brock actually is a very good flower gardener. This was very unexpected and interesting. The episode then become appropriately disturbing when Brock's family is revealed. The last scene in the Transmuter is very well done and thought-provoking. In addition, the last scene in the show is good, where Brock gets his shoes back with a note and some flower seeds. A nice touch.
My main problem with the episode is that I'm getting just a little tired of the "wake up and it's all just a dream" thing. How many times in AIO have people thought they've been having an experience only to "wake up" and find it was just a dream or they were in the Imagination Station or they were in the Room of Consequence or they were in the hospital or, in this case, the Transmuter. Overall, however, this slightly annoying addition did not hurt the quality of the episode. I wonder what new episode ideas the Transmuter will bring.
Rating: 3 stars