A note of about the ratings... All ratings are out of four unless otherwise noted.
Fans in general liked this weekend's show...but not that much. While a few fans loved the show and called it "great," most thought it was good (or okay) but not great.
Universally lauded in the episode was seeing Jack and Joanne at the antique shop and seeing Whit behind the soda fountain giving good advice again (many compared it to the "early days" of Whit).
Universally disliked was Tamika being so dense about speaking the truth.
Universally questioned (liked by some, disliked by others) were the character of PJ and Jack being such a pushover.
Seriously, this was a good episode. It was a good shade to Jack's character. Whit was good as he usually is. Tamika was good to hear from. Mrs. Allen was completely fine as usual.
PJ...was, well... At first, I didn't like him. I thought he was another Wooton (don't get me wrong, I love Wooton, but to have two?!?) And I perfectly thought that Wooton could've played the character, but PJ was had something Wooton didn't: A shady side. Then I thought that Nick could've played the character, and just acted a bit stupid, but that would've been missing something, too. I'm sure the writer was a bit stumped on who he'd have play that character.
The episode wouldv'e been nearly perfect if PJ's dishonesty was completely on purpose. I mean, seriously, he's doing it for only a TV? What if it was all an acthis stupididy, his choice of wordsand he was really some dumb jerk acting it up with Mr. Allen...
Overall, it was a good episode.
I liked it that the we had a scene with Jack and Whit just being togather not solving a mystery. That was good.
Was it just me or did PJ sound like an older Seth?
Yeah, the part with Tameka and her mother was sad too. I was kinda near tears.
But when Tamika dissed Whit's ice cream creation. And I love food, so you mock the holiness of ice cream, you anger me! LOL.
Now I want coconut flakes over ice cream now.
The episode was good in the style of the old ones. The last scene was great! The rest of the ep seemed to lack excitement. Not the best ep of the season, but still 3 stars.
This isn't to say that it wasn't a good episode, on the contrary. It just wasn't one that's incredibly memorable (aside from some of PJ's lines).
This ep was done in
the classic form of some of the older eps; where there is two stories happening
that basically teach the same lesson. Both were well done. I especially liked
Jack's part in it. We see some character development here and his departure
from being "painfully polite" (as was said years ago).
Over all, an enjoyable ep, though not a classic.
As a sidenote, has AIO ever had an intelligent fast food employee? In "For Whom the Wedding Bells Toll" fast food workers are slammed too. Perhaps there should be a good fast food worker in an episode just for balance and to be fair to all the good workers out there.
Not to mention Jack's actions reminded me a lot of myself: If someone calls me by the wrong name, I won't correct them. If I'm falsely accused of something, I'll take the blame. And if I don't get exactly what I ordered, I'll keep that information to myself. Though I like to think that, similar to how Jack responded to his new employee, I'll assert myself when the situation calls for it. As such, it's always easier to listen to an episode when you can relate to the events the characters find themselves in. Jack's storyline even ended on an appropriate note. Despite initially trying to be more forceful with the fast-food restaurant, he eventually gives up and goes back to the way he was. I know this is how I would have handled the situation and just made the ending feel right.
But while the bookends of the show were nice, the whole Tamika plot was bothersome. It seemed a little unbelievable that a girl her age could be so daft to not realize that there is a difference between being honest and being painfully honest. If she was four or five years old, it would be kinda of cute. But instead, it was annoying and made me feel sorry that the Washington family has to deal with such a brat. At least she came around in the end, but she certainly did a lot of damage along the way.
Which brings me to PJ, who was too over the top, but thankfully had a great voice. I actually recognized the actor who played him right away. Scott Menville voiced Lloyd, the main character in a video game I recently finished called Tales of Symphonia: a fantastic game. So I was thrilled he recorded an episode for Adventures in Odyssey and wouldn't mind hearing from PJ in the future, provided he wasn't as annoying with his acronym creations. He's got an interesting personality and could have an interesting arc if grouped with Connie, Nick, or even Xavier. Unfortunately I doubt there's room in Odyssey for a guy like him, but I'm all in favor of finding out.
In the end, Tamika's plot was what brought the episode down to just an average level. A/B shows are tough because there's almost always one plot that isn't as interesting or entertaining as the other. In this case, the B plot was substantially of less interest. Fortunately there was still lots of good things to be found in the show and that's what matters.
Enough negativity, let's talk about the show! ...
Jack Allen is unable
to tell this person that they aren't doing a good job. Hmmm. Tamika doesn't
have the sense to be honest, yet courteous? I thought she was at least eleven
or twelve. You'd think that with all the God-filled upbringing that Ed and
Elaine has done over the years at least she could put some of the pieces together
herself. Maybe she's just really bold with people. ...
I did enjoy the humorous PJ in this show and if he does come back, I hope that his voice settles down a bit. ...
In this story, Tamika learns in Whit's Sunday School class that it is always best to be honest. Tamika decides never to be dishonest again. She tells everyone what is on her mind, no matter how rude it is. Tamika ends up hurting the feelings of her friends and family, so Whit tells her that she should speak the truth lovingly.
While all of this is going on, Jack and Joanne have hired a new employee at the J & J Antique Gallery. The employee's name is PJ, and he is a teenager who acts a bit silly. PJ turns out to be dishonest, because he lies on his time card. Because of the dishonesty and the fact that PJ wasn't doing his job correctly, Jack has to fire PJ.
As I said, I thought this was a good slice-of-life show. It was good to hear Whit giving advice, once again. This season has re-introduced Whit as a kind, grandfatherly person who takes time out of his day to talk to kids and give them advice about their problems. His advice about honesty was good advice, and it was biblical. Also, Whit's ice cream illustration in his Sunday School class was a clever way to get his point across.
In the past, fans have said that Paul Herlinger didn't sound as warm as Hal Smith, and that his acting style wasn't the same. I think that was once true, but it seems that Paul Herlinger is getting better and better at playing Whit. Alan Young also played Jack well, and all of the other actors and actresses were good in this show.
The point of this episode was about telling the truth, obviously. But that wasn't the whole lesson. It wasn't just about telling the truth; it was about speaking the truth lovingly. This episode was a good illustration of that point, and it was nice to hear Whit give verses from the Bible, dealing with that lesson.
I also liked the story in this episode. We hadn't heard a whole lot from the antique gallery lately, and it was nice to hear from the Allens, and to learn that the antique gallery is still running. It was interesting to hear Jack, who is usually a pushover, having to fire his employee. However, it was nice to hear P.J. being fired, because he was taking advantage of the Allens (and he was annoying).
I give "And That's the Truth" a 3.5 out of 5 stars. It was a well-written "average" episode, with a biblical lesson, as well as an interesting story.
Some of the most positive reviews of the season are reserved for "A Lamb's Tale," the season finale. Many reviewers call the episode great and are showering it with praise. Most liked the various stories and the many heart-felt conclusions to each. Particularly noted are the scene between Mike and Nick Mulligan and the scene between Mark and Mr. Cruz.
Strong performances are also noted throughout, from Nick to Mark to the new actor who played Grady.
There were some negative comments for the show as well. Some felt that there may have been too many stories going along, while almost everyone noted that the show wasn't especially "Christmasy" despite having a holiday theme.
Opening theme: Was that taken from the video "Electric Christmas?" My money's on that.
Grady: What a perfect character, this young kid with an attitude about him. We'd better hear a lot more.
Intercutting stories: We've had other good *ideas* like this, this season. But this onefour different stories, four takes on sacrificewas realized PITCH PERFECT.
Mark/war story: I thought at first that father was Middle Eastern, which would've been cool to play against stereotypes. Hispanic was cool, too.
Rodney: Why does everyone make such a big deal out of him? OK, so he's been the same for 15 years -- the character works. Play with that and you could mess up a lot of the AIO dynamics we know and love.
Great mix of characters, and it's good to hear Bill Myers as Mr. Mulligan again.
Liz is back. Wow, there was a lot of interest in that little lamb. It was very strange when I first heard it! Mark seemed very secretive. After Nick said "it all makes sense now," I was racking me brains trying to figure out what he meant!
Rodney sounds allot like the boy in "Toy Story," the one that blows the things up! Also, when Rodney narrates the kid climbing the tree, you can REALLY hear the Mitch in him! I think it was good that Mark went to his friend's father. Part of this story sounds like it was based off of a recent story about a soldier who threw his body on a grenade and saved his fellow comrades. It also was good that Tamika let Samantha keep the Lamb. All in all it was a good episode!
And Whit was completely right...This episode was a very Christmasy adventure. And I loved it.
The episode began with a very magical sprinkly theme; and I thought, "Well, if this episode stinks, then at least people will love the theme..."
Fortunatly, the episode grew from there. It dealt with characters not normally expected to be in an episode together: Liz, Nick, Mike, Mark, Rodney, Whit, Tamika...whoa, what a gang.
First of all, let's start at the beginning: Tamika. She's ten; that's mighty hard to believe, since she sounded ten when she first started off, and her voice has changed quite a bit.
Secondly; Nick Mulligan and Mike Mulligan, two characters that I've always lovedNick, for his humor, and Mike for his fatherly voice. They were great in the episode; I could just feel the great connection between them. It was priceless. Nick was a jerk when he started off; and Mike sacrificed a proposal for him. It really added to Nick's character, and it was wonderful. A great scene. Even though many fans didn't like the Mulligans, those two were the deffinate exception.
A second good scene was between Mark and Ron's father. The father's speech was really good and touching, and it outdid the previous scene between Nick and Mike, escalating into a touching ending.
Thirdly (or is it fourthly?); Rodney. I think the writers told Steve Burns to tone it down a bit. He sounded very simmilar to how he first began in the show, and his voice was much less annoyingly squeeky. Even though he's still in the same bad-guy position, it at least was a definite improvement over his "Sounds like a Mystery" boring character. He had a new hobby this time, and I chuckled at his "America's Most Famous Injuries (or something like that)" routine.
Grady had spunk, and it wasn't annoying as it could've been with a different actor. I mean, I don't want him as a new character (they have enough!!), but he was a good one-timer.
I enjoy episodes where it's the complete opposite of what you imagined it to be. I mean, how many people really expected this story to be about a kid looking for his lost lamb and then ending up at Whit'sEnd where Whit tells him a story? But instead, it surprises me by including characters I wasn't expecting.
In Summary, this episode was a nice strong episode which succesfully cleared up certain loose ends and got me into the Christmas spirit. Perfect score episode. Good job AIO team!
This wasn't a a/b story. It was an a/b/c story: Mike's job, Grady's lamb, Mark's issues with the war he fought in. I'll review all of them:
Mike's back, and as much as the Mulligans seemed unnessecary to AIO, it's always nice to hear from an old character, and that Nick has a place to live. I was beginning to wonder. Anyway, Nick (who's also fun to hear from) finds out that Mike passed up a big $ job with Whit's company. Through some investigating, we find
out why, and get a heart-warming ending.
A boy named Grady chases all over town to retrieve a lamb that belonged to Tamika. We find out why he did it, got some comic relief with Rodney (who didn't annoy me this time), and get yet again a heart-warming ending.
Mark's was wounded in war and is acting odd. We find out why: a soldier gave his life for Mark's. He talks to the soilder's Dad, about man who gave his life for Mark and his faith. And another heart-warming ending.
There are two things that seemed out of place. First, three stories is a lot to handle in twenty five minutes, and everything seemed rushed.
Second, at the end it seemed like Mark and Nick were ready to accept Jesus (or at least extremely close). This ending seems to leave us hanging, it seems unresolved. Will these be dealt with in the winter season? I hope so.
Another was that at the beginning Whit says Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas, but this is just a personal grip because it's politcally incorrect to use Merry Christams as a greeting nowadays. So I guess this doesn't count.
It's also nice to laugh out loud at lines in the ep, but I can't remember which ones of the top of my head.
Last thing worth mentioning is the lesson. I'm kinda confused, but think it is that people are more important than objects.
I liked all three stories, but can't give it 4/4 b/c of what I listed above.
This wasn't a stereotypical Christmas episode, but I still think that it was appropriate to this season (as well as all others). While some of the storylines, like Mark's, aren't directly related to a Christmasy topic, the basic idea behind them show the meaning behind Christmas. For example, Mark's "salvation" during the war was the result of the sacrifice of another, one who was better than him, according to Mark. The true Christmas story is about Jesus' sacrifice of coming to earth as a baby, preparing the way for the Easter story, where the ultimate sacrifice occurs. While Mark's story may not seem like a Christmas one, there are connections to Christmas, and I think that it's good to have reminders that Christmas is not an isolated incident. The reason that Christmas is a time for celebration, in the Christian sense, is not because Jesus came, but that he stayed and died on the cross for our sins. His coming would be meaningless otherwise.
I appreciated the different elements in this episode. They made it fuller and richer. The music was great too! I will very much enjoy listening to this episode inthe future!
Nick trying to get Mike a job was both kind-hearted and selfish...a big-screen TV hung in the balance, but when he found out why Mike gave it up...that scene was great!
Grady and the lambit was really sweet, everything he went to for his sister. Rondey was a little too... Rodneyish in this ep. Funniest injuries? Just a little too much. Tamika was good, too; I felt for her when she couldn't get her lamb back. And something else...she's TEN? She's always sounded older than that to me.
Whit...well...he was Whit, nothing exceptional in this episode. I gie it 4/5 stars
I mean if we were to replace the "Christmas Closet" with some other charity organization, the episode would still play out in the same way. Grady would once again chase after his sister's doll, Nick would continue to investigate the Universal Press offer to his uncle, and Mark would still want to speak to the father of the man who saved his life. A "Christmas Episode" shouldn't be called that because it takes place at that time of year, it should be considered a Christmas episode because everything about it is filled with the joy and spirit of the season. I noticed the heavy influence Christ's death had on all three of the different stories: Grady risking his life for his sister, Mike giving up his job for his nephew, and Ron giving his own life for a fellow soldier. But where are the parallels to Christ's birth? No, I don't think every Christmas episode needs to feature the birth of a new baby or an Imagination Station episode in Bethlehem, but it should be about the holiday itself... and not just use the holiday as a gimmick.
But again, as mentioned in my introduction, I do think this was a good show on it's own merit. We learn more about the Mulligan family, find out how Mark Horton is doing, and get introduced to some cute kids named Grady and Sam. Not to mention that Rodney gets into some mischief and Tamika somewhat redeems herself from "And That's the Truth". It's also interesting that there are three main stories being told during the course of the show, which perhaps is what caused the episode to be so strong. So much happened in such a short period of time that I never felt like any of the plots wore out their welcome. In my last review for "And That's the Truth," I noted how much I disliked Tamika's plot. Here, I wasn't a big fan of the Mark plot, but because there was plenty of other stuff going on and not a lot of attention devoted to it, I accepted it. I'm also looking forward to hearing more from Grady and his sister Sam. Their voices were both distinctive and young enough that they could be on the series for the next several years and I thought the young actor playing Grady was just terrific. And kudos to the writers for not over exposing us to them. This way I'm left wanting more!
So was the show a Christmas classic? No. But it was a pretty nice episode regardless. However, this year was a free pass. Next year I'm demanding that the characters drink hot chocolate, sing Christmas carols, decorate a Christmas tree, and give gifts to one another! The last great Christmas show aired seven years ago... considering this is a Christian series, you'd think that this time of year would be celebrated with a little more effort!
This show is about a program Whit is doing, in which people donate clothes, toys, and other items, to be given to people less fortunate. Tamika donates her toy lamb, because she says she is too big for it. A little boy wants to get the lamb for his sister, but Rodney Rathbone takes the lamb to blow it up. The boy chases Rodney to his house, takes the lamb, and gives it to his little sister. Then, Tamika decides she wants the lamb back. But when she sees how much the little girl likes the lamb, Tamika decides not to take the lamb back.
We also get to hear from Mike Mulligan and Mark Horton in this episode. We get to learn more about Mike than we had ever known before; we learn that Mike was once a businessman, but he had rejected a high-paying business job in Chicago in order to adopt Nick (who wasn't supposed to be in the city). About Mark Horton, we learn that he was hurt in the war, so he was sent home for a while. Someone had saved Mark's life during the war in order for Mark to live. Mark felt as if he needed to repay the debt, but he learned that it was not something that could be repayed, and he needed to accept it.
I enjoyed hearing from Mike Mulligan and Mark Horton, because we hadn't heard much from either of them for several seasons. I also was happy to learn more about Mike's past, because we had never been given much information about his life. I think one of the purposes of this story was to get us reacquainted with these characters.
The storyline about the lamb was good, but not quite as good as the return of previous characters. I think it was a sign of maturity that Tamika gave up her lamb for someone else. And I would think that Rodney would grow up someday, as well; his role as a bully is getting a little stale.
From what I gathered, this theme of this episode was giving. That theme is very appropriate for Christmastime, because this is a season when people give the most.
The acting in this show was good, for the most part. The only acting problem I noticed was in one of the scenes with Rodney, he didn't quite sound like his usual self, and he sounded more like Mitch.
I think the music was exceptionally well-done in this episode. I was glad to hear the Christmas version of the AIO theme, which we hadn't heard in a few years. The other Christmas musical scores were good, and they were fitting for this episode.
My rating for "A Lamb's Tale" is 3.5 out of 5. It was a good episode, and I was glad that AIO produced another Christmas show (even if it wasn't all about Christmas). It was a well-done AIO season finale.