"Fifteen More Minutes"
Written By: Shadowpaw
Rarely do we as listeners get child-aged story arcs. In the past, we've had Novacom, Blackgaard, Connie and Mitch, Tasha and Jason, Eugene and Katrina, and dozens of other short story arcs that play out over a few episodes. But these have all featured the adult characters. And aside from perhaps Connie and Lucy's spat that started in "Connie Goes to Camp II", we hardly get to enjoy storylines that span over more than one episode at a time. But now, we finally had a mini story arc, and just as it was getting under way... it's now resolved! That's not entirely a bad thing, but I have learned something from this short story arc: We need more of them! This element is something that lends greatly to a story. Rather than just tune in to find out what lessons the kids are supposed to be learning in a 25 minute time slot, we get to check up on the characters and watch them grow and mature in a way that's not possible in just your normal episode. It adds depth to both the characters and the plot... which is great.
It also doesn't hurt that Split Ends is a pretty enjoyable episode. The tone is set early on with a cool new twist on the Odyssey theme song and Jared telling Liz her sweater makes her look fat. Not only was Jared's line delivery perfect, but I was happy to hear a male voice of reason. Generally speaking, Kathy Wierenga (or Buchanan now I suppose) episodes target the young girl between the ages of 8 - 12. They're not bad episodes, but they certainly don't appeal to a 20 year old male such as myself who just doesn't get the jokes. But here, Jared is someone I can immediately cling to as my reason to enjoy the episode. And sure, while I thought Jared provided many laughs (especially during his commercial with Mandy), I was also pleasantly surprised to find out he wasn't the only thing about the episode I enjoyed.
I liked all of it really. Mandy and Liz, while generally not my favorite characters, were both terrific. Their storyline didn't last that long, but you don't really want something like this dragged out longer than is necessary. It was just nice to have something to think about during the show: Will they make up, or won't they? As the show progressed, and Mandy found out the real reason that Liz had recommended her for the role, I seriously thought that was how the show would end... Mandy even more angry at her best friend, and Liz not knowing why. But I was happy that the two did come to a resolution especially one that felt real between the two of them.
Connie, by the way, was the way Miss Kendall should be. Another trademark of your typical Kathy show is that Connie Kendall acts like your typical teenage ditz: Whiney, and dumb as a rock. But this episode reinforces my belief that the writers are putting her character back on track. Mitch can no longer act as her kryptonite by making her weak at the knees and impairing her mind.
Though, as I said earlier, the big plus was the inclusion of Jared. He's older now, but his conspiracy theories are no longer about aliens invading earth or adults lying to their children. As he's grown up, so too have his theories. So while it's still the same old Jared attached to that deeper voice, his character has evolved too. Also, it's great to hear that Jared really has become a rather compassionate young man. He did his best to help Connie in "Eggshells", and here, he wants nothing more than to see Liz and Mandy together again.
Again, another solid episode to reinforce a solid season. I'm very happy with the way things have gone so far.