|KYDS Radio tells the story of Valentine and his defiance of an edict that bans anyone from getting married.
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Written By: Shadowpaw
Growing up, the only exposure I ever had to the story behind Valentine's Day was Adventures in Odyssey. Back when the show was still called Odyssey USA, there was an episode called "Bobby's Valentine" that was later remade into "The Trouble with Girls". As part of Chris' wrap, she briefly laid out a tale about a man who was put in prison for refusing to worship different gods. The children in this man's life loved him so much that they went to the prison and passed cards to him through the bars. That concept later evolved into our present day exchange of cards and flowers on Valentine's Day. You can listen to the story here. Amazingly, even though it's been 17 years, that brief blurb by Chris was the only interpretation I had ever heard for the origin of the day. As a result, I was able to approach this episode without any pre-conceived notions of what to expect, aside from those few small details, and was able to enjoy it from a fresh perspective.
Which is personally of great value to me as historical and biblical shows are not my favorite Adventures in Odyssey genres. The shows themselves aren't bad, but they are often simple re-tellings of stories I have heard many times before. And despite the fact the plots are generally approached from a unique angle, the episodes don't involve any of the main characters and as such, don't lend a hand to character progression. So while some might be enjoyable, they rarely get the privilege of sitting in my tape player. However, Valentine and his adventures were new to me and I was actually invested in the character and what he would do next.
And it is an interesting and romantic story. Despite the fact Leilani Wells, the writer of the episode, is not a member of the Odyssey staff, it still felt like an Odyssey episode and she's obviously comfortable with the format. And contrary to what many people may think, it's often harder to write a story based on material that already exists than it is to create a story from scratch because you're limited in what you can do. Thankfully the episode adapted the story successfully without feeling bogged down with unnecessary back story or prologue and there was also plenty of action. It takes some creative thinking to turn a typical exchange of dialogue into an exciting moment for radio and it always felt like the characters had something to do... which is not an easy feat. A perfect example is the marriage between Paulina and Titus. It might be nice to hear these two characters get married, but does it make for exciting radio? No, especially if we don't know the characters very well. But have their wedding take place while they are running through the woods from Roman guards... now you've got a scene on your hands! It was a fun way to do it and the music elevated that scene to a new level. In fact, the music throughout the show was terrific and made for a very cinematic experience. Another scene with great music was where Valentine is discussing the different colors of flowers and the music changes to reflect the color of the flower being described... small details like this are essential to a quality show.
Though it does bug me that it seems Pete Reneday must take part in historical/biblical shows on a regular basis for AIO. The short list of his AIO credits include Blackbeard, Paul/Saul, John the Baptist, St. Patrick, and now Claudius. I'm all for actors playing multiple roles, but not when every single time the voice is identical to the previous character. It's just frustrating to think that in a place as big as California, there aren't any actors who can perform the role with even a slightly different take on a historical figure. On the other hand, I thought Julia was terrific and the character of Felix reminded me a lot of Thenardier from Les Miserables.
In the end, the show succeeded in what it set out to accomplish. Those who have already heard the story of Valentine might discover that no new ground has been broken, but for others like myself, they should be able to enjoy it for both it's plot and it's message. A tragic story, yes, but one that we have not yet forgotten.