Written By: Broadcast
To go right to the point; that had to be the worst episodes in recent seasons.
I was cringing since the very beginning of the show. I found it unbelievable how almost every aspect of the show was poorly done. As I put down my earphones, I was terribly disappointed.
Every so often I learn expectations can affect what you thought of the episode. If you find an episode disappointing, then pick up your earphones and try listening to it again. Chances are that the reasons you disliked this episode the first time will fade away. Unfortunately, however, my dislike for this episode didn't die down very significantly, after the 2nd try. It wasn't just a problem with the story, but for the technical side of it as well.
Odyssey has been up and down throughout this season; quite different compared to the excellence and consistency of last season. Don't get me wrong, I know we've only reached the halfway point and it wouldn't be fair to judge it until it's over, but I've noticed an ongoing trend in this show that has also been present throughout recent seasons.
Is anyone else missing that old Odyssey-tune in between scenes? I'm aware that they've been different as the show progressed, but I've mentioned for the past few seasons about how the music has changed too significantly. This complaint will lead me into the core of the review. When Odyssey first started, the show was largely aimed towards children, but as the show progressed, I believe it grew as the audience grew older. It's a little how the Harry Potter Books grow with its readers—simply to keep the original audience interested. In Adventures in Odyssey, the show eventually grew towards a mix of general audience as time went on. It was no longer for ages 8-12, it was Ages 8 and up. By the time Whit left for the Middle East, every episode was able to appeal anyone. This remained pretty steady until the split-episodes came, and then, knowing from personal experience, older audiences began leaving the show. But the series managed to save quite a few by presenting the Novacom Saga. I remember meeting people on several occasions who never actually listened to Odyssey except for when Novacom appeared on scene. They mentioned that it was one of the most intriguing shows that they've heard. However, I've been getting this sense that the show is slowly degrading to the split-episode era. Why? Now, I'm not an expert with instruments and music. But I find it disappointing that all we hear is like "bouncy" childish music. The music before was always satisfying, always doing the scenes justice, and was at the right level to be appealing to both older listeners and younger listeners. But now, it really takes away from the show, decreases the target age level significantly, and certainly stops the show from having that same Odyssey feel. By all means, include that music for Wooton episodes or an episode where the storyline is exclusively over-the-top comedic; however, don't mix it up with regular slice-of-life episode just to make it upbeat and original. Originality isn't in the music—it's in the story. Sometimes I even wonder if it's rubbing off of the actors. Because, today, it was as if they were acting with a group of children watching them—and no adults are in sight.
Something else that the show has been getting into the habit of doing is combining several storylines (three or more) with a common theme. Now, I'm okay with that—but I think there should really be a restriction on those types of shows. It underlines a few problems. First of all; the show is only 25 minutes long, which means that the development of each small story isn't anything terribly ingenious. Every story is generally simple and chances are, don't contain any amazing plot-twists. These show rarely end up sounding smooth and satisfying, and just end up sounding plain chaotic. Sounds familiar? Personally, I sometimes find it to be an excuse to incorporate split-episodes into one show without actually calling it a "Split Episode". Unless the timing is good, each story ends up weaker then it would've been if it had been extended, developed, and worked at to be a longer episode. So, could the story of Eugene assisting Connie while her arm is broken worked as a full-length show? It's debatable. Personally, I wasn't too fond of the concept when the episode description was announced. So, perhaps in this case, it's an advantage to have it as a small part of a larger episode.
The only show where more than two storylines were at work and actually made for good radio must have been "A Lamb's Tale", simply because the chopped up storylines were crafted so perfectly to work with one another that it actually made you think it was one individual story then several small ones. It's a little how Academy Award Nominated and Winning Film, "Crash", was presented: several short stories, but painting a larger effective picture.
To specifics, I found both the acting and dialogue rather bad. There was first that awkward scene where Whit shows Marvin and Tamika his invention, and then they simply walk straight out without saying anything and with no excuse. Also, when Tamika is found with cash in Marvin's room, I wondered; why on earth Marvin was so eager to tell his parents? This sounds very uncharacteristic of him. Since when does he want his sister to be credited with giving money? Would his parents really have let his sister pay for him and let Marvin off that easily? I also found their wrap-up scene with Mr. Whittaker very odd. Whit's acting in that particular scene was so bad that it lead me to believe that he knew that Tamika broke the machine the whole time—and simply was acting phony on purpose to have us believe that. Why else would Mr. Whittaker be so keen to tell everyone in the whole shop about her generosity? And he was so uncharacteristic himself with Mrs. Sutton. I just don't see him as the same knowledgeable, wise and respected grandfather when they place him in situations where the audience sees him as an annoyed, stuttering, nervous and running old man.
While it was moderately nice to hear about Connie's book, it was yet another addition to the show that didn't seem to fit. The flashback seemed a bit out of placed. Though it helped nicely to explain the theme (more on this later), I suppose after all these recent "return-to-the-pasts" that it was a bit too much. It was another case where they're adding on to the past where it doesn't need to be added to. In the case of "Champ of the Camp" , "Silent Night", and "Dead Ends"—it worked. Afterall, we don't know about those time periods at all. It's empty in the Odyssey time period. This flashback just didn't work out with the rest. It did end up feeling right once I finished listening to the show for the third time, but the fact that it took me that long to accept it is worthy of mentioning.
I almost turned the episode off when Mrs. Sutton came in. Her addition to this show was as almost as if the Odyssey crew thought, "Hey, Mr. Nagle in "Somebody to Watch over Me" really made the show original. Let's use him again!" If you re-use a one-time character, the danger is ruining their appearance the time before. You're taking away the originality from the previous episode—in this case, "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow". It was one of the things that added to the originality of that three-parter. But now, for some odd reason, they decided to reuse it—and overuse it. Her entire presence in the show was completely useless, unfunny, and terribly acted. At least before she was believable—now she sounded almost like a nagging puppy. It also amazes me how she got invited to Mrs. Kendall birthday celebration. Let's try making that social connection... I'm not saying that it's not good reusing characters. I mean, if they're good then why not? But it's easy to differentiate who's truly a one-timer character, and who can be used again. Though, almost nearly as bad was the overlapping of voices in today's show. The ad-lib was, just like Mrs. Sutton's character, really overdone. There were several times I had trouble understanding what people were saying. People were literally interrupting each other when saying there lines, and there were a few times where I only understood who was saying what and responding to who when replaying the scene.
Luckily, there are three points that I enjoyed about this show. First, was Eugene's discrimination against the female doctor. That one single scene was probably the one I found the most engaging. Secondly, was how the episode demonstrated two different ways of how guilt acts in our life. I have to admit, it was cleverly done, and earned much of the points the time came for me to grade the show. And thirdly, I enjoyed the part in the flashback where Eugene denies not knowing Connie. I admit, I laughed.
In the end, it's just hard to pinpoint what caused this show to crash. Whatever it was—it was simply sloppily made, and just didn't fit together nicely. It isn't new. There will always be a bad one to come along here and there. Depending on how everyone else thought of it, the Odyssey Team will just need to see what went wrong, and move on.