Written By: noname
One of AIO’s most innovative story-telling formats has been the BTV episode, which has been both loved and hated by fans. The “randomness” and “spoof” factors of the shows allow for tons of creativity that couldn’t otherwise be employed in normal episodes. Some of the BTV broadcasts just have that special something that distinguishes them from each other: “BTV: Compassion” stands out the most with its emotional pull, and “BTV: Redeeming the Season” (which has been released on AIO’s latest album) has a unique historical element. Most, if not all, of the others have included skits that often serve as effective, fun parodies, most of the time complete with pop culture references and subtle humor. And, of course, there is the highlight of the show: a “Story by Bernard.” Add in some small commercial spoofs and the “Did You Know?” segment, and you’ve got a recipe for an enjoyable variety show.
This week’s episode pretty much contained all of the above elements. It is very much above average in terms of quality compared to other BTVs – just about all of the segments that were used were quite hilarious and conveyed their humor effectively. But the BTV concept has aged quite a bit, especially after the first few shows, which were all indeed memorable compared to later BTVs (Grace, Forgiveness, Thanks). The last two BTV episodes (Obedience and Behind the Scenes), thankfully, have been quite strong. It takes an ingenious, creative writer who can think outside of the box to make a BTV broadcast memorable. Nathan Hoobler accomplishes this fairly well in this episode.
The main highlight of this episode was the Solomon story. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I first heard about the “theme” of the show (temptation), especially with an episode description that mentioned Solomon and Joseph, I was worried that the episode would be mostly dealing with temptations concerning lust, which wouldn’t be very appropriate for the show’s target audience. Fortunately, whenever the topic did appear, the episode handled it tastefully – most of the time. I found Solomon’s line about “the eveningwear portion of the Miss Moab contest” to be a bit too risqué for AIO. Maybe some other people weren’t quite so bothered by it…but I’m actually hoping it’s something that will be edited out of the album and all subsequent broadcasts (like the “You have been atoned…” line from “The Painting”). Besides that, the rest of the skit was downright hilarious. It’s very refreshing to see a “Story by Bernard” skit that goes beyond the complementary elements of Bernard narrating and characters making short humorous remarks. In this episode, we’ve got some great character interaction (for such a short amount of time), entertaining voices, and fun Biblical references and pop culture references, the most memorable of which was the priest saying “Mawwaige…” I actually just saw The Princess Bride the night before listening to the episode, so that scene was a real treat to hear! The line wasn’t quite delivered perfectly…but it was said so convincingly that many listeners will almost definitely recognize it. :)
The other major skit, “Storytime with Connie,” sadly grated on me after a while. It almost sounded like one of the dreaded split episodes from long ago – maybe it was the similarities to “The Seven Deadly Dwarves” (girl falls for temptation, faces the consequences, then her father comes and rescues her). Thankfully, this skit handles the story – especially its conclusion – in a much more innovative way than the aforementioned episode did. I didn’t particularly care for the poisonous bush character, though. It sounded like an over-hyper, annoying version of Wooton and didn’t have as many memorable moments as the characters in the Solomon story did. The twist at the end was interesting, though, and concluded the entire BTV episode in a strong manner…but the skit itself could have been a bit more mature like the rest of the show.
In between the two major stories, we are treated to several short clips – the two main ones being “The Temptation Fugitive” and “Sodom and Gomorrah.” Although the former was fun to listen to, I didn’t quite find it as grabbing as, say, “The Lyin’ Thing” from “I Want My BTV.” The “trailer spoof” feel was great and appropriately handled, but I really missed the wacky sound effects and quotable lines so often heard in other BTV spoof segments. It definitely wasn’t a bad skit at all, but it missed the mark just slightly. On the other hand, the Sodom and Gomorrah skit was short, brief, and witty. It was a perfect example of how to fully utilize a short amount of time by using quick but very effective, strong humor. The rapid-speaking bits are just hilarious and may even require a few more listens to completely pick everything up. Finally, there’s the “Did You Know?” segment. The bits of information here are quite interesting, but I wish we heard more recognizable voices. It’s just more enjoyable to hear Connie or a popular kid character from Odyssey spouting off the trivia tidbits rather than some random kid voice, or, for the latter tidbit in this episode, the voice of Katie Leigh attempting to sound like a non-Connie voice.
But besides all the typical BTV segments, what really made this episode work was its surrounding framework outside the skits. The show begins with a rather strange scene with Cryin’ Bryan Dern ranting about left-handed people – possibly the most random AIO scene in quite a while. The whole thing manages to be very laugh-out-loud funny, yet so relevant to the show without appearing too blatant. Guy Feldstein’s similar scene in the middle of the show wasn’t quite so memorable, but we do hear Dern’s awesome over-the-top ranting at the end once again. Listen after the end of the show to hear Chris’ “wrap-up,” which involves a similar situation as the ones previously heard with Dern and Feldstein and then a conversation with the writer himself, Nathan Hoobler. The joke never really gets old and provides a certain framework that gives the episode cohesiveness. I love how Chris admits that she shouldn’t be talking about temptation, since she fell for one herself. The scene is well executed and is extremely reminiscent of the “wrap-around” scenes that were a regular part of the show in its earliest days.
Overall, this BTV episode is original and quite inventive. It may not contain the same freshness that came with the first few BTV shows or the “punch” of the most recent BTVs, but it is a fun ride and carries a uniqueness all its own. Even the “weaker” segments blend in quite well with the show’s stronger points. I would place my rating in between 7 and 8…but since I’m feeling pretty excited, I’ll go with the higher rating.
(8 out of 10)