Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Thoughts on "The Golden Age of Odyssey"

Hello everyone! Sadly, it's another busy week in the high school environment, and not enough time to do a review of Whit's Flop. Instead, today, I present my view on whether the show today is "funnier than ever." This was originally posted on the Soda Shop topic about The Golden Age of Odyssey. Enjoy, and hopefully when I return from my music retreat, I'll be so audibly inspired that I'll write A LOT OF REVIEWS! 

*Wishful thinking, Josh. You have lots of videos and projects to work on when you return.*

Well, a teen can dream, can't he? Enjoy, folks, and if you enjoyed what you read, consder joining an Odyssey message board. Learn about them here.

Apologies to everything highlighted in white. My favorite color is red; this was not my choice.

While the writers haven't changed, sometimes the writing changes. For example, often when a character voice changes, the character itself is written differently. We've seen this through the three incarnations of Whit, Katrina (seemingly not as intelligent-sounding), Aubrey (not as annoying), and Olivia (not as annoying). With this reboot in mind, to some listeners, including myself, it does seem as if the writers have tailored their writing more toward 8-12 listeners. Now, that's fine, well, and good, since the show is meant for them, but I think it's possible to write for all ages and have those 8-12 listeners enjoy it just as much. The best example I can think of is Toy Story 3 (which was nominated for Best Picture), a movie about toys that also subminally discussed life after death, loss, imagination, love, being wanted, dignity...these are all themes that anyone can relate to. It's disguised as a "kids movie," but the movie is crafted for everyone. That's what I love about Odyssey, and why I was disappointed with the first couple albums after the relaunch. Like Ben said, humor was spreadout through the characters. It wasn't always so intentional; it was natural - and hilarious. Albums 51-53 seemed to purposely try to make the listener laugh, which didn't make me chuckle. It almost felt at times like the writer was communicating via brain waves..."Come on, come on...laugh here!" As the writing was aimed more toward tweens, the humor seemed almost dumbed down at certain times. 

Ben Warren: "Forgiving More...or Less" features one of the most painfully awkward moments in Adventures in Odyssey history. The moment is awkward because John Avery Whittaker, my childhood hero and role model, says one of the most embarrassing jokes I've ever heard: "Big Scoop? I've got one here for the Ice Cream! Har. Har". Surely Camilla could have laughed. Someone could have laughed. Do we really want Whit to be portrayed as a bumbling, out of touch, geezer? If I remember correctly, the Whit I grew up with was a relatively funny guy who knew how to say a clever joke. Sigh. I suppose even role models say bad jokes, too.

I don't say all of this to bash the relaunch, but to lead to the current time in Odyssey history. Since Album 54, the writing has began to go back to those roots of Odyssey humor, of placing moments of laughter in between moments of happiness, and sadness, between many different moments. Jay's sense of humor finally won me over in Unbecoming Jay, and I loved the new dimension to his already multi-dimensional character in Mistaken for Good. The last two scenes of The Labyrinth were terrific, and I loved the dramedy balance in To Mend or Repair. Something Old, Something New took that approach as well with the comedy aspect of the Jones and Parker Detective Agency (finally, a case I was interested in...with the hilarious Penny as an excellent addition to the case) and the thoughtful, dramatic aspect with Connie. There were also great slapstick moments and a great end scene with Whit and Connie. Penny has been my favorite addition to the cast, as she adds to the list of characters who don't purposely mean to be funny RIGHT THIS INSTANT, but naturally IS Penny with her wonderful dialogue read by Kimmy Robertson. 

Going with CT's comment, I don't agree as well that the new era is "funnier than ever." I have laughed out loud at Unbecoming Jay, To Mend or Repair (the terrific Mitzi McCall as Mrs. Kramer, another great addition), and Something Old, Something New. As we prepare to hear The Grand Design this fall (unless you abandoned your radio ways and BOUGHT THE DOWNLOAD EARLY...sigh...), the new era might not be "funnier than ever," but it's getting there.

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