Sunday, September 1, 2013

726: Push the Red Button

Happy Sonday!

The goal failed. Couldn't do a review during the week. I'm hoping to make my way through Your Servant is Listening and No Chemistry Whatsoever this week. Happy Labor Day! No new Candid KOnversations updates, so we'll be on our way.

Hi, Will Ryan!
THE ODYSSEY TIMES (Facts, notes, and quotes about Odyssey from this ep):
- A master program that controls anything at Whit's End - that could possibly destroy civilization as we know it? Oh yeah, nothing could go wrong.
- Matthew Parker assisting a master program that controls everything at Whit's End? It's officially official - nothing, nothing, could go wrong.
- Penny is on a no-carb diet in this world.
- We have a different voice for Michaelangelo here than in the live show.
- Is it just me, or does Townsend Coleman's voice for Lord Gargantuan Foulspleen remind the listener a little bit of Dr. Doofenschmirtz from Phineas and Ferb?
- Silly Lord Gangantuan Foulspleen. If you listened to Odyssey, you'd know that the Imagination Station is not a time machine.
- Eugene and Whit, do you really NOT REMEMBER that the Imagination Station is not a time machine? Matthew, sorry, buddy, you still gotta head to French.
- Nice reference to the Slavs in ancient Russia!
- I wonder what people's rationale for thinking this episode was in total reality was.
- When I saw the extended version of the live show, I thought Odyssey was about to head into a post-apocalyptic Album 57. 
- Penny paints a beautiful masterpiece in minutes. Look out, Picasso.
- "Maximum defilation" - new LGF term
- A big kick to the machine. Ladies and gentlemen, Matthew Parker, technical genius.
- Nuclear bomb go boom.
- "What's weird is to use such an obvious cliche to end a story." - Penny
- Philippians 4:8-9

I think opinions can soften over time. That was certainly the case for this episode. When I first heard it, I had a severe dislike to this episode (not the live show version) for its cheesiness, unrealisticness, and sheer what-the-heck-is-happening-ness. But after a relisten, a couple elements have grown on me. 

After getting upset over the use of the "just kidding, guys, it was all a dream," on earlier listens, I caught Penny's self-aware tongue-in-cheek comment to the audience (see the Odyssey Times for this ep). I just wish the rest of this episode had that making-fun-of-itself tone as it did during the live show. The live show wasn't a masterclass in writing, but the extended run time allowed us to see just how impressive the acting, impressions, and sound design could be. Running jokes, like Wooton/Penny interaction and "fourth wall" Jason cracks, made the experience a memorable, hilarious one. The fact that Push the Red Button radio edition takes itself a little more seriously is not necessarily a good thing.

Another difference between the live show and radio edit is that Michaelangelo is not as intriguing as Chuck Bolte. Sure, he's a better-trained Italian accent, but...yawn. He was a completely forgettable character here, while he was completely unforgettable in Texas because everyone's always wanted to hear an Italian George Barclay. Stunt casting worked there - and the regular casting here felt dry. 

I now can understand why Red Button got that Sound Design Avery - all very impressive work by Rob Jorgensen. The music is ridiculously overdramatic fun by John Campbell. I think the main reason why I disliked this episode is because of the writing. As Ben Warren discussed in his review, other examples of exaggeration in Odyssey had proper framing to explain the out-there-ness of it all. My hyperactive imagination, upon seeing the live show for the first time, worried that a nuclear bomb had actually detonated the entire town of Odyssey and the surrounding Campbell County and we'd spend Album 57 living Winter's Bone - Our Daily Bread style, with the Barclays scrounging for squirrel meat in parks to escape from the mass hysteria from the first nuclear explosion in the United States.

I guess I'm simply tired of ridiculousness. It's fun every once in a while, but to trot it out a lot more recently in this new era takes away the positive elements it can bring. Mindless chaos can be fun, but can't entertainment with truth, goodness, and beauty be fun and good for you? The extremity of the ep led to a story that didn't get too invested in its themes. What really is truth, goodness, and beauty? For that, I'd have to turn to other AIO eps.

Push the Red Button is a hyperactive bombastic ear fest with great sound design and score. The actors all seem like they're having a lot of fun. However, it's the writing that drags everything down. The tone's off, the characters are all over the place, the moral is difficult to discern at face value, and the plot is sadly too out there to come back to orbit. I give this episode a 70/100, or a


That brings us to the end of Album 56! Nine months after it aired. And on to A Call to Something More...

Catch up on Josh's summer by reading his blog from the past several months here
Read about our Live Show experience here
Buy this episode and 11 others on Album 56: The Grand Design via CBD
Talk about this episode and a bunch of other Odyssey stuff over at Campbell County

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