Saturday, September 7, 2013

727-728: Your Servant is Listening, Parts 1 And 2

Hello Album 57!

THE ODYSSEY TIMES (Facts, notes, and quotes about Odyssey from this ep):
- Matthew is headed for the skater look.
- The age-old "how lenient is too lenient" question between older generation and younger generation.
- Jesse Fliscergold got a pencil eraser stuck up his nose? Oh, Jesse. Jesse, Jesse, Jesse.
- Oh snapple, the second Parker has changed voices. Stay on, Zach Callison, stay on!
- Camilla got a lot younger-sounding with a more pure and less raspy voice. She was originally Joy in Child's Play.
- Camilla, let's not resort to logic leaps to get what you want. You're smarter than that!
- The Imagination Station is just "big and empty," as Lucia describes. 
- "Don't we have to buckle in first?" - Lucia and a clever nod to earlier IS incarnations
- Three generations of Ortega women - out on the town, as in Shiloh!
- "He could stand to cut down on the tamales though; he's a large one." - Lucia on Eli
- The return of the Sunshine Girl references!
- "I think he has my nose!" "I still think he's cute." - Elkanah and Camilla
- "Prayer changes us. It shows our dependence on God and our desire to invite Him into our lives. It also allows us to express our heart to Him, and then He does the same with us!" - Hannah
- What's a time when you've seen God in your life?
- Eli needs help with child control.
- Cinderella, Cinderella, night and day, it's Cinderella. Phinehas, also known as the Evil Goddefiler.
- "That's where the Ark is." "Oh, so that's where Noah parked it!" - Samuel and Camilla
- "The Ark contains the power and glory of God!" "What would happen if you went there?" "I'd be struck dead." "Yeeee, you're right, we'd better take another way out." - Samuel and Camilla
- Indiana Jones knows the lesson from the above quote very well.
- Way to bring French toast to Israel, Camilla!
- "We're all His children. He has something to say to each of us - if we only listen. And of course, we have to talk to Him too." - Samuel
- Welcome to God's family, Camilla!

After having the last Bible story season premiere become one of my favorite episodes of all time, I tried to have low expectations for this season premiere. I was curious to see how an adventure with "three generations of Ortega women" written by Nathan Hoobler and Kathy Buchanan would turn out, and how Samuel would work as a story. Suffice it to say, it worked. 

However, it didn't work right away. The first half and second half were pretty much disconnected from each other (for the sake of argument) in terms of...well, for me, almost everything. On the surface, part 1 was about Hannah and how God listened to her, while part 2 was about Samuel and how he and the nation of Israel (and us) had to learn to listen to God. I thought the acting in the first half, in terms of the Biblical characters, was weak. I didn't really connect to any of the characters because of what I heard as a stale delivery. As didactic storytelling, Odyssey has mostly managed to get a lesson across without being "preachy." While the act of preaching is not a bad thing (hello, Sunday!), it's more difficult to make a lesson really sink in when you stick it into entertainment. I felt that a lot of things had to be explained, and more things were told to us than shown (comment if you're interested in some of these cases) in the first half. One of the things that needed to be told, Hannah's conversation with Camilla, wasn't as strong as it could be because of Terrianne Steinhower's performance, although I felt her performance improved as the episode went on.

Speaking of performance, let's talk about Michaela Dean! I thought something was amiss when I heard a less raspy, younger voice for Camilla. After listening to the latest podcast and finding out she had previously voiced Joy, I recognized that the writers either needed Camilla to be younger or Sydney Shiotani had lost interest. I was SUPER disappointed and bummed by the loss of Sydney, since I LOVED her voice and thought it was incredibly possibly iconic and unique to Odyssey, Michaela did a fine job. I still miss Sydney, though!

My favorite part of part 1 was towards the beginning, when Lucia and Eva explained to Camilla about animal sacrifice - and connected it back to the Gospel! Applications and how the Bible still relates to us today is something Odyssey can do really well, as best shown in The Perfect Church and The Imagination Station, to name a few. The second half picked up on this with Samuel and Camilla. Samuel's message of learning to listen to God was timely and important. I always like to say how God is such an amazing storyteller, and it's interesting to see the story of Phinehas and Hophni, who didn't listen to their father, juxtaposed against Samuel, who listened to his Father. Camilla's conversion after learning to listen to God was a very natural step for her, and it was exciting and interesting to see an example of how someone came to faith growing up in a Christian family (I'm not sure when was the last time we heard that on Odyssey). 

I've always loved the chemistry between Lucia and Eva, but I felt it was even stronger in this two-parter as they spent most of their time with each other. Their relationship feels so real, thanks to their superb performances. Lucia brought a lot of great levity to the episode, and I appreciated her warmth, humor, and wisdom. It reminded me of better Mr. Whittaker days! Eva's job as a nurse was perfect for this episode, and I'm so glad Mr. Hoobler and Ms. Buchanan incorporated that for continuity. 

For me personally, this episode was very eye-opening, as I learned that I need to take the time to try and listen to God. I think we often treat prayer like a one-way conversation (at least I can), and we need to remember that there's always Someone listening (and speaking) on the other side of the phone!

While starting slow (in terms of telling over showing and acting), Your Servant is Listening is a well, thought-out, thought-provoking two-parter that asks us to check ourselves on how we listen to God and not just talk. Sound design and score is on point, as is the writing, performances, and attention to detail. I give this episode a 93/100, or an 


Catch up on Josh's summer by reading his blog from the past several months here
Buy this episode and 11 others on Album 57: A Call to Something More via CBD
Read our review of The Perfect Church
Talk about this episode and a bunch of other Odyssey stuff over at Campbell County

Best Episode - Nathan Hoobler, Kathy Buchanan, Bob Hoose
Best Sound Design - Chris Diehl
Best Actress - Lucki Wheating 
Best Score - John Campbell

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