Sunday, September 15, 2013

730: The Friend Formula

Happy SonDay! Hope everyone's enjoying their weekend. Be sure to let me know what you thought about the episode!

If you haven't already, listen along with me and read The Odyssey Times below as you listen to The Friend Formula for my quick takes and thoughts.


Dulcimer image courtesy of MetaTalk
THE ODYSSEY TIMES (Facts, notes, and quotes about Odyssey from this ep):
- Mr. Whittaker returns to the opening theme.
- Cherry italian sodas? Are those new to the Whit's End menu?
- Barrett and Olivia are starting a band! Olivia plays guitar, Barrett plays trombone, and Priscilla sings? Is La Perros Frescos 2.0 available for a band name?
- I must admit I'm also wondering why Riley is carrying around a dulcimer around with him. Does he expect to play it somewhere? Is he looking for a band to join? Perhaps stumble across a music rehearsal somewhere or someplace?
- "So, Riley, old boy, what's your story? You look like a cheerleader for a funeral." - Jay
- Kemosabe! Perhaps this was written back when there were people excited for The Lone Ranger remake.
- Jay's super excited for Clambake (the soundtrack album from Elvis's last film for United Artists Pictures in 1967).
- The four "i-ngs": Spying, crying, plying, and lying. Jay's definitely one for wordplay.
- "So, how'd it go, kid? I left right around the time when you two were taking my name in vain." - Jay
- "Talk to her? But she's a girl!" Aw, Riley. You can do it! If Jimmy can confront Jessie, Miss Romantic, about her love for him, you can utter four phrases over and over when talking to Olivia. (The Trouble with Girls, The Lost Episodes).
- "Never trust your feelings, kid." - Jay, and a possible reference to next week's More Than a Feeling?
- Riley's turning the tables and recognizing Jay's "I-ngs!" Good for him.
- The Biblical response to the "I-ngs" - listening, sharing, caring, and trusting.

I'm not sure how to feel about this episode. There's a lot of good things happening here, but the not-so-great ones are frustrating, after the positive direction from the past two episodes. It's definitely overall a good episode, but some uneven things kept it from being something better. 

I loved the concept of the show. The "I-ngs" idea is something that many of us have unknowingly implanted in ourselves in a belief that we'll come across as a "cooler person" when we portray ourselves to be that way (I actually wrote a post about that this summer, which you can read here), and the moral of true friendship is something relatable for all ages. 

Gage Davenport, who plays Riley, did, for the most part, a very by-the-numbers performance. I didn't think it was incredible, but he did an admirable job. I'm not quite sure if Riley caught my attention enough to warrant him coming back, in my mind, but I will be curious if they do. I felt that Cindy, introduced in Unbecoming Jay, was a more interesting foil for Jay, who, while had a similar personality to Riley, also had a bit of a conniving side similar to her cousin, which made for an incredible and fun to listen to dynamic. However, Whit Hertford continues to bring an incredible false gravitas and great levity to playing Jay. I would love to hear Jay in some kind of dramedy-type episode, because I feel that Hertford could definitely pull off multiple dimensions and really explore some new characterizations for Jay. Not that the scheming Jay isn't tiresome, it's just that it'd be great to explore new territory with the character since he's played by a great actor. 

I also had a concern about the placement of this show in the season, but that's to be discussed later. The score was done by someone other than John Campbell, named Detrich Terry, and it sounds like that old-fashioned sound that unfortunately usually happens whenever Campbell doesn't do the score (a la Tim Hosman). The sound design wasn't a major factor in this episode. I liked how Whit and Riley could turn around the "I-ngs" into something more positive, but the band subplot never got out of its sour note funk for me. Olivia bounced back from her over-the-top-ish good personality last week, but I don't quite understand what the point of it was, unless it factors into a later episode. It seemed a little drawn-out, although the Riley-Olivia prying conversation was hilarious. Some of the dialogue was so-so, but overall, the script zipped along, thanks to Bob Hoose. 

I've noticed that Odyssey is beginning to move back to a more all-ages format, which is good news for older fans like me. As the show went into a new era three years ago, it seemed to have lost its footing when attempting to cater more to a selected age bracket of 8-12. It worked so hard at that that the writing took a hit. Since Album 55, the stories have been on a general upswing, which is definitely a good thing. 

The Friend Formula has a formula that translates to success, although some elements needed a bit more mixing. The story was interesting and the moral was important, but some scripting, acting, and score issues hampered the final product. However, Jay continues to shine and the Barrett/Olivia duo go two for two after last week's Chemistry. Riley has potential, but it's still too soon to tell. I give this episode a 86/100, or a 


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
Talk about this episode and a bunch of other Odyssey stuff over at Campbell County

Best Line of Dialogue - "So, Riley, old boy, what's your story? You look like a cheerleader for a funeral." - Jay

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