Tuesday, October 22, 2013

733: Big Trouble Under the Big Top

Hey y'all!

Things are getting crazy up in here. Ally has tennis non-stop, and I'm doing college apps and clubs and extracurricular activities and...well, you get the picture. But in the midst of it all, we're trying to find time to edit Episode 2, or the season premiere, of Candid KOnversations and start recording Episode 3! I'm getting a slight idea of what it must have been like for Phil Lollar and Steve Harris back in '87. And to the circus we go, along with the one-episode triumphant return of Matthew Parker!

UPDATE 10/26: Marc Evan Jackson, otherwise known as David Parker, guest starred on my favorite show, Parks and Recreation, and he was hilarious. But anyways, reviews of Life Expectancy and The Pilot should be released soon, but note that all Album 57 reviews will be subject to change since they're based on the radio version, not the album version. After hearing of some potentially important scenes, we might have to wait a little longer so I can listen to the album version!


THE ODYSSEY TIMES (Facts, notes, and quotes about Odyssey from this ep):
- Finally, a title of a mystery that is actually the title that Emily selects.
- Oh no! Zach's voice is beginning to hit that time of life!
- "Welcome to the circus!"
- Well, look at you, Emily and Matthew, Mr. and Mrs. Sherlock Einstein.
- I thought clowns didn't talk to people that weren't in the CCC... (Like Father, Like Wooton, Album 47: Into the Light)
- Dual identities! 
- "Don't let loyalty and faithfulness leave you. Bind them around your neck. Write them around the tablet of your heart." - Proverbs 3:3

Jones and Parker Detective Agency mysteries have been a curious phonomenon in the new era of Adventures in Odyssey. The excitement of what could have been was run over the appearance of Game for a Mystery (Album 51: Take It From the Top), and expectations were lowered. Emily was a know-it-all who was a little insufferable, although smart. Although there was potential for this annoying character to have somewhat of a human side, we never saw it throughout Albums 51 - 52 (Take It From the Top, Cause and Effect). 53 - 54 (The Green Ring Conspiracy, Clanging Cymbals) began to open her up and break her character down and really deconstruct the once smug, all-knowing personality we associated her with. 56 (The Grand Design). Emily has slowly evolved into a character who is definitely extremely smart and observant, and while she has many unlikable qualities, still remains to gain an amount of respect from at least this listener. The most recent albums have given us both characterization and development for Ms. Jones and the other characters, moving plots further (Something Old...), giving us more insight (Great Expectations), helping other characters grow (the very good Repent After Me), and more mysteries. 

That brings us to Big Trouble, which seems like it might be trouble but manages to dig itself out. It feels like a shadow of the earlier Jones/Parker mysteries, but Matthew definitely has the stronger presence that he's been having throughout the show. He was mostly used for comic relief and circus trivia throughout the show, which, pun intended, seemed rather trivial for his character. I'm wondering if the writers are wondering what to do with Matthew at a point where his voice is beginning to change, but he's not involved in any heavy storylines. This is his only appearance in this album, a shocking change from the last six, and it unfortunately barely registers due to the story. 

Emily's deductive reasoning (and yes, a little Matthew) led to the culprit being uncovered. Of course, for many listeners, the mystery was never really in doubt. The culprit's motives were relayed very unsubtly toward the first five or so minutes of the episode. The real question was whether the episode could hold the audience's attention. After Game for a Mystery, many listeners were disappointed that it was more whiny Barrett and less Encyclopedia Brown. They got it with this one. Unfortunately, it was way too predictable of a mystery.

However, on the attention front, Wynn and Hoose fired on all cylinders. The circus atmosphere is a lot of fun and brings a lot of great moments and characterizations from the staff. I was a huge fan of the voices, and I know it sounds strange, but I got a big Madagascar: Europe's Most Wanted vibe. Zara, Esteban, and Pockets were great characters that were fun to listen to. 

One major element of the plot was the idea of a class system in the circus family. They used it to tie up a theme about treating others well and with respect. I thought that that was a squandered opportunity that could've been used to open up a discussion about the way we see people, but that's a minor complaint. Music and sound design were on point and very well-done and slightly over the top to match the writing.

Overall, Big Trouble Under the Big Top manages not to find itself in that much trouble. It's an enjoyable Jones and Parker Detective Agency that's very predictable, but it's a lot of fun, with a quirky sound design and score. I give this episode a 87/100, or a


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
Comment with your thoughts and reactions!

Best Sound Design - Jonathan Crowe
Best Score - John Campbell
Best Actor - Eduardo Antonio Garcia (Esteban), Gregg Bissonette (Pockets the Clown)
Best Actress - Hahni Critch [?] (Zara)

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