I was a little scared to do a post on the Barclays, because I was afraid I'd either make it way too long or way too short, and since the Barclays are the most popular family in Odyssey, I figured I should do it right if at all. But I think I got it figured out. I think I'm going to go through some of their biggest family events, and then go through character by character.
We first meet the Barclays in Family Vacation where we are immediately introduced to each one of the characters' personalities which remain almost exactly the same throughout the entire show. We learn that Jimmy and Donna love to argue, and aren't exactly best friends, we learn that George Barclay is the king of sarcasm, and that Mary Barclay is as pleasant and submissive and motherly as any man would want his wife to be. In this episode however, the parents were played by different actors than they would be for the rest of the show, but apparently due to their unpopularity, they were changed by the next show. Chuck Bolte, producer of Odyssey for a long time, has ever since been Mr. Barclay, and has been one of the best actors on the show. I don't know what it its about Mrs. Barclay though, because in the next show, she was played by an actress who was only around for the next four shows, and then she was changed again to an actress who played her for eleven shows. And finally, after those episodes, Carol Bilger came along who continued to play Mary until the Barclays went off the show on her eighteenth episode. I think this last Mrs. Barclay was my favorite one, but probably just because she's in the most episodes that I own.
Anyway, in the next few episodes, Jimmy and Donna play minor parts in episodes, usually hanging out at Whit's End, helping with a play or asking Whit or Connie for advice. Also, Jimmy goes to camp where he is seen hanging out with the friends that he seems to have for this period in time. But the next big Barclay episode is one of most fans' all-time favorite episodes--Our Best Vacation Ever. In this episode, because the family doesn't have enough money, and all of the kids' friends are going somewhere, Whit suggests that they have a vacation at home. This results in a massive water fight, camping in the living room, a trip to the zoo and then Trickle Lake, and then helping out at Tom Riley's barn-raising party. I personally am not a huge fan of this episode, but that's just because I've listened to it countless times as a result of it being in my first Odyssey collection ever. However, I am fairly entertained every time I hear it, and it's a favorite of my younger siblings. We've even gone on local vacations of our own a few times, as I'm sure other listeners have.
Over the next couple episodes, Jimmy goes to Nicaragua and helps Dan Isidro, one of Whit's missionary friends (oh yeah, did I mention it's a dream? ;D), and Donna is forced to host the Fall Festival, which she is hesitant to do because of bad memories about her deceased friend Karen. The next Barclay family episode features them shuffling off a homeless family to Whit at Christmastime. But they are reminded of the bad Christmas they had the year before, and realize that they don't want that family to suffer the same way. Then, continuing the winter theme, in the next show, the Barclays go on yet another vacation to a ski resort, where the main concept of the story is a crush Donna has on her ski instructor, later leading to heartbreak when she realizes he already has a girlfriend. It kind of makes sense that the writer of this episode never wrote any others. :) Nevertheless, the escapade leads to a bonding between Donna and George, and George realizes that his daughter really is growing up.
Throughout the next section of the Barclays' lives in Odyssey, Jimmy goes on an Imagination Station adventure and meets Abraham Lincoln, the Barclay house almost burns down (not really, but according to the kids. ;D), Jimmy gets bad advice from Connie, has some Trouble with Girls, and then, in one of Odyssey's most intense shows, his cousin pulls him into a "fantasy, role-playing game" called Castles & Cauldrons. This is the only AIO episode that features a parental warning from Dr. James Dobson at the beginning of the show, telling parents about the danger of such games and how they often lead to contact with the spirit world. This episode scared me when I was younger, but now I think that it was one of the most well-done episodes Odyssey has ever produced. It really accomplishes its goal in getting kids concerned enough about these types of games, which were apparently popular back then, that they wouldn't want to follow other kids into these foolish activities. Whit ends up destroying the game, the Barclay family goes back to normal, and the game and the topic of spirits and demons, aren't really ever mentioned in Odyssey again.
Well, this gets us about one-third of the way through the Barclays' time in Odyssey, and I don't have any more time to write, and this'll probably get too long if I go any longer, so I'm going to save the rest for next week, and maybe even into the week after that.
I hope you enjoyed this first part of the review on the Barclay family, and Lordwilling, there will be more to come! Please comment!
P.S. The Odyssey Scoop has reported that there is a new Odyssey collection that has been released on the FOTF store's website called The Adoption Collection that features the three Odyssey episodes about adoption: Clara, and The Chosen One Parts I and II. I'm pretty confident that it is legitimate, but I don't think it looks all that great, and it's weird that we haven't heard about it until now. But here it is if you're interested.
Also, on the latest Official Podcast, we were told that we should go back to the podcast page on February 1st for a big surprise. I'll post about it as soon as possible.
Thank you for reading!