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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mr., Mrs., Ms., Master, and Jr. Barclay (The Barclays)--Part III

Sorry that I haven't written in a while, and that I haven't written a review in a few weeks. I've been kind of busy and distracted the last few weeks with a lot of school and cleaning around the house. But now I'm going to try to get to that third and last part of the review on the Barclays. And after this, I think I'm going to stop the character reviews for good. Not just because the new season starts next week, but because it takes a lot of time and thought to write these, and I just don't really have that time. Although I guess I can, after the season's over, try to write one about Mitch upon constant request of Brittini. Who knows? Maybe after writing that one I'll want to keep writing more. I guess you guys'll just have to keep coming back and reading. :)

Alright, we left the Barclays last time just before they were going to take a trip to Hawaii. Aloha, Oy! has been a fan favorite ever since it aired on the radio in 1994, and for good reason. It combines two of the most popular families in Odyssey's history in an unusual setting, making for a hilarious episode. There's the storyline of Rodney trying to impress Donna (which I think is handled very well for a kids show, and in a funny way), Jimmy, Lawrence, and Mr. Iowa (ee-O-way) searching for Lawrence's dad, whom he hasn't seen in six months, all while the parents of the families go out on a boat ride, only to get trapped in the middle of the ocean with a holey ship that threatens to take them down with no one else around. In the end, the parents are saved by the U.S. Marines (at least that's who I think it was), Donna finally convinces Rodney to stop trying to win her over because it couldn't ever work for them, and Lawrence finds his dad, making for one of the most touching scenes in Odyssey's history, which is probably one of the reasons this is such a fan favorite. And it all ends with Mr. Iowa teaching everybody how to sing "Aloha, Oy" as they sit around a campfire.

The next big chapter in the Barclays' lives is when George loses his job, and thinks that God may be calling him into the ministry. In Our Daily Bread, he is laid off from his job, and the family decides to take up part-time jobs to help pay the bills. In A Prayer for George Barclay, an episode similar to Where There's a Will..., Jimmy and Donna come together and pray earnestly for George to get the job he's interviewing for. He ends up turning down the offer because he feels like he's being called into the ministry. I never had any specific feelings about these episodes and the ones to come, because one of my early albums was Darkness Before Dawn, where George is already a pastor, so there wasn't really anything for me to get used to. Anyway, in George Under Pressure, we learn that George did follow the calling, and he is swamped in "schoolwork" for his classes at seminary. The Barclays have to learn to grow closer and support their husband and father in this episode, since George is really feeling beaten down because he still hasn't been offered any preaching or teaching jobs. So the family comes together in prayer, and almost immediately, he is offered an interim pastorate at the local church. (Also in this episode, we find out that Mary is pregnant.)

So throughout the next few Barclay episodes, there are stories about Jimmy and Donna's lives as "preacher's kids." Jimmy starts feeling pressured by people at church to follow in his father's footsteps as a pastor, but after trying to teach Lawrence's Sunday School class, and obviously failing, he decides that he should probably wait for a while before trying to do anything of that sort again. In the same episode, A Call for Reverend Jimmy, Donna is distressed because of all the times George keeps telling embarrassing stories about her in his sermons. And one of them ends up being a story about her and her boyfriend (who is fairly unaware of her admiration), Jack Davis, which she treats as the last straw. Things are eventually settled when George tells Donna that he'll ask her permission before sharing any more stories, and the episode ends with a very loud sound covering over Mary telling the gender of the upcoming baby.

By the second-to-next Barclay show, Stuart/Stewart Reed has been born (he was named by popular opinion in letters from fans who suggested the name), and his first word is "carrot", according to Jimmy. :) In this episode, there's again a problem with Donna about being a "preacher's kid", which is the title of the episode. This is the episode after which I think the Odyssey writers decided that the Barclay kids were getting too old to be on a kids' show anymore. Donna has boys who want to go out with her, and she gets into trouble when she is involved in the burning down of a house in Gower's Field. The episode ends similar to The Barclay Family Ski Vacation with George explains to Donna that he still loves her, and that being a pastor's daughter doesn't mean you have to be perfect.

Then comes the episodes that were very sad for fans who were around at the time: Pokenberry Falls, R.F.D. I still honestly have no clue what "R.F.D." stands for. It might even say in the episode, but I wouldn't know, because I don't own it, so I don't know much about it. All I really know is that Pokenberry Falls was in need of a pastor, and so the Barclays reluctantly moved there, and that it still makes older fans sad to this day that they aren't in Odyssey, and every new family is compared to the Barclays. The only episode with the whole Barclay family in it after this one is It's a Pokenberry Christmas a few years later, which is one of my all-time favorite episodes because of all of its parallels to the movie It's a Wonderful Life. (If you want to see what I'm talking about go here.)

After that episode, the Barclays disappear off the face of the earth, except for the appearance of George and Jimmy around the time and after Connie almost got married. And then Jimmy appeared in The Triangled Web, another one of my all-time favorite episodes, in Album 50, along with a lot of other old characters.

I can't say that I was sad to see the Barclays go because they left in 1996, the year I was born. I really enjoy almost all of the episodes they're in, but I was okay when I was introduced to new families like the Straussbergs, Washingtons, and DeWhites. In fact, I would almost say that the Washingtons are like the Barclays to me, because when I started hearing new seasons as they aired on the radio for the first time, the Washingtons were the main family. I was very sad to hear that they wouldn't be on the show anymore when that was announced before Album 51. I especially liked Marvin, and I also thought that it was weird that they'd drop them off the show so soon after Kelly became a part of their family. But that's all in the past now and there's nothing I can do about it.

Thank you for reading my review! Be sure to check back next week when I review the first part of The Green Ring Conspiracy! Please comment!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Things Are Slow

I'm sorry I didn't get around to writing the third part of my review on the Barclays on Saturday. I had a late night on Friday, and was busy doing other things on Saturday, so maybe I'll do two reviews this week. No, I'm just kidding. I don't think I could ever do two reviews in one day.

Yeah, there isn't really anything new to talk about. This is the longest it's been in a while that we haven't had any new news. No blog posts have come out since early on Friday. The only thing that is really new that you may not have seen is that AIO Wiki has a mini-contest with some sort of prize on their website. You can go here to check it out. (This website should help you out.)

Well, that's about it for now. I hope that news picks up around the OBC, so I can have something to write about. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Results for the Second Semi-Annual Avery Awards Are In!

I'm going to post the results here for those of you who may not have time to listen to the podcast, but if you'd rather hear the podcast first, don't read on. : )

The award for Best Sound goes to:

The Mystery of the Clock Tower Parts I and II.

I voted for Wooton's Broken Pencil Show, but I guess it's okay that this one won. I've only actually heard each episode once, so I don't know if it really was superior or not. I'm looking forward to actually owning the album.

The award for Best Scene goes to:

Clock Tower Meetings--the story of the clock tower meetings from The Mystery of the Clock Tower.

Now with this one, I can't say that I am very happy, because I, for one, thought that this part of the episode was pretty mature for the 8-12 year old target audience. But apparently it was popular, and, again, since I've only heard it once, maybe it was really good.

The award for Best Actor goes to:

Will Ryan as Eugene in Fast As I Can.

I pretty much agree with this choice, although I actually picked Whit Hertford as Jay in The Malted Milkball Falcon. Mr. Ryan continues to do an amazing job as Eugene for someone who is actually way older than his character. And he especially did well in this episode at the times when Eugene was trying to keep his words at two syllables or less. He had me laughing out loud a lot.

The award for Best Actress goes to:

Katie Leigh as Connie in The Mystery of the Clock Tower.

I did vote for this one, and I'm glad that she won, because in my opinion, all four of the other nominees weren't very good at their parts. So I'm glad that Katie Leigh was rewarded again, becuase she, just like Will Ryan, continues to do an excellent job at playing a character way younger than herself, and I hope God allows her to do it for a much longer time.

The award for Best Script goes to:

The Mystery of the Clock Tower.

I actually did vote for this one because from what I remembered about the episode, it had a great plot, and it was a good mystery that kept you guessing. I think Paul McCusker definitely deserved this award, and I am very much looking forward to his work on the full-album mystery coming up in the next season.

And the award for Best Overall Episode goes to:

The Mystery of the Clock Tower.

This didn't surprise me that much since this episode also got awards for Script and Sound, but again, I didn't think that it was the best of the season, just because of the slight matureness in the overall plot behind the plot. But I guess it was well-deserved, and since the fans were so pleased with this episode, hopefully they'll feel just as well about the upcoming season.

Thank you for taking the time to read. I'd very much like to hear your thoughts about what I said, and what your votes were. Please comment!

P.S. Luke from the Odyssey Times discovered a new website called AIOIFA (AIO Information for Anyone). It is a miniature version of what many websites like The Soda Fountain and AIO HQ offer. It looks really good, and seems to be promising. Go check it out!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Back Cover of Album 53!

Original Joe just posted the back cover of Album 53 on The Odyssey Way. I'm not sure where he got it, but here it is:

I think Connie fits really well on the back of it, and I'm glad we get an album with this particular picture on it.

And I think it was a good idea to list all the themes of the album on the back rather than to list every single episode (The Green Ring Conspiracy Part 1, The Green Ring Conspiracy Part 2, etc.).

In my opinion, the back cover looks really good, and I don't think they could've put a better picture on the back. Unless of course Gary Locke drew a picture of Monty or something. :)

Well, that's all for now. If you want to hear the first episode of Album 53, you can download it for free here. But if you want to demonstrate self-control like me, you won't. ; D

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Mr., Mrs., Ms., Master, and Jr. Barclay (The Barclays)--Part II

Picking up where I left off last week, the next popular Barclay show after Castles and Cauldrons was Wishful Thinking. This episode plays out what probably a lot of children wish on their siblings, but after hearing this episode would think twice before saying--"I wish you'd never been born!" I know at least I've thought that once or twice before, but after hearing this episode numerous times (as it was also in my first collection), I usually repent of thinking that after considering the implications. But this has always been a very enjoyable episode, kind of in the style of It's a Wonderful Life, the movie after which the Barclays were patterned.

The next few episodes are also interesting ones: Thanksgiving at Home being when Donna and Jimmy have to make Thanksgiving dinner for themselves because George and Mary are sick with the flu, and The Vow, when Donna is sure that George is considering a divorce with Mary. Now this episode, I think, handles the issue of divorce better than any other Odyssey episode so far, because, although it does have a lot of humor, it ends in a beautiful way with the kids witnessing their parents renew their wedding vows. But that's not to say that the AIO team didn't also do a great job with the Mandy saga; I just think this one was a little better.

Then comes Someone to Watch Over Me, one of Odyssey's most popular shows, and definitely on my Top 10 list. I could probably listen to this episode many times in a row without getting tired of it. It has amazing performances by Dave Griffin, Hal Smith, Chuck Bolte, and Chuck Robinson as Nagle. It is always a moving episode, and I remember absolutely loving it the first time I heard it. And it even gets deep and intense when Nagle tells Jimmy that Death has been chasing him. That line usually gives me the chills. So in a touching and surprising conclusion, Jimmy learns that there is a spiritual realm at work beyond his imagination and that his life is, and always has been, in the hands of God.

Over the next few shows, Jimmy and Donna learn lessons like: how to seek God's will, when they might have to move to Washington D.C.; the message behind Jesus' parable of the servants the hard way; and the meaning of sacrifice when they respectively choose to give up Zapazoids and soap operas (their "sacrifices" don't last very long).

And then there's that famous episode, Coming of Age, where Jimmy loses his voice and begins to enter adolescence. This is another episode that I think the Odyssey team handled very well, and I think this is one of the episodes that makes the Barclays such a favorite of older fans. We teenagers can almost all relate to how Jimmy feels in this episode as his body seems to be falling apart, his chest hurts, his bones ache, he starts having real crushes on girls, and his voice sounds like a "cross between a frog with laryngitis and a country-western singer." He is finally growing up, and he doesn't like it. He starts having to shave, he can't seem to talk to his dad anymore, and he even blows up at Whit about losing a part in a play. He writes in a journal that he doesn't like having to deal with these changes and feelings. I think this is about the closest Odyssey ever got to dealing with the issues and problems that teenagers face as they grow up. Many people have complained as they got older that AIO continued to get more and more irrelevant to them, and that they wanted more shows that they could relate to. I think it's quite obvious why the Odyssey team never really decided to do that: there are continually new young listener who wouldn't be able to themselves relate to episodes featuring older kids. So I'm glad that the show has stayed at the right age level, but I'm also glad that we got to have this episode.

In the next Barclay episode, Moses: the Passover, the theme of George trying to communicate with his son continues when the two of them are whisked away on an Imagination Station adventure to Egypt on Jimmy's birthday. I think this is one of the most touching and entertaining Imagination Station adventures, but that's probably because I don't think we own it, so I don't hear it very often. This episode handles the subject of the atonement very well for a children's show. Jimmy, although a firstborn, is not killed by the Angel of Death, even though he's not in a house with blood on it, because he is already covered by the blood of Jesus. This kind of episode is one of the reasons my family sticks with Odyssey even when we have bad seasons like 51 and 52. Although Odyssey can get too modernized and worldly at times, they still have stuck to the old time Christian values, and don't seem to be moving too far away from them yet.

As Jimmy gets older, he becomes pretty much the central character in the Barclay family. During this period, he does things such as: ask to get his ears pierced (pretty much as a joke; I don't think the writers really meant for him to be serious), start a slightly coarse and vulgar talk show on Kids' Radio, and almost he almost uses all his money on a pair of tennis shes that "blow up!" But then comes Lawrence. In shows like Wonderworld and Terror from the Skies, Jimmy learns responsibility as he has to babysit a young boy named Lawrence Hodges with an enormous imagination. Together they go to places in Lawrence's imagination such as a prisoners-of-war camp, Nottingham Forest, the African veldt, and Destructo headquarters. Lawrence has such an influence on Jimmy that in Terror from the Skies, he (along with the help of Edwin Blackgaard's radio program) gets Jimmy to believe that aliens have landed in Odyssey and they are attacking Whit's End and Lawrence's mom! Lawrence's character comes to more importance when the Barclays get to go on vacation to Hawaii.

Well, that about gets through the next third of the Barclays' lives in Odyssey. I don't want to be making posts much longer than this anymore, so I'm going to stop it right here. Next week I'll get into the parts of the show when George is seeking to be a pastor, and how the family ultimately moves to Pokenberry Falls.

If you haven't checked it out yet, go listen to the clips from Album 53 that you can find here. They don't reveal too much about the new season, but they definitely got me excited.

Thanks for reading! Please comment!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hear Eleven New Clips from Album 53!

The special surprise today was released on the Official AIO Podcast page in video form. Brock supposedly has now made it possible to download the entire Album 53 for free! But that's not all.
Something that I think others probably missed is that on the page where you can download the episodes, you can hear a clip from each and every new episode in the season!! The only reason there aren't twelve new clips is because the first one is the one that was already released.

Spoiler Warning: The following includes new information that you might want to find out for yourself by listening to the new audio.

We hear from characters such as Matthew, Nelson, Jay, Emily, Wooton, Connie, Whit, and Eugene. And we meet new characters such as Buck, Penny Wise, Detective Tom Pullhouse, Agent Tanner, Uncle Archie, Mr. Skid, Officer Hardwick,

But the biggest, hugest, most amazing news, in my opinion is that the new character who is returning from WAY back is...Whit's grandson, Monty! At least that's what I assume is meant when "Whit's grandson" is reffered to. This is big news! I am much more excited for this new album than I ever was before, and I hope you are too!

Thank you for reading; I'll keep you updated on any more breaking news as it comes out.