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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!


  1. George looks like a cross between Bernard amd Dr. Blackgaard a bit. :)

  2. Yeah, I guess so. I think he looks more like Elvis than either of them though. ; D