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Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Third Semi-Annual Avery Awards!

The next Official Podcast is out, and we finally hear the winners of this season's Avery Awards. This episode was created by The Ceiling Fan Podcast, and has many allusions and references to the podcast for fans of the show, so the sound design is more creative and interesting than usual, and there are a variety of situations. The podcast was pretty corny, but still fairly enjoyable. I must quickly be getting too old to be all that amused by these things. ;)

Well, as has been with the previous two Avery Awards Ceremonies, I was a little (okay, maybe a lot) dissatisfied. What I voted for, for the most part, wasn't the majority's opinion, and thus didn't win, but I can deal with it. This time, though, especially in the actor/actress nominations, it seemed like it was more based on the popularity of the character than the talent of the actor/actress.

For those of you who don't have time to listen to the podcast, here are my votes, the actual winners, and my opinions about the selections:

Best Actor:

My Vote: David Selby as Jebidiah Skint
Actual Winner: Robby Bruce as Buck Oliver

I could have predicted this, but it still annoys me. I seem to be one of the only people who really didn't like Robby Bruce's acting. Throughout almost the whole album he sounded like he was faking his accent, and it just distracted me from liking his character--whereas Mr. Selby played his part wonderfully. His accent was perfect, and he was a perfect cast for the part. I enjoyed hearing from him throughout the whole album, but it was always with hesitation because I knew we'd be hearing from Buck. I think this category was based more on the huge popularity of Buck among younger listeners (as we'll see later), than it was about Robby's performance as an actor.

Best Actress:

My Vote: Kimmy Robertson as Penny Wise
Actual Winner: Kimmy Robertson as Penny Wise

I was glad to hear that my choice won in this category, but I suspect that it was for different reasons than most others chose Ms. Robertson. I chose her because I thought she did a wonderful job with her acting. She pulled off sounding like a young college student even though she is over fifty, I believe. In fact, if I remember correctly, she's older than Katie Leigh! So this category was a very easy choice for me. However, my guess is that the reason Ms. Robertson received the award is because Penny was the most popular female character of the season, which I simply disagree with. She seemed to bring out the worst in nearly everyone she came in contact with, so I almost wish she hadn't won the award.

Best New Character:

My Vote: Detective Don Polehaus
Actual Winner: Buck Oliver

I wish I could see how close the votes were, because although Buck seemed to be pretty popular among younger listeners, I wouldn't have thought he'd win this one. I picked Detective Polehaus because, honestly, he was the only new character I liked. If you don't count Monty or Jason, which you shouldn't because they weren't included in the nominees, he was the funniest and most interesting character introduced. I'm fairly certain that if Phil Procter was included in the Best Actor category, I wouldn't have thought twice about my choice, because he did such a good job; I almost never heard any hint of Leonard Meltsner's voice, which surprised me. Even though, at times, the detective seemed a little naive and unprofessional, it never got too bad (unless you're Marvin), so I hold him as my favorite new character.

However...Buck...urgh. He seemed to bring out the worst in everybody too. He made Emily fall for him and that brought a very annoying aspect to this season. As I've said before, I don't understand why we have to have a "love story" everywhere these days. You can't get away from it anymore, and it never ceases to annoy me. Young kids (yes, I'm calling 8-12 young) don't need that kind of stuff put in their heads. It only leads to flirting, bad relationships and heartbreak. And their even younger siblings certainly don't need to hear all that. It just drives me crazy--all in Christian love of course. ;) But then there was all that junk that Katrina was telling him too. I know that that message is very prevalent in the church today: "You have a good heart, but you have problems that Jesus can fix. Just accept Him into your heart and everything will be okay." Now that causes righteous indignation; I can justly be driven crazy by that. But knowing what I now know about Paul McCusker, I guess I shouldn't be too surprised. I don't want to point a finger at him personally, but it is because there's now a different religious perspective on the Odyssey team that their messages must be more wishy-washy. What Katrina says to Buck throughout the season would neither be offensive to Catholics nor the popular evangelical movement, but AIO doesn't seem to realize that it is because of that very fact that people like me are offended. The gospel is offensive. Jesus "came not to bring peace, but a sword." His message of sin, righteousness and judgement should offend people, and it is not our job to water it down. Alright, I'll stop now.

Best "Whitta-Cliffhanger":

My Vote: Monty Is One of the Plane Crash Victims!
Actual Winner: The Infamous Stiletto Is Really Jason Whittaker!

This one was a tough choice, because both Jason's and Monty's returns were very exciting to hear about. But because the news of Jason's return had already leaked to me before I heard the "Whitta-Cliffhanger" at the end of the episode, I chose the other one. However, now that I think about it, I sort of already knew about Monty's return as well, because Amazon released 10- to 15-second clips of each episode before the season aired on the radio, and I remember Monty was discreetly mentioned in one of them, so I knew about both epic returns before either happened. Hopefully that won't happen the next time AIO puts out a season-long mystery with some surprising returning characters. :D

Best Quote:

My Vote:
Buck: You have a thing about big trucks?
Jay: Oh yeah. Ever since I was a kid, you know, (makes truck noises)
Buck: If you want to make friends, don't ever do noises like that again, OK?
Jay: Yeah.

Actual Winner:
Buck: You have a thing about big trucks?
Jay: Oh yeah. Ever since I was a kid, you know, (makes truck noises)
Buck: If you want to make friends, don't ever do noises like that again, OK?
Jay: Yeah.

That exchange was hilarious! 'Nuf said.

Best Writer:

My Vote: I honestly don't remember because it was so ridiculous. (But it may have been "Paul E. McCusker.")
Actual Winner: Paul McCusker.

I already expressed my main negative thoughts about Mr. McCusker's writing, so now I'll shoot for the positive thoughts. This was actually a good mystery, in my opinion. For the most part, it kept all of us guessing until the true villain was revealed. It didn't seem like an unrealistic take-over-the-country operation; I thought it was pretty clever. Some were afraid that the writers would try to create a world domination plot that would seem way too fanciful, having been only developed over twelve episodes. But I thought that it was very convincing that Mr. Grote chose to try to break down America by distributing millions, if not billions of counterfeit dollars. Mr. McCusker could easily be a big mastermind behind a counterfeiting scheme, because it's really a good idea. (The evil in my nature thinks it would be something fun to try. ;D)

So anyway, great job Odyssey! Even though there are many things I personally would have done and not done with this album, it was satisfactory, and I have enjoyed listening to the saga a few times now that I own the album. Please share your thoughts with me about what you thought of this season's Avery Awards in the comments!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Brock Eastman Interview

The Odyssey Scoop has posted the second part to their interview with Brock on the ScoopCast! I don't remember seeing that they had posted a first part, but it's exciting anyway. There was a little bit of new information shared, so I'll record it here as usual.
  • Brock has already heard six of Album 54's episodes, and he finds them quite exciting.

  • This upcoming album's episodes are definitely more along the lines of slice-of-life episodes, rather than the big conspiracy we just had.

  • The writers are already working on Album 55 shows, and Brock thinks that they are very exciting as well.

  • There is an episode in the upcoming season where we hear from Grandma Parker again, and there is a hilarious part combining Mr. Parker and tortillas.

  • Album 54 should really help us start connecting with the personalities of the members in the Parker family.

  • The Hispanic aspect of this new family was introduced to try to reach out to that Hispanic part of our culture which has always loved Odyssey, but seldom felt included in the stories.

  • Kevin McCreary plays a very minor character by the name of Kevin in the new Grandma Parker episode. His first Odyssey appearance was in The Green Ring Conspiracy Part I at 10:30. He calls out as part of the press as Detective Polehaus is leaving the crash site, "Detective, Detective! Wait, wait!" (I believe he was also the first person cast to play Robert Mitchell in Green Eyes and Yellow Tulips, according to the Novacom Saga's bonus CD.)

  • Brock has "cameoed" in a few episodes as well. In The Inspiration Station, he was one of the kids whom Connie had to clean up after in her dream, but his voice was replaced. And in The Mystery of the Clock Tower, he was a voice in the crowd at the end of Part 2. :P Diane, however, has been in many, many roles.

  • The Imagination Station series' Book 5, Showdown with the Shepherd was written by Brock, and Book 6, Problems in Plymouth was written by Marshal Younger. Plus, work has already been started on Books 7-12. Either Book 7 or 8 will feature Patrick fighting a dragon!

  • Brock's non-Odyssey series The Quest for Truth's first book, Taken, is out, and can be found at all major book retailers. He started writing the series in 2005, and he just last year finally found a publisher for them. (His blog about this series can be found here. [Be warned, the main picture may scare you away!])

  • The original premise for the series was going to feature four missionary kids in Africa, but Brock ended up having his character flying through space on a ship called the Phoenix! His purpose for writing the series was to give kids something to read that was a fun action/adventure story, but avoided the unnecessary elements that much teen fiction has today.

After the interview (which will be concluded in a third part in a couple of weeks), Kevin played a commercial/preview of the book series. You can hear that at 11:49 on the ScoopCast, if you're interested.

Well, I have to admit, I am getting a little bit more excited for the release of Album 54. I'm trying to get more optimistic about things so that I can come to the season with a neutral mind, but I'm not sure how well that's going to go if we have to hear from Penny and Emily. :P

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for any new Odyssey news. Please comment!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Paul McCusker Interview

For one of the first times ever, I'm listening to The Whit's End Podcast. AIO Wiki posted a link to a podcast interview with Paul McCusker. The sound quality isn't as great as The Official Podcast, but it was still very interesting to listen to. There was some new information revealed, so I'll record that here for those who aren't interested in listening to the podcast.
  • The new and updated Official Guide is set to come out sometime in the next year, year-and-a-half, around the time of Odyssey's 25th Anniversary. It will include some repeated information (mainly episode descriptions), but Nathan Hoobler is planning to include a lot of new behind-the-scenes stuff that wasn't in the first guide, because he doesn't like repeats.

  • Mr. McCusker wasn't sure how early they will be releasing Album 54--whether they'd release it in download form as early as Album 53 was released or just in album form before or after the album airs. You should e-mail them if you really want to know the answer or give your thoughts.

  • There are no immediate plans to do anymore Passages books or audio episodes as of now, mainly because of Mr. McCusker's time management.

  • Phillip Glossman and Dr. Regis Blackgaard will never return!

  • Bernard is always a possibility for the show, but there are no plans yet to put him in a new episode.

  • Two dozen episodes of Adventures in Odyssey translated over into a video production in India have been completed and are being aired on television over there.

  • China was interested to have Odyssey translated into their language to share with their youth. Hispanic countries are receiving many episodes in the Spanish language as well.

  • Oliver Twist will be the next FOTF Radio Theatre project, hopefully coming out next year. For those of you very attentive listeners, there was a reference made to this project in Album 53. Tell me in the comments if you know what it was.

  • In England the word "skint" means that you're poor; that's where the name for Mr. Skint came from.

  • The reason Odyssey characters don't open up the new episodes is that the writers were trying to simplify things a little bit and get back to the original Chris-only openings.

  • It's very exciting for the writers to see Andre Stojka as he continues to do better and better in the role of Whit. Just as Hal Smith and Paul Herlinger developed their own styles of Whit and came to him with different approaches, the writers definitely notice that Andre has his own unique style that he brings to Whit, and they mold his lines to fit that approach. It was in this most recent Album 53 that Mr. McCusker felt that Andre really clicked as the right choice for a new Whit.

  • There are not any more current storylines for Montyn, but Mr. McCusker says that since his return was so well-loved and -received, they plan to bring him back at some point. Maybe in another twenty years? :P

  • Although three shows from Album 54 were removed to create room for the three Wooton/Penny shows, we will likely be hearing them in either Album 55 or 56.

  • Continuing in the never-ceasing joke about the paradox of Odyssey time, Paul McCusker explains how whereas there isn't really any jump of time between the end of Album 50 and Album 51, in Part IX of the GRC, Jason mentions that ten years ago, he took on the role of the Stiletto. They are very vague about the passing of time during these last few albums, so Mr. McCusker suggests we just lay back and roll with it, without trying to get wrapped up in the time scheme of things.

  • With Album 54, the writers decided to go with the idea that each episode is inspired by 1 Corinthians 13, but very often, Chris's wrap-up at the end will point to a specific verse. For example, one of the Penny episodes called Childish Things points to the actual verse where Paul says, "Put away childish things." But some are a little broader than that, because they aren't trying to accomplish "expository preaching," but rather a broad overview of the meaning of love, as expressed in the chapter.

Well, we got a bunch of information in that podcast, so I'm glad the AIO Wiki posted about it. It was especially nice to learn some new things about Album 54, including what the third Wooton/Penny episode will be. Now I know what three weeks to be on vacation. :P Just kidding. Anyway, thanks for reading! Please comment!