Welcome to Just Another AIO Blog, a site that is dedicated to the popular radio drama Adventures in Odyssey. We provide news, reviews on the latest episodes, articles, features, and we also are home to Adventures in Connellsville, a unique look at the town next to Odyssey through book form, We also provide a U.S.S. Response page that gets updated every other day. This page provides a response to recent comments on The Soda Shop Message Boards. And just recently, we started a unique Adventures in Odyssey podcast: called JAAIOP, or Just Another AIO Podcast. Feel free to post comments or subscribe to this site by email or with Google Friend Connect. Thank you!

Alex Jefferson, creator and operator of Just Another AIO Blog

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The 100 Greatest AIO Episodes Of All Time (In My Opinion)

     Well guys, I've finally completed it.  It was quite a grand project, and I hope some of you at least sort of agree with it.  What is it, you ask?  Why, The 100 Greatest AIO Episodes of All Time!  I will be writing a quick paragraph for #10 - #1 on why the episode deserves to be in the top 10.  So, without further ado, here they are, in order, from the 100th Greatest Episode to the Greatest:

 #100: Relatively Annoying

#99: Into Temptation

#98: Prequels of Love

#97: License To Deprive

#96: Tom For Mayor

#95: Secrets

#94: Opportunity Knocks

#93: War of the Words

#92: The Top Floor

#91: A New Era

#90: Telamachus

#89: First-Hand Experience

#88: The Imagination Station, Revisited

#87: The Jubilee Singers

#86: Last In a Long Line

#85: Odyssey Sings!

#84: Two Sides To Every Story

#83: Prisoners of Fear

#82: The Chosen One

#81: Plan B: Resistance

#80: Truth, Trivia, and ‘Trina

#79: A Prayer For George Barcaly

#78: I Want My B-TV!

#77: Sheep’s Clothing

#76: The Return

#75: Coming Of Age

#74: Red Herring

#73: The Highest Stakes

#72: Hold Up!

#71: Sergeant York

#70: Always

#69: It Is Well

#68: Over the Airwaves

#67: A Lamb’s Tale

#66: A Bite of Applesauce

#65: Broken Window

#64: The Painting

#63: The Turning Point

#62: My Girl Hallie

#61: The Labyrinth

#60: My Fair Bernard

#59: Tornado!

#58: Living In the Gray

#57: The Pact

#56: The Visitors

#55: First Love

#54: Pokenberry Falls, R.F.D.

#53: Top This!

#52: Thank You, God

#51: It Happened At Four Corners

#50: The Triangled Web

#49: Hidden In My Heart

#48: Something Blue

#47: A Question About Tasha

#46: License To Drive

#45: A Most Intriguing Question/A Most Surprising Answer/A Most Extraordinary Conclusion

#44: Love Is In the Air

#43. For Whom the Wedding Bell Tolls

#42: The Twilife Zone

#41: I Slap Floor

#40: Two Friends and a Truck

#39: A Touch of Healing

#38: Connie Comes To Town

#37: Aloha, Oy!

#36: It’s a Pokenberry Christmas!

#35: Suspicious Minds

#34: The Search For Whit

#33: Sunday Morning Scramble

#32: Plan B: Collision Course

#31: The Underground Railroad

#30: Castles and Cauldrons

#29: Exit

#28: Karen

#27: A Name, Not A Number

#26: The Perfect Witness

#25: The Mysterious Stranger

#24: Unto Us A Child Is Born

#23: Back to Bethlehem

#22: The Battle

#21: The Triangle

#20: Greater Love

#19: Clara

#18: No Way Out/No Way In

#17: Gone/…But Not Forgotten

#16: Recollections

#15: Where Is Thy Sting?

#14: The Nemesis

#13: Waylaid In the Windy City

#12: A Lesson From Mike

#11: The Imagination Station

#10: Someone To Watch Over Me: It's just, in general, a classic staple of the brilliance of early AIO.  It combines action, heart, spirituality, and a constant sense of adventure in a mind-boggling melting pot of beauty.  It's my favorite Jimmy episode of all time and I think many would agree it deserves to be here.

#9: Do Or Diet: This may come as a shock to some, as "Do Or Diet" seems to be a very minor episode at first.  It's a simple comedy with a simple plot and few characters.  It's mismashed with all the other episodes from that season, and it's not built to stand out.  But it achieves its purpose (to entertain and amuse) far better than any comedy AIO has ever produced.  It's Kathy Werienga's crown jewel as a writer, and it deserves the Top 10.

#8: Connie: Fairly self-explanatory, I suppose.  Connie had only been around Odyssey for about a year at this time, but her conversion is extremely powerful nonetheless, and the flashback scenes are done extremely well.  But who can forget Eugene's appearance in the episode as well?  Strangely enough, my favorite scene of the episode is Eugene's entrance into Whit's End.

#7: The Green Ring Conspiracy: This is probably the most shocking placement of all (except maybe the #1), but I wholeheartedly believe it's a masterpiece, just like Darkness Before Dawn and Novacom.  Except there's one difference: DBD and Novacom weren't all one episode.  GRC is.  If it was split into different episodes, do you think I would place any of them this high?  Heck, no.  But when looked at as a complete package, GRC is a truly fascinating web of intrigue and suspense.  Almost like a psychological thriller in that it has no action, but manages to seem suspenseful the entire time.

#6: The Case of the Secret Room: Again, pretty self-explanatory.  It's the first true AIO mystery, and easily the best.  The story itself is well known to all AIO fans, and there are enough twists and turns to keep first-time listeners guessing.  But, of course, the greatest line of the show is one word: "Whitake-rrr".

#5: The Final Conflict: This deserves to be here because of the tunnel scene with Blackgaard and Jack alone.  Probably in the top 3 scenes of all time.  I also love how they picked off each villain before it was just Blackgaard left.  The highlight of the DBD saga, and the 2nd best episode of the album.

#4: The Forgotten Deed: This'll come as a shocker as well, but I think it's a fantastic summary of everything Odyssey is, and, if the show were to ever end, it would be an even more fantastic ending episode.  The last scene still gives me goosebumps.  Overall, this deserves the #4 spot, and it's a rare work of art among the modern episodes (though I did say Album 50 was the greatest of all time).

#3: The Mortal Coil: Conceivably the most beautiful and complex episode in the entire AIO canon, this is a true tour de force of a drama, and a definite candidate for #1.  Walker Edminston's performance throughout the entire episode is amazing, and the subplot with Eugene is chilling yet beautiful.  Definitely #3 material.

#2: The Time Has Come: Another self-explanatory Top 10, though many of you are probably surprised it is not #1, and, if you didn't already see it, wondering what the heck #1 could be.  There isn't much to be said about "The Time Has Come" that hasn't been said already: it's the most powerful episode of all time.  But not the most inspirational.  That honor will be reserved for #1...

#1: Malachi’s Message: Every time I listen to this episode, I'm inspired to do something.  It will always set off a trigger that springs me to action. There's a transcendence about it: an angel visiting Odyssey.  It's the one of the only times when something supernatural occurs in the town, and it's written expertly by Paul McCusker.  The actor who plays Malachi (I forget his name, but I'm aware he's on Radio Theatre) is easily the greatest one-time actor the show has ever had.  The scenes with all the major characters in one room are not meant to be dramatic and powerful, but just hearing Whit, Connie, Eugene, Tom, Jack, Joanne, and Jason all in the same room is among the most powerful things AIO has ever done.  This is a beautifully mysterious, and mysteriously beautiful episode, and it is arguably the only genuine work of art AIO has ever produced.  This isn't to say it's the only great episode they've ever produced, but it's the only one that has crossed the line between entertaining life lessons and true art.

     Well, that's it.  If you read this post, please comment, because I really feel it's the biggest post I've ever made on this blog, and I'd like to hear all my readers' (if I even have any anymore) thoughts on this list.  I'm willing to edit it if you convince me I should, and I'd love to just get a second opinion.
     Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Episode Review: Your Servant Is Listening Pt. 2 8/17/13

     Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 of Your Servant Is Listening feel disjointed in a way.  There are many differences in the story: Hanna is in Pt. 1, Eli is in Pt. 2.  Samuel is a baby in Pt. 1, but a boy in Pt. 2.  And Lucia and Eva figure more prominently into Pt. 1, whereas Camilla is central in Pt. 2.  Disjointed two-parters are generally a bad thing, but in this case, I suppose it was nessecary and of course the stories were entwined together by several threads.
     The episode begins with a "Previously In Adventures in Odyssey" segment, which is often used as a filler when a Pt. 2 or Pt. 3 is too short, but this time it would seem its function is to compensate for a lack of commercial breaks in the radio version of this episode.  The first scene of Pt. 2 naturally begins where Pt. 2 left off: Eva and Lucia are about to get their throats slit because they won't give a temple priest their lamb sacrifice.  Blah, blah, blah.  As I said before, I didn't like the ending to Pt. 1, and I still don't really.  But the episode quickly moves on from there, and goes through all the events of the story according to Scripture.
     I believe the voice of Samuel is the same actor as the blind kid from "The Imagination Station, Revisited", though I can't be sure.  He always reminded me of Sam Johnson, but it can't be the same actor...  I will confess to a certain feeling of déjà vu with the Camilla-Samuel scenes.  It just seemed like AIO had done those kinds of exchanges before in previous IS episodes.  I did find the bit about Samuel telling Camilla to leave the tabernacle as Camilla constantly came back against her will slightly amusing, and that may be the first time any reviewer has ever used the word "amusing" to describe an "Imagination Station" episode.
     I would also like to commend whoever voiced God.  That was probably my favorite God/Jesus vocal in all of AIO.  It sent chills up and down my spine, and John Campbell's music was fantastic.  It was just in general a beautiful scene, probably my favorite of both episodes, and I hope it gets nominated for an Avery.  The final stretch of the episode is often depressing.  The Philistines attack, Eli's two sons die, the Ark of the Covenant is in enemy hands, and Eli drops dead from utter despair.  I think the writers handles these scenes quite well.
     I promised I would talk about the spiritual side of the episode last week, so... I'll keep that promise.  I think the two best spiritually inspiring scenes in the whole episode were Hanna's conversation with Camilla in Pt. 1 and God's conversation with Samuel in Pt. 2.  Unfortunately, Camilla's monologue about her new perspective on Christianity at the end didn't really move me, but I think it was overall a good spiritually-driven episode.
     So, was Pt. 2 as good as Pt. 1?  Yes.  Maybe even a bit better.  But Pt. 1 was not exactly the greatest IS adventure of all time, so that's not saying a ton.  There was nothing inherently wrong about this two-parter: it's a good, solid season premiere.  It just didn't seem quite as inspired as it could have.  It was stiff, but you could argue it was supposed to be.  I will point out a lot of good things in the episode, though: it was accurate and lined up with the Biblical version without being boring for those who know the story, it had a colorful collection of characters, and it had hints of humor and fun, two things these kinds of episodes aren't generally associated with.  Is it a masterpiece?  No.  But it doesn't need to be.

     Your Servant Is Listening Pt. 2 Rating: 8/10

     Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Episode Review: Your Servant Is Listening Pt. 1 8/10/13

     The interesting thing about the Imagination Station is that it has always, is always, and will always be the main invention at Whit's End.  The Room of Consequence, the Transmuter, the Inspiration Station, none of them had a chance at replacing the IS as Whit's crowning technological achievement.  The constant upgrades of the machine don't really mean anything, it's always the same station as it always was for the listener.  Dozens of characters have entered it, from Digger Digwillow to Dr. Blackgaard.  That's why an IS episode has become a bit of a cliche in the AIO world, and that's why I'm always skeptical of a new one.  The new episode always has to measure up to that first one where Digger met Jesus.  If it doesn't, and it's just a good episode, I feel a bit disappointed.  That's what happened with "The American Revelation" and "Bernard & Jeremiah", and I didn't want it to happen again with the season premiere of Album 57, an album I have high expectations for.
     That's why the first couple scenes made me doubt the episode's strengths, and dwell on it's weaknesses.  There where just too many things that seemed wrong.  Camilla has a new voice?  Since when is Lucia comic relief?  Do we have to have an episode where the only normal characters are the three worst parts of the Parker family?  But all these concerns were resolved in the final stretch of the episode.  It turns out, Camilla's new voice might be okay.  Lucia's constant jokes aren't that funny, but I guess I can deal with it.  David's actually the worst part of the Parker family; I kind of like these three.  This doesn't make the episode perfect, or the pesky annoyances at the beginning less annoying, but it improves my opinion of the episode.
     I think this is also the 1st time AIO has explored the story of Samuel in depth.  It's a good story, but I'm not sure it's the perfect one for Camilla's problem, considering her lack of faith problem could be resolved early on, when God answers Hanna's prayer.  But, I will give points for having a kid actually discuss their faith (or, in this case, lack of it) with adults.  That hasn't happened in a while, and I was hoping it would.  The kids of Odyssey are often portrayed as normal Christian preteens, not questioning Christianity but not always talking about it (Seth Young is the obvious exception).  So to have one of the kids have a crisis of faith is, well, refreshing.
     Like many Nathan Hoobler episodes, the pace of "Your Servant Is Listening" rather fast.  There are no excess scenes, and everything moves along like it should.  This doesn't always work for certain episodes, but it certainly works here.  I like that the IS can just skip entire years.  It's obviously convenient, and works well for Hoobler's writing style.  The IS is so adaptable writers can tailor it for them.
     The acting was kind of hit or miss.  Eva stood out to me for the first time ever, and she seems she could be a great adult character if she's used enough.  Hanna was very believable and overall good.  Michaela Dean sounded a bit young for Camilla, and I wasn't extremely impressed with her performance overall.  Lucia is a character who's drifting farther and farther from my favorites list.  I haven't genuinely liked her in an episode since her first one, "Grandma's Visit".  I almost feel she's just cluttering up the IS, and I don't like the idea of more than two people entering the Imagination Station in the first place.  The sound design was spot-on as usual in historical episodes, and the music, while not anything incredibly special, fit the mood just fine.
     As far as the spiritual side of the episode, I think I'll have to wait for Pt. 2 to give my final verdict. I enjoyed Hanna's conversation with Camilla, but I'm not sure whether I'll be moved spiritually in Pt. 2 or not.  The story of Samuel has plenty of potential for these things, and I'm eager to see Camilla's dramatic epiphany.  I will say I didn't particularly like the last scene.  Obviously, Phineas is not going to kill Lucia and Eva, and it seemed like a half-hearted attempt to have a dramatic ending.  But overall, it's a good Pt. 1.

     Your Servant Is Listening Pt. 1 Rating: 7/10

     Thanks for reading!