Reviewed: Wooton Knows Best
Director: Dave Arnold
Theme: Having all knowledge
Review Written by:
Ben Warren, Staff Writer
Rating (out of 5):
Olivia and Matthew Parker compete for a
chance to be Wooton Bassett's camp assistant.
Adventures in Odyssey is unlike any
other show in radio or television. Right now, each network is promoting its
newest seasons as more exciting, more mysterious, edgier than any of its
previous ones. They are marketed as the unmissable event of the year.
Odyssey doesn't play by those rules. As we've seen with
A Glass Darkly, and now
Wooton Knows Best,
Odyssey likes to begin its new seasons showing that it is the same normal,
lovable show it has always been. The loyal listeners will always tune in, so
what does it have to prove?
I'll admit starting with Wooton Knows Best
is an odd choice for a season premiere. On paper, the episode shouldn't have
worked. The episode summary, according to the AIOWIKI, states: "Olivia and
Matthew Parker compete for a chance to be Wooton Bassett's camp assistant".
I'm not sure how this simplistic, quite unexciting idea was even brought up
in the writer's meeting. Yes, we know this album was originally supposed to
come before album 53, but after the excitement of
The Green Ring Conspiracy I wonder: why
are we listening to this?
This is the sort of episode you dislike at first because you've first
entered it with a negative attitude. Then you begin to miss the "good old
days" and wonder why your favorite older characters aren't around anymore,
which then brings you to wonder why the children aren't sounding as
realistic as they used to, which then makes you miss those older John
Campbell tunes, and, boy, Hal Smith...he
was great, wasn't he?
Then you realize, after listening to this episode a second time, that
Wooton Knows Best isn't
so bad. It's, dare I say it, actually pretty good.
Marshall Younger manages to take
a dull premise, works hard at it, and creates a relatively decent slice of
life episode―one that includes important lessons for all ages. If you put
aside your initial prejudice for the story idea, or even your Wooton-phobia,
you'll see that―hey!―this is sorta like your everyday classic Odyssey
episode, isn't it?
There are a lot of episodes like this one in
Clanging Cymbals... and the Meaning of God's Love. These episodes are
simply about "love". They will not be unrealistic, larger-than-life ideas.
No, Blackgaard will not come back from the dead and, no, our characters will
not have to reach down and find some way to love him. Clearly, our
opportunities to show love are in normal, everyday situations. The little
things: A brother showing love to his sister, an older child spending time
with a younger child, a sister giving up her pride and learning to forgive.
Those are moments that make Wooton Knows Best
quite applicable, and actually, quite nice.
One of these nicer moments is the lengthy conversation between David Parker
and Olivia Parker. I enjoyed hearing David Parker's story about Joshua
Meanie, and actor Marc Evan
Jackson delivers those lines well. Today's father-daughter moment is
quintessential Adventures in Odyssey. Where would Odyssey be if it
had followed the route of secular Children's entertainment and taken away
its "father-knows best" angle that was so prevalent in classic television
such as Leave It to Beaver and The Andy Griffith Show.
Adventures in Odyssey is one of the few remaining shows that hasn't yet
portrayed the father as a dumb, bumbling fool. Although, who knows, maybe
Harlow Doyle is married and has kids and we just don't know it yet...
Another highlight of Wooton Knows Best
includes a change of actors. Olivia Parker has ditched
Hope Levy and replaced her vocal
chords with Kelly Stables'.
Normally, I'd be annoyed by this, but to be perfectly honest, the change is
much nicer on the ears. Kelly Stables
has allowed Olivia to sound older, I believe, and therefore, doesn't sound
as phony, or painfully forced in her delivery. Furthermore,
Kelly Stables, having worked on
Two and a Half Men and short lived series like Romantically
Challenged, is one of the higher profiled actresses Adventures in
Odyssey is working with. In light of this, I hope she'll be able to
stick around long enough so we won't need an Olivia Parker #3.
Of course, there are certainly things I disliked about this episode. As much
as I've always mildly enjoyed Wooton Bassett, I'm finding him to be somewhat
egotistical and overbearing these days. He likes to have long, drawn out
moments of dialogue. He hogs scenes like no other. Furthermore, in the
entire history of Odyssey, nobody, aside for Whit, has had so many episodes
named after themselves. Whit has had his name on episodes 6 times which
includes a three-parter. Wooton, during his short existence on Odyssey, has
now tied that record with Wooton Knows Best.
What is it about his character that has propelled him to such stardom?
And there are other mysteries, too. Why did Marshall include that final
scene where Olivia encounters the pop star? Did the audience really need to
feel like Olivia got her happy ending? Isn't forgiveness its own reward?
Also, why did Matthew Parker feel so apologetic at the end? And, why has
Camp What a Nut made such a hasty return to the show? Is "The Timothy
Center" no longer the show's trendy camp? Man, I sure miss that place. And,
boy, Walker Edmiston...he was
great wasn't he? But, again, I digress...
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