The Three Stages of Wooton
Have the writers taken a beloved character too far?
By Austin Peachey | March 19, 2012

There's no denying that Wooton Bassett is a very popular character on Adventures in Odyssey. Ask just about anyone and nearly 50 percent of them will say Wooton is their favorite character. If someone were to ask me, Wooton would be in my top five favorite characters.

But after over 10 years on the show, many die-hard fans and Wooton lovers are saying that Bassett's character has become… well, stale. And why is that? To find out, let's go through what I like to call "The Three Stages of Wooton."

Stage 1: 2001-2004

When mailman Wooton Bassett first walked through the door at Whit's End on May 26, 2001 (Welcoming Wooton), fans were skeptical. Some thought he was awesome. Some were indifferent. Some hated him. As we all know, not all new characters on Odyssey will become favorites right away, if ever.

During this period, Jess Harnell's voice for Wooton was only slightly different than his own voice. Also during this time, Wooton wasn't very hyperactive and his crazy personality was at a minimum. When Wooton was introduced during the Novacom Saga, he was only in a few episodes and wasn't always the main character of an episode. In the course of this stage, we found out that Wooton draws for a famous comic book series of his own creation. It wasn't until much later that this element would become a significant part of someone else's life.

Stage 2: 2005-2008

At the beginning of this stage, Wooton's voice and number of appearances didn't change much. But as time progressed, Jess started making Wooton's voice a little bit higher, his character became a little more energetic, and his humor became more hilarious. Soon, Wooton was appearing in more episodes and listeners started to like him more. Around this time, Wooton finally earned the big fans that he deserves. More and more people started to grow attached to Odyssey's goofy mailman. Of course, there were those who still didn't like him.

It was during this time that Wooton finally had a real reason to be on the show, other than being there for comic relief. That's because Grady McKay came to Odyssey. We first heard Grady in A Lamb's Tale as he tried to get his sister's stuffed lamb back from Rodney Rathbone. In the season following, Wooton met Grady in Tuesdays with Wooton as Grady was pretending to be Max Hampton to get his comic books. Wooton found out about it and persuaded Grady to give them back. In the process, Wooton made friends with this troubled boy.
Fans agree that Grady made Wooton a better character. Wooton was able to be a little less silly and really show his compassion for people. Because of this friendship, Grady became a Christian and Wooton became even more three-dimensional and enjoyable as a character.

Stage 3: 2010-present

Then the hiatus came. For two years, no new AIO episodes were made. When the show was re-launched in 2010, there were a lot of changes. There was a new actor for Mr. Whittaker, many of the characters from before the hiatusincluding the McKayswere no longer in sight, and Odyssey was toned down for younger listeners. Among all these changes, Wooton changed, too.

He was still funny, but his voice and mannerisms were different. Wooton's voice was even higher and he spoke faster. Also, his jokes became a little stupid. Not just crazy, but stupid. It seemed like Wooton had become nothing more than a two-dimensional character.

Then, on April 16th, 2011, Penny Wise walked into his life. She first appeared in the Spring 2011 season during The Green Ring Conspiracy. She quickly became friends with Connie at the art class both of them were taking. Later, she met Wooton and they hit it off right from the start. The problem was that fans had seen Wooton fall in "like" before with a girl named Victoria before the hiatus began. Before he got serious about the relationship, he asked her if she was a Christian. Because she wasn't one, he broke up with her.

When it came to Penny, Wooton didn't even try to find out if Penny believed the same as him. He was too head-over-heels in love. It seems that the maturity and values he had before the hiatus were gone.

Many die-hard listeners believe that Wooton and Penny were too similar to each other and that they were better when they weren't together. When Wooton is around Penny, he acts even more immature. It wasn't until A Penny Saved and A Penny Earned when Wooton finally got a little bit serious.

It seems it's not only the fans who think Wooton is annoying. In A Penny Earned, Connie makes it clear that she is annoyed by Wooton and was actually rude to him. It may be because she was sleep-deprived in that episode, but even though, it seems she speaks for a lot of people when it comes to how they feel about Wooton's character now.

Wooton-Around to a Conclusion

So, after saying all that, why do fans think Wooton isn't the same anymore? Maybe it's because he's overused. Wooton certainly seems to hog the spotlight these days. Wooton is now counted as being a major character, up with Whit, Connie, and Eugene. Perhaps if he was not in as many episodes, his appearance and humor would be more appreciated.

Maybe the writers have demoted Wooton to be nothing more than comic relief. It may be that they've lost interest in him or can't keep his character fresh. Maybe Wooton's creator, Torry Martin, needs to write for him again to get Wooton down to earth a little more.

Regardless of which case it is, some listeners have grown tired of the way Wooton acts. I consider myself to be in that group. I still like Wooton in a way, but I don't love his character like I used to. Time will tell whether Wooton will return to being his genuinely funny and heartfelt self again.


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Austin Peachey is an Adventures in Odyssey fan and frequents The Odyssey Scoop. He also maintains his own Adventures in Odyssey Blog and podcast.

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