Episode Reviewed: Clutter (657)
Writers: Bob Hoose

Director: Dave Arnold
Sound Designer: Christopher Diehl
Music: John Campbell
Theme: Storing up treasures in heaven
Original Airdate: 3/20/10

Rating (out of 5):


Episode Summary

After nearly being mauled by the junk in his own garage, David Parker declares that his family is going to have a yard sale. Will the entire Parker family survive parting with their treasures?


The Review
I consider myself to be a person who likes to connect with radio drama. It makes a great stress relief, a sort of escape from the problems of real life... and yet it connects with them at the same time. The main aspect of a majority of Adventures in Odyssey episodes that keep me going is the true-to-life factor. There's always a believability factor that must be connected in my mind in order for me to accept an episode. Growing up, I listened to the show with a childlike, almost oblivious viewpoint to the quality of the plot, acting, sound design, etc. And now, as an adult, it is more difficult to listen to a show I grew up with and completely accept new shows. Many would probably argue that AIO's "golden days" were somewhere between albums 10-30, while others would say that the more recent episodes are the highlight of the series. Regardless, I think that AIO has a responsibility to maintain a level of continuity and loyalty to meet the listener where he is.


As a whole, Clutter is that connection with every family's experience. I mean, who actually enjoys going through rooms full of junk to sell in a yard sale? I will admit that the actual yard sale is what ultimately makes the house cleaning-out ritual worth it. But I must say that a show in which half of the episodemaybe even over half involves listening to the characters discuss what they want to keep and what they want to pitch, can become a little bit frustrating. Come on now, I think we get the idea that Olivia, Camilla, and their Spanish-speaking mother don't want to part with their possessions. Why stretch out an uneventful story when you can successfully tell it in a shorter amount of time? I get the feeling that if we strip Clutter down its very basics, we don't have much of a plot to begin with. Perhaps another monkey wrench should have been thrown into the works and they could have added a side story that takes place at the same time. This would drive the plot and maintain listener interest as well.


Consequently, I believe the characters have more to do with the slow pacing of the episode than the actual plot does. Olivia Parker, voiced by Hope Levy, sounds like an adult manipulating her voice to sound like a kid, which she is. This type of character loses its believability and listeners can see through and notice that this isn't an authentic kid voice. I understand that casting adults in child roles can help the longevity of a character's time on the series, but an element of child-to-adult growth process is lost. If you listen back to the character of Robyn Jacobs, for example, she started out as a young kid with clearly a young child's voice. As the series progressed, actress Sage Bolte grew up and her voiced progressed as well. She even sounded like a teenager when that point in her life arrived. I don't think much of a change is going to happen with the voice of Olivia Parker. And her interaction with the Parker parents and her extremely whiny sister Camilla (she gets better in later episodes) doesn't seem realistic when placed alongside them. Camilla sounds like a kid talking to a grownup in a child's body. I can see through it and so can other listeners.


But perhaps my biggest concern with Clutter is the introduction of the Parker family. I've noticed that in more recent years, there seems to be a push for more "political correctness" on the show. While I don't have a problem with this, I feel that if there is a need to add more characters with variety in nationality, the writers don't have to make it so obvious that that's what they're trying to do. It shouldn't an in-your-face announcement of "Hey, we're politically correct just like the rest of the world" announcement. For example, instead of creating a character who loves her Spanish language and heritage and likes to translate random phrases for her family and friends (for example, Eva Parker telling her husband what "muy bueno" means, which I'm sure any man married to a Hispanic woman would already know), why not simply allow the personality and dialect or accent of the actor to do all the communicating? Listeners will pick up on different nationalities and they don't need to be directly told through mother characters educating listeners on the Spanish language and how to say certain things. If a story is told well enough and actors are just that good, the nationalities will be an unspoken success for the program. Besides, there sure were a lot of Caucasian characters on the series in the 1980's and 1990's and few had a problem with it. In fact, the show was very successful and listener-supported. Why is it such an issue now?


I was, however, pleased with the pacing and development of each character. For a re-launch of Adventures in Odyssey with so many new characters, it is necessary to connect the listeners with the people of Odyssey. The somewhat uneventful pacing allowed the writers to explore who the characters are a little bit more. We are able to find out a little bit about Red Hollard. I don't necessarily like him as his dialect doesn't sound completely real as compared with Tom Riley's). The music and sound design were up to par and we are able to see something that happens that most of us would dread. Yes, I could hear and feel the cold water rushing from the sprinklers as they released their distressing spray during the yard sale. Who wouldn't connect with that type of situation and frantically try to cover everything up?




In conclusion, a good slice-of-life episode. The events somewhat resemble a previous AIO episode, Treasures of the Heart, but are unique enough to be different and provide a new experience for listeners at the same time. I give Clutter 3 out of five cones.


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