Episode Reviewed: Game for a Mystery (658)
Writers: Kirby Atkins

Director: Nathan Hoobler
Sound Designer: Christopher Diehl
Music: Tim Hossman
Theme: Putting off important things
Original Airdate: 3/27/10

Rating (out of 5):


Episode Summary

Simon Jones just wants the hedge trimmed, but his son Barrett can't tear himself away from his portable video game until it disappears without a trace! Emily, along with trusty sidekick Matthew, takes this as a case for the newly‑formed "Jones & Parker Detective Agency."


The Review

Is it just me, or does it seem like just as soon as one Odyssey listener says something they disagree with in an episode review, then all the rest follow and say basically the same thing? Or am I abnormal to notice such things? Here at the Scoop, I've always tried to provide a fresh perspective in my episode reviews, and when I agree with what others have said about shows, I try to provide some sort of solution to the problem at hand or give an alternate angle to things... or at least I'd like to think I am. But enough about me. The Jones and Parker Detective Agency has a mystery to solve!

Game for a Mystery introduces a nice slice-of-life mystery, narrated as if it is taking place in the present so as to aid listeners in solving the mystery for themselves. Assuming that more Jones & Parker Detective Agency episodes are on their way, I believe that using narration every time may be unnecessary or redundant. Narration should be used rarely if at all. If the writers keep narration at a minimum, we shouldn't have a problem. As is the case, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

From my perspective, I went into the episode the first time expecting to be entertained, not to solve the mystery myself. Most of the time, I expect to listen to a mystery show with the necessary information "spoon fed" to me, and
Game for a Mystery is no exception. Mysteries typically give information and new revelations as they are needed to drive the plot. I guess you could call me a listener who likes to be told the facts as I go along.

With that said, I think it would be safe to say that Focus on the Family's Clubhouse magazine began a published series of articles called The Jones & Parker Detective Agency in which readers can interact with the story and try to piece together the clues and solve cases along with the writing. Last time I checked, Clubhouse magazine is an entirely different medium than that of Adventures in Odyssey audio episodes. The articles in the magazine are geared for children and encourage them to solve the mysteries by themselves, right down to the very layout of the publication. I don't think it was specifically mentioned (or should I say that I know for a fact?) that listeners would be encouraged to solve the case in
Game for a Mystery. Come on people, where are we getting our "facts" about how things are supposed to be on the show? Chris never announces, "Okay kids, listen very closely during this episode of Adventures in Odyssey because we want you to solve the mystery before the characters do." Let's get our facts straight, shall we?

So in essence,
Game for a Mystery delivers an entertaining, slice-of-life mystery of Barrett's missing handheld game with essential facts revealed at the appropriate times, which drive the plot. Granted, it doesn't prove to be an edge-of-your-seat thriller like the Novacom Saga was, but it was intended for connecting with listeners and teaching a lesson about... Wait, I think we've hit our next topic. The moral.

Usually the moral/theme of most AIO shows is very easy to pick out. While one might say that
Game for a Mystery teaches a great lesson on priorities and not putting off important things, it also might send mixed messages along with the intended theme. For instance, the prevalent concern I have is that some listeners might get the impression that it is okay to delay in obedience to parents. I was taught a scriptural principle as a child that "delayed obedience is disobedience." In Barrett's case, he delayed to obey his father until the very end of the episode when his dad finally laid down the law. Or did he? The fact that Mr. Simon Jones didn't really enforce obeying right away when Barrett was initially asked to perform a task may communicate to some listeners that it is okay to "get around to it" in family situations. Mr. Jones is portrayed as somewhat of a "pushover parent" at the conclusion when he tells his son that he will be readjusting his son's priorities. He briefly tells his son this, but it does not seem to indicate a definitive punishment. Punishments are created to keep a child within his boundaries and instill the fear of God in a child not to do something again. However, Barrett is somewhat off-the-hook except for his need to finish the yard work he put off. This might tell listeners that putting off obedience doesn't have very bad consequences, and maybe even the punishment is something Barrett is willing to put up with in future situations if he puts off obeying again. Sure, Barrett is out of a Verminoids game, thanks to a wild crow and moving vehicle, but are the underlying lessons stronger than the main message?

As for acting, I think the only poor acting I noticed was actor Andy Pessoa's (Barrett Jones) constant up-and-down-the-scale inflection in his lines. You never know what you're going to experience with Barrett in
Game for a Mystery. I will give the actor credit as this is his first episode on Adventures in Odyssey and he was probably trying to get into his character. It was good to hear Nelson Swanson's (Georgina Cordova) official debut in the series. If you remember, he first appeared in the special Truth Chronicles episodes. And actress Georgina Cordova plays a very convincing young boy!

One other thing... I find it intriguing that Odyssey's feathered friends are suddenly so involved in the lives of the Odyssian community this season. It makes me wonder what's with the bird fixation going around lately... and when will it stop?

I will note that this episode marks writer Kirby Atkins' first episode for Odyssey. And, ironically enough, Tim Hossman stepped into the composer role and delivered a quality musical rendition for the show. His music was neither too overpowering, nor lacking.




All in all, Game for a Mystery is a satisfying episode. The many clues and details leading up to the mystery's solution feel a bit far-fetched, but it's important to try and enjoy the episode for what it is. I give Game for a Mystery 4 out of 5 cones.


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