Episode Reviewed: For the Birds (660)
Writers: Phil Walton, Paul McCusker

Director: Paul McCusker
Sound Designer: Jonathan Crowe
Music: John Campbell
Theme: Responsibility
Original Airdate: 4/10/10

Rating (out of 5):


Episode Summary

Camilla Parker desperately wants a pet, but her family seems to suffer from the "Parker Family Pet Curse." To prove her responsibility, Camilla takes care of a baby blue jay. Meanwhile, Eugene has his own run-in with some feathered foes which leads to drastic action!


The Review
To some fans, writing a review means using bulleted lists. To other fans, writing a review involves lambasting a particular episode because it is so much more fun to say negative remarks than positive things. I've noticed over the past few years that reviews have become more cynical or sarcastic, often lacking the right attitude. In fact, many people write their reviews under a specific pseudonym which gives them the right to be as "open" and "honest" (aka heartless) as they want to be without revealing their real names. But do their definitions of "open" and "honest" maintain the right spirit that should go into a review? I, for one, believe that many reviews lack the integrity and credibility they should have. I'm a fan of knowing who my reviewer really is before tomatoes go flying. I tend to read reviews from fans who reveal their real names, those who know that what they say is attached to their names. Many times, listeners will read reviews and decide they agree with what's already been said by others, and then they use those ideas in their own reviews. I guess we need to remember that in the 90's before internet was popular, Odyssey fans didn't review the episodes as they aired on the radio. They just enjoyed them for what they were. Back in the day, we used to have to walk to school ... and it was uphill both ways!

Why am I addressing this? you might wonder. Thanks for asking because For the Birds went under some harsh criticism after it aired, mainly due to the fact that Odyssey's flighted friends plan a strategic attack on Eugene and Wooton's hair. The main criticism of the episode is that birds darting at Eugene's head is completely unrealistic. On the contrary, this does happen in real life! Particularly, crows have a tendency to swoop down towards people's heads when they get too close to their nests and they feel threatened. Other times hair color can factor in. Thirdly, the human to bird population ratio is sometimes such that friction can result in attacks on humans. Two different populations are co-existing together and sometimes they butt heads.

For example, in 2005, a postal carrier was attacked by birds in Raleigh, North Carolina. He wasn't just attacked once. He was attacked three times in different locations in the city.

"I was ducking this way, then ducking that way, trying to get away," Mr. Cooper says, recalling a few frenzied seconds where beaks flashed like tiny daggers. "I had no idea what was going on."
- The Christian Science Monitor, June 2005

Similarly in 2008, a woman was attacked by a seagull in the United Kingdom, and it wasn't pretty.

"The woman, who does not wish to be named, suffered three puncture wounds and heavy bleeding in the attack at The Esplanade, near the pier. . .The bird obviously thought this lady was walking a little too close to one of its chicks. It was a terrifying incident for her although it only lasted for a matter of seconds."
     - The Guardian, July 2008

At first, I heard For the Birds and was a bit skeptical about the realisticness of Eugene's being attacked multiple times by birds in Odyssey. If you run a quick Google search on "attacking birds," you will quickly see that it is rare but does happen. It is more common in certain regions. I'm convinced that the Odyssey writers are smart enough to do their research before introducing certain storylines to Adventures in Odyssey. In the case of the unfriendly birds, I know that writers Phil Walton and Paul McCusker learned something about birds before introducing this fun story. I especially liked that this episode is a tip-of-the-hat to Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. When birds attack, things get a little messy. Eugene's haircut is not the end of the world, fans. It'll grow back. Besides, he's getting a new look anyway. Now is a perfect time to ditch the do. I will say, however, that during the scene when Eugene is initially attacked by a bird, Camilla just stands there and doesn't react as a kid would act in that instance. She would probably get excited and laugh, or perhaps start shouting to get rid of the bird, or even run away from the scene. Camilla just keeps talking to Eugene as if she's seen it many times before. Also, is it realistic that Whit would agree to babysit a baby blue jay and feed it every twenty minutes? Sure, Connie and Eugene are there to help, but they have other things to do. Regardless, Adventures in Odyssey has had its share of unrealistic moments, but they ultimately define the show and make it what it is today.

I've mentioned in past reviews that Olivia doesn't sound like a kid because she is played by an adult. I'm not going to keep visiting this issue as I said what needs to be said in the past. Some of the dialogue scenes are a bit weak, which probably contribute to Olivia's overall portrayal. Yet, the episode a fun addition to the series.

As for overall theme and lessons learned, I have seen complaints that the lesson gets lost as a couple themes are mixed in (responsibility, curses, dealing with death, etc.). I don't necessarily see a problem with incorporating multiple messages into Odyssey episodes. The more the merrier, I'd say! The truth is that lessons will be learned in an entertaining way. That, coupled with outstanding sound design and music, makes for a great adventure in Odyssey.



Overall, For the Birds is a nice addition to the series, with some unexpected twists along the way. At first listen, people may question whether birds would attack repetitively, but doing research is key to enjoying the show. And young kids will enjoy the episode without the cynical glasses that we older fans tend to approach episodes with. I give For the Birds 3 and 1/2 out of 5 stars.

And Eugene, I'm sorry I ended some of my sentences with prepositions.


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