Episode Reviewed: Finish What You... (663)
Writers: Tim Hodge, Paul McCusker

Director: Bob Hoose
Sound Designer: Christopher Diehl
Music: John Campbell
Theme: Responsibility
Original Airdate: 5/01/10

Rating (out of 5):


Episode Summary

Doors are opening up for Olivia Parker—too many doors, actually! After signing up for guitar lessons with Eugene, she also agrees to star in Connie's play. How can she possibly juggle her schedule...and play a special birthday song for her grandma?


The Review
I'm still trying to figure out how a 39 year-old actress got stuck inside an 11 year-old's body. Or am I the only who wonders this? A voice should match a character as a hand fits inside a glove, but Hope Levy lacks the voice needed to fill Olivia Parker's shoes. And knowing that Hope is 39 doesn't help things either. Come on now, people. Let's face it. An 11 year-old sounds like an 11 year-old. A 39 year-old sounds like a 39 year-old (in most cases, with the exception of Katie Leigh, voice of Connie Kendall). And when you mix a 39 year-old actress who doesn't quite fit the part into the context of an episode like Finish What You..., you set yourself up for a frustrating episode. It's the Cinderella slippers concept. Cinderella's stepsisters had really big feet. You can't fit size 13 feet into a size 6 glass slipper. And casting clearly an adult actress into Olivia's role doesn't make a perfect fit.

With all due respect to actress Hope Levy, she doesn't quite pull off a convincing 11 year-old. I can see her as a successful teenager role without the annoying "whiny kid" fluctuating pitch. In fact, her voice sounds much like what you would hear if you turned on the Saturday morning cartoons. Most companies try to cast adult voiceovers into the cartoon roles to avoid the inevitable voice shift over the years. I get the feeling that by casting Hope Levy as Olivia, AIO hopes (no pun intended) to keep a consistent character voice as long as they can. But we're missing something very valuable here. When a real 11 year-old kid is cast into an 11 year-old role, you get to hear the progression and maturation of the actor's voice. This shapes the character and gives it a unique realistic-ness… something we're going to miss completely with Levy.

That being said, it hurts me to say that Olivia comes across as very whiny in Finish What You... Not only that, due to my said reasons above, I hear an adult trying to change her voice to sound like a kid. Because of that, we have an unbelievable little twerp who feels like a failure because she can't multi-task. And all along I keep picturing an adult crying her heart out to an open-eared Mr. Whittaker. The episode seems to go downhill the most after Olivia finds out that Connie removes her from the cast in her play. The incessant fake whiny kid sound plays on the nerves.

At one point, Olivia says "Thanks, Dad" to her, well, dad. And strangely enough, the way it was said reminded me of the voice of Junior Asparagus on the hit children's series VeggieTales. And oddly enough, this episode was co-written by Tim Hodge, who was involved with VeggieTales for years. I think a little bit of the VeggieTales age level is evident in Finish What You... with the scenes of Olivia feeling sorry for herself when she can't quite balance her time. And then we're expected to feel sorry for her when she storms off crying. Well, at least Whit felt sorry for her and ran after her to make her day better.

All of this isn't to say the episode was a total flop. We have some positive elements in the episode, with the revealing of Eugene's knowledge of guitars. And who's to say it's wrong to reveal a fact like this after over 20 years of his playing the ukulele? A lot of people play more than one stringed instrument. It's also good to see that Connie and Eugene aren't just basking in their Whit's End careers. New aspects to their lives were introduced in this show, with Connie's play directing and Eugene's teaching children to play stringed instruments. And his naming his guitar Henrietta is exactly something Eugene would do, especially since the name is in honor of one of his favorite mathematicians… or something.

Yes, the plot was a little weak, mainly since it is somewhat reminiscent of the episode The 'No' Factor. I think the two shows are written in such a way that each has its own unique spin. For instance, Connie learns how to say "no" to projects when she has too many on her plate already. And in Finish What You..., it is more of a learning experience for Olivia to balance her time on the projects she has taken on. Connie took on a lot of projects, which is understandable at her age. And Olivia needed to learn to handle two projects at her tender age of 11. It's all about how you approach the two episodes. No, my friends, I don't think that Finish What You... is a direct copycat of anything.

Of course, the music and sound design factors rarely disappoint me. With a track record as the Adventures in Odyssey's sound designers and composers have, we can only expect good things from them.

Can I park on one more thing? I've noticed an attempt to let host Chris Anthony express her personality in many of the recent shows. These have been a highlight of my experience with Odyssey because they are great tips-of-the-hat to the show's earliest episodes. Chris often interacted with Odyssian characters and even the production team. It is refreshing to hear her interact with producer Dave Arnold. I have fun memories of her interaction with Dave in Promises, Promises.



Finish What You... is a less-than-satisfactory experience and appears to be geared for younger listeners. Old-timers like me won't appreciate the show as much as the target age group will, but I guess that's what we all get for growing up. I give Finish What You... 2 and 1/2 out of 5 stars.


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