Episode Reviewed: Opposite Day (672)
Writers: Kathy Buchanan

Director: Nathan Hoobler
Sound Designer: Jonathan Crowe
Music: John Campbell
Theme: Friendship
Original Airdate: 11/06/10

Review Written by: Ben Warren, Staff Writer

Rating (out of 5):


Episode Summary

Odyssey Middle School's "Opposite Day" inspires Olivia to become friends with a girl who is nothing like her. Meanwhile, Barrett becomes obsessed with getting as many online friends as possible.


The Review

I have decided that writing lengthy reviews about episodes I didn't find particularly exciting isn't worth the time. And Opposite Day is exactly that: unexciting. But then again, why shouldn't it be? I realize that I'm way beyond the target audience of this episode. And as much as Focus on the Family would like to focus on the entire family with each episode, this one was obviously packaged for the young, female, public-grade-school-attending listener, and you know what, I'm OK with that.

You have a good ear if you didn't once get confused between the female voices in today's show. While Amber, Olivia and Priscilla don't sound identical, it sometimes took me that extra half-second to realize who was saying what. I've been lending out old Adventures in Odyssey cassettes to a friend making her way through the series for the first time. And when she listened to
A Worker Approved, she mentioned how unique and easily distinguishable Robyn Jacob's voice was. That got me to wish how their were more voices like hers nowadays. I don't want unrealistic voices. Rather, I want voices where I can easily imagine the character behind them. Since day one, the choice of actresses now featured in Opposite Day have seemed uninspired. While I'm sure we will grow accustomed to hearing them over a period of time, I still wish their voices didn't give my concentration skills such a workout.

On a more positive note, I wasn't sure whether it was the performances or the writing that made me so easily sympathize with both Olivia and Amber--despite finding them completely ridiculous, irrational and somewhat annoying. But I found myself having an easy time empathizing with them and understanding where each was coming from. Not to be overly pessimistic, but Olivia's attitude is one a lot of Christians have; we falsely assume we need to act nicely to everyone we encounter despite how we really feel about them inside. But the Bible calls us to genuinely "love your neighbor as yourself" and as Whit says "friends are friends because they accept each other for who they are". Olivia's experience reminded me of someone I used to know a few years ago. This guy had a "best friend" who wasn't really his best friend at all; he made sure he let everyone know they were only friends because no one else wanted to be. Whatever good feelings he received from performing this "good" deed were destroyed by also having an unwilling heart. Like Olivia, he never really enjoyed hanging around his "friend" at all, despite pretending to. Many of us feel a nice sense of Christian accomplishment when reaching out a hand to someone who needs our friendship, but I think the best thing we can do is to not only be there for them for just one day, but everyday. Without a willing heart, we are merely living an
Opposite Day too.

At first, I detested Amber for how absolutely clueless she was; any normal person would have gotten the hint that Olivia wasn't remotely interested in hanging out with her. Halfway through the episode, I even mumbled to myself cruelly, "Well, now we know why Danielle moved away...". But Corrie Shenigo, who plays Amber, does a surprisingly good job at creating sympathy for her character despite how aggravating she could be. I can understand how feeling lonely may create a type of desperation; we begin to ignore common sense and accept any kind of companionship, even false relationships. Looking at it that way, I thought the way Amber was behaving was quite believable.

Speaking of which, is loneliness the reason why you're casually "creeping" on Facebook right now? Is this the same reason why you're currently on the TOO message boards instead of calling that friend you haven't spoken to in two years? Not only did the
Opposite Day's subplot involving Barrett compliment the overarching storyline well, but it was also the most interesting part of the show. I'm not sure how many children are into Facebook right now, but there is no doubt that this new way of interacting with others is greatly influencing our society. Those of us attending university know the full benefits of using social networks; we end up learning more about someone by browsing their Facebook page than we would by going out and shaking their hand. Just as it was shown that Barrett's involvement with Club Kid-Chat was destroying his own relationships, websites such as Facebook are impairing our ability to overcome natural social phobias at a young age. Yes, many listeners may think Barrett's obsession went a little overboard; but I honestly think he was just vocalizing how a lot of us think nowadays. Like Barrett, how many of us had suddenly thought of a clever saying in the middle of the day, and immediately turned to Facebook to communicate it to others? How many of us have wondered why our number of "friends" went down by one or two? I certainly have. Barrett's storyline is an important one for the 500 million active users on Facebook right now, and I appreciate Adventures in Odyssey for choosing to tackle this issue.

There are a few nitpicky issues with
Opposite Day that the listener shouldn't dwell on too much. If they did, it would only destroy their ability to fully enjoy this episode. For instance, you shouldn't spend time considering how unfunny and unnecessary Wooton Bassett was in today's show. You also shouldn't spend time considering what kind of gifted-school these kids are attending where its students enjoy searching for geological artifacts and discussing DSP algorithms in their spare time. And try not to think about how strange it is that Wooton has a Club Kid-Chat account too. And, of course, the biggest question of all: Is Susan VanHorn related to Charles VanHorn? Who knows...But, like I said, don't let these small issues bother you too much.

Not every episode needs to be overly complex and radically genius with Avery-award worthy performances.
Opposite Day reminds us that it never hurts to keep an episode light and simple as long as it has something relevant to say...and this one certainly did. I realize the acting and dialogue in today's show immediately calls for a younger audience, but this episode manages also to strike a chord in older listeners by successfully tackling an issue spanning all ages: friendship. And if you've spent more time on the Adventures in Odyssey message boards today then around real, breathing human beings, then this one's for you.





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