In this first episode Adventures in Odyssey sets itself up as a simple, slice of life-type show. It starts off with Chris in her kitchen. It’s slightly confusing as to whether she is an actual character living in the town of Odyssey or if she is just the host who is addressing the audience. The bumbling plumber named Stan pops up his head for comedic effect and displays his gross incompetence at his job. The water pipes explode with a comical and unrealistic sound effect and Stan hangs his head in shame. This kind of cheap humor is mildly amusing but the whole scene isn't really necessary. It only serves the purpose of setting up the revelation at the end that President Abraham Lincoln failed at a lot of things during his life.
As the theme music plays Whit introduces himself as an inventor and then tries out his new invention to see if it works. The result is chaos, not dissimilar to Stan the plumber’s attempt. And just like that the audience’s first glimpse at Whit as the bumbling inventor is cemented forever. Until of course he starts getting things to work properly, such as the Imagination Station. Clearly, Whit wasn’t always the success we know him as today.
Davey Holcomb commits the crime of being bad at America’s pastime, baseball, and is branded a failure. And it’s Whit’s job to show him how God turns our failures around. Not a very complicated lesson but a foundational one. The Coyotes lose as a result of Davey’s poor performance and Coach Tom Riley’s insistence that he keep going up to bat despite clearly not being prepared. When the team enters Whit’s End Mr. Whittaker asks to hear them howl. They give a faint whimper instead, but apparently Whit mishears this because he calls it a growl. Maybe he was trying to be funny, but the line just came across as out of place.
When Davey first enters Whit’s End he describes it as “strange.” Up to this point new listeners probably would have described the eccentric Mr. Whittaker as strange also. We get broadly introduced to Whit’s End as a place designed for discovery but many of the details and displays it contains are left to be explained in later episodes. For some unknown reason Whit was trying to build his own photocopying machine and he shows it off to Davey and the kids to demonstrate how he failed to get it to work. But he still believes God will use it somehow. Conveniently, a new function for the invention is found by the end of the episode, but not before Whit gives us his Frankenstein impression. Whit later does a quick role-play where he plays both Thomas Edison and his assistant. He’s quite the actor, that Mr. Whittaker.
It turns out Davey’s creation of the pizza oven was foiled by Whit’s End’s faulty wiring. Tom Riley, who was acting as an employee in the kitchen, turned on the garbage disposal just as Davey switched on the oven. Maybe it’s Whit’s fault for not getting into composting. Davey storms out of Whit’s End twice as a result of his failures but Whit always catches up to him. The episode ends with the kids thanking Davey for his invention, but then Davey gets ambitious and trips over a trash can, underlining his ability to trip into things for the third or fourth time in the episode. Maybe that's his problem. He's not a failure, he's just clumsy.
Some parts are slow and others are predictable, but overall Whit’s Flop is a nice beginning to Album 1: The Adventure Begins. It is not a terribly thorough introduction to the world of Odyssey, but if you count the entire album as an introduction to the series then it does present a clearer picture of what the listener should expect. This episode gets 3 out of 5 stars.
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