It seems like the one-off characters we see at the beginning of the Adventures in Odyssey series all have one single characteristic that defines them. Davey Holcomb is the klutz and failure, Craig Moorhead is the funny guy and Annie McNeal is the self-absorbed girl. Now in Nothing to Fear we meet Shirley Zigler, the cowardly girl. Shirley is apparently afraid of everything. Let me list a few things that were mentioned. She’s afraid of mice, fire, heights, turtles, crowds, being alone, the merry-go-round at the carnival, the street, the woods, bikes, toy guns, stuffed animals, needles and, of course, the dark. She also thinks Mr. Whittaker’s black overcoat is creepy. Maybe so many possible fears are listed in the episode because chances are the kids in the audience will be afraid of at least one or two of them and they’ll be able to identify with Shirley.
Whit makes the point that it’s healthy to be afraid of certain things that can cause you harm, which is an important point. He quotes the Bible when he says that God’s perfect love casts out fear. For young kids Shirley’s dream sequence is indeed scary and could help them identify even more strongly with Shirley’s feelings. But for older kids it could backfire considering how ridiculously unrealistic the dream is. After she wakes up Shirley’s mom tries to comfort her but she comes across as distant and uncaring. Whether that was for lack of acting ability or purposeful, I don’t know.
Jake creates an elaborate booby-trap where he can pull a string causing a pile of boxes to fall over. How Jake managed to set up this trap or why he thought it would be desirable to have boxes fall into his path is unknown. After an experience with a scary clown, the lights turn off and Jake pretends to be a ghost, causing Shirley to start crying in fear. But apparently Jake has a no-crying rule (what did he think would happen?) and immediately confesses to luring Shirley down into the basement to scare her.
After Jake’s leg is hurt by falling boxes, Shirley must go on alone to find her way out. Jake says, “Keep talking so I know where you are.” This is one of the main principles of audio drama. The audience is in the dark and the characters must describe their surroundings. Through the experience Shirley learns that when she focuses on Jesus she forgets her fear. Then Connie shows her a bug and Shirley freaks out again. Similarly to The Life of the Party, Nothing to Fear ends with laugh. This episode may have an average story but it presents its theme well. It gets 3 out of 5 stars.