This is Adventures in Odyssey’s first historical episode and it deals with US history, something most listeners would be familiar with. Irwin Springer, who we have never met before, just happens to love the Revolutionary War. He is another one-off character whose personality was created specifically for this episode. Near the beginning of the story he falls from a chair and hits his head. Fortunately for the audience, Irwin’s vast knowledge of history translates into a historically accurate dream.
If the Imagination Station had been invented already, maybe Irwin wouldn’t have had to resort to such desperate measures to travel back in time. He is struck unconscious, similarly to Jimmy Barclay in Someone to Watch Over Me in Album 10. Only Irwin doesn’t have Nagle protecting him from the Grim Reaper, instead he has Nathan Hale protecting him from the British soldiers. Nathan helps Irwin to swim as they escape both the British and a swarm of bees. The music is surprisingly cheerful throughout this scene despite them being in danger. I don’t understand why the story needed to incorporate the unlikely event of Irwin hitting his head and falling unconscious in order to dream about US history. He could have slept during class, or better yet at nighttime, and still have gone on the same adventure.
The events of this episode are quite important to Americans, although non-Americans can still enjoy it. To avoid alienating people from other countries, Focus on the Family smartly decided to change the show’s name from “Odyssey USA” to Adventures in Odyssey in 1988. In this episode, however, Irwin remarks that the United States is “the greatest nation in the whole world.” That line caught my attention, especially since this episode aired a few months after the show had been given a more universal name. While America is indeed a unique place, I think it can be hard to quantify or measure the greatness of nations. Different people have different ideas about what that means. At best, I guess Irwin’s remark can be passed off as your standard patriotism that anyone would feel about their home country.
Whenever Irwin meets a famous person he repeats the phrase “Oh, wow” like a broken record, almost like he hit his head or something. Irwin is tasked at delivering a message on horseback from George Washington to the Continental Congress. And apparently he has a very vivid imagination because the ride is so bumpy that he says he never wants to ride a horse ever again. The fact that Benjamin Franklin looks and sounds like Mr. Whittaker is evidence that Irwin is dreaming and mixing his everyday reality with his dream world.
At the Continental Congress the anti-revolutionary argument is well-represented in the character of John Dickinson. I felt his motivations were well-developed and believable and Earl Boen did a great acting job as usual. The historical quotes give this episode a lot of credibility and effectively make the point about Christianity being involved in the founding of the nation. What would have made this episode more memorable is if Irwin Springer was a more developed character and not just a one-off who we never hear from again. This episode gets 3 out of 5 stars.