Like the previous episode that takes place in the Bible Room, in which Whit tells the story of Jonah by placing Jack and Lucy into the story, in The Shepherd and the Giant, Whit places Connie in the story. Except this time Whit uses an invention called the Environment Enhancer. You would think this would simplify matters, but it only complicates things further. How does this invention work? It’s audio entertainment which is not only interactive and intelligent, but it allows Connie to literally visualize what is going on often without the aid of description. She hears the sound of a harp and she says it’s coming from a guy sitting on a hill. Whit is clearly a genius inventor if he can bring all that across through audio. And yet there is never any indication from Connie that she is ever watching anything—it’s all supposed to be in her ears. You never know what kind of technology Whit is working with, but the Environment Enhancer seems very overpowered. Unlike the Imagination Station which is completely immersive and influences all your senses, including sight, hearing, smell, physical touch, and taste, the Enhancer uses just headphones to bring everything across. In a way it’s a portable Imagination Station. It reminds me of the episode A Day in the Life where a movie is made about Odyssey and the filmmakers change the Imagination Station into a ring.
As for the overall feeling of episode itself, it certainly is entertaining. The prophet Samuel in particular is given some funny lines and he livens up every scene he appears in. It was an interesting decision to focus completely on David and leave out the story of King Saul. We are told Israel needs a new king but we aren’t told why Saul isn’t God’s chosen one anymore. This retelling leaves out the section in the Bible between David’s anointing and his encounter with Goliath. 1 Samuel 16:14-23 explains that the spirit of the Lord has left Saul and been replaced by an evil spirit. As a result David joins Saul’s court and not only plays the harp for him but becomes his armor bearer. Leaving out Saul’s decline into madness simplifies the story of David and Goliath. The episode ends with a message about trusting in the Lord and it says nothing more about David’s eventual rise to kingship. If you’re going to cut that out you may as well leave out David’s anointing as well.
Nonetheless, this episode did a solid job with the limited focus it had. It retold a well-known story in a creative way which engaged the imagination. David’s role as a shepherd protecting his flock from lions and bears translates perfectly into his fight against the giant. But it seems like the Environment Enhancer shouldn’t really be a precursor for the Imagination Station when it is almost as powerful and more versatile because it’s so small and can be taken anywhere. This episode gets 4 out of 5 stars.