For a show about a rumor which snowballs out of control after two kids see something suspicious on their walk, this episode was bound to be compared to Rumor Has It from Album 3. In that episode Jack and Lucy engage in gossip about a man who lives on their route to school, theorizing that he may be a mafia drug dealer, a mass-murderer or a mad scientist performing secret experiments. Needless to say, Rumor Has It is a dark episode. It breaches many serious topics without explaining any of them, and then brushes them off at end because, after all, none of those rumors amount to anything in reality. Having to plough through a web of sinister tall tales to get to the anticlimactic conclusion is not enjoyable, and reminds me of the episode Back to School, in which the character Leslie exaggerates everything and tells a truly horrifying but inaccurate story about her first day at school. Thankfully, the show Curious, Isn’t It? doesn’t go down this dark route. Instead it aims for comedy, and sometimes its jokes even land. And it opts for a positive rumor rather than a negative one, which allows its humor to not seem totally out of place.
Meet Ben and Esther. You’ve heard Ben once before and you’ve heard someone who sounds exactly like Esther (Jill from Connie Goes to Camp). They were side characters before, but now they want to be in the spotlight. That doesn’t quite work out for them, as they aren’t the strongest duo, but they do have their moments. One of their problems is that Esther is always degrading Ben. The show starts off with Esther complaining that the path Ben has led her on isn’t a shortcut because it’s taking twice as long. You would think Ben would be more wary of taking shortcuts after he tried to take a shortcut over the train trestle at Miller’s Ravine in his previous show and nearly got killed by a train. The other problem this duo has is that Ben is too subdued. He lacks passion or personality and doesn’t sound very convincing. He sounds like he’s casually reading his lines rather than putting in the effort to sound realistic. It’s hard to imagine Ben ever convincing Esther to follow him on his little shortcut. Ben’s only good quality is that sometimes he can be unintentionally funny, but even then his jokes are hit and miss.
After spying on Mr. Whittaker and Emma Douglas, Ben is clueless about what is going on, but Esther thinks she has things all figured out. Of course, Esther’s theory about Whit getting married is incorrect, but at least she has something interesting to offer that drives the plot forward. Ben only tags along and slows things down. In the next scene Esther says, “Ben, can you stop being yourself for five minutes and give me some intelligent suggestions here?” I understand that Ben isn’t too enthusiastic about this outlandish rumor which Esther has cooked up, but he could at least try to do something useful for the sake of the audience. He’s on an episode about curiosity, so he should either play along or remove himself from the story. Esther is obviously far too curious for her own good, but Ben is so indifferent and unconcerned with the world around him that he may as well not be there. Character foils are important, but if that was Ben’s job he doesn’t do it very well. A better partner for Esther in this episode would have been Lucy. She would have made herself known and pushed back against Esther in a constructive way. It would have been a chance to redeem herself after Rumor Has It, in which Lucy is taken in by the ridiculous rumors being circulated and is crippled by fear into inaction. But to be fair, that was her first episode so she wasn’t a developed character yet. Lucy’s a newspaper reporter now, so she could have added a whole new perspective to this investigation.
In contrast to Ben, the character of Morty Moscowitz is probably my favorite part of this episode. He is a very funny guy. His style of humor is terse and on the negative side, reminding me a little of Bernard. In his one and only scene Morty gives some of this episode’s best lines. Referring to Ben, Morty says, “Such a nice boy, not too smart, but nice.” In an attempt to cut short the conversation, he says, “Well, this comparison of our mutual friends and relatives has been fascinating, but I really got to get this box inside.” And when talking about the tuxedo, Morty says, “Some men get married in them, some men get buried in them, some men get married and buried in them, sometimes it seems like on the same day!” I don’t know how this line didn’t get cut from what some people consider a kids’ program, but I’m so glad it was left in. Very few other characters could have gotten away with such a line, but Morty pulls it off and delivers it perfectly. Unfortunately for us, this is Morty’s only episode. I wish he had been a recurring character because he obviously has a lot to offer.
Another great aspect of this episode is Eugene. He is on the top of his game with his technical language which no one can understand and has a nice moment with Bernard, which ends with Bernard saying, “I’ll bet people have nightmares about you.” But then this episode gets a little too unrealistic for my taste when it has absolutely everyone in Odyssey jump on the rumor bandwagon and somehow start believing that Whit is running off to get married without telling anyone. Dale Jacobs of all people is taken in and writes a page one exclusive for the newspaper without bothering to contact Whit. You’d think Dale would be responsible enough to check his sources. Then when Whit arrives and explains he’s not getting married, the people of Odyssey celebrate their first non-wedding, a tradition which continues on in later years with Connie and Mitch, Eugene and Katrina, Tom and Agnes, Connie and Wooton, etc. This episode has a much better concept than Rumor Has It and turns out to be more uplifting and positive, but it is also dragged down slightly by Ben and Esther’s lack of chemistry. It gets 3 out of 5 stars.