It’s a hot summer day in Odyssey, so hot in fact that Jack and Oscar are tired of working hard mowing lawns and have decided to solve a mystery instead. Jack suddenly takes on a whole new detective personality. It hearkens back to his first episode, Rumor Has It, in which he investigates a possible mafia member. Except this time Jack totally gets into the role, which is one reason why this episode is so much better. The character of Jack really does get a chance to shine. He commits and transforms his voice into a classic detective for the narration of the story, but remains his normal self for the rest of it. The dichotomy between what a kid thinks of their life and what a kid actually says and does is displayed with a lot of creativity. During his narration, Jack clearly thinks of himself as a mature, well-seasoned expert who is on a serious, top-secret mission. But his real life interactions completely contradict that perception, revealing him to be an overdramatic and yet lovable kid who takes himself a little too seriously. That has a lot of comedic potential and this episode definitely takes advantage of it.
The music in Heatwave is the same as in The Case of the Secret Room, and yet the stories feel very different. The Case of the Secret Room is suspenseful and a little scary, which fits the music well. And it has a tragic ending. But the same potentially scary music used in Heatwave has a very different effect. Just like Jack’s narration, you get the feeling that the dramatic music is really just going on in his head. No one else acknowledges that this is a real mystery. For the audience, this is in fact a comedy. But I think the music was a good choice because it helps to exaggerate Jack’s side of the story. It tries to legitimize his perspective. This is his story, after all, so he gets to choose the music. And, again, the dichotomy appears. The contrast between the dramatic music and the actual drama together create the desired comedic effect.
And of course Jack, the reckless adventurer, needs a cautious sidekick who tries to keep him in check. Lucy fills that role in Rumor Has It, but only because of her irrational fear, which isn’t exactly realistic for her character. In this episode, however, Oscar reluctantly tags along and complains as he goes, which fits his character very well. I would say he’s there for comedic relief, but almost everything in this episode is for comedic relief. Mr. Watson’s name was chosen just so Jack could make a reference to Sherlock Holmes. And the bad joke buzzer is a ridiculous invention that shouldn’t even exist. Unless Mr. Watson is somehow pushing the buzzer himself, there’s no way with current technology that a buzzer could have the artificial intelligence necessary to accurately detect bad jokes. And who’s to decide what even constitutes poor taste in humor? It clearly isn’t supposed to be realistic. If it was a serious mystery, this machine definitely would not show up in the story, nor would Jack be wearing a trench coat during a heatwave. But this is a weird and wacky mystery that laughs at itself. Oscar even breaks the fourth wall when he turns off the sound effects of the leaves crunching underneath his feet. This is the style of humor that usually shows up in Whit’s stories, like Gifts for Madge and Guy. It’s quite similar to the live shows that Adventures in Odyssey would produce in later years. This episode’s ability to poke fun at the mystery genre keeps it compelling throughout.
At Whit’s End, Jack narrates for us and recounts that he greets Robyn Jacobs “the way all great detectives greet women.” Then, still using his private detective voice, he says to Robyn, “Hiyah, doll face. What’s the latest news?” Robyn replies, “The report of your damaged body if you don’t call me by my real name.” This is another funny moment in the show. Jack is obviously so caught up in his idea of being an incredibly smart and authoritative detective that he enters the territory of sexism. The audience has been laughing at Jack’s misguided mindset since the beginning of the episode and this moment is no exception. He clearly has no idea what a great detective is. He includes himself among the experts and yet he is bumbling along, chasing after a non-existent mystery, and is probably closer to someone like Harlow Doyle than anyone resembling a real detective. And he looks down on others in the process, particularly his sidekick Oscar. Well, Oscar may take Jack’s insults lying down, but Robyn’s attitude snaps Jack right out of his own little world and back to reality. Not only does it allow us to cheer on Robyn for putting Jack in his place, but it’s a great moment of comedy.
Jack speculates that the mystery kid could be trying to build his own Imagination Station. And, surprisingly, he couldn’t be more right. Maybe Jack isn’t that bad of a detective after all. It’s good that Digger returns to the show so soon after his first appearance and that it’s clear he’s a changed person after his trip in Mr. Whittaker’s invention. Somehow the “Digger Digger Digwillow” joke managed to slip in again, which was less funny this time but still a nice reference to his previous episode. It’s interesting to note that both Digger and Jack’s names seem to have a connection to C.S. Lewis. Digger’s name is based off the character Digory from The Chronicles of Narnia, and of course C.S. Lewis liked to be called by the name “Jack.” Heatwave builds on what happened before in Digger’s life and further develops his character. Wonderworld sounds like a great opportunity to tell new and exciting stories which may not have worked with the Imagination Station. But, unfortunately, these two creations introduced within the space of five months go off in opposite directions. The Imagination Station becomes a staple of the show, successfully telling biblical and other historical tales in over 70 episodes. But Wonderworld is quickly forgotten and is only mentioned in about ten episodes to date. Nevertheless, that’s not the fault of Heatwave, which turns out to be a wonderfully humorous episode. It gets 5 out of 5 stars.