"Emily and Matthew discover a series of riddles from decades past stuck in the corner of her locker." -AIOC
Can there ever be "too much of a good thing"? In the world of Adventures in Odyssey, I don't think so. In a period that was widely advertised as a "reboot", there have been an awful lot of pre-hiatus characters re-appearing on the show―Jason, Monty, Jack, Joanne, and now Dale Jacobs. For older fans like myself, this is a dream come true. But is it too much?
"I'd honestly prefer they just develop the characters they have to a point where we actually really like them, instead of bringing back all kinds of characters to the point where you can't even really keep up with the cast unless you're a HUGE fan of the show. When they keep bringing people back, it just gets confusing to the newer listeners."
This comment was made by The Ceiling Fan's Garrett Vandenberg, responding to another comment made by a fan wishing Clara could return to the show. There's a point to be made here. Shows that re-introduce characters for purely nostalgic reasons simply end up alienating new listeners. New listeners would certainly be a bit confused if, all of a sudden, the Barclays moved back to Odyssey, Nick Mulligan was back working at Whit's End, Jack Davis started delivering pizzas again, and Oscar started teaching gym class―hold on, those all sound like really great ideas, actually.
However, there's a difference between bringing back characters like Clara and bringing back a character who was part of the early fabric of Adventures in Odyssey that never should have left in the first place. In a period that has unintentionally shed some of the core characters that made Adventures in Odyssey the special place it is―Jack Allen, Bernard Walton, Tom Riley―it simply makes sense to grab hold of the quintessential Odyssey characters that disappeared for no good reason, at all.
Next to George Barclay, Dale Jacobs was one of my favorite fathers on the show. For a while, his character had downgraded to Officer O'Ryan and Doctor Morton status, appearing in small cameos whenever someone of his profession was needed. "The Lost Riddle" introduces him to new listeners a way that doesn't require people to know that he was in the older shows at all. We see his future usefulness come out quite clearly in "The Lost Riddle" ―assisting with investigative duties and, overall, creating new possibilities for story-lines. In addition, his return also adds a more realistic, mature sounding voice to counterbalance the currently high number of goofy-sounding characters on the show.
I'm taking a while to review the rest of the episode, but maybe that's because I don't have much to complain about. "The Lost Riddle" is the very best Parker/Jones Detective Agency episode I've heard yet. This mystery both engaged and seemed to matter. I never cared about finding Barrett's video game in "Game for a Mystery", but I readily followed Emily and Matthew throughout this mystery because it had lured me in so well, peaking my curiosity from the get-go; why did the riddle matter? We didn't know. Overall, the clues were interesting, plentiful, and well-thought out.
Many have compared this episode to "Buried Sin", and understandably so, since "The Lost Riddle" follows virtually the same plot: person has a secret, person hides a secret in the hopes of confessing it later, but, alas, the secret isn't discovered until many, many years later. But, much like this past season's "The Bible Network", this episodes takes a classic idea and makes it its own, changing the mystery entirely, lighting the tone, and adding an ending that feels both original and emotionally touching, too.
Granted, as involving as it is, there are a few things that occurred in "The Lost Riddle" that may make you stop and think. I'll touch on three of them. 1) First, you might have noticed after listening to this episode that there's probably no better way to infuriate someone you've wronged than to make them try to figure what wrong you've done by sending them a series of riddles. How Kenny Rutherford ever thought that was a good idea is beyond me. 2) Secondly, if Dale Jacobs was in High School 25 years ago, there's the obvious question: how much time has really passed in Odyssey since the show started in 1988? Surely not 25, since Dale would have been a teenager when we first met him. 3) And, finally, after listening to this episode, we must now assume that Matthew Parker has the vision of a hawk since he was able to spot in seconds what decades of students failed to spot in Emily Jones' locker. A bit strange, if you ask me.
"The Lost Riddle", admittedly, does not have the power and gravitas of "Buried Sin", but it is nevertheless a very involving, well-thought out, and kid-friendly story about the power of guilt and, more importantly, the power of forgiveness to heal. I quite enjoyed it. Although, at the moment, anything with Dale Jacobs is an automatic win in my book.
Writer: Bob Hoose:
Director: Paul McCusker
Sound Designer: Jonathan Crowe
Music: John Campbell
Scripture: Ephesians 4:32
Original Airdate: 11/24/12