Originally Aired: December 12, 1987
From Album: Volume 1: The Adventure Begins
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Sorry about the short break. I’d initially planned to review an episode a day until the end of the first album. Unfortunately, there was a two day break between my pseudo-review of “Lights Out at Whit’s End” and today’s review of “Connie Comes to Town.”
You know how it is. Sometimes something comes up. In this case, something was a new setup I wanted to try on my web server that I thought would be relatively simple. It has to do with databases, environment variables, and configuration files. Unless you’re Eugene, you’re probably not interested (in case you are Eugene, here’s a link to what I was trying to do.) As things like this normally go, it turned out to be anything but simple. Once I figured it out (it had to do with an Apache feature called suEXEC, bash scripting, and incredibly ingenious—if I do say so myself—redirecting), I wrote my solution up on my web host’s wiki (if you’re Eugene, here’s a link) in hopes that the next person who runs into this problem won’t have to spend as much time on it as I did.
At the first of this episode, Whit was having “one of those” days too. I guess Jimmy from “A Member of the Family” (aired 17th but apparently precedes this one chronologically) quit. Everything was piling up at Whit’s End, and he needed Tom’s help just to get Freddy his milkshake.
We had our first biblical reference in the second episode. The fourth episode gives us another type of reference worth discussing. At the beginning of the episode, Whit is engaged in a phone call with someone asking if he’ll speak to her Sunday school class. Then he is approached by a girl discussing the upcoming Bible Bowl (which will take place at the end of the episode). These aren’t biblical references, but they are references to aspects of Christian culture—specifically evangelical culture.
Christian culture—things like Sunday school, Bible Bowl, and even Adventures in Odyssey—is completely absent from TV. I’m sure TV producers feel they’re being realistic, representing how life is for the majority of Americans. The truth is, for a significant number of Americans, the omnipresent trappings of Christian culture is an integral part of life. Byron Johnson writes in the February 2011 issue of First Things, “Fully one-third of Americans (approximately 100 million) affiliate with an evangelical Protestant congregation. Indeed, evangelicals remain the numerically dominant religious tradition in the United States” (pg. 13). For evangelical Christians, Christianity isn’t just somewhere they go on Sunday. It is a way of life. When I listen to Adventures in Odyssey, rather than reacting, “That’s so unrealistic!”, I usually go, “I’ve experienced something very similar to that.” Odyssey represents a segment—and a fairly large segment, at that—of the population that goes virtually unrepresented in the rest of mass media.
The major first of this episode though is the introduction of Connie Kendall. Guess what? Connie’s new in town! Like Davey in “Whit’s Flop” and Craig in “The Life of the Party”, Connie is “the new kid on the block.” Also with Connie, we see a move away from the anthology approach of the first few episodes toward the more serialized approach of modern TV.
“Connie Comes to Town”—not “Whit’s Flop”—was initially conceived of as the first episode of Adventures in Odyssey. Katie Leigh’s (the actress who voices Connie) pregnancy postponed her debut until episode 4. It’s amazing how much story they fit into these early episodes. This episode has another great example of economical storytelling. The story jumps straight from Connie setting out to pick up her uniform to Connie having worked long enough and raised enough money for the bus ticket to LA she was yearning for.
During the abridged portion, Connie evidently becomes a big hit with the kids who visit Whit’s End. It’s no surprise either. Connie’s a teenager. Kids adore teenagers. They practically worship teenagers. Kids don’t want to grow up and be adults. They want to grow up and be teenagers. Have you ever wondered why all the shows on the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon geared toward 8-12 year olds are about teenagers instead of kids the age of most of their viewers? The difference is that in those shows teenagers are usually portrayed as getting away with what they want. Who wouldn’t want to be a teenager if being a teenager was like what you see on the Disney Channel? Those photogenic actors never seem to get acne, never get left out in the lunchroom. Connie’s portrayed as a teenager with all the flaws involved in being a teenager. Connie doesn’t ultimately get her way. Whit and others who know what’s best for her guide her in the right direction. And with the introduction of Connie, Adventures in Odyssey takes off in an exciting new direction.
More info about 004: Connie Comes to Town: