005: Gifts for Madge and Guy Review

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Episode: 005: Gifts for Madge and Guy
Originally Aired: December 19, 1987
From Album: Volume 1: The Adventure Begins

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10

If you’re following along with the album order, this is the second time you’ve heard Officer Harley. The first time was “Recollections.” Harley originally had a more prominent role in the series, but now only a few fragments of his performance remain (in this episode, “Recollections,” and “Peace on Earth,” to be exact). The rest of the episodes that included his character have since been rewritten, rerecorded, and re-aired (and, at this point, I will retire from this ridiculously long list of re-’s) without his character. For more details on the whole affair, I direct (redirect?) you to the always excellent Adventures in Odyssey Wiki.

I feel I should have an opinion one way or the other about Harley, but it’s difficult for me to, well, even care. As much as I want to, it’s impossible for me to feel strongly about the issue. Maybe if I had been aware of the issues when they were actually happening, the issue would resonant more with me. Since this episode first aired when I was just shy of two, there were a lot of things I was unaware of at the time. You can make the argument that the whole situation demonstrates how Odyssey interacts with and listens to its fans, but whenever I read a Harley-related tidbit in the liner notes or in the trivia section on AIO Wiki or hear about him in the bonus material on the Gold Audio Series albums, the best I can muster is meh.

That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the past. It was my love of old time radio dramas like The Shadow, The Adventures of Sam Spade, and The Mercury Theatre on the Air that drew me (back) to Adventures in Odyssey. Did my love of old time radio really draw me to Adventures in Odyssey or did Odyssey’s influence on me growing up subconsciously draw me to old time radio?

Ronald Reagan I first started getting into old time radio as a freshman in college. If asked who my two personal heroes are, most people who have known me for very long will be able to tell you Ronald Reagan and Orson Welles. I know the pious answer is supposed to be Jesus, but Jesus is much more than a hero to me. Jesus is my life. I don’t think Jesus is really the pious answer; I think it is just what you say when you can’t think of anybody else (and Jesus deserves better than that).

Orson Welles “Who’s your personal hero?” is usually just one of those icebreaker questions like “What’s your favorite color?” and “What’s your favorite animal?” You usually don’t know the answers to those questions even about your best friend, because, frankly, they are trivial. That question is different for me. My friends know my heroes are Ronald Reagan and Orson Welles because both figures have significantly influenced and shaped my life. Right now I have fifteen books by or about Ronald Reagan on my bookshelf. In the corner of my bedroom, I have a bust, talking doll, and framed photo of Reagan. I also own books about Orson Welles and have watched Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Third Man, Touch of Evil, and the 1967 Casino Royale. It was listening to episodes of Welles’ The Mercury Theatre on the Air that got me hooked on old time radio.

More than any other episode of Odyssey so far, “Gifts for Madge and Guy” resembles an old time radio drama. Beginning with the wordplay in the title (Madge and Guy/magi), it is a fun divergence from the normal tone and style of Odyssey. Here’s where the long-form format of Odyssey really shines. TV series are able to experiment in ways movies are incapable of. Book series are able to experiment in ways standalone novels are incapable of. (That doesn’t mean movies and novels are somehow inferior—just different.)

One way this episode diverges from the normal Odyssey tone is breaking the fourth wall. The characters sometimes interact with the narrator (Whit). Madge recalls, “Just the other day [Guy] said.” Then Guy’s voice with a reverb effect says, “Madge, I love your hair.” Her friend Ethel asks, “How do you do that?” to which she responds, “Special effects.” Breaking the fourth wall is a theatrical term that has also been applied to television and art in general, but it is chiefly a visual metaphor. For radio, I propose the variant of crossing the airwaves.

Host Chris Anthony I realize this review has been all over the place. David Harley, old time radio, breaking the fourth wall. This episode also presents a perfect opportunity to discuss Chris’ intros and outros. This episode is an excellent example of Focus on the Family using her intros/outros as indoctrination. I know there are usually negative connotations associated with that word, but I am using it in the positive sense. According to Wiktionary, the definition of indoctrination is “instruction in the rudiments and principles of any science or belief system.” Too many Christians today lack even a basic knowledge of the Bible. In the intro, Chris discusses the differences between the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew and Luke and instructs the listener to be thinking about it throughout the episode. Then in her outro, Chris present a possible solution. Someday when the child is older and (hopefully) picks up a commentary, flips to that passage in Matthew or Luke, she has some kind of frame of reference.

I can’t think of a single thing I disliked about this episode. I give it the first 10 of the series!

Matthew's Rating: 10 (out of 10)
More info about 005: Gifts for Madge and Guy:

14 Comments

Great review even though you didn't really review it! LOL Loved your talk about Old Time Radio cause I'm a BIG fan of it.

Madge & Guy may be my favorite episode ever. It's hilarious. I've always wanted to do it live as a play--but you could never do it as well....ie--"she raced home in the snow!" ;)

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