010: Nothing to Fear Review

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Episode: 010: Nothing to Fear
Originally Aired: January 23, 1988
From Album: Volume 1: The Adventure Begins

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5

Odyssey USA “Nothing to Fear” is the type of unspectacular, average episode that is the bread and butter of serial storytelling. Not every episode can introduce a new major character, reveal shocking character qualities (or defects), or tell a story that diverges in tone and style from the rest of the series. “Nothing to Fear” is neither cringe inducing nor cream of the crop; it’s just another half hour with characters you’ve come to enjoy spending time with.

Even the message of “Nothing to Fear” is generic. Like the simplistic never giving up message of “Whit’s Flop,” this episode’s message of overcoming fear is no different than what you can get from a dozen different shows every afternoon on the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. Here’s what I wrote about “Whit’s Flop”:

Where “Whit’s Flop” stands out in comparison to other children’s entertainment is in its portrayal of adults. In most children’s entertainment, adults are played as fools. In a Disney Channel show, the children would have discovered the message of never giving up in spite of—not because of—the adult characters.

Whit’s involvement in “Nothing to Fear” is again notable, but I would add an additional way “Nothing to Fear” stands out: reliance on biblical principles instead of worldly wisdom. If children learn at a young age to go to the Bible for answers instead of self-help books or what a friend’s cousin said, it will save them immeasurable heartache and trouble later in life.

According to the AIO Wiki, “This was the first AIO episode that garnered any noticeable negative reaction, due to the nightmare scene.” There are many things that children’s programming should avoid, but I do not think intense and/or scary moments are one of them. Telling scary stories to children around the campfire is a time-honored tradition. My favorite TV series, Doctor Who, like Adventures in Odyssey, is primarily a children’s series that simultaneously enjoys a significant adult fanbase. Who is known for its occasionally scary episodes that send children hiding behind the couch.

Scary moments serve an important purpose in storytelling. There is a difference between being scared for the protagonist and being scared yourself. When you’re scared for the protagonist, you’re just a spectator. When the hero overcomes the insurmountable challenge, you don’t feel like you have a stake in the victory because you didn’t have a stake in the challenge. But on the other hand, if you’re scared yourself, then you become swept up in the story. It’s your challenge too. And since you had a stake in the challenge, you feel as if you have a stake in the victory.

This episode’s “scary moment” comes during a nightmare. I put scary moment in quotes, because it isn’t all that scary. Given, I’m not an eight year old, but I imagine even a young kid is not going to find this episode particularly scary. Dream sequences are incredibly hard to pull off. Most shows get them wrong. While this wasn’t the most gregarious example I’ve ever seen, the episode would have been better off without the dream sequence—scary or not.

Overall, this was an average episode of Adventures in Odyssey. But if this is what amounts to average in Odyssey, we have a lot to look forward to in the 600-and-some remaining episodes.

Matthew's Rating: 5 (out of 10)
More info about 010: Nothing to Fear:

5 Comments

Yea...I'm gonna ignore that first comment.

The "scary" moment was quite scary for me as a child, actually. The Last scene in "The mysterious stranger part 1", and a few moments in "Castles and Cauldrons", I remember being frightening as well.

I totally believe that a part of children's entertainment should be scary...Of course, if I was a parent, I might not want my kids being scared because they might be awake all night. But I think we forget that a lot of older children stories, like the Grim fairy tales, were meant to scare us senseless.

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