033: The Day Independence Came Review

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Episode: 033: The Day Independence Came
Originally Aired: July 2, 1988
From Album: Volume 2: Stormy Weather

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4

Wow, it’s been five months since my last review. Sometimes time gets away from you. The wait is finally over. Here’s a new review, and I promise I’ll have another review tomorrow.

Red Coats Stung by Wasp Nest I like history. In fact, the Revolutionary War is my favorite period in history to study. Like Irwin Springer in this episode, I like reading “big, thick” books about that era such as David McCullough’s John Adams.

Based on the above paragraph, you probably think I look forward to the historical episodes of Adventures in Odyssey. On the contrary, when I see a historical episode coming up on the track listing, it feels like a chore. And I don’t really know why. Once I listen to them, I find I enjoy most of them.

It may be that when I think of historical adaptation what comes to mind is a dry PBS documentary. Historical adaptation is a hard genre to pull off, and special attention must be paid to prevent it from turning into a dry PBS documentary. The problem is we are already familiar with the historical facts. A series must give those facts its own special twist.

Unfortunately, “The Day Independence Came” is a fairly straightforward historical adaptation. The story isn’t given any special twist to make it fit into Odyssey. Later episodes with Bernard Walton narrating a story do a much better job. They could have (and we’ve discussed this before) sent Connie back to the Revolutionary War instead of Irwin Springer. We have more of an emotional investment in Connie, because we know her. They also could have told the story from the perspective of an unknown solider rather than the big names like Nathan Hale and George Washington we all already know.

The episode even makes the point that history is more than rote facts. When Irwin rushes off to get the book about Benjamin Franklin Whit picked up for him at a sale downtown, Tom remarks, “Look at him go. You’d think he was looking for buried treasure.” Whit’s response is: “Well, what makes you think he isn’t?”

This was Odyssey’s first historical episode. The Imagination Station hadn’t been introduced yet, but it is the same type of episode as an Imagination Station episode. It employs what I would call the Wizard of Oz framing device. Irwin is knocked out by a “big, heavy book” about Benjamin Franklin and then takes part in the Revolutionary War. Ben Franklin even looks and sounds like Whit!

It should also be pointed out that Irwin likes history. Many shows would have fallen back on the cliché of a kid who hates history who is sent back in time to discover how fascinating history actually is. Instead we’re treated to Irwin’s “oh wow”s as he sees all the amazing things he’s read about in history books first hand. This wasn’t a bad episode; there were just so many better episodes on this album.

Matthew's Rating: 4 (out of 10)
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