Originally Aired: April 16, 1988
From Album: Volume 0: The Lost Episodes
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This is the final episode of the four episodes on The Lost Episodes that were rebroadcasts of Family Portraits episodes with the Odyssey wrap tacked on. The first three were: “Dental Dilemma,” “My Brother’s Keeper,” and “No Stupid Questions.” Of the four, “A Simple Addition” is the best, yet it still doesn’t quite fit in Adventures in Odyssey. There are stylistic issues I’d be much more apt to forgive if I were reviewing this as the thirteenth episode of Family Portraits rather than the twenty-second episode of Adventures in Odyssey.
I think it would have been better to have released a Family Portraits album instead of The Lost Episodes album with the Family Portraits episodes shoehorned into Adventures in Odyssey continuity. I know Family Portraits was released on cassette tape, but that is long out of print. Focus on the Family really should rerelease it on CD with packaging and artwork similar to the most recent Adventures in Odyssey albums. Alternatively, they could have rewrote and rerecorded these episodes to better fit with Odyssey continuity, but the time for that is long past due. Now it would just be better to rerelease Family Portraits in whole.
The producers didn’t decide upon the 8-12 target until Odyssey began. I mentioned “Dental Dilemma” alternated between serious adult drama and fun children’s sitcom. “A Simple Addition” seems to skew even younger than 8-12, like the producers were going after the Sesame Street demographic. The episode seems pointedly targeted at the five year old having a hard time with the birth of a new sibling. We also learn that Whit makes a pretty good babysitter.
“A Simple Addition” imparts biblical truth on a level a five year old can understand. Nicky’s dad shares with him that God created kittens and him and his new baby sister too.
There’s a lot of exposition near the end, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Paradoxically, since radio is not a visual medium, the “show, don’t tell” rule still applies. It is much more exciting to hear events dramatized than to hear a character just tell about them. But slavish adherence to a dictum like “show, don’t tell” straitjackets a writer. Sometimes a touching conversation between father and son can move the story along better than any action-filled event. Movies today have far too few meaningful conversations. The characters are too busy dodging bullets to dig into weighty philosophical issues.
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