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June 5, 2009 11:19 AM   Subscribe

Adventures in Odyssey is a twenty-year-old children's radio series out of Focus on the Family "The series centers on the fictional town of Odyssey, and in particular, an ice cream emporium named 'Whit's End', and its proprietor, John Avery Whittaker."

At the official website, you can listen to select shows and podcasts, as well as find other interactive material. There is also a complete repository of all-things-Odyssey available for your enjoyment, and if you happen to be in Colorado Springs, you can actually visit Whit's End.
posted by litterateur (44 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
"This week in Oddssey, Janie and Scotty learn to hate teh gheys."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:24 AM on June 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

I visited the Focus on the Family compound in Colorado Springs once. At the time I wasn't anti-FotF (because I was about 13) but I still have a distinct sense of being incredibly creeped out by how meticulous and sterile the facilities were, everything maintained within a centimeter of its life. It wasn't until I saw The Stepford Wives that I was actually able to place the sensation the FotF place gave me.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:28 AM on June 5, 2009

Man, I loved this stuff when I was a kid. The best bit to me was the Darkness Before Dawn series; everything else after that felt kind of lackluster, so I dropped it soon after. That may have had more to do with me getting older rather than any actual drop in quality though.

I also remember that Chick-fil-A used to give away Adventures in Odyssey tapes instead of toys with their kids meals.

On preview: Yeah, this comment thread is already starting to turn out about like I expected it would. There was definitely a lot of Christian proselytizing in the stories (although, since it's a kids show, there isn't any mention of gay marriage. At least, there wasn't as of the time I quit listening.) But there's also just basic morality stuff in there too, teaching kids to be nice to each other and whatnot.
posted by JDHarper at 11:33 AM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

It's sad, too, because when I was a kid my sisters and I listened to AIO on a regular basis. It was pretty inoffensive, typical sunday-school-type stuff. It's only in the last, oh, fifteen years or so that Dobson became hellbent on converting a fairly influential but relatively harmless ministry into a fucking nightmare of a bully pulpit that won't stop until it's infected every aspect of our national politics with its narrow-minded, misogynist, gay-hating ideas.

Fuck that guy, fuck FOTF, and fuck every last thing that comes out of that hypocritical institution.
posted by shiu mai baby at 11:34 AM on June 5, 2009 [6 favorites]

I'm from Colorado Springs and remember receiving a cassette tape of this program out trick-or-treating one year when I was maybe nine. I was totally incensed, like they were disparaging the spirit of my holiday.
posted by 7segment at 11:35 AM on June 5, 2009 [3 favorites]

The goal of the Odyssey staff was to create a "values based" radio show with production values comparable with or surpassing most mainstream audio dramas.

1. Are there still mainstream audio dramas?

2. "We need to reach the kids! Speak to the youth of america! What do kids love? I know! Radio plays! It's the next big thing!"
posted by brundlefly at 11:36 AM on June 5, 2009 [8 favorites]

Oh, and incidentally: The video series of Adventures in Odyssey bears only a passing resemblance to the radio series. The radio series has some grounding in reality; the video series has Whit flying a combination sailboat/hot air balloon.
posted by JDHarper at 11:38 AM on June 5, 2009

Sorry, I misspoke -- according to this excellent Slate article that discusses the transformation of Dobson from genial conservative family therapist to the figurehead of the religious right movement in politics, Dobson established the Family Research Council in 1983, which means his political aspirations are more than 25 years old.
posted by shiu mai baby at 11:39 AM on June 5, 2009

Christians proselytize via awkward entertainment. Film coming up after this episode of Adventures in Odyssey.
posted by GuyZero at 11:39 AM on June 5, 2009

I like the episode where Penelope is all "Can you help me move this bed over here" and Odysseus is all "LOL NO".
posted by everichon at 11:58 AM on June 5, 2009 [7 favorites]

You know who else taught kids to be nice to each other and whatnot?

And, oddly enough, didn't feel the need to branch out into the hate business on the side.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:00 PM on June 5, 2009 [5 favorites]

This thread certainly doesn't need to be pure haterade. I didn't mean it with my Stepford comment. It's the only Focus on the Family experience I've had, and I never much listened to Adventures in Odyssey but have several friends who did.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:03 PM on June 5, 2009

There is absolutely no reason to drag the gay marriage debate into a thread about a children's radio show.
...or I guess there is, but I humbly decline to get into that hornet's nest.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:16 PM on June 5, 2009

Ps-I never listened nor had my kids listen. Mostly because I can't stand cheeze, which I assumed this was full to the brim of.

Now, otoh, I can definitely groove with some Veggie Tales.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:17 PM on June 5, 2009

I get where you're coming from, shakespeherian, but as someone who grew up steeped in FOTF before Dobson became the Christian equivalent of Emperor Palpatine, it's hard not to hate them.

Halloween Jack's comment above isn't far off -- imagine if sweet old Fred Rogers had decided that cardigan-wearing and shoe-tossing wasn't enough, that it was his divine mission to make sure that the entire population of the US found Jesus, gave up teh gay, outlawed abortion, and made sure that women knew their rightful place in this world1.

You'd be pretty pissed off too, you know?

1 - "Without a social norm of monogamy, women become commodities to be used and discarded." " A society's most serious problem is the unattached male, and marriage links men to women who help channel male sexuality and aggression in socially productive ways. Marriage and parenthood socialize men to care for and respect their wives, other women and children" Gag me.
posted by shiu mai baby at 12:23 PM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

This program was a mainstay in my family, especially on vacations. We would listen to hours of it in the car from cassettes we checked out from our church library.

We too visited the focus on the family compound in Colorado, famous for their Whit's End Chocolate Soda.

But yes, it's totally creepy. Thanks for posting!
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:29 PM on June 5, 2009

oh, man, I LOVED this stuff!
posted by callmejordan at 12:33 PM on June 5, 2009

Here is something else that kids can get into... from the Tate Foundation.
posted by netbros at 12:43 PM on June 5, 2009

You'd be pretty pissed off too, you know?

Oh, no, I totally understand, I just think that narrowing our scope to focus (heh) on this one aspect of FotF-- namely, AIO-- would be okay just this once, and no one would have to be confused and think that we didn't hate Dobson's political shenanigans.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:46 PM on June 5, 2009

Mostly I remember hearing this every now and then passing through radio stations, and then later seeing some of the videos on the shelf at my home-schooled step-cousins' house, and just being confused as all get-out about what the heck was going on because the radio show was mildly entertaining radio-drama pablum while the videos appeared to have a freaking zeppelin.

Zeppelins are awesome, is pretty much what I'm trying to say here.
posted by Scattercat at 1:39 PM on June 5, 2009

Incidentally, I did not intend to spark a debate about Dobson or his organization, though I suppose I have little control over this.

I just wanted to share a piece of my childhood.
posted by litterateur at 1:47 PM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Ah, yes, I remember listening to this series as a kid. Now, I'll have to go and forget its existence yet again.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 1:53 PM on June 5, 2009

Evolution Control Committee's "The Acid Family", pieced together from an Adventures in Odyssey episode.
posted by anazgnos at 1:55 PM on June 5, 2009 [3 favorites]

Now, otoh, I can definitely groove with some Veggie Tales.

Aaaaaand now I've got the Bunny Song in my head again. Thanks.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:58 PM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, who would think that an all white evangelical propaganda fest aimed at kids would be controversial?
posted by GavinR at 2:28 PM on June 5, 2009 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to sort-of derail with my anti-Dobson screed. My comments came out of my own bitterness and disillusion over something I used to love a lot as a kid having been permanently tarnished by something I so despise as an adult. It was never my intention to crap on anyone's memories here.
posted by shiu mai baby at 2:31 PM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have a lot of fond childhood memories of the Cub Scouts too, but if I made a post discussing them I don't think it would be out of line to bring up the anti-gay bigotry of the parent organization.
posted by grouse at 2:38 PM on June 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

shiu mai baby - gosh and here I was just going to co-sign your "bitter" comment, cause I'm with you.

Fuck Dobson, Fuck FOF and FOF the entire conservative christian movement. It has no place in government, by law - ours - and has just made life utterly miserable for Americans who don't fit their idea of How Things Must Be.
posted by Tena at 2:38 PM on June 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

shiu mai baby: It's hard to imagine Mister Rogers telling everyone it was necessary to routinely use corporal punishment on toddlers either.
posted by zachlipton at 2:47 PM on June 5, 2009

The big crack in AIO's armor during my listening as a kid was when they explored the evils of Dungeons and Dragons.

I was forbidden to play D&D by my mother under the guise of its dangerous demonism and slaughter of the innocents. In retrospect, I think it was more an attempt to avoid my becoming a total nerd--my mom admitted at a good friend's wedding that she was convinced the two of us would never have girlfriends because we played a substantial amount of Nintendo. Anyway, even if I never played and wasn't dying to play, I loved the concept of the game and would sit in the public library reading issues of Dragon and delighting at mathy breakdowns of horse travel, epic discussions of epic monsters, and hot chix in chain mail.

So I knew a lot about it... and remember listening to that episode of AIO and thinking... this is an awesome story, what with demon summoning and everything, but it's kind of a bullshit message... is all of this a bullshit message?

While I've learned to separate the bullshit from the better shit, it's this type of thing that is still a struggle in my Christian faith. Trying to identify in faith with a community of fellow believers who let nonsensical zealotry command their spiritual identity is a tough balancing act. And I've definitely fallen in the wrong on both sides from time to time.


FWIW, voice actress Katie Leigh played the prominent character Connie in AIO and was also a principle in the Dungeons and Dragons animated series which IMHO if there was a giant concrete donkey cock, would suck it.

She was also Baby Rowlf in Muppet Babies.


The ebb and flow of this thread--beginning with hatred and ending with a hug except for teh gheys--is classic Adventures in Odyssey.
posted by pokermonk at 3:43 PM on June 5, 2009 [4 favorites]

Wait, who here is not hugging teh gays? I will personally hug any gay who feels unhugged.
posted by shiu mai baby at 3:50 PM on June 5, 2009

James Dobson.
posted by grouse at 3:53 PM on June 5, 2009

Pretty sure Dobson isn't here, though, unless he has a sockpuppet account. Which, given the commenting history of some members, wouldn't come as that great a surprise, frankly. Heh.
posted by shiu mai baby at 4:21 PM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

If only you'd gotten yourself laid, pokermonk, just once, your mom would probably have been so delighted and surprised that she'd have let you do most anything geeky you cared to do.

But of course, what geek would ever realize it at the time?
posted by five fresh fish at 6:06 PM on June 5, 2009

is all of this a bullshit message?

posted by DecemberBoy at 6:37 PM on June 5, 2009

Are there still mainstream audio dramas?

Yes. Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion, which offers wit, absurdist humor, moral lessons gently taught, a wide range of musical guests, and has been family-friendly from its inception. It is, by definition, more wholesome than anything FotF can put out, because Keillor actually focuses on family and community, and not reactionary talking points that obsess over sex and reproductive issues.

Lake Woebegone, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average...
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:46 PM on June 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

Or if you don't like Garrison, try CBC's Stuart McLean, provided he's still employed. I believe he's a university professor, author-storyteller, and radio/live theatre storyteller. Looks like he's got podcasts and stuff. Hope they're free, 'cause my tax dollars are funding them to large part.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:01 PM on June 5, 2009

Wiretap has a radio sitcom feel in many of its segments (especially anything involving Howard Chackowicz and his hilarious manchild persona).
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:44 AM on June 6, 2009

Stuart McLean is not a university professor. He's just an asshole who tells repetitive, folksy stories on the radio. My brother-in-law had to pick him up from the airport once to transport him to a reading he was giving, with my CBC obsessed sister in the passenger seat. McLean quickly discovered that my brother-in-law had no clue who he was, and he immediately began treating brother-in-law like shit, acting like the stuck-up asshole he is. My sister, fully aware of who was in the car with them, just watched it happen in horror.

No one is an asshole to my sweet, gentle brother-in-law and retains any respect from me.

The Vinyl Cafe is one big ego-fest for Stuart McLean, who tries to be edgy like Wiretap by calling random people and asking, "Do you know who this is? Do you listen to the CBC? Have you heard of the Vinyl Cafe? No? Oh." Yawn.
posted by Hildegarde at 5:09 AM on June 6, 2009

I cant wait for the Veggie Tales FPP
posted by wheelieman at 6:20 AM on June 6, 2009

Correction, then: he was a university professor. I'm sorry to hear he was an asshole to your sweet, gentle bro-in-law. Nonetheless, I love to hear his stories about the hapless Dave and his family.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:19 AM on June 6, 2009

So there are no episodes past Spring 2007?
posted by A189Nut at 4:50 PM on June 6, 2009

Are there still mainstream audio dramas?

Yes. Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion

Hmm, I've always considered Prairie Home Companion to be more of a radio variety show, featuring skits that riff on old radio dramas rather than being a radio drama in itself.

It is, by definition, more wholesome than anything FotF can put out, because Keillor actually focuses on family and community, and not reactionary talking points that obsess over sex and reproductive issues.

posted by brundlefly at 6:50 PM on June 6, 2009

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