Ah, movies! Gotta love 'em. For years, Adventures in Odyssey has been borrowing ideas from popular movies. As we all know, "The Great Wishy Woz" is a take on "The Wizard of Oz", "The Last Great Adventure of the Summer" is loosely based on "North by Northwest", "A Pokenberry Christmas" borrows heavily from "It's a Wonderful Life"...etc. Whether they are parodies or fresh-takes, episodes that borrow from movies usually turn out to be pretty good. The following is a short list of films I'd like to see inspire future Adventures in Odyssey episodes...
"Rear Window": When I was young, one of the first Odyssey scripts I wrote was based on this Hitchcock classic. In it, Jared DeWhite breaks his legs while spying on Rodney (I won't bother to explain how this happened). He then spends the next few weeks in his bedroom where, feeling bored, he begins to spy on his neighbors. Following the movie's main plot, Jared begins to think he witnessed a murder/kidnapping in the building across from him. The victim? Bernard Walton. However, none of his friends (Mandy and Sarah) believe that Jared saw what he said he saw. Ironically, only Rodney does, when he too sees something suspicious across the street. The two of them team up to find out what really happened to Bernard. Obviously, as we discover at the end, Bernard did not end up getting murdered. Too bad Jared isn't around anymore. I think he would have been the perfect character to take on Jimmy Stewart's role.
"Inception": A dream, within a dream, within a dream? Try an Imagination Station adventure, within an Imagination Station adventure, within an Imagination Station adventure! Woah, what? Throw in a theme about "getting lost in one's imagination" and boom...you've have a pretty solid episode. I'm not exactly sure what would be motivating our favorite Odyssey characters to try and do such a thing. Here's my first thought: picture a "Mortal Coil"-type of adventure in which Eugene goes a little too far while tinkering and ends up travelling three levels down within the Imagination Station. He ends up lost within his own imagination, to the extent that he starts to believe nothing else exists. The others--Whit and whoever else-- must then travel inside the Imagination Station, three levels down, to persuade/remind Eugene that there's a God-orchestrated reality three-levels up, outside of the Imagination Station, in order to bring him back to that surface. Sounds totally awesome, right?
"The Fugitive": So many TV shows have spoofed "The Fugitive" ("Monk", "Early Edition"...etc.); why not Adventures in Odyssey? The basic premise: a beloved character gets accused of a crime they didn't commit and must therefore go on the run. Oh sure, you could argue that "Silver Lining" had a few elements of "The Fugitive", but I'm envisioning a sweet three-parter. I'm not sure who would be that perfect "fugitive"; Wooton on the run would be pretty hilarious; Eugene could work, too. Whit, however, would be my top choice. It's always pretty cool to see him running around in action/adventure episodes. And, after all, 90 year old Whit could probably easily take on a one-armed man, right?
"Back to the Future": Wait, what? You heard me. There are so many interesting ways the writers can use the Imagination Station. I thought it was interesting how Whit--in the "The American Revelation"--said that you could scan a painting or a book and be "in it". Well, what about a character's journal or an Odyssey history book? What if, to solve some sort of mystery about Whit's End, our favorite characters had to take a trip inside the Imagination Station to a place where their younger selves existed. What if the adventure took place in Odyssey during the 80s, when Whit's End first opened and its first employees, Jimmy and Emma Douglas, were behind the counter? Maybe they could bump into Mark Prescott, too. Why would our characters do such a thing? Simple. They must race against the clock to piece together a mystery about Whit's End before it's too late (or something over-dramatic like that). The mystery could be anything, really; a bomb hidden underneath one of the shop's floorboards that has been counting down for the past 30 years! I don't know. I don't care. And, perhaps, to make the story more like the movie, Whit should warn the time travelers that they must not come into contact with their younger selves or else risk falling into a coma--or something like that. (He can then mumble something about the brain not being able to handle an encounter with the self...something about paradoxes, too...ridiculous stuff like that). Any way you spin the tale, a chance to bring to life "old Odyssey" might be an interesting challenge for these newer writers to undertake.
"The Third Man" has recently become one of my favorite films (joining "Road to Perdition", "Vertigo", "The Fugitive", and "Rear Window"). In case your not familiar with this brilliant piece of filmmaking, the plot centers around an American writer who receives an invitation by an old friend to come work in Vienna. However, when the American arrives in the city, he discovers that his friend has been killed. He must then piece together why he died. How would this story work in the world of Odyssey? One idea: Nick Mulligan decides to go back to live in New York after Vince (from "The Bad Guy") offers him a good job. When he arrives, he discovers that Vince has been murdered. However, there is more to his death than meets the eye. You really need to see the movie to understand where the story could go from there; however, this story would be a great send-off episode for any character leaving the show, and Nick Mulligan is a character who certainly deserves a fond farewell. Ultimately, what makes this film great is the dark atmosphere, as well as its portrayal of the shattered city of Vienna, using haunting shadows and odd camera angles. Creating a similar mood in an Odyssey episode would be difficult; however, it would be possible using the appropriate score, including well-placed sound effects to depict a darker, emptier New York.
"Cellular": This would certainly make a good Odyssey thriller on par with "The Perfect Witness". Imagine if Eugene--or whoever--receives a phone-call from someone kidnapped in a nearby town, for instance, Connellsville. With the help of Whit, Jason, and the police, he must find out where the captive is being held before it's too late. This sort of episode would probably be a little too intense for younger listeners, but it would definitely be an exciting story for our favorite characters to become entangled with.
"The Lady Vanishes" is one of Hitchcock's earlier films. Most of the film's action takes place on a train in which--you guessed it--a lady vanishes. Where did the lady go? You'll have to see the movie to find out ("Flightplan", with Jody Foster, is quite similar). In Adventures in Odyssey, the closest episode we've had to this would be "Train Ride". "Train Ride" is an episode which, for one reason or another, I managed to hear later in life. When I finally heard it, I thought its "reveal" is a little disappointing. I'm not the biggest fans of mysteries that pretend to have high-stakes, which then flip around to reveal that the situation wasn't all that dangerous to begin with. Sometimes a twist of that nature works, as shown in "Real Time"; but most of the time, the audience feels cheated. As a side note, "The Lady Vanishes" doesn't necessarily have to take place on a train; a woman could walk in Whit's End, go upstairs, and simply vanish. The rest of the episode would involve Whit, Connie and Eugene trying to figure out what happened to her. Who is she? Why was she in Whit's End? Where did she go? The audience should not feel cheated by the answers.
What movies would you like to see Adventures in Odyssey "parody"?
*Note*: I am never recommending the films mentioned in my blog as wholesome Christian entertainment. Before renting these movies, always use discernment and check with your parents, pluggedinonline.com, and/or the MPAA rating. Adventures in Odyssey is usually pretty safe though. :)