I didn't think much of "Childish Things" the first time I listened to it. At the time, I was too concerned with the premise, and wondered whether Penny's preoccupation with body language was a realistic, sensible storyline, and whether it even illustrated 1st Corinthians 13: 11 at all. Then, as I scribbled down notes for my review, it dawned on me that this episode was meant to be a comedy.
Unfortunately, several Adventures in Odyssey episodes don't know whether to label themselves comedies or not. We know that "Do Or Diet", "Hidden in My Heart", and "Snow Day" fall so clearly within the comedic genre because they are all aware of their absurd premise, and aim for the funny bone for a full 25 minutes. In contrast, there are a whole lot of other episodes that wish to be funny ("A Penny Saved" is the closest, most recent example of this) but have no real reason to be labelled comedies at all. They add in several comedic bits—incessant punchlines, cartoonish characters—but really only to fill in dead air, and not because the show requires any additional humour. Adventures in Odyssey is a humorous show, sure, but sometimes it forgets that it can be—not should be—funny.
That, I'll admit, is part of the reason why you'll find me writing things such as "I mildly like" Wooton. People often describe Wooton as the show's "comic relief". I wouldn't. The definition of comic relief is "the inclusion of a humorous character, scene or witty dialogue in an otherwise serious work, often to relieve the tension". Wooton does not help "relieve the tension" since he is often included within episodes already quite light which may not require his style of humour. In comparison, whenever Harlow Doyle is in an episode, we know automatically, for the most part, the whole show has to be somewhat absurd. In other words, Wooton sometimes confuses the genre, the essence, and tone of the show, but Harlow's presence—ironically enough—sometimes clarifies and contributes fittingly to the tone of an episode.
Luckily, Wooton's absurd personality contributes well to "Childish Things", one of funniest Adventures in Odyssey episodes I've heard in a long time. The episode utilizes an absurd premise and goes straight for the jugular, so to speak. It's an absurd, stupid comedy, but sometimes hilarious, nonetheless. It makes use of its talented cast and comedic characters such as Jacques Henri (even Whit gets in on the fun), within several well-crafted, comedic scenes.
One of these great, Avery-award worthy moments includes the diner scene. While I'll admit Kimmy Robertson sounds like she's reading her lines, Jess Harnell gives a solid performance. It's a tough one to pull off; after all, he must deliver his lines in a manner subtle enough for Penny not to clue in, but obvious enough for the audience to clue in on his feelings for her. That moment, especially, really showed their chemistry while solidifying the audience's interest in their relationship. This great scene is followed up later with Penny, Whit, and Jacques Henri in an even better one—it was comedy gold, with Jacques Henri deserving an Avery award for his performance.
McCusker seems to share the blame for these hilarious moments: "How dare you to come back to me like this without allowing me the chance to grovel for your work [...] Zis' is a great art gallery tradition. The artist throws a little snit, and marches out, and the art gallery owner (moi) grovels a bit for the honour to show your work!" and later on "I may ask her to have an artistic temper tantrum. [...] That will increase sales" A perfect example of good material being used, well, perfectly by the actors.
Bob Smithouser of the Adventures in Odyssey podcast included "Childish Things" in his list of favourite episodes of the season. What good taste he has! I, too, liked "Childish Things", and significantly more than I liked "A Penny Saved" and "Penny Earned", the two other episodes in Album 54's Penny Trilogy. I'll make use of Connie's final line: "I think Penny will be alright"; yes, if this is the sort of fun that comes along with her, perhaps she will be.