Childhood Christmas – My Favorite Rankin-Bass Specials

For those are not familiar Rankin-Bass was a movie production company that created animated features. What they are particularly known for is their Christmas Specials, some of which are considered classics even to this day. When I was very young I remember, when December rolled around, we would borrow Rankin-Bass Christmas Specials that my Nana had on VHS tapes. When DVDs became more popular and we were then able to buy our own copies of the Specials. For this list I will be reviewing the Rankin-Bass Christmas Specials that I have watched since I was child since they are the ones I am most familiar with.

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4. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

The very first Christmas Special that Rankin-Bass ever did and this definitely their most memorable of all their Specials. Inspired by a popular song written in 1949 based off a children’s book that was written 10 years before that, it tells the story of Rudolph the Red Nosed who is picked on for nose’s glowing hue of red and how he ultimately saves Christmas by lighting the way for Santa and the other reindeer on a foggy Christmas Eve. It is a simple story but is effective in its message that one’s unique traits can serve a purpose regardless of how others may view them initially.

 

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3. A Year Without a Santa Claus

Based off of a book by the same title, where an under-the-wheather Santa Claus decides it would be better stay home having lost hope that people even care about what he does to prepare for that Christmas Eve sleigh ride. While Santa’s name is in the title he is in some ways a secondary character with Mrs. Claus acting as narrator and the main driving force for the plot. But who really steals the show are the step-brothers Snow and Heat Meiser who perform their own musical numbers praising the snow and heat respectively. While this Special does have the continuity errors (which I will not go into) it contains important lessons about believe and as well as giving.

 

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2. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town

This is Rankin-Bass’ first attempt at the origin story of Santa Claus taking cues from another popular song of the same title. I have yet to see a better origin story for Santa because they create a great story of how Santa initially started out, all the while answering that probably every young child has raised to their parents regarding this Christmas legend. Raised by toymaker elves after being abandoned by his family and even the authorities, Kris Kringle (as he was called then) decides it is his mission to bring joy and play to the children of Sombertown despite the law that forbids toys. Think Robin Hood, except he makes toys. I enjoy Santa Claus as he is portrayed this feature because he is such a joyful man who gives from his heart even when the circumstances seem bleak.

 

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  1. The Drummer Boy

A simple story again that takes inspiration from a popular song by the same name which follows young drummer boy named Aaron. Having developed a distrust of people since the tragic death of his parents Aaron keeps to himself and his animal companions Joshua the camel, Samson the donkey and Baba the lamb. Well that is until a greedy caravan owner Ben Haramed weasels him into performing for the crowds in the hopes of making a quick buck. After some mishaps they encounter the three kings who are following the star which is guiding to the stable in Bethlehem where the newborn Jesus is lying in the manager. I love how this event is viewed from an outside perspective of the traditional Christmas story and how Aaron’s outlook changes from one of distrust and hate to one of faith and love when he encounters the one who become the Savior of the world.

This will be the first Christmas post of the month of December I hope to do a few more leading up to Christmas, so stayed tuned for updates. Thank so much for reading and Merry Christmas.

Count Your Blessings – Adventures in Odyssey Gives Thanks

I went ahead and purchased a year subscription to the Odyssey Adventure Club, I have been able to gain access to all the episodes Adventures in Odyssey. In light of this I will list the top 6 Adventures In Odyssey episodes about thankfulness in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday that is coming up. So without further ado, let’s start the countdown.

 

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6. “Thanksgiving at Home” (Episode 132)

Things are not well in the Barclay household on Thanksgiving morning for Mr. and Mrs. Barclay are sick in bed. Donna and Jimmy take upon themselves to make preparations for their Thanksgiving feast with hilarious results. While it spends most of the time with Donna and Jimmy as they attempt to salvage their Thanksgiving, in end they come to realize how thankful they are for their mom and dad in light of their absence.

 

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5. “A Thanksgiving Carol” (Episode 173)

In an effort to educate people about the significance of the Thanksgiving holiday, Whit and the gang perform a KYDS Radio program entitled “A Thanksgiving Carol” inspired by (you guessed it) Charles Dicken’s classic novel A Christmas Carol. Ebenezer Stooge has a cold heart towards everyone, even to his overworked clerk Bob Wretched. It takes the haunting of his late partner Jacob Arley and Terrance Clodbody the ghost of Thanksgiving past, present and future (only one ghost..budget cuts you know) to get him back into the spirit of Thanksgiving. This parody is on par with the others that AiO has done over the years and again is able to demonstrate the importance of thankfulness.

 

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4. “BTV: Thanks” (Episode 383)

Just like “BTV: Compassion” which I mentioned in this post “BTV: Thanks” uses a collection of sketches that illustrate the topic of thankfulness. Among these sketches they tell the story of how one the 10 lepers that were Jesus healed came back to thank him as well the story of King David’s demonstration of thankfulness at the return of the Ark of the Covenant. It is a great anthology of stories that can be humorous as well as meaningful.

 

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3. “A Thankstaking Story” (Episode 675)

The most recent episode on this list and it’s another parody like “A Thanksgiving Carol,” only this time “A Thankstaking Story” is a parody of Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas although it also has some inspiration from the Rankin & Bass Christmas specials too. Whit, Connie, Eugene, Wooton, Jay and his Uncle Wally are stuck in Whit’s End on Thanksgiving day due to heavy snow. In order to pass the time, they decide to make up a story about a grump named Srunch and his plans to ruin Thanksgiving for the Muglues. Once again it is a great parody and it much like the story it is parodying it demonstrates how Thanksgiving doesn’t come from a store.

 

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2. “Thank You, God” (Episode 49)

This was the very first Thanksgiving episode that just so happens to tell the story of how Whit accepted Christ. Whit decides to hold Thanksgiving dinner at Whit’s End and has invited Connie Kendall and her mother June along Tom Riley and with his wife Agnes. The Rileys have brought a boy named Rodney who has been staying with them due to family difficulties. When asked what he was thankful for, Rodney expresses that he finds little to be thankful for since his father’s work keeps from spending the holiday with him. In light of this Whit decides to express his thankfulness for his step mother Fionna Donneral who eventually lead him to the Lord.

 

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1.”In All Things Give Thanks” (Episode 41)

While this episode does not take place on Thanksgiving like the others did, it still demonstrates the importance thankfulness especially when life throws a curve ball. Everyone in the Mulligan family is having trouble from angry neighbors, to demeaning teachers and ill-tempered school bullies. But as the Mulligans learn from 1 Thessalonians 5:18, they are to give thanks in the midst of all circumstances whether good or bad because God is the one who ultimately in control and He works all things for good. This episode gives a practical application of thankfulness in everyday life, showing that giving thanks is not limited to just one day a year.

Well I hope you enjoyed reading list and I will see you all next time!

Where’s the Post?

Where’s the post? I normally write posts for “What’s In A Story” on the first and third Mondays and “A Few of My Favorite Things” on the second and fourth Wednesdays but the weeks of August this year fell in such a way that we have five Mondays and Wednesdays instead of four. In light of this I am deciding to do something a little different than the usual, an episode review. This will be start of a blog post series which I will continue every two weeks or so. When I finish one show I will start on another one and you guys can make recommendations if you feel so inclined, just don’t be offend if I decide not to continue on from the first few episodes. As for the series I will be reviewing you have to wait and see what it is on Thursday. Yeah I know I am such a tease but I like it to be a surprise. See you then 🙂

Wonder, Excitement & Discovery [Part 2] – My List of 10 Recommended Episodes

Last time on “A Few of My Favorite Things,” we went over my personal background with Adventures in Odyssey as well as the people behind the stories and characters of the audio series. But now the time has come to talk about the stories that AiO tells by discussing some of my favorite stories. Now with almost 30 years worth of episodes there are some that I have not been able to listen to. With this is mind this not going to be a top 10 list where I rank the best episodes, but rather I will just list ten episodes that stood out to me personally. In addition I will only talk about episodes do not require a lot of context to understand what is going on, so that means no episodes that relate to bigger story arcs. Now that’s out of the way let’s talk story.

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“On Solid Ground” (Episode 210)

I choose “On Solid Ground” as an example of a series of episodes I enjoyed listening to. It starts off like a regular Kids Radio program which is a format that AiO adopts from time to time to tell a story or a series of stories, but the broadcast is “interrupted” by OT Action News which follows the events that take place in the Old Testament of the Bible as if they were really happening. For this episode they follow the story of Abraham or Abram as he was once called and his nephew Lot and how their lives are affected by the choices they make. This first OT Action News story is great start to a great format that AiO would continue to use in future episodes.

 

“B-TV: Compassion” (Episode 345)

Like “On Solid Ground,” “B-TV: Compassion” is one in series of episodes where window washer Bernard Walton is the host of a show called B-TV where he and others tell stories that relate to particular topic they are covering. If couldn’t tell from the title this B-TV episode is about compassion and it probably has one of the funniest intros with Eugene Melstner mistaking the topic of compassion for compression. All in all this is one of the greats of the B-TV themed episodes.

 

“Hidden in My Heart” (Episode 321)

This one is a pure Kids Radio presentation that demonstrates the importance of scripture memorization but with an interesting twist. They spoof a number of TV shows including Rescue 911 (it’s a real show) renaming it Rescue 119 (after Psalm 119), Lassie or Laffie the Wonder Dog, and Star Trek aka Star Trip. It is fun listen especially if you enjoy a funny impression of William Shanter or Shattered as he is called in this parody. 

 

“A License to Drive” (Episode 194)

For those who are familiar with the series, Connie and Eugene are at odds with each other quite a lot with Eugene sometimes lording his high IQ over Connie’s more average intelligence. But despite Eugene’s success in academics he has failed to get his driver’s license, something Connie was able to pass with flying colors on her first try. With Whit’s insistence, they set up driver’s lessons so that Eugene can learn how to drive as well give Connie experience in teaching. Needless to say it is a fun ride (get it fun ride) while showing diligence in action on Eugene’s part as the student and on Connie’s part as the teacher.

 

“Welcoming Wooton” (Episode 472)

This is the episode in which we are introduced to Odyssey’s eccentric mailman, Wooton Basset. We learn right off the bat that he loves people and he does what he can to help out, even if his job performance suffers. Unfortunately his boss fires him for taking one too many well-meaning detours from his postal route. While the ultimate outcome seems a bit cliché, we get to know Wooton as a person and have a lot of laughs along the way.

 

“Called On in Class” (Episode 539)

A fun episode told from the perspective of Trent DeWhite who is facing the worse fear of his life: giving a report in front of the entire class. His exaggerated imagination is working on overdrive thinking of what could go wrong and how he is going to escape the horror that is public speaking. But in all seriousness “Called On in Class” exemplifies the fear of public speaking and the fact that is being narrated by a kid gives it a degree authenticity along with a dash of humor. Give it a listen and get caught up with Trent as he tells his story.

 

“Sunday Morning Scramble” (Episode 552)

While this episode has the simplistic set up of the a family getting ready for church, for the Washington’s it becomes Mission Impossible. While giving lots of humorous scenarios, it also reveals an important lesson about taking the time to worship God. “Sunday Morning Scramble” is one of those episodes that you have to hear for yourself in order to understand what makes it so funny.

 

“Odyssey Sings!” (Episode 572)

American Sings has come to Odyssey to find new talents and many enter into the singing competition believing it is their chance to become famous. This episode provides AiO the opportunity to satirize singing competitions series you find on TV all the while teaching that true affirmation comes not from men but from God. Additional plus for the original songs that were performed as a part of this episode especially Wooton Basset’s “Ode to Macaroni.”

 

“The Great Wishy Woz” (Episode 453-454)

Another quasi-musical and a parody to boot, “The Great Wishy Woz” is of course parodying The Wizard of Oz. It is presented as a Kids Radio program written by Mandy Straussburg who also plays Dotty. She and her little dog NoNo are swept up by a tornado and end in a different and strange world. To find their way back home the Fairy Oddmother advises they follow the Big Fat Road to ask the Great Wishy Woz for the answer. Along the way she meets Manny Kin (portrayed by Tom Riley), Metal Guy (portrayed by Bernard Walton), and Mystic Mountain Lion (portrayed by Jack Allen) who also are meeting the Woz so their wishes may be granted. “Great Wishy Woz” serves an allegory for the Christian life and you can pick up on things the more you listen. I can not recommend these episodes enough.

 

“A Lesson From Mike” (Episode 412)

For the last episode I decided to share an episode that really hit home for me. It is a story about how a girl named Julie comes to terms with the death of classmate named Mike. As Julie gets to know who Mike was she found they shared a lot of common interests and in the process begins to regret that she had never taken the chance to know him while he was alive. “A Lesson From Mike” doesn’t pull any punches and it tackles a difficult subject with depth and realism. Through this episode AiO shows us how important it is to reach out to those who are lonely. As someone who had their lonely moments in high school I agree with Julie that having a few friends can make all the difference.

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While there are many more amazing Adventures in Odyssey episodes these ten are my recommendations from what I have listened to thus far. Who knows maybe I will update this in the future, but for now this will suffice. Thank you reading and I will see you all next week.

Wonder, Excitement & Discovery – Listening to Adventures in Odyssey

Hi I’m Kendra. You are about to travel to a place of wonder, excitement and discovery! Welcome to Adventures in Odyssey! In honor of the last month of summer for elementary, middle and high school as well as college students I decided to talk about one of my favorite audio series. The fact that Focus on the Family has produced this audio series for nearly 30 years demonstrates how many people enjoy and identify with the stories and characters from the fictional small town of Odyssey. Adventures in Odyssey has something for everyone from children to adults.

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Adventures in Odyssey (1987-Present)

I remember being aware of the series for most of my life but it was not until in late elementary school that I began to listen it on a regular basis thanks to a local radio station. At 6:30 PM on weekdays (Mon. – Fri.) the station would air previously released episodes of Adventures in Odyssey while on Saturday at 8:30 AM they would aired the newer episodes. This radio station still maintains this schedule to this day and every now and again I tune it to hear the odd episode or two.

After being properly introduced to the series my family bought a number of AiO audio albums, which contain a set of episodes. One of the albums entitled “Countermoves” was recorded on tape cassettes, which I would listen to when I was younger to help me fall sleep at night. When I was older I would even listen to them in car as I drove to locations as part of my merchandising job since I had an older car with just a tape player (Oh the HORROR!). I still have this album, unfortunately I am short one tape because it got stuck in the tape player of my first car and after it was sold and exchanged for my second one I never saw it again. In light of this I am hoping to purchase a CD version of “Countermoves” sometime in the future in order to replace my incomplete cassette tape version.

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John Avery Whittaker: Shopkeeper, Inventor and Teacher.

Anyway enough talk about tapes and CDs, and let’s get to the amazing people behind the scenes of Adventures in Odyssey. This includes the amazing voice actors who have taken on the role of Whit’s End’s owner and operator John Avery Whittaker (or Whit to his friends) throughout AiO’s time on the air. The first voice of Whit to grace the airwaves was none other than Hal Smith, best known for his role of the town drunk Otis Campbell in The Andy Griffith Show. Upon his death in 1994, the search began to find an actor to voice the ice-cream shop owner. Two years later in 1996, Paul Herlinger became the second voice of Whit, and this was the Whit that I grew up with. Many people may unfairly compare him to Hal and while I do note some differences in performance, I believe Paul did an amazing job considering the big shoes he had to fill. Upon Paul’s retirement in 2008 (passing away only 2 years later), yet another actor by the name of Andre Stojka came in to take on the role of Whit starting in 2009 and is currently playing him in the series.

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Hal Smith (1916-1994)
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Paul Herlinger (1929-2010)

 

 

 

 

 

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Andre Stojka (1944-)

Of course AiO is not complete without its two other iconic characters who are employed at Whit’s End. Enter Connie Kendall voiced by Katie Leigh and Eugene Meltsner voiced by Will Ryan. Just like it’s hard to imagine Odyssey without Whit, it is equally hard to imagine not having Connie and Eugene working alongside him. Connie’s youthful enthusiasm and Eugene’s unsatiated thirst for knowledge give them an interesting dynamic to their relationship to Whit as well their relationship with each other…by that I mean friendship. Their voice actors Katie and Will are also good friends in real life and have recently wrote a book together called Adventures in Oddity in which they talk about their work both on AiO as well other projects which include Disney’s Little Mermaid, An American Tail, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and much more.

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Whit’s End Trio.
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Bernard Walton…Window Washer.

Besides the Whit’s End Trio as I like to call them there are a number of memorable characters that have been played by talented voice actors over the years. This includes actors have since passed on: Walker Edmiston, the voice actor for Whit’s friend Tom Riley and business rival Bart Rathbone, Dave Madden the voice actor for pragmatic window washer Bernard Walton, Alan Young who voiced Jack Allen a childhood friend of Whit and Janet Waldo who voiced Jack’s wife Joanne Allen (nee Woodston). Other talented voices who are still alive include Chris Anthony, Earl Boen, Steve Burns, Townsend Coleman, Corey Burton, Aria Cruzon, Jess Harnell, etc. Of course none of this would be possible without the talented directors, producers, writers and sound designers which include Phil Lollar, Chuck Bolte, Paul McCusker, and Dave Arnold just to name a few.

If you can’t already tell there is a lot to be said about this series and I have not even got into the stories yet. That will be saved for Part 2 coming up later this month. Hope you see then as we look at the episodes of Adventures in Odyssey.

Three Month Anniversary Reflection…Plus Updates

It is hard to believe that it has been 3 months since I published my very first blog post. When I first started I wasn’t even sure if I could do even 2 scheduled posts a month but I now I have 4 scheduled posts plus extra when something interesting comes up. I always did enjoy thinking critically about media and blogging has given me the chance to express my thoughts via the written word. I also have learned how to promote myself, setting up a Facebook page and doing what I can to promote upcoming posts so that people will know what is coming. While I hope to see more views and visitors on my stats page, what I desire most is that I can continue to engage in thoughtful discussions of finding the meaning within the stories of our past, present and future.

While I am here I would like to announce a few updates about a couple of different posts I am planning to do in the future alongside or in place of “What’s in a Story” and “A Few of My Favorite Things.” One them is “First Thoughts” which you may have seen already with Star Wars Rebels Season 3 Trailer. For this post category I will post my initial impressions of media I have not seen previously. This can include entire films, books, audios, TV shows, single TV episodes or even the trailers for films and TV shows. Basically if I have not seen, read or heard it before, it is fair game. I know this covers a lot of ground but considering one project I might want to review could be a different stage of production than another, having a wide spectrum is helpful so I can do a film trailer for one and the entire TV season for the other. Another category I have in the wings is one I like to call “Content of Character” in which I will look at a fictional character in depth. I have a few ideas for this but I rather wait until I am ready to share my first post. And finally I have an idea to do category of posts in which I can talk about the people “Behind the Stories” whether they be actors, writers, animators, directors, producers etc.

So as you can see a lot of ideas and hopefully I can have some of them come to fruition. For now though I will say goodbye and thank you for reading!

Let Us Be Elegant Or Die! My Thoughts on Little Women

Little Women is a story that somehow transcended time and its characters are relatable now as they were back when they were first written. There has been a lot of analysis over the years and let me tell you I found some doozies as I was researching information about this novel. But as this is “A Few of my Favorite Things” I will mostly stick to my own experience and personal opinion with just a dash of interesting tibits of information about the book and its author.

Best place to start is the first time I was introduced to the story of Little Women. I was not introduced through reading the book (I did read it later though) nor was I introduced through its multiple film adaptions. Rather it through an audio drama production that I first heard the story. Any guesses who made that audio? That’s right Focus on the Family Radio Theatre.

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2004 audio adaption.

Within the same year my 5th grade class read and studied the novel and I remember bringing in the audio drama for the class to hear. It was only the following years that I became more aware of some of the film adaptions of this literary classic which can be seen below.

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1933 Version.
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1949 Version.
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1978 Version.
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1994 Version.

While I have not seen the entirety of these films other than the 1978 version, I have seen some clips online and have read about other people’s opinions about them. However Focus on the Family’s audio adaption stands well on its own merits and will always hold a place in my heart. A huge plus that the audio version has is that it provides the voices and sounds allowing your imagination to fill in the visuals from a character’s appearance to the layout of a house.

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Orchard House, the Alcott family home.
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Josephine March, great American authoress in the making.

Of all the characters I loved the character of Jo March because she was the creative free spirit that many women, young and old, desire to be. While every sister stands out in their own right, it can be said that the story Little Women is Jo’s story since it follows her a majority of the time. Since Jo is a reflection of author Louisa May Alcott this is hardly surprising.

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Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)

Little Women one of the few stories that I have personally encountered that has relatable female characters. The reason why they are so relatable is because the characters based on the women in Alcott’s own life, her sisters. I can believe in Meg’s prudence, Jo’s candidness, Beth’s congeniality, and Amy’s exuberance. This is the reason why this book has remained in the public consciousness for all this time because the audience can see themselves in one or more of the March sisters. I can only hope that some day I might come across an author or filmmaker who can produce the same kind of effect that Little Women had starting in 1868.

Sit Down John – What I Like About the 1776 Musical

Last week on July the Fourth my mom and I sat down to watch 1776, a film adaption of the successful Broadway musical by the same name. It is has become a bit of a tradition for my mom and I to watch this film on or around America’s Independence Day. It is also is one of my top favorite musicals which is why I am talking about it on “A Few of my Favorite Things.”

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1776 DVD cover (2002).

For those who are not familiar with this musical let me give a brief plot summary. The story focuses on John Adams as tries to get the Continental Congress to pass a resolution on independence in light of the state of war between the colonies and Great Britain. But Adams is rather “obnoxious and disliked” by many of his fellow members of Congress and quickly learns that only way to succeed in this goal is through the help of others, among them being Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. This ultimately leads to the creation of the most influential documents in U.S. and arguably World History; The Declaration of Independence.

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Good God! What in Hell are you waiting for?

I will be the first to admit that not everything in 1776 is historically accurate and I am sure some the founding fathers if they were alive to see it may take offense with how they were interpreted. However that is what you get when there two centuries separating these men from the script and song writers for this musical. Despite this Sherman Edwards did great adapting the writing of Peter Stone into an engaging musical that could be hilarious and serious at the same time. The actors, most of whom were from the original Broadway show run, were amazing and the actor that played John Adams is none other than William Daniels who would later be known for playing Mr. Feeny on Boy Meets World.

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So this guy…
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…is also this guy?

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most well known songs of the musical and probably the most entertaining is “The Lees of Old Virginia” where we formerly introduced to Richard Henry Lee who was responsible to proposing the resolution for independence. It is funny to see how may adjectives that ole Richard can add “Lee” to along with Benjamin Franklin’s encouragement and John Adams’ unamused countenance.

But my one of my favorite songs in the entire production would have to be “Molasses to Rum” which vividly portrays the concept of the Triangle Trade which those of us in the U.S. probably learned in history class. In this song South Carolina delegate Edward Rutledge points out the hypocrisy of the North over their opposition to slavery when they was just as responsible for the existence of the salve trade as much as the South. Actor John Cullum delivered such an amazing and haunting performance that has to be seen and heard in order to be appreciated. Because I am unable to find a video of that particular performance, I am only able to post the audio soundtrack from the film in order to give a taste of what it is like.

This film has seen it fair share of edits, including the original theatrical version from 1972, a laser disc version from 1991 and finally making its transition to DVD in 2002. The most complete version is from the 1991 laser disc which first included the song “Cool, Considerate Men” that was cut from the theatrical release as well as additional music and film sequences which made it run a total of 180 minutes or 3 hours. However Director’s Cut for the DVD shortened the length by 20 minutes which included cropping the song “Pwiddle, Twiddle and Resolve” to its original length from the 1972 release, which is a shame because it is a rather enjoyable sequence and it can be seen in its entirety down below.

Oh and another scene that was cropped was a reprise of “The Lees of Old Virginia that involve John Adams “falling” into a water fountain. Needless to say it is amusing.

Despite of the changes to its content over the years 1776 is one of the best musicals out there and it handles one the most important events in American history with depth as well as humor. Nowhere is this displayed more than with the songs between John Adams and his wife Abigail. The lyrics were inspired by actual letters that the couple wrote to each other around the time the musical is taking place adds a degree of authenticity to both characters.

By the way for those following my Facebook page here is an answer to the role of saltpeter in this movie.

In conclusion I would recommend this to anyone who would like to see a film that can make history fun as well as relatable, of course don’t take this musical interpretation of history as gospel. By all means look up the history for yourself and learn something new about the people who made the formation of the United States possible.

UPDATE (7/15/2016)

After posting this blog post I realized that “The Lees of Old Virginia” youtube video I had used included the extended reprise sequence in full glory. I did some digging and found out that they had release a Blu-ray edition in 2015 where there is an option to watch an extended cut of the movie. There is also extra audio commentary featuring William Daniels who played John Adams and the late Ken Howard who played Thomas Jefferson. Needless to say I know what to ask for Christmas now, that’s if I don’t purchase it myself sooner 🙂

Sources:

“1776: The Movie – 1776 Pioneer Special Edition Laserdisc”

“1776: The Movie – VHS vs. DVD”

July 4 Special Reissue Theory: “1776: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack”

Back in 2010 [Part 2] – My Top 10 Young Justice Episodes

I thought since discussing the basic premise of Young Justice in my last post two weeks ago I thought that I would delve a little deeper and create a top ten episode list. Easier said than done because I enjoyed all of them in one way or another, but in any case here is ten episodes that stayed with me the most (as spoiler-free as possible).

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Okay, here’s the plan.
  1. “Summit” & “Endgame” (Season 2 Episodes 19 & 20)

The reason why I paired both “Summit” and “Endgame” is because the events flow into one another and I consider both together to be the finale for the season and unfortunately the finale for the entire series. In any case I heartily welcomed this finale for it was good to see the villains being played by the heroes after all they got away with in earlier episodes and also to see the heroes both young and old save world once again. What I liked most was the entire set-up of “Summit” which was set mostly in one location where a lot of the mysteries of the season are unfolded and explained as well as the scenes in “Endgame” where the heroes team up to prevent the destruction the world. The finale was great but also bittersweet for that one event that occurred within the last episode (those who watched it will know what I mean) and also the knowledge that unresolved plot-points will not be addressed (unless by some miracle they allow a third season to be made).

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I have taken up telekinetic fencing.
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Who can save the world faster?
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So what are we looking for?

9. “Usual Suspects” & “Auld Acquaintance” (Season 1 Episode 25 & 26)

These episodes are together for the same reason as the previous entry. The reason why the season one finale is higher on the list is because I felt that there was better build-up and payoff with all the events of the season coming together into the final confrontation in which the Team really gets to shine. In “Usual Suspects” we also have revelations similar to “Summit” which was satisfying since we the audience had been waiting for the truth to come into the light (haha…those who watched the show will get the joke) and “Auld Acquaintances” demonstrated the growth of our young heroes as they face the most unlikely of opponents. This finale’s cliffhanger ending makes you want to watch the second season with anticipation of what is going to happen next.

Auld_lang_syne
Happy New Year!
The_Team_victorious
That’s a wrap.
Kid_Doctor_Fate
I’m back! Did you miss me?
  1. “Denial” (Season 1 Episode 7)

In this episode the Team faces off against villainous magic users both fake and real as they attempt to rescue the Helmet of Fate and it’s guardian Kent Nelson. “Denial” focuses on Kid Flash (aka Wally West) as he comes to terms with his views of the unscientific and unexplained as he interacts with Nelson the former Doctor Fate. We are also introduced to Young Justice’s version of Nabu, the Lord of Order whose powers are connected to the helmet and who turns out to be rather possessive, literally and figuratively. This would only be the first among his recurring appearances. All in all a great episode, whose outcomes are demonstrated throughout continuity of the first season.

Artemis_and_Wally_bicker
I saw it first!
Kent's_last_moments
Have a little faith.
Bloodlines
The Flash Family, young and old!
  1. “Bloodlines” (Season 2 Episode 6)

This what I dub as the Flash family episode, where we see all the Flashes Barry Allen, Wally West, Bart Allen and Jay Garrick suit up. For those who know their comic book history will get a kick of the interactions that take place in this episode and even if you don’t you will still have fun as well. Impulse (aka Bart Allen) is such a funny character and I love the way he plays off of the Flash family as well the other heroes. There is a lot of laughs to be had and it was good to have this breath of fresh air before they delved into the more serious and darker elements of the second season.

Impulse_arrives
Ta da!
Impulse_greets_Wally
Hugs for everyone!
young-justice1x18_0613
Never far from Harm…in more ways than one.
  1. “Secrets” (Season 1 Episode 18)

This was the series’ Halloween episode and it delivered, providing a main and a side storyline that were both equally entertaining to watch. In the main storyline Artemis and Zatanna battle a deranged young man who calls himself Harm who has unleashed powerful mystical force. Luckily they have help in the form of a mysterious young girl who can only say one word: Secret. In the side story we see Superboy (aka Conner Kent) and Miss Martian (M’gann M’orzz) attend their high school’s Halloween costume party accompanied by Kid Flash. The episode as its title suggests deals with secrets that not only affect events in the episode but also events that are to come. The atmosphere was great, the story was great, the character chemistry was great; there is nothing more I could ask.

Halloween_costumes
Which one is the third wheel?
Girl's_night_out
It’s a Girl’s Night Out!
The_Team_infiltrates_the_complex
Where are you taking me?
  1. “Intervention” (Season 2 Episode 19)

In this episode the Team takes it upon themselves to un-brainwash (I know that is not a word but whatever) their teammate Blue Beetle. Really cannot say any more than that, otherwise I give away major plot points for the second season. But what I can say is that I loved the way all the events of “Intervention” came together and that it was incredibly satisfying to watch.

Blue_Beetle_trapped
Drat my one weakness…bubbles!
Activate_the_beetle
Indiana Jones anyone?
Image
Is that Megan?!?
  1. “Image” (Season 1 Episode 21)

For this episode we see Robin (aka Dick Grayson), Kid Flash, Superboy, and Miss Martian attempt to thwart Bialya’s passive-aggressive takeover of Qurac. This is also where we see the influences behind Miss Martian’s attitude and appearance as well her fear that her friends will not accept her if she were to reveal her true self to them. “Image” has a lot to say about insecurity and self-image, which I think is a important discussion to have especially with impressionable teenage girls. An amazing message from this amazing episode, I highly recommend it.

Megan_and_her_idol
I recognize you.
Hello_Megan_explanation
Something you like to tell us?
Depths
It is a rocket launch. What could go wrong?
  1. “Depths” (Season 2 Episode 7)

Much like “Intervention” the reasons behind what makes this episode so great goes into spoiler related territory. What I will say is that this is the episode in which we see Artemis back in action after the 5 year time skip. As established in previous episodes she and Kid Flash had left the hero gig, but “Depths” shows her taking up the mantel of team archer once again much to Wally’s chagrin. Ultimately it has one of the best climaxes in the show, and believe me when I say that this is an episode you do not want to miss.

Miss_Martian_at_the_conference
It’s the final countdown!
Artemis_and_Wally
I am not happy about this.
The_Fix
Can she fix him?

2. “The Fix” (Season 2 Episode 13)

Again another episode with spoiler ridden plot points, but the best way to summarize is that Miss Martian has been abducted in order to fix the broken mind of Kaldur’ahm (aka Aqualad). In “The Fix” we see Miss Martian’s self-torture over her past actions earlier in the season and by the end we see forgiveness and redemption help her to begin not only the restoration of Kaldur’s mind but also for her own spirit as well. It is an intense ride but it is well worth the watch.

Psimon_sedated
What’s going on here?
Miss_Martian_captured
Fix him or I will break you.

Before I get to number 1 on my list here is a few honorable mentions:

“Homefront” (Season 1 Episode 12)

The_Cave_under_attack
Red Alert. Red Alert.

“Failsafe” (Season 1 Episode 16)

A_lone_ship
Just like we were trained…

“Satisfaction” (Season 2 Episode 8)

Speedy's_goodbye_gift
I couldn’t think of a going away present.

“Complications” (Season 2 Episode 16)

Sportsmaster_and_Cheshire
It’s complicated.

And now…

Coldhearted
Speedy delivery boy at your service.
  1. “Coldhearted” (Season 1 Episode 20)

This episode initially was not on my radar, but recently after re-watching the series I found a new appreciation for it. It is another Kid Flash episode and if you haven’t noticed a lot of the episodes on this list involve Kid Flash in one way or another. Anyway in “Coldhearted” we see Wally celebrating his 16th birthday which is soon interrupted because five mysterious airships are causing extreme winter conditions all over the globe. The Team and the Justice League are joining forces in order to shut them down which Kid Flash is stoked about. However much to his disappointment, Batman assigns him the errand of delivering a heart across the country for a young girl in need of a transplant. Little does Wally know of the importance behind this supposedly simple task. I love this episode because of its heart warming message which is ironic considering its title and that is why I consider it the best of Young Justice.

Birthday_kiss
Birthday kiss for the Wall-Man!
Too_late
Am I too late?

I hope that this list has made you interested in watching this incredible series whether it be for the first time or the hundredth time. I had fun writing this and I hope to do more posts like this in the future. Thank you for taking the time to read this and I’ll see you all next time.

(EDIT: 11/08/2016) It has just been announced that Season 3 of Young Justice is a reality and it coming soon.

Back in 2010 – Remembering Young Justice

Starting off my new segment of the blog “A Few of My Favorite Things” I am going to be talking about one of my favorite shows which aired while I was in high school: Young Justice.

Season_one_title_card
Title Card for Season 1.

While it was not the first superhero show I had watched, it was the first one that I watched as it was airing. So from Thanksgiving weekend premiere (which consisted of the first two episodes) in the fall of 2010 to second season finale which concluded in March 2013, I waited for each episode with anticipation. Unfortunately the show was cut too short and while it left some unanswered questions I still believe it is a great show.

Main reason I believe show was as great as it was, was due in part to the people involved in the project. One of those people was Greg Weisman who produced Gargoyles and Spectacular Spiderman and has since gone on to Star Wars: Rebels which is currently running. Honestly there has been nothing that Greg Weisman has produced or written that I do not like. I could just go on about how he is underrated as a producer and storyteller, but that is for another blog for another day.

Next let’s talk about the premise: Young Justice comes from comic book series by the same name and for those who are familiar with Teen Titans the show follows in similar lines in that the main focus is on a group teenage superheroes. But unlike Teen Titians instead of focusing on their tiny little world, they bring in many aspects of main DC Universe (Earth-16 to be exact). This means involvement of the Justice League whom the team of young heroes serves under, like a mentor/apprentice relationship.

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The Team as they appear in Season 1.

Now the Team as it is called in the series starts with six primary members. Those members are in order of entry are Aqualad voiced Khary Payton, Robin voiced by Jesse McCartney, Kid Flash voiced by Jason Spisak, Superboy voiced by Nolan North, Miss Martian voiced by Danica McKellar, and Artemis voiced by Stephanie Lemelin. While the cast of characters grows a bit later in season 1 and even more in season 2, these are these characters serve as the main anchors through the unfolding story.

The overarching plot of the series starts in pilot episode later divided into the first two episodes of season “Independence Day” and “Fireworks.” In those episodes Aqualad, Robin, and Kid Flash in order to prove their worth to their respective mentors sneak into Cadmus research complex into to investigate some suspicious activities. In the process they come across Superboy, a clone of Superman and a product of Project Kr which Cadmus was running. An organization known as “The Light” is also introduced in these episodes and its members and their intentions are slowly revealed as the Team crosses paths in their many confrontations throughout the series. It is worth noting that there is a five year time between the first and second season which takes some adjustment but is still intriguing nonetheless.

Young_Justice_TV_series

I highly Young Justice recommend this show if you enjoy anything superhero related but also enjoy character depth as well action-packed and engaging story telling. So give a watch and enjoy the ride.