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Your typical half-hour after-school dramatic comedy show about life in a small town. Except that it promotes Christian values and Biblical messages. Oh, and it's a radio show.

Adventures in Odyssey is set in the fictional town of Odyssey (in an unnamed State, but likely the Midwestern USA--the original version of the show, Family Portraits, identifies it as being in Ohio). The centerpiece of the town is the kids' discovery emporium and ice cream shop, Whit's End, run by John Avery Whittaker ("Whit"), who acts as a wise old grandfather to every kid who walks through the door. Whit is a devoted Christian, the rich owner of an encyclopedia company, former consultant for the National Security Agency, and a somewhat wacky inventor. Most of his inventions are permanent starring attractions in Whit's End. The most famous (and frequently used as a plot device) is the Imagination Station -- in simplest terms, a virtual reality time machine. Whit's End is also home to a fair number of mysterious rooms such as: the secret hidden room in the attic that held clues to a treasure hunt, the secret hidden room in the basement where a murder occurred, and Whit's secret computer room with wall-to-wall TV screens and the master computer that runs every invention in the shop -- and talks.

Some of the most recurring characters are the employees at Whit's End. Over the years, this has included: rebellious teen-turned-convert Connie Kendall; super-techno-genius Eugene Meltsner; Eugene's distant cousin and professional window-washer, Bernard Walton; part-time spy and Whit's son Jason; Whit's friend and local antique dealer, Jack Allen, and another rebellious teen-turned-convert, Aubrey Shepherd. The show has also had various casts of kids such as chronic troublemaker Curt Stevens; budding journalist Lucy Cunningham-Schultz; sisters Robin and Melanie Jacobs; cousins Alex and Cal, and Jared DeWhite, who moved away when his father was put into the Witness Protection Program (money-laundering issues involved with a Take Over the World plot), as well as his younger brother Trent.

Aside from the individual half-hour segments, the show has featured two long-running (and more mature than usual) arcs. The first dealt with the plots of Dr. Regis Blackgaard to take over Whit's End to gain access to a rare mineral in the Underground Railroad tunnels below the building that was the crucial ingredient to creating a deadly, invincible virus to use as a bio-terrorism weapon. (Whit was, unfortunately, away on a secret archaeological expedition in the Middle East during the finale.) The second arc dealt with a plot by the communications company Novacom and a computer program they created that would brainwash the entire world, in which Eugene was a major, if completely absent, player.

The series currently airs on numerous radio stations in the US and Canada, and is available in compact disc and cassette albums. Episodes are also rotated daily on the official website, going back about a month. An Animated Adaption airs on some Christian broadcasting stations.

Tropes used in Adventures in Odyssey include:
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Whit and Leonard Meltsner, in a slight subversion, they are trained modern archeologists and conduct realistic archeological practices... until villains drive them into adventuring at gunpoint.
  • All Up to You: Tom Riley in the conclusion of the Novacom arc.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Jimmy Barclay to Donna; Tamika Washington to Marvin; Bethany Shephard to Aubrey (the latter of whom has fantasized more than once putting her in a dungeon or something of the like).
  • The Atoner: Richard Maxwell, Monica Stone (although slightly subverted, since neither wished to become Christians, and were not pressured afterwards).
  • Bald of Evil: Bennett Charles in the Novacom arc.
  • Back From the Dead: Dr. Blackgaard programmed his personality into a virus and planted it in the Imagination Station. It almost tried to possess Aubrey before Whit destroyed it.
  • Banana In the Tailpipe: Invoked in "Accidental Dillema".
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: YMMV, but Eugene and Connie have their moments (Eugene does get engaged to and eventually marry a completely different woman whom he loves very much, though). Parodied in the radio episode "I Slap Floor".
  • Big Red Button: Starts up the Imagination Station.
  • Black Best Friend: Marvin to Trent DeWhite.
  • Black Box: Novacom's technology, literally called a "Black Box."
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:

 Jimmy Barclay: I'd tell you more Dad, but this is a family show.

    • Also in the episode "Truth Be Told": Wooten says he'd go over the details of something that happened in his superhero story but "this is a kid's program."
  • Breakout Character: Mailman Wooton Bassett in the more recent episodes.
  • Building of Adventure: Whit's End
  • Cast as a Mask: Bob Lutrell plays AREM while Steve Burns plays AREM's secret identity, Robert Mitchell.
  • Cerebus Rollercoaster
  • Character Outlives Actor: Whit's first actor, Hal Smith died in 1994 and was not replaced for over 2 years. Whit was temporarily sent on an archaeological expedition in the Middle East. When he came back, he was voiced by Paul Herlinger for 12 years until he died. Andre Stojka has since taken up the roll.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In an episode about the underground railroad, a priest at the church that would one day become Whit's End mentions a mineral in the tunnels under the building. This mineral turns out to be key in a compound to drastically increase the deadliness of the Ruku virus and was Blackgaard's main goal when he took over Whit's End.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Most of the child voice actors (and consequently their families, Dr. Morton being an exception) tend to get quietly dropped from the show around the time their voice changes.
  • Christmas Episode: They usually introduce at least one new Christmas episode a year, and as Christmas approaches, play previous Christmas episodes. Given the show has been going on for about two decades, this leads to practically a month of Christmas episodes.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Harlow Doyle (Private Eye!) and to a slightly lesser extent, Wooton Bassett.
  • Co-Dragons: When Dr. Blackaard attempted to take over Odyssey, Professor Bovril, Jellyfish, and Philip Glossman assist him with brains, brawn, and public appearance, respectively.
  • Collapsing Lair: Richard Maxwell somehow programmed Blackgaard's computer to blow up his business. Something about a short-circuit that set the building on fire.
  • Concealing Canvas: A safe hidden behind a picture of a safe.
  • Continuity Nod: All over the place. Even when they aren't doing clear-cut story arcs of one kind or another, continuity is remarkably strong.
  • Cool Old Guy: Whit is one of the normal, down-to-Earth variety. Usually.
  • Corey Burton: He's kind of everywhere.
  • Crack Fic: Bethany's Flood. The Ark is a wet dry vac, Shem, Ham, and Japheth are really Sam, Hamlet and Jefferson, and Christopher Colombo caused the flood!
  • Credit Card Plot: "A Little Credit, Please"
  • Crossover: Jason Whittaker appeared in a story in The Last Chance Detectives, also produced by Focus On The Family. Whit, Eugene, and Connie all make guest appearances in an episode of Jungle Jam & Friends: The Radio Show, also produced by Phil Lollar, with each one trying to find the other two.
  • Damsel in Distress: Usually Connie
  • Dating Catwoman: Jason and Monica
  • Deadpan Snarker: Bernard Walton.
    • Also Connie, though she tends to swing between this and Large Ham quite regularly.
    • Jason, too.
  • Defictionalization: There is a real Whit's End at the Focus on the Family headquarters.
  • Denser and Wackier: The Animated Adaption, in some episodes, but it came to a peak in Flight To The Finish.
  • Destruction Equals Off Switch: The conclusion of the Novacom arc.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Dr. Blackgaard -- he even had a cat!
  • Did You Die?: In a story from Bernard's childhood.
  • Disability Immunity: In the episode "The Perfect Witness," Jenny was taken hostage by thieves who supposed that because she couldn't see, she wouldn't know where they were going with her and thus couldn't tell the police where their hideout was. Jenny, once returned to her friends, was able to nail the criminals by using her other senses to narrow down their location (sounds played a large part in this).
  • Double Aesop: Kids frequently went on an adventure in the Imagination Station and learned an Aesop from the Aesop the characters in the adventure learned.
  • Downer Ending: Although usually upbeat, the show will occasionally throw a curveball and produce an episode without any definite happy ending.
    • One episode involved a character's model train getting stolen and a girl with a history of delinquency being the prime suspect. She denied it and Whit acted as the strongest voice in her defense. It turns out she did throw it away out of spite and was completely unrepentant when caught. Whit was very shaken up and forced to face the fact that treating someone with kindness does not mean they will accept it.
  • The Dragon: Mr. Charles to The Chairman's Big Bad.
  • Easy Evangelism: Zig-Zagged. In some cases, 5 minutes and a commercial break is all that's required to get a conversion. In other cases, especially those involving main characters, it could take years after they're introduced before they convert, and some simply don't for whatever reason.
  • Eccentric Townsfolk
  • Everything Is Online: Justified for Whit, as he is a legitimate computer wiz and a retired NSA technical analyst.
  • Evil Twin: Inverted; Dr. Blackgaard has a good twin, Edwin, who runs the local theater. After his initial episodes, he was used mostly as comic relief -- completely independent from his brother's storylines.
  • Faking the Dead:
    • Dr. Blackgaard pretended to die so he could orchestrate his plans discreetly before showing up in Odyssey, alive and well. Granted, the only person in the town who thought he was dead was Jason, but still.
    • Mitch was put into the Witness Protection Program during the Novacom fiasco.
    • Jason Whittaker, who faked his death so his enemies from his spy days won't go after him.
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell/Fluffy Cloud Heaven: One episode had Whit attempting to explore the concept of the afterlife using the Imagination Station. Unfortunately the program succeeded a bit too well. Whit ended up in a Edenic garden and Eugene found himself in hell (the episode implied that this is largely because Eugene was an atheist at that point but had internalized more Christian theology than he realized).
    • Eugene ended up having a week-long Heroic BSOD and Whit had a heart attack, triggered by his subconscious, who didn't want to leave Heaven. Of note, this is one of the scariest and most mature story lines in the entire series.
  • Five-Bad Band: During the Novacom saga:
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Whit. Supposedly, Matthew Parker is as well.
  • Gambit Pileup: "A Name, Not a Number"
  • Geographic Flexibility: For a supposed Midwestern small town, Odyssey has: multiple malls, a community college, a water park, multiple high schools, a TV/radio station, possibly an airport and (if the animated series can be believed) multiple skyscrapers. Originally, the writers hewed very closely to the idea of Odyssey being a one-street town, but different buildings and areas got added as the plot required over the years.
  • "Get Out of Jail Free" Card: Subverted, Richard Maxwell serves his time for arson and other crimes before coming back to town to make peace.
  • The Ghost: "The Chairman" of Novacom, until the arc's Grand Finale.
  • Golden Moment: Usually executed quite well. This never stops Chris.
  • Heel Face Turn: Dr. Blackgaard's hacker-sidekick, Richard Maxwell.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Is that Jack Allen or Scrooge McDuck or Wilbur?
    • Similarly, earlier episodes had Whit voiced by Mayberry's town drunk Otis, Wooton Bassett is voiced by Wakko Warner, Jared's little brother sounds a lot like either one of Linus's voices or Cooper off of Ben 10 Alien Force, depending on the episode you're listening to... to name a few
    • Don't forget Chris -- she voices the Barbie doll!
    • Monica sounds like Imoen in a perpetual bad mood.
    • Earl Boen actually sounds a lot scarier as Regis Blackard than he ever did as a certain undead pirate.
    • Connie is voiced by Katie Leigh
    • One of the voices of Marvin Washington: Cory Baxter.
    • Ed Washington is Big Mike from Chuck.
    • Janet Waldo voiced Lawrence Hodges' schoolteacher mother and later Jack Allen's wife Joanne.
    • If Whit sounds a little like Owl from Winnie the Pooh, it's because both Hal Smith and Andre Stojka have played both roles.
    • And if Eugene sounds a little like Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh... or is that Petrie?
  • Hidden Agenda Villain: Dr. Blackgaard
  • Hobbes Was Right: Discussed and believed by most of the main characters and was actually the point of an episode where Connie and Eugene debate this (Connie taking Hobbes's stance, Eugene taking Rousseau's); a stranger then comes in, robs them, and even mentions that he personally agrees with Connie.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Leonard Meltsner, who was held prisoner for years, had his wife die, and his son kidnapped by his hated rival therefore he has a rather legitimate grudge against God. Although he is presented as nothing but an honorable man.
  • Homage: The members of the Barclay family are named George, Mary, Jimmy, Donna and Stewart Reed.
    • One episode was a quite blatant homage to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, with the Cross of Cortes replacing the Grail.
  • Hostage Situation: usually with Connie as the hostage, although Whit, Eugene, Jason, and Tasha have had their turn. Gradey was the newest one, I think.
  • Hot Mom: Eva Parker (for the recently-added Parker family). Mentioned in an episode where her sister's spurned fiance tries to woo her and Eva's mother suggests having Eva pose as her sister.
  • If My Calculations Are Correct: Eugene
  • Informed Obscenity: "Millijoit," from the episode "War of the Words".
  • Insufferable Genius: Eugene, to the extreme; he softens a bit after a while.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: OK, not a direct example obviously, but what are the chances that Whit would have two high school valedictorians (Eugene and Connie) working for him simultaneously? (And sacking them simultaneously.)
    • Also somewhat averted as both characters winds up attending the perfectly serviceable (if somewhat second rate) community college in Odyssey.
      • It's never quite explained why a genius like Eugene is doing in Odyssey and working part time in a ice cream parlor when he could have had his pick of the universities.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Several times
    • Bernard Walton once told a new kid, "Whether you meant to or not, you played out a Bible teaching in what you did today." Simon thought it was weird, but Bernard assured him, "Happens all the time around here."
    • Whenever a voice actor was unavailable for recording (i.e. Whit's, since he died), their character would be represented by a message on a very choppy, staticky answering machine made of clips from previous episodes. Jason once commented to Eugene while he was fixing one, "Am I the only one who's noticed how often these glitch up around here?"
    • In one episode Katrina mentions to Connie that she hasn't changed since she last saw her (5 years ago from the listener's point of view). Connie then says that she never changes, a reference to the fact she's the show's perpetual teenager.
      • "Feels like I've been sixteen FOREVER."
  • Large Ham: Connie whenever she really gets excited or irritated
    • The character of Edwin Blackgaard (played to Shakespearean perfection by Tony Jay soundalike Earl Boen) was created largely for this very purpose.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Averted in the series itself. What did you expect? It's a radio program. Played straight in the official artwork.
  • Long Runners: 23 years and counting.
  • Lotus Eater Machine: Jason Whitaker once modified the Imagination Station to allow disabled children to experience life without their disability. The final scene of the episode finds Jason having a Heroic BSOD surrounded by handicapped children desperately pleading for an extra moment in the Station.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Dalton Kearn
  • Magical Computer: The one that ran Whit's End is close enough.
  • Meganekko: Katrina Shanks; Lucy Cunningham-Schultz.
  • Missing Episode: A few early shows starring a bumbling police officer (named Officer Harley) were pulled and re-recorded when parents complained that he gave children the wrong impression of authority figures. Officer Harley's only appearance now is at the end of the episode where the Barclays get robbed and the Flash Back about how Whit acquired Whit's End.
  • The Mole: Mr. Glossman, Monica
  • Mr. Imagination: Lawrence Hodges (specializing in fantasy and scifi), Jared DeWhite (more into conspiracy theories), and Jared's brother Trent (whose fantasies are closer to reality than either Lawrence's or Jared's)
  • My Friends and Zoidberg: "Eugene Meltsner here, inviting you to join today's assemblage of characters, (and myself)..."
  • Narrator: Chris, who was visible to the characters on certain occasions (again, usually in earlier episodes).
  • No Name Given: "The Chairman" of Novacom
  • Noodle Incident: Apparently, the last time Ed used scissors, he was making snowflakes and...
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Played straight for much of the show, where Connie Kendall is the perpetual teenager. Averted with everyone else, leading to Connie still being a teenager even though kids from 20 years ago have grown up. Eventually, Connie graduates from high school, and so in later episodes she just ages very slowly.
    • Also seems to have occured in Rodney Rathbone, since he's been a middle school bully for about fifteen years and has shown no signs of age.
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Frequent complaint by younger characters. Somewhat justified in that not much in the way of intrigue has occurred since the Novacom saga.
    • Except for the "Green Ring Conspiracy"!
  • Old Shame: Katie Leigh (voice actress for Connie) played a major character from the Dungeons & Dragons animated series, a fact which got a bit awkward after AIO did an episode condemning role-playing games (although her role in the episode was minimal).
    • Although she doesn't seem to be that ashamed, per se. When the series came out on DVD in 2006, she was the only member of the cast to reprise her role as Sheila for (appropriately enough) the radio play of "Requiem". In earlier interviews she said she'd be quite happy to do the role again.
      • If anything, the Castles and Cauldrons episode itself is an Old Shame for much of the cast.
  • Official Couple: Eugene and Katrina (got married), Connie and Mitch (didn't get married).
  • The Other Darrin: Whit's voice actor was replaced after his original one died.
    • When Katrina's bus came in, her actor had changed as well. She's even quieter now.
  • Pet the Dog: Dalton Kearn, kidnapper, trafficker of archeological artifacts, instigator of a minor genocide, but is a very good and caring father, which is rather ruined by the fact that his "son" is actually Leonard Meltsner's, whom he kidnapped out of malice.
  • Phrase Catcher: When Eugene lapses into his overly complex way of explaining something, he is frequently met with cries of, "In English, Eugene!"
  • Power Trio:
    • Back in the good ol' days
      • Id: Connie
      • Superego: Eugene
      • Ego: Whit
    • The imaginary characters that Trent dreams up in The Present Long Ago, all of which are spoofs of real life TV personalities
      • Id: Arnold Schwarzenbanger
      • Ego: Bill Crosby
      • Superego: Detective Colimbo
  • Put on a Bus: Eugene, after his voice actor left the show, supposedly due to "creative differences." The actor and character have since returned.
    • Jared DeWhite, which actually turned out to be a plot device in the Novacom Saga.
  • Readings Are Off the Scale: Whenever something went wrong with the Imagination Station, which always happened when someone was in it.
  • Recycled in Space: "Passages part I & II" and the novel spinoffs. Children from Odyssey are transportered to a parallel Earth, where biblical history from our world is repeating itself against a different setting (kind of like a straighter version of Narnia).
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Connie's red, Eugene's blue.
  • Renaissance Man: Whit: soldier, NSA consultant, businessman, resident theologian, archeologist, encyclopedia publisher, computer, neurology, and engineering (and whatever other subjects are required to build a working Imagination Station) genius, and the maker of the best sundaes in the county.
  • Repetitive Name: "I'm Digger. Digger Digwillow." "Digger Digger Digwillow?"
  • Retired Badass: Whit
  • Road Movie: Or the radio version thereof, with Bernard and Eugene. The trip was a bit of Real Life Writes the Plot, as the actor who voiced Whit has suddenly died and the arc was created to give writers and directors enough time to retool the show.
    • Later, a road trip plot arc was given to Connie and Joanne.
  • Script Wank
  • Seekers: Everybody more or less, given the Christian atmosphere, but most obviously Connie, Eugene and Aubrey.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: Used on the Imagination Station in the Novacom Arc finale, as the machine was the key to their global-brainwashing plan.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Eugene; his Catch Phrase was ending normal sentences with "... to borrow the colloquialism."
  • She's Not My Girlfriend: Genderflipped; during "A Class Reenactment," Mandy Straussberg spends almost all of her time saying this about Trent who, ironically, actually will end up marrying her in the future.
  • Show Within a Show: KYDS radio and BTV
  • Story Arc
  • Straight Man and Wise Guy: Jimmy Barclay (Straight Man) and Lawrence Hodges (Wise Guy).
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Harlow Doyle for Officer Harley.
    • Jack Allen for Whit, lampshaded in his introductory episode, where Connie, who was the most affected by Whit leaving, accuses Jack point-blank of trying to replace Whit.
  • Take Over the World
  • Talking to Himself:
    • Walker Edminston as Tom Riley and Bart Rathbone
    • Earl Boen as Edwin Blackgaard and Dr. Regis Blackgaard (although they only ever interracted with each other in one episode)
  • Time Machine: The Imagination Station VR, but close enough.
  • Tuxedo and Martini: Averted in most cases for Mitch (FBI) and Jason/Whit (NSA). Although Jason is quite good at doing James Bond-y one liners.
  • Villain Episode: Rodney Rathbone once starred in and narrated his own episode.
  • Virtual Ghost: Dr. Blackgaard as a rogue Imagination station program.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Monica did several jobs for Novacom, including infiltrating the Missions Board to steal a disk from Jason and threatening to kill his friend, because she bought the story that their technology was going to be used to help the handicapped, like her brother.
  • We Will Meet Again: Dr. Blackgaard and his mole, city councilman Mr. Glossman.
  • Where the Heck is Odyssey: It's probably somewhere in the eastern Midwest area, the clues do not get any more specific.
  • You Are Not Ready: Whit to Connie and Eugene in the first episode with the secret computer (Mabel) room, with full Adam and Eve and the Forbidden Fruit-analogy.
    • This was in the episode "A Bite of Applesauce" in the album "Daring Deeds, Sinister Schemes".
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: the Imagination Station, the Room Of Consequences, and the Transmuter. They all run according the rule that govern the Star Trek holodeck: it is perfectly safe until it isn't.
    • The Inspiration Station as well.
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