Where Should I Start Listening to Adventures in Odyssey?

A parent recently approached me with the following questions about diving into the Adventures in Odyssey catalogue of episodes: "Where...

A parent recently approached me with the following questions about diving into the Adventures in Odyssey catalogue of episodes: "Where should my kids start listening? The very beginning or is the later stuff better? Also, what’s the best place to listen?"

These questions came from Daniel Hancock, writer/director of End of Darkness, who said he was a casual listener of AIO as a kid and was familiar with the major characters but had never listened to the entire series. I wrote up my response and sent it back to him. And then I thought that perhaps it would be helpful to share this on the website for other parents who might have similar questions.

So here are my thoughts on this topic:

That's a huge question! With 35 years and nearly a thousand episodes it can be tough to know the best place to start! And there are many varied opinions on this in the fan community! First of all, I'd say that it's all good. Even though the early stuff was done in the 80s it's still of very high quality considering the tools available back then.

In my opinion, the very best way to begin is just join the AIO Club, which gives you total access to stream the entire catalogue of episodes, and start with Album 1 and go through the whole series chronologically. This gives you all the context for character development and the big story arcs that come along. 

If you're not ready for the monthly commitment of the club membership, or if you think your kids might be able to relate better to episodes in current day with cellphones, text messaging, and social media references, then perhaps you might start at a later point in the series. 

If that is the case, then I'd recommend starting with Album 51, "Take It From the Top". This volume introduced several new characters, including the two main families on the show currently, and was also the first regular series album to feature Andre Stojka as the voice of Mr. Whittaker. It also comes right after the conclusion of a story arc and was a bit of a reset for the program overall, so I think it's a good place to begin. There will still be some references that you might not understand, but I think for the most part, you'll be ok.

Now, if neither of those options sound appealing for some reason or other, then I think the third best option would be to purchase one of the compilation/collection albums which have a variety of episodes from across the show's history to get the kids acquainted with the show. There are several of these, but I think the best for this purpose would be either "Discovering Odyssey", a 9-episode set designed specifically to introduce the main characters and hit some show highlights, or the 12-episode collection called "The Fruit of the Spirit", which features a selection of episodes all around that specific theme from all different eras of the show.

Amazon | ChristianBook

Amazon | ChristianBook

There are also compilation albums of the major story arcs from the show and I used to (and many fans still do) recommend starting with one of those. But I've changed my mind because I think experiencing the action, mystery, and intrigue of these sagas is so much more enjoyable with the context of these characters' backstories once you've really come to know them. It makes those episodes much richer, in my view.

Lastly, you can always just check out the daily episodes that are being aired on the radio for free on the AIO website. This will give you a taste of the show, but is my least favorite way to experience it for the first time because you never know where the current broadcast schedule is going to drop you into the series. But if you have a really tight budget then this is an option.

Whatever direction you decide to take, if the kids really like the show then it's probably going to be the best value to join the club and have access to the full library of albums, collections, and member-exclusive episodes.

So that's my advice on where to start with AIO. What are your thoughts on this? Do you have a different recommendation? Let us know in the comments.

J.D. Sutter is the host and producer of the Audio Theatre Central podcast and editor of the blog. A lifelong fan of audio drama, he is an industry critic who has guest lectured and spoken at conferences on the subject. J.D. is also a voiceover artist, podcast consultant, and chair of the ATC Seneca Awards, the annual awards for the family-friendly audio drama industry.


JD Sutter 8906752150307777898

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