Reviewed: Emily the
Writer: Bob Hoose
Director: Bob Hoose
Music: John Campbell
Theme: Love always perseveres
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:7
Review Written by:
Ben Warren, Staff Writer
Rating (out of 5):
overwhelmed when a school test shows that she is
Emily the Genius
isn't genius...and when it works, it works for reasons I don't think were on
purpose. At first, Emily Jones seems like an odd choice to play the lead role.
In previous episodes, such as
Stage Fright and
The Malted Milkball Falcon, she's been
the bossy, know-it-all. I'm surprised she didn't flaunt her test results in
front of everyone's faces or tell Matthew or Barrett they could be as smart as
she was if only they worked a little harder. And yet, today's episode takes the
stronger and more attractive sides of her personality--her dedication, her
willingness to persevere--and combines it with a dash of much needed humility,
giving someone I could easily empathize with for 25 minutes.
While I enjoyed Emily, the main problem is that this episode does a sloppy job
with Mr. and Mrs. Jones' characters. All throughout, the parents are portrayed
as out-of-touch, shallow dummies. Early in the episode, for instance, as they
are about to announce the news about Emily's aptitude test to the family, Mrs.
Jones, somewhat pathetically, says: "...I don't think I can say it without
crying" while Mr. Jones rejoices "it seems our Emily is A GENIUS". This
overblown reaction doesn't quite match up what Mr. Jones says in the next scene,
"let's not get carried away about one set of test scores", which is,
ironically followed a few seconds later by, "you'll get the edge on the upper
level classes in high school and college scholarships! [...] I always suspected
that our family would produce brilliance!" Didn't you just suggest to the others
not to get carried away, Mr. Jones?
Furthermore, I don't know what was weirder: the parents saying "I always
suspected that our family would produce brilliance" in front of Barrett or the
fact that he remained so quiet the entire episode. It seemed like he was
perfectly OK with the attention being given to Emily, and felt no jealousy
whatsoever. You'd think he would have been a little upset considering Mr. Jones'
later lectures him about wasting his time in front of video-games after spending
several scenes "praising" his daughter. I was a little surprised the episode
never addressed Barrett's feelings.
Would most families have a family meeting to announce such a thing? And would
many parents even hold the aptitude test in such high regard? You'd think after
12 or so years, one wouldn't start treating their child any differently because
of one set of test scores. Mr. and Mrs. Jones certainly didn't give very good
impressions of themselves after this episode. The episode might have worked
better if one replaced the Jones with the Rathbone family, and if Bart and Doris
Rathbone discovered that their son, Rodney, was a genius; that would have
made the preposterous way the parents reacted in today's episode make a little
Obviously Mr. Jones' level of enthusiasm was supposed to make the audience
easily understand how Emily might feel pressured to do well. However, I found it
all too much. In real life, parents just need to say one simple, slip of
the tongue, or one slightly insensitive comment, and that's enough to make any
child feel pressured. And that would have been enough in today's episode too.
There were just too many insensitive moments that came out of Mr. Jones' mouth
("I figured that you'd think [the courthouse] was boring, but now
that...well...") that his final "apology" seemed unfitting and underwhelming.
Although he assures Emily that "I don't ever want you to feel that our love is
bound up in some false expectations about what you'll be when you grow up. It
isn't.", because of the way he behaved throughout the episode, I didn't believe
Many fans evaluate the strength of an episode by the strength of its theme.
Personally, I just want to be entertained by a good story. However, for a season
that is intentionally attempting to illustrate different aspects of "love", one
of two things should have been done with
Emily the Genius.
First, this "love always perseveres" theme did not fit the episode at all. Chris
makes it sound like Emily did what she did because of some selfless love she had
for her parents. However, her "perseverance" was motivated by an insecurity that
she had. This isn't exactly the best metaphor for "love always perseveres".
Laura Ingalls, from the Town of Odyssey phrases it perfectly:
"I think the theme of love worked for her parents,
unconditionally loving her no matter what her test scores were. However, I
didn't think love really fit what she was doing. I would say she was
working hard of fear of losing her parents' approval, not necessarily out of
love for them."
Nicely put. That's the problem with this episode; it veers from
its logical destination and tries to cram in the idea that Emily did what she
did without selfish motivations at all, which is certainly a different
conclusion the listener would arrive at. Taking it a step further, I'll disagree
with Laura and say that I don't even think the episode worked well her parents,
who, as I've mentioned, never practiced "loving her no matter what her test
scores were". They might have loved her, yes, but they obviously treated
her differently the whole time regardless of what Mr. Jones says or tries to
assure her of at the end.
That said, I don't expect parents to be perfect on Adventures in Odyssey;
however, the episode barely acknowledges their imperfections. What is North
America's preoccupation with brilliance? Do today's parent's have too high
expectations of their children? What are some of the dangers of tests that
measure children's intelligence? Overall, while it is well paced and provides a
good role for Emily,
Emily the Genius
raises important questions but never explores them as well as it could have.
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