Left Behind listening log: episode 1, “Shadows in the Air.”1
Wednesday, Feb. 20 — Working out. Why not start listening to the Left Behind audio series for the first time in many years? I’d already cheated with episode 48, after mulling reasons to listen. Now, for the first time I listened to an episode on MP3, without using an actual CD.
In the “pilot,” married pilot Rayford Steele flirts with Gone With the Wind-style-named flight attendant Hattie Durham, and deals with the Rapture on board his plane. Meanwhile, handsome prodigy journalist Cameron “Buck” Williams reviews recent world events, which in this episode is handled very well without the arguable info-dumping as the original Left Behind novel did. (This is a theme in this series: dramatic audio improves on the novels.)
From my original notes:
- Great dialogue. Authors could learn from it; it’s very efficient. Only rarely corny.
- Really good actors. Rayford (Tom McElroy) is especially a standout.
- Trope: “Saved people aren’t good, just forgiven.” That’s true, but still a trope. I enjoyed Rayford’s eye-rolling reaction to that (and yes, you can “hear” the eye roll). If I were a non-Christian stumbling upon this on the FM station, I would likely take Rayford’s side.
- The atmosphere at the start indicates “something big is about to happen.” Unfortunately this sense was somewhat missing from the novel; Jenkins’ writing style is very Spartan.
- In seventeen years’ hindsight, post-Sept. 11, post-Obama liberal-religious revolution: the Left Behind world is still very conservative/American; overall even a decent world. It turns out we didn’t need a single Antichrist to get a lot of this evil stuff anyway.2
- On the dialogue: Great work filling in the backstory of the entire story-world. While the novel told it outright, the audio drama makes it into a conversation — between Buck Williams and a bit character on a plane — that rarely ever sounds like info-dumping.
A bit actor in this episode later played a lead character, Messianic-Jewish evangelist Tsion Ben-Judah. And I just realized that to me, John Piper looks like Tsion Ben-Judah.
- Much more accurate view of nonbelievers: Rayford is a bit of a jerk to his Christian wife.
- Irene’s a bit too perfect, but if she’s going to disappear in a little bit, you really did not need to hear everything up front. (Plus, Rayford himself doesn’t view her as perfect.)
- Sound effects tell the story so well. And I note some wonderful diversity in the actors.
- This version of the “Rapture” tends to split families in which wives were Christians and husbands were not. Did the original author knows something about this? I seem to recall reading of a reverse scenario — the husband vanishes, wife left — only in book 6.