Written By: Chandler
According to the Complete Guide, this show was originally written as a continuation of Jimmy Barclay's journal started in "Family Vacation". Instead, the main character is Donny McCoy with an older sister, Gloria. However, I sometimes listen to the show as though it really was Jimmy and Donna, knowing the lines were originally written for them. So maybe Jimmy was going to have to deal with the issue of shortness, but that was apparently dropped. Although Donna always seems to make a point about the fact that she's bigger.
Camp What-a-Nut is introduced for the first time as the middle school kids arrive for couple weeks. There are actually surprisingly few characters in this episode. Only three kids are really heard: Chas, Donny, and Gloria. This is in stark contrast to "Connie Goes to Camp" in which we hear eight kids: Jack, Oscar, Jimmy, Donna, Robyn, Allison, Lucy, and Jill. Also, the characters are mostly unfamiliar. Only Whit is a normal character. Ned Lewis was just heard on "V.B.S. Blues" (which is brought up three times, once each by Ned, Donny, and Gloria); but we are introduced for the first and only time to Chas, Marco, Donny, and Gloria.
The whole plot with Donny and Whit is boring. The premise is weak: Donny is feeling left out because he's short. Noting Donny's discouragement, Whit takes him into the forest to talk. Suddenly, a bear chases them. I think. From those imitation bear noises, I'm not so sure! Fortunately for us, we are spared from hearing those sound effects in later shows. And what is more common than getting lost in the woods? Then there's the old cliché; "Moss grows on the north side of trees." Now that is true, but we have all heard that statement a million times (to borrow the colloquialism).
The subplot concerning Gloria's so-called interest in Ned is average. It seems the writers went to great lengths to convince us that Gloria really did like Ned, and then suddenly we're told she doesn't. I'm not sure, then, the relevance of focusing on that subplot. Even Marco's words of wisdom fall flat since the situation isn't real. But I do think it's interesting that Marco was the one with the advice since Whit wasn't around. My impression, however, is that the characters were "multi-tasking" in order to make up for lack of people actually heard on the episode. Gloria is Donny's sister and Ned's "love interest." Marco is the cook and substitute advice-giver. Ned is a counselor and craft teacher. Whit is the director and advice-giver. Chas is the antagonist but also relays information. Finally, Donny is the main character and narrator of all the events.
The scenes containing Chas and Marco are much better done and more interesting. Chas even learns a better lesson than Donny does. Marco Dibiasi is without a doubt my favorite character on this episode. I love the scenes where he deals with Chas' arrogant attitude and the scene questioning Whit about the English language. Will Ryan did a great job brining him to life (and you have to love the Italian accent).
In conclusion, I think this episode is somewhat lacking in content, but that's mainly due to the fact that it's a two-parter. However, it's only the fourth two-parter ever released by AIO and the two preceding ones that I've heard, "A Member of the Family" and "Family Vacation", don't necessarily have that much to them either. So it's still a fun show to hear now and then.