My Fair Bernard

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#246: “My Fair Bernard”
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2 Chronicles 15:7
7But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded."

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Current user rating: 95/100 (35 votes)

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My Fair Bernard
“My Fair Bernard” is episode #246 of the Adventures in Odyssey audio series. It was written and directed by Phil Lollar, and originally aired on October 2, 1993.

Summary

Bernard Walton tries to improve his image by being in play about his life, which is being produced by Edwin Blackgaard.

Plot

Bernard Walton pulls up at one of his buildings downtown to wash some windows, and discovers that Bart Rathbone has expanded the Electric Palace to include janitorial services. Thanks to Bart's hot, new radio ads, which feature his lower prices, several of Bernard's customers are switching to Bart's services. Bernard furiously goes to Whit's End to try and produce some radio ads of his own. The result is less than satisfactory. So Bernard decides he needs acting lessons to improve the ads.

The only place to get acting lessons in Odyssey is at The Harlequin Dinner Theatre, taught by Edwin Blackgaard. But, surprisingly, Edwin agrees to not only take on Bernard as a student, but to put Bernard's plight on stage! Edwin explains that Bernard’s struggle is right out of classic theater: The little man strives against enormous odds to hold on to what he has built. It's a story of good vs. evil, right vs. wrong. It takes some convincing, but Bernard is finally bitten by the theatrical bug and agrees to do the play.

When he leaves, Walter Shakespeare wonders if Edwin has lost his mind. Edwin reveals that Bernard's play will be just the kind of depressing, avant-guarde play that Rosencrantz Guildenstern, a local critic, will like! It will be excellent publicity for the Harlequin, and will help save Bernard's business to boot!

Just before the performance, Bart tells Bernard that everyone may like his play, but it won't bring him any new business. Bernard realizes that Bart is right. So Bernard ruins the play by inserting plugs for Walton's Janitorial Service after every other line. Edwin tries to stop him by literally pulling the curtain on Bernard. The play is a disaster.

As it turns out, Bernard's business was safe anyway. Bart's shoddy work causes his customers to switch back to Bernard. As for Edwin, Guildenstern tells him to produce nice family shows like he usually does. As Shakespeare said, "All's well that ends well."

Discussion Questions

  1. Why did Bart decide to go into janitorial service?
    • Why did Edwin want to do a play about Bernard's life?
    • Were either of their reasons good ones?
      • Why or why not?
  2. Why did Bernard mess up the play?
  3. Should Bernard have tried to fight off Bart's new business the way he did?
    • What should he have done?
    • What would you have done?

Cast

Heard in episode

Role Voice Actor
Bart Rathbone Walker Edmiston
Bernard Walton Dave Madden
Edwin Blackgaard Earl Boen
John Whittaker Hal Smith
Mr. Jones Corey Burton
Rosencrantz Guildenstern Michael Blees
Walter Shakespeare Corey Burton

Mentioned in episode

Character Mentioned By
Eugene Meltsner John Whittaker
Lucy Cunningham-Schultz John Whittaker

Notes

VERSION DIFFERENCE: [view] The album version of this episode extends the scene where Bernard and Edwin are "brainstorming" the story of Bernard's life.

Trivia
  • Listen for Bart's radio ad when Bernard is at Whit's End. His slogan is, like most Rathbone slogans, a perfect one: "Rathbone Cleans You Out."
  • Bart's imitation of Henry Fonda in the final scene of the episode would later be heard again with Walker Edmiston's role opposite Joey in New Year's Eve Live!.
  • Bart's butchered quote at the end of the episode confusing Rapunzel for Romeo was previously spoken by Curt Stevens in #103: “Front Page News”.
  • This episode's cast and characters are all male; a common occurrence in Edwin-centric episodes.
Allusions
  • The title of this episode is an allusion to My Fair Lady, a musical based on Pygmalion wherein a diction coach tries to turn a poor flower girl into a lady.
  • Bernard's lines in the play start with "To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I recall I was born..." Charles Dickens' novel David Copperfield begins with almost this exact phrase.
  • Edwin's line about "the greatest moment in theater since Gilbert said to Sullivan 'So, what do you know about pirates?'" is a reference to the Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera "The Pirates of Penzance."
  • The critic's name Rosencrantz Guildenstern is a reference to two minor characters named Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in the Shakespeare play Hamlet.
Goofs
  • Despite the fact that Bernard's "promo play" in this episode is only a couple of minutes long, the audience (and critic) think that it was meant to be the full play.

Quotes

Bernard Walton: I have to fight fire with fire.
John Whittaker: You're not gonna burn down the Electric Palace, are ya?

Edwin Blackgaard: Tut-tut-tut-tut-tut, Shakespeare. Let's not be hasty. Pray continue, Mr. Walton.
Bernard Walton: Huh? Okay. Our Father, who art in heaven—
Edwin Blackgaard: No, no, no. I mean, tell me more.

Rosencrantz Guildenstern: Is there something wrong with him?
John Whittaker: I'm not sure.

Edwin Blackgaard: Shakespeare! Bring down the curtain. Bring down the curtain!
Shakespeare: But sir, you're both standing under it!
Edwin Blackgaard: I don't care! Bring it down!

Bernard Walton: It wasn't that bad, was it?
Edwin Blackgaard: No, no, no! You were simply being you. You can't help being what you are. I should never have tried to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

Bart Rathbone: In fact, you have my personal guarantee that if we don't do a better job for less money, your windows will still be dirty!

Bernard Walton: I started with just a rag and a bucket, and now I've got a... a squeegee and a bucket!

Bernard Walton: To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I recall I was born, born a pauper to a pawn. With a squeegee in my hand... And that squeegee is available for all your window-cleaning needs! Just call Walton's Janitorial Service at 555-6629!