Eugene's Dilemma

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#76: “Eugene's Dilemma”
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John 15:13

13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

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Eugene's Dilemma

“Eugene's Dilemma” is episode #76 of the Adventures in Odyssey audio series. It was written and directed by Paul McCusker, and originally aired on June 24, 1989.


Eugene is stuck with a problem that seems to be without solution while working at the college computer lab. When he finds a solution, it seems to become more disastrous than ever.


After being fired from Whit's End, Eugene has wasted no time in getting a new job at Campbell County Community College. He's working in the school's computer center, in charge of the high security programming. It guards financial reports, students' grades, and other personal information. His boss, Mr. Burglemeister, introduces Eugene to his only other employee, a child genius named Nicholas Adamsworth. Nicholas's parents died when he was little, and he is being tested in a new program the college has started with the state orphanage to see if kids with his intelligence can adjust to higher learning. If Nicholas fails to adjust, the program will be canceled. He'll end up back at the orphanage, "trying to keep from being picked on."

The work runs smoothly for a while, but trouble starts when Mr. Burglemeister asks Eugene to run a random check on the students' grades. Nicholas acts very nervous, and his attitude worsens when they're suddenly visited by Nicholas's counselor: Richard Maxwell. Richard was up for Eugene's job, though he's not cut out for any responsible position.

After Richard leaves, Eugene runs the random check and discovers a discrepancy - a grade has been changed. Nicholas tries to downplay it. Eugene investigates the matter and discovers that not one, but two grades have been changed. Nicholas confesses. He says he had to change them or else Richard Maxwell would have given the college a bad report about Nicholas. Just then, Richard shows up and confirms what Nicholas has said. Richard informs Eugene that if he doesn't keep quiet about all this, Richard will make Nicholas's life even more miserable.

Later, Eugene comes up with a scheme to correct things: he and Nicholas will simply change the grades back. Unfortunately, Eugene is caught doing this by Mr. Burglemeister, who brings him before the college's board of trustees - one of whom is Whit.

Eugene takes full responsibility for the incident, but Whit's investigation reveals that Eugene is actually innocent. Whit tries to get the truth out of Eugene, but he refuses to implicate anyone but himself. Things look bleak for Eugene, but at the last minute Nicholas bursts into the room and tells all. The trustees fire Richard Maxwell (who claims dismissively that he has a better job lined up anyway), place Nicholas on indefinite probation at the college, and transfer Eugene... back to Whit's End! Whit feels Eugene has learned his lesson and has discovered the importance of sacrifice.

But all is not completely well: Richard Maxwell vows to return. . . .

Discussion Questions

  1. What should Nicholas have done when he was first threatened by Richard Maxwell?
  2. Was it right for Eugene to take all of the blame the way he did?
    • Why or why not?
  3. Was Eugene dishonest to change the grades back?
    • Should he have handled the situation differently?
    • Explain your answers.


Heard in episode

Mentioned in episode

Character Mentioned By
Connie Kendall Eugene Meltsner


  • Dick Beals, the actor who played 11-year-old Nicholas Adamsworth, was well into his 60s when this episode was recorded! He also played (in his 40's) the part of Davey in the still-popular Christian TV show Davey and Goliath—a program in which Hal Smith played Goliath, Davey's father and pretty much every other male on the show!
  • Eugene repeatedly asked Nicholas to call him by his first name, yet Eugene always insists on calling everyone else by their last name.
  • This is the last episode that AIO co-creator Steve Harris was involved with.
  • Mr. Burglemeister and mistakenly calls Eugene "Hubert," just like Whit did when he first met Eugene in #51: “Connie, Part 1”. Richard Maxwell also calls Eugene "Hubert."
  • This episode's cast and characters are all male.



Richard Maxwell: I'm what you call a renaissance man. I dabble in a lot of things.

Eugene Meltsner: How old are you, Nicholas?
Nicholas Adamsworth: Eleven years, three months, 2 days, ten hours and 54 minutes old, not counting daylight savings.

Nicholas Adamsworth: You mean you''re not sending me back to the orphanage?
Thomas Grayson: We are not sending you back to the orphanage.
Nicholas Adamsworth: Yahoo!! I-I mean—thank you sir; I am extremely grateful.

John Whittaker: Now maybe things can get back to normal.
Richard Maxwell: I wouldn't count on it, Mr. Whittaker. I wouldn't count on it.

Thomas Grayson: I hereby expel you from this institution for your participation in the grade-changing scheme.
Richard Maxwell: Oh! I'm crushed! I'm heartbroken!

Richard Maxwell: You crack me up!

Nicholas Adamsworth: Are you in charge of this kangaroo trial?