Family Values

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#243: “Family Values”
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1 Timothy 5:8

8If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

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“Family Values” is episode #243 of the Adventures in Odyssey audio series. It was written and directed by Phil Lollar, and originally aired on September 11, 1993.


To win a contest, the Rathbones go on a frantic quest to become a perfect family.


Whit is behind the counter at Whit’s End when Bart Rathbone rushes in, panicked. Bart explains he needs advice on how to make his family stronger. Whit says that’s not an easy thing to do and tries to explain that it’s a lengthy process. Bart cuts him off, though. He needs to know how to make his family stronger by Monday.

Apparently, Bart’s son, Rodney, entered an essay contest sponsored by a statewide magazine. The essay is about family values. The winner and his family will receive the honorable title “Family of the Year.” Rodney’s essay was picked as one of the finalists! The judges are coming to Odyssey to talk with the Rathbones.

The only problem is, the Rathbones don’t know how to be a family — at least not how the magazine views a family to be. That’s why Bart needs Whit’s help. Whit again tries to explain that it takes more than just a few days to make a family strong. But Bart begs so hard, Whit finally directs him to several books on the subject. Bart tries to implement some of the suggestions in the book, but it’s impossible to change the Rathbones. So, in typical Rathbone style, they decide that the only way they can win the contest is by making the other finalist, the Johnson family, lose.

The Johnsons eventually catch on to the Rathbones' scheming and choose to take the high road — they willingly forfeit the competition to allow the Rathbones to win, since they want it so much. However, as generally happens with the Rathbones’ schemes, everything backfires just when they think they’ve reached success. The contest judges arrive, and everyone learns that, in his essay, Rodney wrote that Bart was a doctor, and Doris was a trial lawyer! While the rest of us pick up a lesson about real family values, the Rathbones carry on as always.

This plot section is too short and should be expanded. »

Discussion Questions

  1. Why did Bart think he could change the way his family treats each other in just a few days?
  2. What was wrong with the way the Rathbones went about trying to change themselves?
    • What are some good ways to improve family relations?
  3. Why did the Johnsons decide to withdraw from the contest?
    • Do you think it was the right decision?
    • Why or why not?


Heard in episode

Role Voice Actor
Bart Rathbone Walker Edmiston
Doris Rathbone Pamela Hayden
Family of the Year Judge (a) Corey Burton
Family of the Year Judge (b) Janet Waldo
Jerry Steve Bridges
John Whittaker Hal Smith
Kelly Johnson Ashley Hutchins
Nancy Johnson Rae Ruff
Pete Johnson Steve Bridges
Rodney Rathbone Steve Burns
Sam Johnson Kyle Ellison

Mentioned in episode

Character Mentioned By
Lanny Rathbone Rodney Rathbone


VERSION DIFFERENCE: [view] The album version adds a few more scenes where the Rathbones try to be a model family and a few more where they try to "corrupt" the Johnsons.

  • This episode marks the first appearance of Doris Rathbone, Bart’s wife and Rodney’s mother.
  • This was the first episode to have portions cut from the broadcast version but featured in its entirety on the album.
  • At the beginning of the scene where Bart and Doris are talking, a tune is heard in the background that sounds very similar to the tune that introduces "The Three Stooges."
  • This is the only episode where Kelly Johnson appears. Also, the Johnsons have a cat, which can be heard meowing during the conversation the Johnsons have about the Rathbones' strange behavior.
  • Bart's line to Doris about "grey poupon" is a reference to a 1988 commercial for the product in which one fancy gentleman asks another "Pardon me, do you have any grey poupon?"


Doris Rathbone: What is that?
Bart Rathbone: Classical music. It aids the digestion.
Rodney Rathbone: I think it's workin'. I'm startin' to feel sick.

Bart Rathbone: Look, I know you think you understand what you thought you heard me say, but what you thought you heard me say was certainly not what you thought I meant.

Doris Rathbone: Welcome to our humble commode!