The Merchant of Odyssey

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#359: “The Merchant of Odyssey”
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28: Welcome Home!
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James 2:13

13because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

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The Merchant of Odyssey

“The Merchant of Odyssey” is episode #359 of the Adventures in Odyssey audio series. It was written and directed by Phil Lollar, and originally aired on September 28, 1996.


Edwin Blackgaard has to borrow money from Bart Rathbone to pay his taxes.


Bart Rathbone is finally off the hook for the crimes he committed during the Blackgaard scandal. A judge has decided to show him some mercy by reducing his sentence to time served and allowing him to work again. Immediately, Bart rushes out to try and get the Electric Palace away from Edwin Blackgaard. He offers Edwin a down payment of $5,000 and the balance in monthly installments. But Edwin turns down his proposal. He won’t sell because he’s become fond of his inheritance and, for personal reasons, he can’t sell. Bart is disappointed, until he comes up with a plan. He picks up the phone and calls the IRS to rat on Edwin about the inheritance tax Edwin has due on the Electric Palace. An IRS field agent visits Edwin. The agent informs Edwin that he owes a grand total of $10,000, payable in two installments of $5,000 each. Edwin doesn’t have $5,000, and the only person he knows who does is Bart Rathbone! Edwin foolishly borrows the money, certain that he’ll be able to pay off the loan with the proceeds from his new show, The Merchant of Venice. But Bart causes Edwin to have a little accident, trying to make sure the play won’t open! According to their deal, if Edwin doesn’t repay his debt, Bart will take over both the Electric Palace and the Harlequin Theatre. Edwin thinks he’s doomed. But Jack Allen comes up with a plan to make Bart change his mind. Jack brings Bart to a rehearsal, where Bart is persuaded to play a role in a terrifying scene. In the scene, Bart must repay a debt or lose a pound of flesh! The trick works. Bart is scared silly by the play. He reluctantly agrees to give Edwin more time to repay the loan. Unfortunately for Bart, the IRS agent has learned that he didn’t pay taxes on the $5,000 he loaned Edwin. Now Bart has an appointment with the Internal Revenue Service.

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

Discussion Questions

  1. Why did Bart want the Electric Palace back so much?
  2. Bart told Edwin a contract is a contract. Was he right?
    • Should he have shown mercy to Edwin?
    • Why or why not?
  3. Describe a time in which you have shown someone mercy or when someone else has been merciful to you.


Heard in episode

Role Voice Actor
Bailiff Kurt Bruner
Bart Rathbone Walker Edmiston
Edwin Blackgaard Earl Boen
F. Bailey Babcock Corey Burton
Harold J. Leech Bill Farmer
Judge Bill Farmer
Jack Allen Alan Young
Walter Shakespeare Corey Burton

Mentioned in episode

Character Mentioned By
Regis Blackgaard Bart Rathbone
Jason Whittaker Edwin Blackgaard


  • This show is an AIO adaptation of William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.
  • This show also is one of the few examples of the good actor that lurks (deep) inside of Edwin.
  • This is the second episode to follow a plot pattern of Edwin being visited by a straight-laced professional who frightens Edwin and threatens to upend his life as he knows it with news regarding the Electric Palace. The problem is compounded by the antics of Bart Rathbone and the solution involves Jack Allen referencing a Shakespeare production. The first episode, of course, is #342: “Welcome Home, Mr. Blackgaard”.
  • The scene Edwin is planning to rehearse before his unfortunate "accident" with the waxed floor is the scene in which Bassanio borrows the money from Shylock — exactly what just happened with Edwin and Bart earlier in the episode.
  • Jack mentions in this episode that Bart has been on Kids' Radio before. This is a reference to Bart's role as Despair in #251: “Pilgrim's Progress Revisited, Part 2”.
  • We learn in #342: “Welcome Home, Mr. Blackgaard” that Bart was sentenced to two years community service for his part in the Blackgaard Saga, and Babcock tells the judge that Bart has served half of his sentence, meaning that this episode takes place around a year after the Blackgaard saga (assuming there was not a great deal of time between #334: “The Final Conflict” and Bart's sentencing).
  • This episode's cast and characters are all male.
  • Edwin assures Mr. Leech that he paid the property tax on the Electric Palace and Mr. Leech responds "we know". However, the IRS, as a federal organization, would have no oversight of local property taxes.
  • Mr. Leech refers to Edwin owing an "inheritance tax". The US did not, at the time, have an inheritance tax - Mr. Leech would have called it an "estate tax" or perhaps a "gift tax". In addition, Regis must have left Edwin a small fortune, since at the time an estate could transfer up to $600,000 tax free.
  • When Edwin asks Bart where he got five thousand dollars, Bart evades the question rather suspiciously, implying that it was obtained through less than ethical means. At the end of the episode Mr. Leech reveals that Bart had "not reported" that income and takes him away to discuss his own taxes. However, the IRS would have no way of knowing whether or not a specific $5,000 had been reported - even if Bart had obtained it illegally, if he had earned it in the current tax year it would not be reportable until he filed that year's taxes; the money could have been saved from prior work experience, or it could have been saved up from multiple gifts or loans. Mr. Leech (and the IRS) seems to be all-knowing in a manner inconsistent with actual practice.


Harold J. Leech: My name is Leech.
Edwin Blackgaard: I'm so sorry.

Edwin Blackgaard: Shakespeare, the car!
Shakespeare: Right out back, sir.
Edwin Blackgaard: Ah! Well, then. The door!
Shakespeare: Opening it now, sir.

Jack Allen: Alright, Bart. What do you really want?
Bart Rathbone: I'll write it down.
Jack Allen: Probably your first born child.
Edwin Blackgaard: Oh, good. I'm a bachelor. Although I suppose he could take Shakespeare.

Bart Rathbone: Ooh! Must have been painful.
Edwin Blackgaard: <grumbles> My bass drum will never be the same.

Jack Allen: Oh, what a tangled web we weave...
Edwin Blackgaard: When first we practice to deceive!