The Reluctant Rival

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#96: “The Reluctant Rival”
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Matthew 5:43-48

43"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'

44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?

48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Philippians 2:3-4
3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

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The Reluctant Rival

“The Reluctant Rival” is episode #96 of the Adventures in Odyssey audio series. It was written and directed by Paul McCusker, and originally aired on December 9, 1989.


Whit's granddaughter, Jenny Whittaker-Dowd, is given a special violin solo which causes friction with the other children.



Whit's daughter, Jana Whittaker-Dowd, and her kids, Monty and Jenny, have come to town for the holidays. There is always some tension when Jana is around, and this visit is no exception. But this time, the tension centers on Jenny, and for an unusual reason: She is a gifted child. When it comes to brains, Jenny Whittaker-Dowd could give Eugene Meltsner a run for his money.

Unfortunately, Jenny's gifts cause big problems when she plays her violin for Dan Bryant, conductor of Odyssey's Children's Orchestra. He promptly gives Jenny a solo in the upcoming Christmas program - a solo that young Sandra Underwood has been working to get all year. When Sandra's mother hears about this, she's naturally frustrated and accuses Mr. Bryant of playing favorites - giving the solo to Jenny just because she's Whit's granddaughter. Mr. Bryant's solution is to hold an audition for the solo.

Sandra and her friend run into Jenny downtown and are mean to her. Jenny tries to hide her hurt, but the tears finally come. She can't understand why people dislike her just because she's smart and talented.

The day of the audition arrives. Sandra does well. Then Jenny plays...and royally botches up the piece. Mr. Bryant has no choice but to give the solo to Sandra.

Later, at Whit's End, Jana asks Jenny why she performed so badly. Jenny says that getting to perform the solo is not worth hurting Sandra's and her mother's happiness. Whit and Jana couldn't be more proud. Somewhere beneath Jenny's brilliant I.Q. is an equally brilliant heart.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why did Sandra assume that she already had the violin solo?
    • Should she have made that assumption?
    • Explain.
  2. What do you think is worth more: hard work or natural talent?
    • Is one better than the other?
    • Explain.
  3. Did Jenny do the right thing by purposefully playing badly so Sandra could win?
    • Would you consider that a deception or a gracious act?
    • Explain your answers.


Heard in episode

Mentioned in episode

Character Mentioned By
Jerry Whittaker John Whittaker
Eugene Meltsner John Whittaker
Jason Whittaker John Whittaker


VERSION DIFFERENCE: [view] In the broadcast version of this episode, Chris is visiting McAlister department store to get Christmas gifts. She opens a music box and hears the AIO musical theme. She then goes on to look for musical instruments for her niece.




John Whittaker: Remind me to introduce you to one of my employees, Jenny. I think you would get along with him nicely.
Jenny Whittaker-Dowd: Is he from California?
John Whittaker: No. I'm not even sure he's from this planet, but you'll like him. His name's Eugene.