When Bad Isn't So Good

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#263: “When Bad Isn't So Good”
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Psalm 1:1-5

11 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.

2But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. 4Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.

5Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

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When Bad Isn't So Good

“When Bad Isn't So Good” is episode #263 of the Adventures in Odyssey audio series. It was written and directed by Phil Lollar, and originally aired on April 9, 1994.


Edwin Blackgaard and Sam Johnson come to the conclusion they need to be "bad" once in a while to get noticed.


Sam can't believe it. Thanks to Whit’s Student Incentive Program, Rusty Gordon is enjoying an ice-cream sundae fit for royalty, just because he passed a test! Sam feels cheated: He works hard. He gets A’s on everything. He is a good and responsible student. But Sam hardly gets noticed. Rusty gets one B minus on a test, and the teacher treats him like he’s brilliant, and Whit gives him a free sundae.

Sam says he thought rewards were supposed to come when you work hard and do the right thing. But he’s done that all his life, and no one has ever rewarded him for it. Rusty responds that everyone expects Sam to be good. Rusty suggests that maybe if Sam were bad once in a while, he’d get free ice cream, too. Sam decides to try it, but Rusty tells him not to bother — he doesn’t have the knack for being bad.

Meanwhile, Edwin Blackgaard is suffering from a similar situation. He has learned that his evil brother, Regis, is doing well in Europe. But Edwin is barely keeping his theater afloat in Odyssey. Edwin is so upset about this that he vents his anger at “the system” during an interview on the Cryin' Bryan Dern radio show. Instantly, Edwin becomes a hit with Dern’s listeners! Dern asks Edwin to become a regular political commentator on the show. Edwin does, and he subsequently blasts everyone possible.

While this is going on, Rusty takes Sam under his wing. Rusty tells Sam that he can prove his badness by breaking a large window Bernard Walton is cleaning. Bernard catches Sam in the act and talks sense into him. Sam then realizes what a dope he’s been. He takes off to stop Rusty from setting off some dangerous firecrackers in The Harlequin Dinner Theatre. Rusty is getting back at Edwin for blasting city workers — among them Rusty’s father — on the radio.

Sam arrives to discover the theater being picketed by the local volunteer fire department — whom Edwin also criticized in a recent broadcast. Unfortunately, Rusty goes through with his act. He inadvertently sets fire to a backstage curtain. Edwin is certain that the firemen will let the theater burn down because of the way he has insulted them. Much to his surprise, the fire squad rushes in and puts out the fire.

Edwin learns that “the system” isn’t too bad after all — and Sam finds that doing good is its own reward.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why did Sam think he’d have to be bad before he got any attention?
  2. What was wrong with Edwin’s radio commentaries?
  3. Is there anything wrong with being noticed for doing good things?
    • Should you do good things only if you’ll be noticed for them?
      • Why or why not?


Heard in episode

Role Voice Actor
Bernard Walton Dave Madden
Bryan Dern Corey Burton
Charlie Phil Lollar
Edwin Blackgaard Earl Boen
Eugene Meltsner Will Ryan
Health inspector Bob Luttrell
Jim Marshal Younger
Roy Walker Edmiston
Rusty Gordon (Malone) Shawn Svoboda
Sam Johnson Kyle Ellison
Mr. Thompson Will Ryan
Walter Shakespeare Corey Burton

Mentioned in episode

Character Mentioned By
John Whittaker Eugene Meltsner
Regis Blackgaard Edwin Blackgaard
Pete Johnson Rusty Gordon (Malone)


  • This episode was adjusted due to Hal Smith's death. The lines that were originally written for Whit were passed onto Eugene (serving ice cream to Rusty and Sam) and Bernard (taking the role of the teacher).
  • This episode's cast and characters are all male, a common occurrence in Edwin-centric episodes.
  • In a cut scene, Edwin is reading a postcard from Regis. The postcard reads:
Dear Edwin,
Just a quick note to let you know that I am doing very well. I have received several six-figure grants from philanthropic concerns here in Europe. How is your little theatre venture going? I'm sure the citizens of Odyssey are standing in line to partake of the culture you offer. I often think fondly of the time I spent there - perhaps one day I shall return to renew my old acquaintances.
Your loving brother, Regis
  • C.S. Lewis reference: The lines that Edwin rehearses in this episode just before the curtain catches fire come from Shadowlands, the play about Lewis' life that inspired the 1993 film.
  • The lines Edwin quotes on the Cryin' Bryan Dern show, before saying "You know, of course, what that's from," come from Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.


Rusty Gordon: Would you like it if someone bad-mouthed your dad?
Sam Johnson: You did one time.
Rusty Gordon: Uhhhhh... did you like it?
Sam Johnson: No!
Rusty Gordon: Well, neither do I.

Bernard Walton: Is that the only reason you wanna do good things—to get noticed?
Sam Johnson: No, I wanna do them because I know it's right. But being right all the time doesn't get me praise from teachers or free ice cream from Whit's End!
Bernard Walton: So what?
Sam Johnson: Huh?
Bernard Walton: You heard me; so what? Sam, doing good is its own reward, and I got news for you: it always pays off! Sometimes in ways you can't see—in fact, most times in ways you can't see. But it always does, because doing what's right pleases God! And that's the most important thing, now, isn't it?

Roy (a): That's right, Blackgaard. Joe, Frank, Bubba, and the rest of us. Now get out of here. We're gonna save your theater!
Edwin Blackgaard: After all I said about you? Why?
Roy (a): Because it's our job!

Edwin Blackgaard: How are we going to PAY FOR IT??!! <beat> You know, I must remember this moment. It's a good association exercise for anger... AND FURY!!!