WHERE THERE’S SMOKE & THE VIRTUAL KID
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Theme: Being a positive role model/Caution against computer obsession
Episode Number: 431
Writer: Jim Ware/Team
Scripture: Matthew 5:21/Proverbs 14:12
Album: # 33: Virtual Realities
Last Air Date: 01/03/2005
Original Air Date: 11/20/99
In "Where There's Smoke," Nathaniel is being bullied in typical Rodney Rathbone style. Nick Mulligan comes along and intimidates Rodney with his street-wise lingo. When Nick tells Nathaniel he has to go or he will be late for an interview at Whit's End, Nathaniel is excited and says he is going there too. As soon as Nick's interview with Mr. Whittaker is over, Whit offers him the job, and he starts working immediately. A few days later, Whit comes up to Nick and compliments him on the way he has won Nathaniel's friendship, saying it has really helped Nathaniel's self confidence. He gently reminds Nick that it is a big responsibility to be a fan to someone like Nathaniel, and Nick assures Whit he has it all under control. Whit then leaves him to close Whit's End that night.
He lights a cigarette while he is getting into his car, which shocks Nathaniel when he comes in. The next day Eugene comes and says that that his friend has gone to the emergency room, presumably with a respiratory problem. Nick thinks he means Whit, but Eugene tells him that it is Nathaniel, who is severely asthmatic. Nick panics, asks Eugene to cover for him so he can run to the hospital and see how Nathaniel is. He finds that instead of it being an asthmatic attack, Nathaniel has tried to light a cigarette and burned himself. Nick apologizes, says he will never smoke again, and when Nathaniel's parents come, volunteers to support Nathaniel and take responsibility for the bad example he was to Nathaniel in the incident. Mr. Whittaker calls his choice to be a good example cool.
In "The Virtual Kid," Whit asks Eugene about the claim that according to an exclusive interview, he said that the newest Imagination Station program contains graphic violence. The pair of them corner Alex and clear up the misunderstand. Alex apologizes to Whit and worries that he will have to shut down his Web site. Whit, however, says that he may continue his site as long as he verifies everything.
Alex is excited, and even becomes obsessed with the Web site. He begins to ignore his friends because he is spending so much time on the site. A few days later at Whit’s End, Whit tells him that Channel 10 News wants to interview him for television. Alex is overjoyed, but the interview turns out to be an interrogation in which the interviewer asserts that Alex is really a Virutal Kid. Whit stops the interview and explains to Alex that his passion is good, but needs to be controlled instead of it controlling Alex. The only master anyone should have is Jesus, and Whit explains that when people let someone else master you, a) the Lord doesn't like it, b) you miss out on all the fun. When the kids came back from the circus and ask to see Alex' Web site, he explains that now he wants to experience Whit's End for himself.
The original ending for "Where There's Smoke" was just what Nick thought had happened-- that Nathaniel had asthma and got sick when he tried smoking a cigarette. Phil Lollar suggested the twist of having Alex burn himself with a lighter instead.