Season 9

Episode 917: “The Good Earth”

Episode 917: “The Good Earth”
Original Air Date:March 1, 2003
Written by::Luke Schelhaas
Directed by:Ben Lewin
Produced by:

Martha Williamson
Jon Andersen
R.J. Visciglia, Jr.

Guest Cast:
Emmett Rivers Dennis Weaver
Carl Michael Nouri
Stan Jonathan Lipnicki
Bill Joel Bishop
Zach Eric Jacobs
Scooter Austin Brown


Stan and his friends are fascinated by the crazy old man who lives on their street. He’s an inventor, a mad scientist, and he’s building cars that run on chicken droppings… or so they say. There is also speculation that he is experimenting on dead bodies in his basement, but the truth is that Emmett Rivers is working hard to free the world from its dependence on oil. He is fashioning a device which, when it is finished, will convert hydrogen into energy. It will run on water. Of course, there are a few hitches.

Emmett, so far, is unable to get the machine just right. Everything is theoretically working, but it’s just a little off. It’s nothing a few months of fine tuning won’t fix. Unfortunately he might not get that chance. Monica has arrived, as an IRS agent, to look into Emmett’s tax deductions. While she is there, Stan finally gets up the courage to sneak into the house and see just what the crazy old man is working on. But elsewhere, Carl Northram, an oil magnate, has been informed of Emmett’s work via his new research assistant, Gloria. On this assignment, it is her job to bring the genius to the man who can put his ideas to work.

But when Gloria arrives to express interest in the invention, and negotiate with Emmett regarding its sale, she is rebuffed. Emmett is angry that they weren’t interested until he’d spent twenty years of his life working on it. Now, when it is so near to completion he is afraid that they will swoop in and steal the credit. Gloria assures him that no one is swooping, but Emmett is unwilling to budge. He sees this accomplishment as a way of living on, something he won’t do himself; he’s dying of stomach cancer.

When Gloria is gone, Monica and Stan, who Emmett has taken a liking to, try to convince him that it is time to share his genius with the rest of the world. So when Gloria returns with Carl Northram, Emmett accepts their offer and sells the nearly finished machine for one million dollars. Now he can finally relax and seek treatment for his ailment.

But all is not as it seems, Carl Northram has no interest in helping the world, he has bought Emmett’s invention solely for the purpose of destroying it. Gloria is devastated by her part in this and returns to bear the tidings to Emmett, Monica and Stan. They are equally disheartened, especially Emmett, who realizes that his work will not be rebuilt in his lifetime. “But it will be rebuilt.” Monica assures him. He just needs to teach someone to carry on his work. He needs to teach Stan, and his work will live on. Emmett does as requested, and realizes that sharing his ideas with even one more person, is better than keeping it locked in a basement, hoping for immortality.

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