Pete gives Joey and Corky money to go into Valley Falls for supplies. Elmer is in the local jail and calls to them out of the window. They come over and she says that he's the victim of a miscarriage of justice, and asks them to pay his bail. The sheriff says that Elmer was inciting a riot and destroying public property. Elmer put on a show with his magic lantern, a device that he claimed would show moving pictures. The machine failed to run and the people couldn't get their money back, and they rioted. If Joey pays $300 for the fine and damages, the sheriff will let Elmer go. Joey points out that they only have $200 for supplies, and the sheriff says that he'll drop the fine and bring it down to $200. Corky suggests that they wire Colonel Jack for the extra money, and the sheriff tells them to get Elmer out of town without anyone seeing him.
Once Joey and corky drive the wagon out of town, Elmer emerges from hiding. They continue on to the circus and Joey claims that Elmer was coming to show them his magic lantern. Tim doesn't want any part of Elmer or his ideals, and Joe admits that Elmer is already there. He tells them that he hasn't seen the magic lantern works but figures that it better, and explains that they're partners with Elmer.
Soon, Elmer and Corky are working on handbills for the magic lantern show. Elmer shows Corky how the projector works, and says that the last batch of film he had was destroyed by the townspeople. As Elmer explains that they need to make new film with a camera, Tim and Pete come in, and Tim admits that he would have done the same thing as Joey. He wants Elmer to work out what they owe him, and tells him that he can do what he wants on his own time as long as he doesn't destroy anything or endanger Corky.
Later, Corky combs his hair for when Elmer takes his picture. Tim comes in with a letter from Jack. There's no check, and a letter saying that Jack is in Africa and can't be reached. They'll refer the matter until the fall when he returns. Tim points out that they'll be out of business in a week, and says that he'll think of something.
Pete and Joey are working when Tim arrives with Lars Larsen. Lars is a local contractor who clears the land for the farmers. Tim has them rig Bimbo up to a tree and pull it out. Lars is impressed and says that he'll buy Bimbo. Joey warns that it will upset Corky, but Tim says that his back is to the wall. Corky is working with Elmer on the projector, and Joey comes in to tell him that Tim is selling Bimbo. If they can get the $500 back to Lars in a month then Bimbo can come home. Corky blames Elmer, and Elmer admits that he's a bonehead like Pete said. Joey tells them not to give up so easily, and Elmer promises Joey that they'll get Bimbo back.
Elmer is taking film of trapeze artists when Pete tells him to get back to work. Meanwhile, Joey shows Tim an article about a panopticon in Broadway, and is taking in more money than the top Broadway shows. Joey suggests that they don’t charge people as an extra added attraction before the main show. Tim admits that it might draw some extra people, and they talk to Elmer. He says that he needs a stronger light, and he can have everything ready by the next night.
The next night, people gather for the projector show and it's the biggest crowd that they can remember. Tim sends Joey to check on Elmer. Meanwhile, Elmer and Corky are using carbide to boost the lamp's light five times. Joey comes in as the carbide fire spreads. They run out but then Elmer runs back in to grab the projector and his film. Joey warns the others and they get a bucket brigade going. Tim tells the crowd to clear the midway. Pete warns that the fire is out of control and the wind is blowing the fire to the main tent. As they work, Elmer gets an idea and records it all on film.
Later, the fire brings down the main tent and Tim says that it's the circus' last performance. The next day, Joey confirms that they saved everything. Tim has sent Pete into town to wire the colonial Company to come and take over. Pete returns and shows them a handbill about a big show at the opera house, charging thirty cents admission. Corky is with him, and Joey figures that the mob could hurt him if it gets out of control.
When Tim and the others arrive in town, they find satisfied customers leaving the opera house. One of them says that the show was a humdinger. Corky comes out and says that they didn't tell them what they had planned because they were afraid that they'd stop them. Elmer comes out with Sam Conway of Conway Theatrical Enterprises. Sam says that he offered Elmer $1,000 for the rights of his magic lantern. Tim negotiates for $5,000 and when Sam hesitates, Tim tells Elmer that they'll take his projector on the show. Sam agrees to pay the $5,000 plus 10% of all rights and the cost of the big top. He pays them $500 in advance, and Tim sends corky to take it to Lars and get Bimbo back. As Elmer goes, he tells Sam that he's also going to invent a picture that speaks.
Written by Gadfly on Sep 11, 2017