Having a Wailord of a Time (Japanese: はじめてのポケモンで大パニック！！The Great First Pokémon Panic!!) is the 34th episode of the Advanced Generation series, and the 308th episode of the Pokémon anime. It was first broadcast in Japan on July 17, 2003 and in the United States on May 22, 2004.
May is eagerly preparing her Beautifly for the Pokémon Contest while Max watches her Torchic. He is debating which Pokémon he will begin with when he comes of age. May discovers a beached Wailord and contacts Nurse Joy at the Pokémon Center. Joy and Brock rush to help while Ash and Max are left to take care of the Pokémon Center.
Team Rocket decides to try to steal the Wailord. At the Pokémon Center, Ash, Max and all the Pokémon are having a difficult time capturing a particularly troublesome Torchic. The Torchic evolves into a Combusken, which is an even bigger headache, especially because a new Trainer is coming to choose between a Torchic, Mudkip, or Treecko. Team Rocket tries to steal Wailord, but the newly evolved Combusken foils their plans and sends them blasting off again. The new Trainer chooses Mudkip and Combusken is invited to stay and guard the Pokémon Center.
The next Pokémon Contest is rapidly approaching, and May is training hard for it. She thinks about how she cannot wait to battle Drew, and runs off to train with her Beautifly, leaving her Torchic with the others. Torchic feels left out and upset as it watches its Trainer running off. Ash, Brock, Max and all their Pokémon are eating when Max jumps up suddenly. He is annoyed that May keeps leaving Torchic alone; it seems like she does not care about Torchic anymore, only Beautifly. Ash explains that it is OK, because Torchic will always be special to May as it was her first Pokémon. Max wants to know what Brock's first Pokémon was and Brock remembers back to his tenth birthday when he woke up and found an Onix leaning into his room with a red ribbon around its neck. He and his father Flint sat on Onix's head and watched the sunrise. Max imagines the Pokémon he will have when he becomes a Pokémon Trainer, thinking that his father could give him anything, even a Slakoth. In the imagination bubble, Slakoth falls on top of Max and squashes him.
Nurse Joy comes by on her way to do her rounds of the Pokémon, and Brock grabs her and insists on coming with her. Joy suggests that they all come along to check on the Pokémon. She sees Mudkip, Torchic and Treecko all eating, and is surprised at their great condition, telling the gang that there is a new Trainer coming to the Pokémon Center to choose a Starter Pokémon. The gang follow Joy to another room, where Max is allowed to release the Pokémon from their Poké Balls. The Torchic is in a fighting mood; the Mudkip bursts into tears and is comforted by Brock's Mudkip, while the Treecko clasps its hands together and simpers (apparently a female, due to its interest in Ash's Treecko and the way it holds a flower in its mouth as compared to Ash's Treecko holding a twig). Max gets very excited when saying "Treecko, I choose you!" because it is something he always wanted to say. A video call from a rather panicked May comes in. She explains that there is a Wailord beached where she is training, and Nurse Joy runs off to help it, telling the kids to look after the three starters. She instructs them not to let them go outside because they are not used to it yet. Brock follows her. Meanwhile, Team Rocket are standing outside the window and hear about the Wailord. They then decide they want to catch it.
The Pokémon Center's Torchic runs off towards the outside. It seems rather strong; every time one of Ash's or Brock's Pokémon (or May's Torchic) tries to stop it, it attacks them and keeps going, even Corphish. Corphish tries to attack it but Ash stops it from hurting the smaller Pokémon. Pikachu stops it momentarily with its lightning cheeks, but it pulls a tears-in-its-eyes trick and Pikachu relaxes and lets down its guard, allowing the PC Torchic to run by again. It makes it outside and Corphish chases it, attacking it to make it stop. Accidentally, the Torchic evolves into a Combusken. Ash and Max are less than amused and panic. Ash and Max decide that the only thing to do is to substitute May's Torchic for the evolved one, and try to stop the Trainer from choosing it. They flinch as they imagine what May would do if she caught them, so they just have to keep her away. It turns out that the Wailord will be fine, and it just needs to rest a bit. May and Joy return to the Pokémon Center. May sits down and Max brings her a cup of tea, asking her if she needs anything else. She starts to get a bit suspicious and asks where her Torchic is. Max freaks slightly and says it is outside. She heads for the door to go find it. Max tries to stop her and she gets really suspicious.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the same door, Stephanie, the young Trainer, is inspecting the Starter Pokémon with her father. She is very indecisive and cannot choose between them. She stops in front of Torchic and says that she chooses it, but Ash says "Forget it!" She does not quite hear him and Ash quickly covers up by saying that Torchic is a bad choice, because it is smelly, noisy, disobedient etc. There is a banging noise and Nurse Joy does not know what it is, but Ash says it is just the wind. May comes into the room, and her Torchic sees her and runs to her. She hugs it and demands to know what is going on. This is when Combusken, who Ash and Max hid in a cupboard, bursts out. Nurse Joy is surprised at this and Ash and Max explain what happened. They look out the window and see Wailord floating in the sky, high above them, in a sling with the Team Rocket "R" on them. They run outside and saw Team Rocket, in their balloon, reciting their motto. Then, Combusken jumps up and attacks the balloon. The ropes holding the Wailord are cut and it falls into the sea. Pikachu attacks Team Rocket and they blast off before falling down again. Nurse Joy tells Stephanie that Combusken probably is not the best choice for a beginner, so she chooses Mudkip. Treecko gets upset and starts to cry. Stephanie's father looks at Treecko and gets upset too, and asks if it is too late for him to have Treecko and become a Trainer. The others assure him that it is fine, so Mudkip and Treecko prepare for a new life on the road with their new Trainers. Meanwhile, Nurse Joy decides to keep Combusken as a guard Pokémon at the Pokémon Center, and Max looks forward to the day when he will get his first Pokémon.
The English dub is based on the phrase "Having a whale of a time".
The Hoennstarter Pokémon featured in this episode seemed to have the opposite personalities of the main characters' Hoenn starters. The Torchic is tough and cocky; the Treecko tends to put a flower in its mouth because, unlike the Treecko that Ash owned, that Treecko was a female; and the Mudkip was cowardly.
When Ash and Max think about what will happen if they swap May's Torchic for the Combusken, Max says, "Congratulations, May! Your Torchic evolved into Combusken!" This is a reference to the message displayed when a Pokémon evolves in the games.