Mister T “Cape Kennedy Caper” (part 2 of 7)

The team is now wandering around the grounds of the space center unescorted. With their dog. Because that happens. A conspicuous sign reads, “No Infrared Cameras Allowed.” Okay, sign, whatever you say. We wouldn’t want anyone to get photographic evidence that the shuttle is hot.

There’s some lovely padding here as the camera pans around the space center, in what I assume is a faithful reproduction of a couple of postcards you can get in the space center gift shop. And the music in the background sounds suspiciously like the love theme from The Producers. And just like that, we are another 20 seconds closer to the end of this series.

Then the shuttle is shown on the crawler-transporter, on its way to the launch pad. With less than three hours to launch. Hey, you ask, is that in any way accurate? No, son, it isn’t. In reality, the shuttle is brought out to the launch pad as much as a month before liftoff. The thing needs at least three days on the pad to fully prepare for launch. I expect that most of that time is spent cloning Sam Rockwell.

Caption contributed by Jordon

It’s been a long road, gettin’ from there to here…

Over in some sort of tour-bus-tram-thing, Robin declares, “Wow, with a picture of the shuttle, I’ll be shooting for the highest grade in my photo essay of Cape Kennedy!” First of all, you’re at Cape Canaveral. Second, I can’t really imagine a photo essay of a space center getting even a passing grade, let alone the highest, without a picture of a damn spaceship.

Robin asks Mr. T to pull the tram over so she can get her shot. Yeah, Mr. T is driving. Bisby is sitting in the back not doing a blessed thing, thus eliminating the only purpose she has for being on this team. T lets Robin off the tram, but tells her to hurry so they can get to the g-force simulator before launch. Am I missing something here? What part of being crushed against your chair is fun?

Robin runs up under the crawler to get a picture. She realizes that from this angle, there’s not much to see. So she grabs hold of a ladder and climbs up onto the crawler. Amazingly, she notices a sign that says, “Authorized Personnel Only”. Well, I should hope so. She shrugs and keeps climbing, rationalizing this with, “Oh, well. One little photo won’t hurt anyone.”

Caption contributed by Jordon

Remember, the moral of this story is, “Don’t go through other people’s bags.”

At this point, Robin sees two people on a set of stairs leading up to the shuttle’s crew compartment. Worried she’ll get in trouble if they see her, she hops off the ladder, disappointed. Quick question: Are there stairs leading up to the top of the shuttle when it’s on the crawler? No, there are not. The whole purpose of the slow crawl is to keep the stack as steady as possible. Having people run up and down stairs would tend to make that a bit harder.

The announcer tells us that it’s T-minus two hours, 10 minutes to launch. Good for NASA. They’re counting in the right direction, at least. They haven’t given themselves much time to mate the stack to the gantry, inspect the rockets for any damage from the move, fuel the main tank, fill the sound suppression well, load the astronauts, do preflight checks, evacuate all personnel back to the 5 km zone, or verify the weather, but that’s just the way NASA rolls. That’s why there’s a shuttle launch every forty minutes.

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Back in the tram, Mr. T is getting angry. The sun is setting and Robin isn’t back yet. He tells everyone to stay put. He runs off towards the crawler, finding the exact same ladder Robin climbed. Somehow—let’s call it magic—he doesn’t run into Robin on the way there. He spots the same two people up on the stairs and asks, rhetorically, “What are those two doing up there?” How would T even know that they aren’t supposed to be there?

Also, even though the sun was setting when T was in the tram, after this scene it’s full daylight again. And it will remain daylight for the rest of the episode. How lazy do you have to be to have these kinds of continuity issues in a cartoon?

The camera finally shows us the bad guys. One is a rather severe-looking thin woman, kind of like Cruela de Vil without the money. The other is a red-haired guy with a camera. He points the camera into one of the shuttle’s forward windows. Cruela says, “Hurry up. We don’t have all day. We need to get a shot of the launch code.” I’m thinking that this line is mostly for our benefit. Her accomplice must know that they don’t have all day. And since he’s the one with the camera, he must have some inkling that he’s supposed to be taking a picture of the launch code.

Caption contributed by Jordon

Ever since Stu and Maryellen started scrapbooking, they’ve never been closer.

Quick question: How do you take a picture of a launch code? Isn’t it something the shuttle commander would just punch in manually at some point, and probably not while the shuttle is still on the crawler? Oh, wait, shuttles don’t have launch codes. And I’m not wearing pantyhose.

Right at this moment, there’s some kind of… hell, I don’t know. It’s like an earthquake, or a disruption in space-time, or something. Everything starts shaking for no reason. The guy loses his balance and drops the camera. Incidentally, if anything like that ever happened to the actual shuttle, the whole thing would just topple over. Then you’d basically have a very expensive, very broken, 1:1 scale model of a spaceship where your orbiter used to be.

The vaguely bad guys watch the crawler’s treads demolish their camera. Then they catch sight of Mr. T, and the two of them bolt.

Back on the ground, Robin finds herself caught near the crawler treads. She quickly cartwheels out of danger. And I have to admit, that was the world’s most necessary gymnastic move. Because when that crawler is coming at you at its top speed of one mile an hour, a cartwheel is the only thing separating you from death. There’s no way that an Ambien-induced sleepwalk is twice as fast as the crawler.

Caption contributed by Jordon

Her legs too long to be of any use, Robin learns to make do by walking on her hands.

Robin’s near-death experience teaches me an important lesson, though. And it’ll be applicable throughout the episode: No one works for NASA.

See, you’d expect Robin to have been observed by, say, at least one of the two drivers of the crawler. Or, if not by them, by the 40 or 50 engineers and technicians that usually walk and drive next to the shuttle on its five hour ride. Or, if not by them, by anybody at launch control who cares to look out a window. Or, if not by them, by anybody at Johnson Space Center who bothers to watch the live video feed.

But since all of this nonsense went unnoticed, I’m guessing that the whole place is just running on autopilot. Maybe the computers became sentient and killed everybody useful. That would explain why Spike is still alive.

After the crawler has moved on, Robin notices the smashed camera. It’s completely destroyed, except for one perfectly preserved red lens. Meaning that a 2,000 pound shoe of a 5 million pound vehicle crushed a camera, and the lens survived. No wonder Woody wanted to borrow it.

Caption contributed by Jordon

“A red filter! Finally, I’ll be able to read the secret message on the back of my Frosted Flakes!”

Mr. T catches up to Robin and gives her a chewing out that is just as insane as you‘d hope. “Explain what you were doing in an unauthorized area.” She was doing the same thing as you, Mr. T: being a jackass. T stops lecturing Robin long enough to observe that “something fishy’s going on.”

He’s referring to the bad guys, who are currently running at full speed towards a second tram. That’s the good thing about parking next to something that only moves one mile an hour. Chances are, when you’re done climbing around on it, you’ll still be pretty close to where you parked your car.

Mr. T and Robin start running toward their tram. “Who are they?” Robin asks.

“I aim to find out,” T responds ominously. I still don’t know why T would even suspect that they’re up to no good. At least the bad guys are in official-looking jump suits, whereas Mr. T looks like the illegitimate offspring of an Apache Indian and an Apache helicopter.

Jordon Davis

B.A. Political Science, SUNY Albany - 1991
Master of Public Administration, University of Georgia - 1993
Juris Doctorate, Emory University - 1996

Admitted:
State of Georgia - 1996
State of New York - 1997

Winner:
Fields Medal (with Laurent Lafforgue and Vladimir Voevodsky) - 1998

Follow Jordon at @LossLeader on Twitter.

Multi-Part Article: Mister T "Cape Kennedy Caper"

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