Mister T “Cape Kennedy Caper” (part 7 of 7)
The next thing we see are Jeff, Woody, Kim, and the dog running through a very large hallway with computers along the walls. The announcer tells us it’s t-minus five minutes. Woody stops at some kind of locker and takes out…
Forget it. You’re on your own. Find the episode online and watch it yourself. I have not come this far in my life in order to recap the images I’m seeing. I just found out about Malachim; there’s so much good I could be doing.
Oh, alright. He takes out a jet pack. Are you happy? They all strap on jet packs.
About five seconds after his last announcement, the countdown guy declares it’s now t-minus four minutes “and counting.” A quick pan shows that the team, now wearing jet packs, are maybe a hundred yards from the shuttle. I take this as good news. Anyone within a mile of the shuttle who’s not wearing a silver fire suit is going to die.
The elevator on the gantry is going up. It’s T-minus three minutes. At the top, Mr. T rushes across the bridge. He grabs the handles on the space shuttle hatch… and rips the entire thing right off. He just rips it off. That’s gotta set at least a couple lights on somebody’s panel blinking.
Robin strolls out of the shuttle, fairly nonchalantly. She pats Mr. T on the arm and assures him, “You don’t know how glad I am to see you.” Mr. T, still all business, tells her, “We’re not home free yet.” They make a run for the elevator.
It’s t-minus 20 seconds.
Okay, I realize that before the Challenger disaster NASA had “Go Fever”. But this is like “Go Malaria”. It’s “Go Bacterial Endocarditis”. What the hell is happening inside launch control?
Booster: Go, Flight.
Fido: We’re go, Flight.
Gantry: Uh, we are a no-go, Flight. There are people on the gantry.
Control: Go, Flight.
Gantry: Flight, did you copy? There are people on the gantry.
Procedures: Go, Flight.
Gantry: Jesus Christ, stop the launch! Stop the launch! There are people on the gantry!
Orbiter: Go, Flight.
Gantry: How can you say that? There‘s no door on the shuttle! The guy just pulled the frakking door off the shuttle! You can see him right out the window!
Gantry: You are about to kill a teenage girl!
INCO: Go, Flight.
Gantry: Serrano’s got the disks! Serrano’s got the disks!
They cut to the interior of launch control. It’s faithfully rendered, in that they all sit in front of a huge window looking directly out onto the shuttle. It’s not faithfully rendered, in that it’s shown to be about eleven feet from the launch pad. The room is also filled with men and women huddled over computers. So that’s where everybody went. They’re all playing the beta version of Leisure Suit Larry.
Finally, some guy sitting somewhere in the room notices, “There’s something wrong. We have a leak in the steam compression.” It makes no sense, but I’ll take it. At least NASA is keeping some sort of track of something having to do with their spaceship.
At that moment, Kim, Jeff, Woody, and the dog all fly in front of the big picture window. Dozer, the dog, is not only wearing a jet pack, he’s operating it. Everyone is gesturing wildly.
A random NASA guy translates, “They’re signaling, ‘time out.’” Does it really matter what they’re signaling? They could be calling unsportsmanlike conduct after the play. They could be doing the Macarena. The point is, they’re doing it as they hover outside your window 20 seconds before liftoff. Stop the countdown at least long enough to shoot them. Start with Jeff.
Spike and Bisby now burst into launch control. Because that’s an easy building to get into, I guess. “Stop the launch,” Spike growls. It‘s t-minus ten seconds. “Spies are going to blow up the shuttle,” Bisby adds. This would seem to be a good enough reason to stop any launch, yet nothing happens.
Spike, sensing that he’s really got to bring his A game, continues, “And my sister is stuffed into the hatch right now!” Bisby grabs this ball and runs with it: “But Mr. T’s getting her out, and…”
Finally… finally… some NASA guy in short sleeves and a tie yells, “Stop!”
…eight, seven, six, five…
Some other NASA guy wearing a headset with a microphone speaks into another, bigger microphone. “All systems to shut down. Repeat, all systems, stop.”
Klaxons sound. The shuttle’s engines begin to rumble. The earth shakes. The shuttle’s engines fire…
…and flare out. Everything stops. The day is saved.
Wait a minute, the day is saved? Then what was the whole thing about using the camera to get the launch code? A launch code, one would imagine, forces the shuttle to launch even if NASA doesn’t want it to. And the bad guys’ “employers” have the launch code. So, how did NASA overcome that?
Actually, it’s all explained by what they teach at the Mr. T School of Dramatic Tension: 1) ignore all rules at work anywhere in the universe; 2) set up new rules; and 3) ignore those, too. It’s a beautiful system usually reserved for NeverEnding Story sequels and grass-roots political organizers.
Some unspecified amount of time later, Mr. T and the team sit in the viewing stand watching the shuttle. And the viewing stand, just like launch control, is right next to the launch pad. It’s a good thing, too. I’ve always wanted to see a viewing stand melt.
This is the final scene. Just like when Carter invited Rachel Green back into the ER, this is the way the producers want you to remember these characters. Jeff remarks, “This time the launch is a go for sure!” And that’s the last stupid, useless thing we ever hear from Jeff.
In the background, Cruela and Chad are being loaded into an FBI van. This launch is taking place on the same day? I guess having the crew hatch ripped off its hinges is one of those things they plan for at NASA. Extra shuttle hatches—that’s probably what was in most of those boxes in the warehouse.
Mr. T finds time for some constructive criticism. “You should never have gone after them alone, Robin.” She responds, “I know, Mr. T. I’m sorry.” So, lesson learned: Always ask for help. What do you mean that’s not today’s lesson? Camera? What camera?
Woody leans down and says, “Gee, we’re really glad you’re okay. I’ll never take your camera without asking again. Please accept my apology. I shouldn’t have taken your camera without asking.” This episode doesn’t have viewers, so much as it has survivors.
Some random guy in the stands tells Mr. T, “If it wasn’t for you, they would have blown up the shuttle!” I’m still not sure how they would have done that, or how NASA is avoiding it with this launch. But Mr. T is happy. In fact, he’s downright bashful. “Yeah,” he agrees, “it turned out okay.” The man is as humble as he is smart.
Woody is helping Robin with her camera. “Teamwork,” Mr. T concludes, “That’s what I like to see.”
The shuttle blasts off. “Awesome,” Robin sighs. And animated Mr. T agrees. “You said it, kid.” Characters who didn’t get a last line: Kim and Spike. Come to think of it, Kim hasn’t had a line since she yelled “Scatter tactic!” back when the acid spilled. And she was my favorite character, insofar as she was the one I wanted to shoot with a sniper rifle the least.
The camera comes back up on the live action Mr. T lecturing the little match girl. It turns out the bag she was looking through was his. We know because some PA has spray-painted “Mr. T” on the side of the bag. The paint still looks wet.
“So, you see,” T blithers, “Privacy is really important. The bottom line is: We all have things that is very important to us that we don’t want other people to touch. How would you feel if someone went through your stuff? You wouldn’t like it, would you?” The urchin shakes her head no. Something tells me that she doesn’t really have any stuff. Maybe a teddy bear with tire marks and one eye.
“So,” T finishes, “Respect other people’s property and they’ll respect yours. Got it?” He looks at the camera for his final words of the series, “And that’s a promise from me, Mr. T.” Fade out forever.
And that’s exactly how amazing Mr. T is. He can personally guarantee how other people are going to behave. If you remember nothing else from this period in television history, remember that.
So, go ahead, park your Jag on 134th Street. Leave the keys in it. As you walk away, just be sure to tell the guys on the corner, “I respect your baggy jeans and baseball caps perched sideways over your do-rags. I respect the long chains from your belt loops to your wallets. I respect the one dollar cigar that five of you are sharing. And I respect your shirtless, naked chests.”
I’m sure nothing can possibly go wrong.