Mister T “Mystery of the Golden Medallion” (part 2 of 6)
Then we see Mr. T walking with a very ape-like gait, and then a shot of the whole happy team walking with him leads us to the closing shot. A silhouetted gymnast flips past the giant word “Mister”, transforms into a “T”, and the whole gang materializes in front of the letter T. And that, seriously, is about the most creative thing in the whole episode.
The expected low-key funky guitars and low-key strings lead us into the live-action intro for the episode. As I mentioned earlier, the real Mr. T appears in filmed segments to first introduce each episode, and then afterwards he comes back to explain the moral of the story, which was always helpful for the kids who ate too much paste and pencil lead and couldn’t keep up with the sophisticated plot machinations of cartoons like The Go-Bots.
Here, Mr. T appears to be standing in the center of a race track somewhere. Not a horse race track, because Mr. T don’t endorse gambling, fool, but a track and field race track. Since this was shot during the time he was concurrently filming The A-Team, his Mohawk is in more of a menacing, spikey kind of style, as opposed to the softer look from his Be Somebody video. It’s definitely Mr. T’s rugged look.
He approaches us, grabs his belt buckle, and declares, “The name is Mr. T! First name is Mister, middle name is that period, last name is T!” And you know, I think he’s totally serious. Didn’t he legally change his name to “Mr. T”? And if you’re putting a period in your name, wouldn’t you sort of have to put that in the “middle name” box on the name change form?
Which brings up another good point. The title of this series is “Mister T“, not “Mr. T” — Check the opening credits. Why the change? I’m not sure. I guess it just looks better, in terms of the logo. But leave it to these idiots to completely eliminate one of the lynchpins of Mr. T’s humor.
Anyway, Mr. That Period T points at us, using one of the few gestures in his repertoire, that of imitating the “Uncle Sam Wants YOU” Army poster. “Listen, and listen good,” he cries. “I’m talkin’ to you!” Me with the teeth? “When a new kid moves in on your block, what’s your attitude? Do you figger, what do we need him for? Well, I pity the fool that makes that mistake! You wanna know why?” Because you’re legally obligated to say that? Seriously, I think it was expressly written into his contract that he had to declaim his sympathy for unwise people at least once per episode.
But if you want to know why he pities this particular fool, “Then watch what happen [sic] in San Francisco, where a new member join [sic] our team!” I sure hope kids weren’t watching this cartoon to learn English. I mean, does anybody know what tense he’s speaking in? Mr. T is the only person I know of who can get away with describing the past, present and future all in one verb.
He says this new member will (is in the process of? already has?) “try to help solve… the Mystery of the Golden Medallions!” Although, the title card that comes up a split second later calls this episode “The Mystery of the Golden Medallion“, singular. I’m not sure who messed up, Mr. T or the guy who designed the title card, but “medallions” makes a lot more sense, as we’ll see in a minute.
But during the title card, we learn that both the cartoon and the live-action intro and outro were partially written by Steve Gerber. Yes, the exact same Steve Gerber who invented Man-Thing and Howard the Duck. But not to worry, because evidently he didn’t waste any of his wit on this script. Steve, if you’re reading this, we know you just needed a paycheck, and it’s okay. If you had been the only one participating in this series for a quick buck, it would’ve never been made in the first place.
So, we open in San Francisco. In case T’s mention of the city from ten seconds ago has already been forgotten in a paste-induced haze, we get the standard establishing shot of our current Highly Visible Landmark, the Golden Gate Bridge. Then we cut to a building with some very odd, jagged architecture.
Inside, there’s a (what else) gymnastics competition going down. The crowd goes ooh and ahh. And by that I mean that all of the voices are literally saying “Oooh!” and then “Ahhh!” They’re ooh-ing and ahh-ing at The Black Kid as he does his routine on the rings. And then the crowd noises start getting totally fake and overdone, to the point where it sounds like half the crowd is currently having an orgasm. Honestly, have you ever heard a crowd make this much noise at a gymnastics meet? Maybe these same people also like to stand directly behind pro golfers and yell, “Holy shit!“
Black Kid holds himself steady on the rings. We see sweat dripping down his face as his muscles vibrate. Cut to the judges looking on, made up mainly of guys in tuxedos [?]. Meanwhile, all the medals are laid out, waiting to placed around the necks of the victors. Unfortunately, a gloved hand reaches out and snatches them away.
Meanwhile, Black Kid finishes his routine and everyone cheers. An announcer identifies him as Woody Daniels of the “American Championship Gymnastics Team”. It seems a little presumptuous to put “Championship” in the name of your team, but what do I know? Mrs. Kravitz looks on, applauding with her eyeglasses strung around her neck.
The Asian Girl on the team talks to the White Guy on the team. His name is Jeff, hers is Kim. Kim asks Jeff what he thinks of their new team member, and Jeff says, “Woody? Ehhh, he’s okay, I guess! But who needs him?” The Redheaded Girl stands nearby. She agrees with Jeff and declares, “This team needs another gymnast like I need a third ear!” What? I guess they were going for a variation on “another hole in the head”, but a “third ear” doesn’t immediately spring to mind as something I would have no use for. I mean, it would look weird, but you can’t say it wouldn’t have its practical applications.
As they talk, for some reason, in the background there’s a very drippy, sentimental song with nothing but strings and little tinklings on the piano. It makes me wonder if Woody is dying of cancer. Mrs. Kravitz addresses the redhead as “Robin” and calls her out for being “unkind”, and says Woody is “talented”. Robin, knowing full well that she’s being a bitch, doesn’t reply and just walks off. A moment later, she appeals directly to Mr. T, asking if he thinks the new guy can “cut it”.
“Cut it?” Mr. T asks. “Like a knife through buttah!” [!!] Oh my gawd, it’s like buttah! No, really, he says that. Just then, the little kid wearing a ripped jean jacket just like Mr. T shows up, and parrots exactly what T just said, only in a faux “Mean Joe Greene” voice. Another poor white kid, trying to sound black. Interesting trivia note, this kid would eventually grow up to be Kevin Federline.
Little T confronts Woody and yells, “Here, kid! Towel off!” and throws a towel at him. Wow, he really is Mean Joe Greene! The towel inevitably covers Woody’s entire head, leading to all sorts of potential “towel head” jokes that I can’t make here. Because Allah is good, and Allah is great.
With the towel still covering his head [?], Woody goes over to have a little talk with Robin about her brother Spike, the psychopathic T-wannabe. The Wanna-T, if you will. Woody, who by the way is being voiced by the aforementioned Phil Lamarr, asks, “Is he for real?” Well, I’m wondering that, too, but out of all the people here (cough–Mr. T–cough), he’s about the last person I would be openly asking was “for real”. Mrs. Kravitz comes over and informs Woody it’s no big deal, because Spike “wants to be Mr. T when he grows up [!!].” Which, I think, is about as dumb as saying you want to become a German Shepherd or the King of England when you grow up. But if that’s not dumb enough, Mr. T offers this little epistle of wisdom:
|Mr. T: Can’t. I’m me now, gonna be me then! But the kid’s comin’ close!|
And in just a few short sentences, Mr. T completely circumvents all rules of syntax, grammar, and temporal causality. The man is truly a gift to humanity.
Anyway, the announcer gives the judges’ scores, and to no one’s surprise, Woody gets a 9.9. (Otherwise known as the average IQ of the people who made this cartoon.) Jeff is aghast that Woody won first place, beating his Aryan ass, while Mr. T tells Woody to go on with his bad self and get his gold medal. Meanwhile, there’s a shot of Robin and Jeff giving him the evil eye.
See, it’s not enough for the new black kid on the team to be just as competent as everyone else on the team, oh no. He has to be Super Negro and beat the snot out of everybody else in the entire gymnastics world. Now, it’s not so much that I loathe this particular brand of political correctness because it makes the white characters look like selfish louts (though, it does kind of do that), it’s more like this kind of simple-minded preaching completely blows whatever worthwhile message this script might have had about accepting the “new kid”. That, and it sort of makes you hate the main characters, which in the very first episode is really not a good thing.