Mister T “The Crossword Mystery” (part 2 of 3)
At the Washington Monument, Black Guy and White Girl have come up empty. And there was such a good reason to think she’d be here, too! White Girl comments, “Miss Bisby is usually so normal,” to which Black Guy responds, “Yeah, and this is so abnormal!” Yeeeeah, I think that was her point, genius.
He wonders why she didn’t tell anyone about what she was doing, which gives White Girl the opportunity to say, “Maybe we should have noticed and asked her,” in a desperate attempt to make the supposed moral of the story relevant. Exactly what were they supposed to notice, that she was having trouble with a crossword puzzle? Because (spoiler alert!) that ends up having nothing to do with this, and in fact their helping her would have just caused her to flip out sooner. Like I said, they really didn’t try very hard to have this story support the message they wanted to convey.
Mr. T calls them over, saying he thinks he saw Miss Bisby going to the Lincoln Memorial. So that whole Washington Monument thing was just a big waste, huh? At least they got some more use out of that background.
At the Lincoln Memorial, Miss Bisby stares glassy-eyed from the steps, while a guy in a phone booth reports to someone that everything’s on schedule and “Bisby, Phelps, and Reyes have arrived.” Foreshadowing! Miss Bisby hears White Girl calling her name, and since her body count has been disappointingly low so far, she pulls a conveniently hanging rope that’s holding up barrels on a scaffolding, and the scaffolding is right above some kids. Mr. T notices, and gives a really strange reading of “That scaffolding is about to go!” where he puts a big pause between “scaffolding” and “is” for no reason.
After the commercial, Black Guy and White Girl save the kids by… picking them up and moving them to the side. Well, that was exciting.
Then there’s a pathetic attempt to actually justify the cliffhanger by having them teleport to the stairs as the last barrel rolls down. White Girl just jumps over it, Donkey Kong-style, but Black Guy has to show off a little more, and he cartwheels out of the way.
The scaffolding itself is about to fall on some other idiot kid who just stands there and watches it, until Mr. T runs up and grabs it out of the air. And then the kid says, “Wow, awesome!” Because god knows you can’t trust the audience to have the reaction you want without a character spelling it out. But Mr. T ruins the moment by saying, “Give my regards to Mr. Lincoln. I’ll be seeing you.” That may be the least effort ever put into a Bond-Style One Liner.
Miss Bisby is gone again, but White Girl and Black Guy inform Mr. T that she got on the bus to the Smithsonian, along with two other people who had blank stares. Not that we saw any of this, but hey, animating people dodging barrels is expensive enough!
White Girl insists, “That wasn’t our Miss Bisby who pulled that scaffolding down!” Hey, just wait and see how long it takes you to go on a murderous rampage when no one will help you finish a crossword puzzle. Mr. T says they should get the next bus to the Smithsonian, which by now I fully believe these kids would actually need to be told.
But enough of that for now, because White Guy and Asian Girl have arrived at Montclair College. And they somehow found out that the puzzle was written by a guy named Professor Richards. Turns out he’s a psychology professor, which Asian Girl thinks is “In-ter-es-ting!”
His office is unlocked, and White Guy declares the situation warrants their going in, though I really get the feeling he’s been looking for an excuse to do some breaking and entering for a while now. The office turns out to be freaking enormous, and mostly empty space, besides a few bookshelves and a desk. Maybe if this guy didn’t blow so much of his money on breathing space, he wouldn’t have to come up with such elaborate criminal schemes.
Asian Girl finds a picture in the desk of seven people, including Miss Bisby. White Guy’s reaction: “Isn’t that a coincidence! I wonder who these two are.” Keep in mind I just said there were six other people in the picture. Despite that, and some very vague pointing at whoever he’s talking about, Asian Girl immediately identifies them as the Reyes and Phelps we heard about before, by reading their names off a sheet of paper underneath the photo. Which means White Guy could have easily read the names himself, but just didn’t want to do all that work. Please tell me he suffers some kind of horrible injury in one of these episodes. I’m serious.
It also says on the sheet that Miss Bisby graduated with high honors, and had the school record for the half mile. T Kid pipes in with “Bisby, a runner? Could’ve fooled me!” Asian Girl goes on about Miss Bisby’s interests, and when she gets to part about how she likes detective novels, White Guy is amazed, because they’re his favorite, too.
“Looks like Bisby and I had more in common than I thought!” Again, this is a desperate attempt to shoehorn the supposed moral into the story, but it rings hollow, because none of this has anything to do with what’s going on, so they’re just wasting precious time here, plain and simple. They’ve gotten so off-track, that it’s actually White Guy who brings up that they should really be trying to find her right now.
He then finds the number 5118 on the back of the picture. They somehow know to head to the file cabinet, where that number belongs to a file about a psychology experiment Miss Bisby was part of two years ago, involving a trigger word that would make them carry out “post-hypnotic commands”. Ah, so we’re going in this direction, are we? Not to mention making the classic mistake of thinking that hypnosis can make people do things they’re morally opposed to. I know it seems a little petty to expect that kind of accuracy from a silly ‘80s cartoon, but if someone like me who’s taken exactly one psychology class in his life knows that little tidbit, how hard can it be?
In the closest the episode comes to actually teaching us something, T Kid says, “Can’t you talk English?” and Asian Girl dumbs it down for the kids in the audience. And it turns out the trigger word was “jurisprudence”. Boy, it sure was nice of Professor Richards to write all this down.
While all this has been going on, we see an ominous hand at the door, and Dozer starts growling. White Guy can’t stop being the biggest jerk on the show even in the middle of solving a mystery, so he tells the dog to shut it. The last thing in the file is that Miss Bisby is supposed to meet Prof. Richards at Penn Station in New York, then kill herself. Except they use the word “destroy”, because everyone knows you can’t have kids knowing about death before they’re smart enough to stop watching stuff like this.
Prof. Richards picks this moment to introduce himself, and he’s basically the Roger Del Gado Master from Doctor Who. He has three Dobermans with him, which somehow he’s been able to bring into the building. Hey, what if he actually has the whole campus hypnotized, and our heroes have to fight everyone, Invasion of the Body Snatchers style? Nah, that’s far too cool for this show. Instead, he just says they’re too late to stop him, and in classic supervillain style, he leaves them alone with the Dobermans.
White Guy avoids one dog attack by back-flipping onto the file cabinet, but another dog catches Asian Girl’s foot as she climbs a bookcase. However, all she’s concerned about is “These are my new tennis shoes!” Women, huh?
Her shoe comes off and she climbs to the top, so nice non-peril she was almost in. Dozer intimidates the last Doberman into sitting down, and Kid T congratulates him on this, but without using his Mr. T voice and while hiding under the desk. You know, when a character’s whole running gag is that they’re a complete poser, it really gets old after a while.
One of the Dobermans is about to knock Asian Girl’s bookcase over, so she calls to White Guy to make some room on the file cabinet, and then she jumps over to him. White Guy responds by not moving at all, and even calls her “not very graceful” when she somehow sticks the landing. So she throws him to the dogs, and they tear him to shreds, and I laugh and laugh. Unfortunately, in the version playing outside my head, we just see the Doberman that pulled the bookcase down stick its head up through a pile of books, which would seem to suggest the bookcase has no back.
T Kid, using his T voice again despite still hiding under the desk, declares, “Two down and one to go!” Um, what? Yeah, the one under the bookcase looks ready to call it a day, but the other one only sat out the whole fight because Dozer growled at it! Maybe Dozer mauled it off-screen, which I wouldn’t rule out given who he spends most of his time with.
White Guy calls the last dog over, and Asian Girl says, “What aaaaaaare you doing?”, exactly like I typed that. It’s perhaps the strangest line reading yet.
White Guy replies, “Just my usual heroics,” in a voice ten times smugger than usual, and he does a midair somersault to a closet door. He opens it, which somehow causes the remaining Doberman to jump inside. Closing the door, he says, “Olé! Trying to show me up, eh, Dozer?” I swear, this kid is one of the most irritating characters I’ve ever had to recap. Flames, on the sides of my face…
Everyone goes over what we know perfectly well already, and finally they decide to head to Penn Station in New York. Yeah, don’t bother telling Mr. T and the rest of the team that you’re heading to another state.