Mister T “Cape Kennedy Caper” (part 3 of 7)

T and Robin hop in their tram and the whole gang takes off on a tram chase. Over in the other tram, Cruela notes, “We’ve got company,” and attempts to speed away. Since she’s in a tram, that’s impossible, but she gives it a try anyway. Also, as the chase is happening, no employee of NASA notices anything. Because they’ve all been replaced by robots that look like Yul Brynner.

Caption contributed by Jordon

From the people who brought you Third Watch, Southland, and ER: Get ready for Tram Chase! Only on NBC.

Tram chase, tram chase, tram chase, and suddenly Mr. T has lost sight of the bad guys. But he’s headed straight for a building. He pulls the wheel hard and comes to a screeching, spin-out halt. In a tram. Alas, the bad guys have escaped.

Usually, this is the point in every episode where Mr. T appeals to a law enforcement authority for help. And, just as usually, they’re completely useless. Here, now, in the final episode, will the show break out of that mold?


Cut to some guy’s office. It’s a huge room and has a map of the earth covering an entire wall. At least, I assume it’s the earth. I don’t recognize any of the landmasses.

The guy is seated, and a female associate is standing next to him. And if you had any doubts that everyone at NASA had been replaced by pod people, they will be wiped away once you witness the following exchange.

NASA Guy: We appreciate the information.
NASA Lady: We have top security. We’ll check the shuttle out thoroughly.
NASA Guy: But it’s imperative that we launch. The shuttle is taking supplies to our astronauts in space. Their survival depends on it.
NASA Lady: [opening the door and ushering Mr. T out] Look, why don’t you continue your tour.
Mr. T.: My instincts tells me there’s a lot more to this. I just don’t know what… yet.

They’ll check the shuttle out thoroughly? That’s their plan? On a normal launch, when they don’t have evidence of people climbing all over their orbiter, I’d expect them to check the shuttle out thoroughly.

Caption contributed by Jordon

“Have you seen our Egress?”

Caption contributed by Jordon

“Seriously, get the fuck out.”

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking the NASA officials are in on it. They’re part of the caper. It’s the only way to explain this monumental level of incompetence. Brace yourselves for the mother of all spoiler alerts: there is no evidence anywhere in this episode that indicates these two have anything to do with the caper taking place at Cape Kenne-averal. Which sorta makes sense, because if they did, they could just give Cruela the launch code. She wouldn’t have to take a picture of it. Even though shuttles don’t have launch codes. And castles don’t have phones.

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The team is back on the tram, continuing their tour. Woody notices Robin’s bag is unattended, so he grabs the camera out of the bag. He yells, “Robin, can I borrow your camera?” and then starts snapping pictures like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. Oh, come on!

Robin grabs the camera away. She tells Woody that he has a lot of nerve. “Being friends,” according to Robin, “doesn’t mean invading someone’s privacy!” I wish I’d known that in college. I might have been allowed to graduate. Instead, I had to pick trash up off the highway.

Caption contributed by Jordon

Due to budget cuts in the third season, animators could no longer afford to draw Robin clothing that fit.

Oh, and the countdown is now at T-minus 78 minutes. They just passed the automatic hold to close out the crew compartment, and the astronauts are now aboard the vehicle. Of course, that’s how it works in the real world. In this universe, the shuttle could still be on its way to the pad, launch control closed for a persistent problem with carpenter ants, and the astronauts just waking up at the Kissimmee-St. Cloud Best Western.

Cut to an abandoned warehouse somewhere. Inside, the two bad guys are contemplating their next move. The male bad guy talks in that “complete sentence” sort of way that writers use to reveal plot points, saying, “We’ve got to find a camera that’ll accept our special infrared lens so we can take a picture of the launch code!” Oy.

Okay, here we go: There’s no such thing as a special infrared lens. To take infrared photographs you actually do need a red filter, but what you really need is special infrared-sensitive film. And why would the shuttle’s launch code only be visible in the infrared spectrum? Screw that, how could the shuttle’s launch code only be visible in the infrared spectrum? Also, shuttles don’t have launch codes. And nobody puts Baby in the corner.

Cruela remembers that Robin had a pretty sweet camera. She also knows that Robin is due to check out the g-force chamber, which means her valuables will be put in a locker. She really knows an awful lot about Robin’s schedule.

It’s now T-minus 60 minutes. Mr. T and several of the team members sit in some kind of g-force contraption. Robin, by the way, is not among them. She’s watching from the control room. So… why couldn’t she bring her camera in? It seems like a picture of an imaginary machine would be great in a photo essay for a mystery school about a misnamed place in a parallel universe.

Behind Robin, the male bad guy futzes with the g-force machine. And he’s wearing glasses and a fake mustache, so yeah, he’s totally undetectable. He opens up a panel and cuts some wires. Now, if I were the g-force machine designer, I would probably design it so that any cut wires would cause the whole machine to just refuse to start up. Or maybe, I’d secure the panel with a couple of screws so people couldn’t just open it up whenever they wanted to. Can you tell this thing was built with government money?

Caption contributed by Jordon

If you look really closely, you can see a little sticker that says “Intel Inside”.

Dozer, not fooled by false facial hair, follows the bad guy out. Of course, Dozer never actually saw the bad guy earlier. He never smelled his trail, either. So there’s no reason for him to recognize him now. But, let’s face it, animals can sense evil. At least, I think that bird I killed could.

Bad Guy removes the fake facial hair as he enters the locker room. And the locker room is huge. It could easily accommodate both the University of Georgia Bulldogs and the New Jersey City University Gothic Knights, with plenty of room left over for the Eastern Mennonite University Royals. Google them, I’ll wait.

The bad guy takes Robin’s camera and puts it in a sack. No, I don’t know why he has a sack with him. As he does this, Dozer attacks the guy, and begins viciously chewing at the bad guy’s jumpsuit. So the bad guy just throws Dozer in the sack as well. “We’ve worked too hard,” he says to no one, “to let a dumb mutt ruin our mission.” This is a mission? I thought it was a caper. Now I’m all confused.

Caption contributed by Jordon

“Now that I think about it, I probably shouldn’t have put the dog in the same sack as the camera.”

In case you were interested, nobody hears Dozer’s barking. Nor does anyone care that the guy’s sack seems to be struggling to get free. I have to get a job at NASA. They do nothing there. They’re probably reading this.

Fade to the shuttle, which has finally been mated with the gantry. It’s t-minus 50 minutes. The bad guys sneak over, get in an elevator, go up to the shuttle hatch, enter the shuttle, and then start taking pictures of the flight deck. The astronauts are not aboard because, I can only guess, one of them ordered Moons Over My Hammy for breakfast but it was cold, so he had to send it back.

Meanwhile, Mr. T and the others are in the g-force machine, which isn‘t responding to commands. The thing is spinning faster and faster and the NASA guy can’t get it to stop. Why would any sane individual even build a machine that could crush people into soup? There should be multiple redundant backups. And if those don’t work, you should be able to just unplug it.

Commercial. I use the time to read Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. It makes me feel better and I can continue.

The g-force machine is as out of control as Courtney Love on… any given day, really. T tells the other three riders (Jeff, Spike and Bisby) to hang tight. He climbs out of his chair and out of the little pod. He then braces his back against the contraption and plants his feet against the wall. I can’t fault T for trying to stop the machine like this, because it’s a staple of Saturday morning animation.

Caption contributed by Jordon

I believe this move is known, colloquially, as “The Flintstone”.

Besides, compared to all of the other super powers Mr. T has demonstrated over the life of this cartoon, this barely rates. Now, if he sends the shuttle into orbit by throwing it, then I’ll be impressed.

Mr. T can only slow the g-force machine down a bit. In a candid admission that he isn’t stronger than a huge centrifuge, he yells for the technician to hurry up and fix it. The technician finally opens the panel, sees the cut wires and twists them back together. The machine comes to a stop.

This technician is officially NASA’s smartest employee. Out of the four that we’ve seen.

Strangely, when the pod stops, Mr. T is back in his seat with his harness fastened. Mr. T can teleport, you see. That’s one of his powers.

The technician rushes over to offer this odd compliment: “Mr. T, you could be a shuttle mechanic!” Do shuttle mechanics usually solve problems with their feet? But Mr. T says he prefers to do his “stuff” on the ground. Um, I don’t think that was a real job offer, Mr. T.

In the locker room afterwards, Robin notices her camera is gone. She, of course, accuses Woody of stealing it. I think it’s because he’s black. But Mr. T sets her straight, saying, “Put your thinking cap back on, Robin. If Woody took your camera, he’d have it on him. Right?” Well, no. Woody might have gotten so fed up with Robin that he threw her camera away, or stashed it in one of the seven thousand other lockers in the room.

Caption contributed by Jordon

“And when I snap my fingers, you’ll wake up and not be such a bitch.”

But T is on a roll. “You’re wrong about Woody, just like you were wrong to trespass on government property.” Dude, you drove her over there. And then you trespassed on government property yourself to find her. And then you chased two people all over Kennedy Space Center in a tram.

Mr. T has no time for self-reflection, though. He surmises that they have to find out who actually did take her camera. He asks Robin for the piece of glass she found under the crawler. So, in other words, Mr. T thinks that Robin’s trespass on government property may have provided them with an important clue. Then, philosophically speaking, was it still wrong? Kant would say yes. Bentham would say, “Kant‘s an ass.”

The entire team is investigating the inch-and-a-half diameter, red glass disc. Bisby, of all people, recognizes it as a camera lens. As far as Mr. T is concerned, this proves conclusively that: the people up by the shuttle were taking pictures with a special lens, that they were unauthorized to be there, that they needed a new camera to complete their mission, that they stole Robin’s camera for that purpose, and that they have to be stopped. It also proves that there were thermite explosives in Tower Two, that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, that the shooter on the grassy knoll was Chuck Barris, and that there’s no law that says you have to pay taxes. Also, the Masons.

Mr. T and the team leave to continue their crackerjack detective careers. Spike stays behind a moment to look for Dozer. He says to Robin, “He’s gone!” Robin is angry: “First, my camera; now, Dozer!” Shorty, what is up with you and this camera? Seek help. Seriously. Robin manages to put aside her unresolved emotional attachment to her camera long enough to promise Spike they’ll find the dog. They exit. End scene.

Jordon Davis

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

State of Georgia - 1996
State of New York - 1997

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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