Mister T “Mystery of the Golden Medallion” (part 6 of 6)
Meanwhile, T puts Gordon Jump down and jerks his thumb in the direction of some random piece of machinery. T asks, “You sentimental about that machine?” Gordon apparently has no emotional attachment to it, whatever it is, so T starts pushing on it, then calls out to the dog to come help him push it [!]. And all throughout this episode, T has called the dog “Dog”, so I guess that’s the animal’s name. Score another point for creativity! Together, the combined might of T and Dog knocks the machine flat on the ground. So, I guess the dog has super-speed and super-strength. That’s logical. But I must say, I was surprised that this version of Mr. T couldn’t pick up the damn thing and toss it across the room all by himself.
Anyway, the Goon Van somehow crashes directly into the machine. Why the machine had to be knocked on its side to accomplish this remains a mystery. I mean, the van plowed into it headfirst, so it’s not like they wouldn’t have hit it if it had been upright.
And then the van actually explodes [!] in a big cloud of smoke, with doors flying off, tires bouncing away, and so forth. Astonishingly, however, the goon in the driver’s seat is uninjured [!] and just rubs his head. In yet another clip from the opening montage, T comes along and grabs him by the tie. Yeah, don’t worry about him having any possible spinal injuries or anything like that. T lifts the goon in the air and demands that he talk. Unfortunately, there’s no Mr. T ventriloquism this time around.
The goon reveals Spike is at “headquarters” which is down at Fisherman’s Wharf. Robin keenly notes that they were just there. You and your photographic memories, Robin! T points at Gordon Jump and yells, “You! Call the cops! They got some garbage to pick up!” T points at the kids. “You! Back to the bus!” Alright, so I’ll admit that T begins most of his sentences with “You!” as he points at you. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I mean, at least it’s clear who he’s talking to. And I like how Gordon Jump actually flinches [!] when Mr. T points in his direction. Is Mr. T’s finger that intimidating? Or does Gordon have some issues? And finally, I really love the way Mr. T views the police as his own personal clean-up detail, whose sole purpose is to pick up criminals once he’s all done beating the shit out of them.
In the next scene, Mr. T and the gang go to an arcade. We know it’s an arcade because there’s a big sign reading “Arcade!” above the door. For some reason, T has to make a big scene out of running inside, yelling, “Let us pass! Emergency! Comin’ through!” even though the place is practically deserted. They hurry upstairs as we get the following “background” dialogue, obviously provided by the same people who do the voices of the main characters: “What’s wrong?” “What’s going on?” “Who’s that?” “What’s going on here?” Gang, you forgot to add “Ooh.” And “Ahh.”
Mr. T kicks in a random door somewhere while, I swear, the poster from Close Encounters of the Third Kind hangs behind him. What the hell? Anyway, once inside, they all start freaking out and thinking Spike is dead for whatever reason, until they hear him struggling. It turns out he’s bound and gagged and being held inside of an arcade game [!]. And we only find this out when Dog heads over and chews a hole in the game. Yes, you read that right. The dog chews a hole in a freakin’ arcade game.
Anyway, Spike is reunited with his bitchy sister. In a very uncomfortable moment, a seductive sax is heard as Robin wraps her whole body around Spike. Eww. “Hey!” Spike yells in his Mr. T voice. “Cut me some slack!” I have no idea what he means by that. Maybe he just wants Robin to go slack. I mean, she does seem to be wrapping herself tightly around just about anybody these days. Jeff declares, “I liked him better with the gag in his mouth!” And I wouldn’t say that too loudly either, Jeff.
Next, the Big Bus rolls on. Now that Spike’s safe, it’s time for a major info-dump about the medallions. They basically recap all the stuff we already know about the microfilm accidentally getting shipped to a customer and the goons stealing it back. Spike, however, overheard where they were taking the film. “Alcatraz Island [We’re in San Francisco, so where else, right?] at midnight!” Great, so what exactly were the goons’ plans, insofar as stuffing Spike in an arcade game? Were they leaving him to, I guess, starve to death in there? It seems kind of odd that they would just leave him alive, after he got a good look at them and overheard all their plans. (Ignoring for the moment that we still don’t know why they kidnapped him in the first place.) But what I find really odd is how chipper Spike is here. I guess being a hostage wasn’t too much of an ordeal for him, after all. The Stockholm Syndrome does have its advantages.
Anyway, down at Alcatraz, a goon in a standard olive green jacket and fedora stands on a pier. A guy with a briefcase and a gray streak in his hair like Dr. Strange appears out of nowhere and says in a really lousy “cultured” accent, “May I have the microfilm, please?” [!!] And while you’re at it, do you have any Grey Poupon?
The goon, who has a face like Solomon Grundy, demands the “payoff” first. Good luck there. I’ve been waiting for a payoff for what feels like three hours. Suddenly, we hear Mr. T ask, “Payoff you want? Payoff you get!” Cut to T standing on the roof of a cell block, silhouetted by the moon, as the kids all rappel [!!] down the side of the building. Are they gymnasts? Or Navy Seals? Mr. T rappels down, too. Instead of just shooting them all, Solomon Grundy Goon yells, “Back to the boat!”
They’re foiled by Jeff and Robin, who do somersaults right into them, and in another quality moment in the history of animation, Dr. Strange totally disappears for several frames when they do this. Actually, watching this part frame by frame, it looks like they take out the goons by, umm… slamming their asses against the goons’ asses. So, uh, what would you call that? An ass-butting? The subdued goons slide on their stomachs to the end of the pier, where Solomon Grundy tosses the microfilm to a couple of guys on a boat and tells them to “Beat it!” And by the way, the goon who catches the microfilm looks exactly like the goon that was driving the van that exploded. So much for the cops coming to pick up their garbage, I guess. As the boat speeds away, T and the kids jump from the pier onto the boat.
In a total “this episode needs to end now” moment, three goons rush at Mr. T, and as soon as they hit him, they all bounce off his chest and fall to the ground [!!], out cold. Mr. T yells, “Tie up those turkeys!” and hurries off. To tie them up, Woody and Kim come along with a big fishing net which they place over the goons. Wonderful. That oughta hold them!
T finally catches up to the goon with the microfilm, but the goon picks up a harpoon gun [!] and shoots it at T. Unfortunately for the goon, T catches the harpoon in mid air [!!] and breaks it in half. Wow, Mr. T is like a bouncer, a frogman, and a ninja all rolled into one. Mr. T lunges at the goon, and the impact of this sends the microfilm flying out of the goon’s hand and into the water. Good going, Mr. T.
Kim delivers the obligatory “I must shout out exactly what is happening!” speech before diving in after it. She’s overjoyed to get the microfilm when, naturally, two white shark fins come cutting through the water. The sharks swim right for Kim, so T dives in. And for another great example of the animators’ abilities, they’ve drawn the two sharks to make it look as though they’re swimming about two or three inches apart. It’s like they don’t have bodies, just fins.
Oh, but the greatest moment is just about to come. This is the part that was in the opening montage, that I didn’t want to tell you about. You see, a shark comes right at Mr. T, so he punches the shark. Oh. My. God. That was so amazing that my head might just burst, and I wouldn’t even care. Other shows jump the shark, Mr. T coldcocks it! And even better than that? Once he punches it, the shark goes flying through the air. Oh man. Mr. T is now cooler than Jesus. Mr. T swims over to Kim, and literally picks up her up and throws her back onto the boat.
Then Shark #2 comes swimming up. Oh, sharks, do you not learn? And then it gets even more incredible and unbelievable as Mr. T does his patented Spin A Croc Over My Head maneuver, only this time with a shark in place of the croc. He lets go and the shark goes flying. I mean, what more could you possibly want on a Saturday morning than this? I’ll tell you: Nothing. This sequence, which lasted all of about twenty seconds, entirely justifies the crappiness of the rest of the episode. Hell, the rest of the series. Hell, the rest of network TV on at the time. Anyway, now that Mr. T is all done beating the crap out of sharks—sharks!—he swims back to the boat.
Next, the gang is cruising along in a speedboat. We hear Kim ask T if he was afraid of the sharks, as we pan across all the goons now tied up with rope. As usual, Mr. T takes the opportunity to inject more of his personal manufactured mythos when he says, “Used to handle rougher customers in my old neighborhood!”
Then he immediately adds, “Course I was scared! A hero’s not somebody that doesn’t get scared! A hero is somebody who licks [?] being scared!” Kim examines the microfilm. “These are computer programs!” Yes, of course. Because you can just look at a piece of film or tape and see the computer program stored on it. I have to admit, though, this is a storage medium I’m unfamiliar with. Tapes, sure. Disks, sure. But microfilm?
Kim adds, “My dad writes these things!” Well, yeah, of course, right? You know what I’m getting at. Robin snaps her fingers. “The arcade! I bet they’re video game programs!” And then she immediately goes back to smiling her pretty little smile, which is probably for the best.
Jeff offers, “Those can be worth millions!”
“Obviously,” Woody says, “The alleged perpetrators will be indicted on several counts of industrial piracy!” You see, we’re once again exploring Woody’s key trait of wanting to be a lawyer, almost as if this wouldn’t fly completely over the head of any kid watching this.
Sure enough, Spike spins around and growls, “Say whaaaaat?”
Jeff finally puts it down for the layman. “They were stealing programs from one game company to sell to another!” Robin laughs that this is their “going out of business sale” [??] and that they’re going “straight to jail” after this.
Then she turns to Woody, thanking him for how he “[came] up with those addresses” that helped them rescue Spike. Does she mean that piece of paper he found on the ground? Jeff welcomes Woody to the team, while Mr. T smiles, looks on, and does a weird blinky-nod. Is it really that difficult to animate someone nodding? Because this cartoon makes it seem like the hardest thing in the world. Anyway, in an appropriately clichéd ending, they all give each other a big group high-five.
Now it’s back to the live-action footage out at the track, as Mr. T sums it all up for us. He’s got a gym bag in his hand, so I guess he used the downtime between segments to work out.
“Get the picture?” he says. “Friends you already got, might not be all the friends you’ll ever need! And when you keep new people out, just because they’re new to you, you only cheating yourself! That’s what Robin, Jeff, and Kim found out!”
Mr. T once again strikes his Uncle Sam pose. “So don’t you ever… write nobody off just because he’s the new kid on the block! You never know what you might be missin’ ’til you get to know them [sic]! Take it from me, Mr. T!” You know, if anybody else delivered a speech with this much barely contained rage, kids would be terrified. But somehow, Mr. T manages to be both menacing and completely hilarious all at the same time. Kind of like that crazy gym teacher who was always threatening to paddle you, even though you knew he would have gotten so fired if he so much as laid a hand on you. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe Mr. T was my gym teacher. I better go check on that.
So anyhow, there you have it, a bold pilot that would launch several seasons of animated adventures for Mr. T. This episode was full of some of the most bizarre plotting I’ve ever seen (Guys smashing medallions with hammers to get microfilm for video games? What were they smoking?), but still pretty bland compared to the madness that was about to come.
I’ll next be examining an even wackier episode in the coming weeks titled “Mystery of the Mind Thieves”. And with a title like that, how could it be anything besides the greatest thing ever?