Mister T “The Playtown Mystery” (part 2 of 5)

Mayor Cokenstein walks off, and Spike wants Woody and Jeff to join him as he goes to find Marvin Mouse and Dingy Dog (wild guess: they’re this place’s answer to Mickey and Goofy), saying they’re the funniest guys in the world. Well, if nothing else, they have to be funnier than the real Mickey Mouse just by virtue of not being him. Sorry, but without Donald, Goofy, or both, the dude is just damn boring.

Woody sarcastically remarks that it sounds like “sheer excitement”, while moving his head in such a way that the animators don’t have to animate his mouth. I’m guessing NBC cut the budget somewhere along the line.

Ms. Bisby says to no one in particular that she’s going to look at the “Futurama exhibits”. Hey great, I love Bender and Zoidberg! Oh, right, not for another 14 years. My bad. Spike asks Woody and Jeff if they want to see Marvin and Dingy. They remark that that’s kid’s stuff, which I would imagine applies to everything in this park, so I’m guessing this would be the first “shoehorn the moral in” spot.

By the way, this is pretty much the last we see of Ms. Bisby this episode, apart from one or two shots, which means no wacky driving debates between her and Mr. T. Not that I’m complaining. Believe me, I’m not complaining.

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Spike looks to Dozer and says they’ll go by themselves. No idea where Mr. T and the girls are, and to be honest, I’m not okay with that. I want to spend time with Spike about as much as… Well, about as much as anybody else would want to. Gotta say that I really can’t blame Woody and Jeff for not wanting Spike around. The little twerp must be a pain in the ass to explain on every single stop the team makes: ”No, he really idolizes Mr. T… Yes, we know it’s weird! Jesus Christ, is this day over yet? Just let us do the competition so we can go home, please!”

Cut to later. Spike walks through the park, seemingly getting larger as the shot moves on. If this was an attempt to do a zoom and pan move, I’d have to say it works. As long as the intent was to make the kids at home wonder if their cereal was spiked with hallucinogens.

Also, I’d like to make one other observation about the animation. Am I the only one who thinks Spike’s head is about two sizes too big for the rest of his body? Seriously, carrying that thing around, it’s a wonder he can stand up straight. His neck also looks a little too elongated at times, making me wonder if his mom had a one night stand with E.T.

Spike is carrying a balloon of a mouse head, and Dozer has a balloon of a dog tied to his tail. Well, bulldogs have more of a nub than anything else, so for all intents and purposes, the pooch has a balloon up his ass. Poor bastard. And Marvin Mouse looks like Chuck E. Cheese, while Dingy Dog looks like… Well, a dog.

Makes sense, though. I’m sure the thinking was that whoever owns the mascot to a chain of shitty pizza parlors geared towards birthday parties is a lot less likely to sue than one of the largest media conglomerates on the planet.

Spike suddenly notices the two mascots driving by in a small car with a house on it. It’s sort of like if someone took Benny the Cab from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and dropped a house on his ass. He points this out to Dozer, and given this is an animal that probably spends his spare time licking himself while wondering why the hell he has a Mohawk, I’m sure he really gives a shit.

Caption contributed by Ed

”Come back, I’m doing an article on Disneyland rip offs, you guys are perfect!”

Spike excitedly tries to catch up with the car, yelling for them to wait. But they speed off, ignoring him completely. Can’t say I blame them. If I was stuck inside a hot mascot suit all day, the last thing I’d want to deal with is a prepubescent white version of Mr. T running after me.

Something else is afoot, because Marvin notes in a squeaky Brooklyn accent that they need to do something or Spike will “never leave us alone”. Rather presumptuous, as this is the first time they’ve seen each other, but we’ll roll with it for now. I should also note that even though the mascots are supposed to be, well, mascots, they’re drawn and animated like your standard anthropomorphic cartoon animal. Their costumes have no seams or anything most of the time. But the mouths don’t move, which actually makes sense for once.

In spite of their apparent lack of interest, the two mascots stop the house-car. Spike says they must not have heard him which, given the amount of noise that car was making, is quite plausible. Spike wants them to autograph the balloons. Marvin says he forgot his pen, but Spike offers to go get one, if they’ll wait. Jesus, I’m glad I never got a job at Disneyland. I wouldn’t have the patience to deal with this sort of thing. As nice of a guy as I am, I’d probably scare the shit out of at least two kids a day just to vent.

Dingy Dog puts an end to this by saying they don’t have time, and he drives off. Spike is really disappointed, and we know this because he says just that. Dozer supposedly whimpers in sympathy. Or it could be annoyance that he’s stuck with this little twerp.

Marvin and Dingy watch from above, having driven to a higher vantage point. Marvin says he’s worried about Spike getting nosy and ruining their plans. Um, okay. Not sure how they got that from just one encounter, but okay. They get out and decide they need to do “the job” that day, since they won’t get another chance.

Caption contributed by Ed

Fact: Chuck E. Cheese really hates maypoles!

Marvin says they need some insurance, and goes over to some sort of randomly placed spinning display, with ribbons and animals on a wooden post. I think it’s a maypole or something, but don’t quote me on that. He… Good lord, this is dumb. He pushes the still moving display over, sending it tumbling down the hill towards Spike and Dozer. They end up getting entangled in the ribbons and dragged down an embankment (what is up with the geography here? Is this an amusement park, or a highway?).

Sorry, but anything unsteady enough to be tipped over that easily would most likely have all the dragging force of a dew drop. Not that I don’t enjoy seeing this little pinhead falling down a hill.

Spike and Dozer land on a railroad track, and wouldn’t you know it, but the train is on its way. Naturally, Spike has to exclaim, “Dozer, the train!” Because conventional wisdom of the time was that kids didn’t know what the hell a train was or what train tracks signify.

Fortunately, Mr. T and the gang are waiting for the train at the station. Cut back to Spike, who in spite of being loosely tangled up with ribbons, can’t get free. Oh, I’m anxious with suspense. Not over this, but because I’ve got a burrito in the microwave.

Spike calls for help, and from the looks of things, he could just stand up and be just fine, given how loose the ribbons are. You know, I hate to sound cruel, but the phrase “natural selection” just popped into my head. Is that wrong? Also, the train has a smiley face on it, which makes things even more macabre. It’s the little engine that could possibly mulch you into a fine paste!

Caption contributed by Ed

Right about now, Dozer must be wondering if he could just eat Spike and get away with it.

Kim appears around a corner (with her skin tone looking a lot lighter than in any other shot she appears in), and hears Spike’s cries for help. She yells, “That’s Spike!” (I’m thinking this is the reason why you shouldn’t drink and smoke while pregnant.) The others notice, and Jeff states the obvious: “He’s in trouble!” (You know, I get the feeling that Jeff’s parents decided they could do without him simply because he’s just dumb enough to be a danger to himself while doing the simplest of tasks.)

There’s a pretty massive continuity glitch here, where we next see Kim with T at the station as he says, “Let’s move!” while heading out to help. Needless to say, geographical exactitude wasn’t a high priority for Saturday morning television at the time.

Caption contributed by Ed

”I pity the fool who can’t get himself out of ribbons! Damn, you’re dumb!”

T, Kim and Robin run onto the tracks to help. Spike cries out, “We’ll never make it!” Tell me about it, kid. You and a dog are being easily subdued by ribbons. Even if you make it through this ordeal, your future is going to involve a job with your name embroidered on your shirt. Good thing this kid never wrestled the Ultimate Warrior; it would be quite embarrassing to get pinned down after being knocked senseless by the dude’s bicep tassels.

T untangles Spike and Dozer, saying, “I got you covered,” as the train bears down on them. They jump down into the water below (complete with a cheesy jumping sound effect) and wade ashore. Woody runs up shouting, “Mister T!” while Kim yells, “Spike!” in a way that makes me wonder if the actress was stifling a yawn during the recording session. They also skimped on the animation, seeing as how both Kim and Robin make the same move with their arms as they rush up to Spike.

I should also note that while the water is quite calm when they jump in, the moment that they surface, it looks like they came up in the middle of some rapids. This means that Mister T’s body mass can cause massive tidal fluctuations.

T remarks that it was a close call, and Spike adds, “Too close, even for you, Mr. T!” Kid, stop kissing up. The guy already lets you dress and act like him. For most people that would be just a little too creepy. Take what you can get and cram it.

Ed Harris

A fan of less than great cinema since childhood, Ed divides his time between writing scripts, working an actual paying job and subjecting himself willingly to some of the worst films society has produced.

Multi-Part Article: Mister T "The Playtown Mystery"

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