I'll break the bad news to you in a pretty non-subtle way. This review doesn't have
a single mention of the word 'fool' or its Mr. T-based variant 'foo'. Well, apart from
the two mentions right there. Onto the good news: thanks to the bizarre marketplace that
is eBay, I managed to get hold of two episodes of a show I'd long forgotten about. Over
the last few years, I had become
convinced that back when I was a whippersnapper (whatever the hell those are), I'd seen
a Mr. T cartoon.
Sure enough, a simple search of the internet's biggest flea market brought a double-episode tape of this series - called Mister T - to my attention. After a couple of grubby dollars had exchanged hands, the video was mine. And so, when it arrived, I couldn't help but watch it straight away, instantly ignoring any advice from my brain to do differently. What a treat! There were two episodes, but I got a headache after watching the first one. So rather than learning what happened with the Mystery on the Rocky Mountain Express, you're stuck with a review of this compelling episode.
Handily, every episode of this series is bookmarked with a short message from Mr. T. Yes, Mr. T, in the flesh. He explains that what will follow is a show about mystery, about love, about thieves who steal minds - in a using-a-strange-device-to-control-their-mind kind of way. What 'T fails to tell us is that what also follows will contain incredibly overdone accents, poor animation, plot holes the size of Mr. T's gold-chain clad wrists and old guys getting pushed into oncoming traffic.
With the mohican-one himself signing off - until the end of the show - the action begins. Here's a quick introduction to the show; inexplicably, Mr. T has hooked up with a team of young, irritating gymnasts. For this episode, the most important member of the group is a whiny girl called Kim who falls arse over tit when trying to do some kind of gym-related activity in a contest. She blames it on her father not being there to watch her. I blame it on the poor animation of her arms preventing her from using them properly. Where was Papa? Well, Mr. Nakamura seems to be spending the night standing outside a hotel. That is until two bad guys (they're wearing grey overcoats, of course) approach him and try to get him to get in a car. Obviously, Mr. Nakamura listened to his mother's advice of never talking to strangers who possess mind-control devices, and he runs for it.
Except...he doesn't do a great job of it. He hides in a trash bin for a few minutes, then runs straight in to the bad guys again. They prod him with the mind-control device (which really looks like a broken flashlight) and stick him in a car with the Chief Bad Guy. Chief Bad Guy is easily identifiable - he's wearing a mask over his face and speaks in a rather camp, quasi-Vincent Price accent.
When Mr. T and his band of crime-fighting gymnasts turn up at Mr. Nakamura's hotel, things start getting mysterious. Kim gets a fair amount of abuse hurled at her by her dad, who then slams the door in her face. Whilst she breaks down in the hall, back in the room Vincent Pr...I mean, Chief Bad Guy congratulates evil Papa on a job well done. Then FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER goes on to explain what the mind-control device is and how it works. I failed to see the point in him telling this to someone whose mind was being controlled - for fuck's sake, he even says that when the effects of the device wear off Mr. Nakamura won't remember a thing. So why tell him?
However, there is one piece of information that may prove of use. Chief Bad Guy says something about 'Project Pegasus' before walking Kim's dad out of the room (holding his hand) and into an elevator. The gymnasts give chase, leading to the show's first big confrontation. Outside the hotel, by the swimming pool, two of the annoying girls try to start a fight with the bad guy. Amusingly, he pushes a huge line of trolleys in their direction. One of the girls jumps out of the way, but the other gets dragged into the pool - oh no! She's drowning!
What do you do when someone's drowning? Why, you get Mr. T to jump from a balcony very, very high above the pool - and dive into the pool, releasing the annoying girl and resurfacing in one smooth move. I'd criticise the impossibility of this but after all we're talking about Mr. T and he is capable of almost anything.
Understandably, there's confusion all round. Another of the lifeless group of gymnasts looks into thin air with his cold, dead eyes and wonders aloud "what the hairy heck is going on here?". Sadly it's a question that won't be answered for another ten minutes. The cheap animation then takes the gang to some sort of electronics fair. We're not talking E3 or anything similar here - far from it. No fancy stalls and products on display. Instead, we get Mr. Nakamura looking out of a window and stuck with a fuzzy memory. His role in this scene is simple: insult his daughter some more, then leave.
The electronics fair is also used to introduce us to the main suspects. In the same way that Scooby Doo only ever showed us one or two possible suspects per show, this cartoon does the same. Want to know who your choices are? Someone in a wheelchair who looks about 156 years old. Just like Kim's dad, he's having some sort of mentalist attack and can't remember a thing. Or is Dr. Eloise Yarby guilty? Dr. Yarby wears the same coat as Chief Bad Guy and has the same damn voice, no matter how odd it seems on a woman. Take your pick.
Chosen? Good, well you're about to learn. The show eliminates one of the only two suspects as a couple of bad guy stooges kidnap the guy in the wheelchair. You'd think he'd be safe, being surrounded by Mr. T and his vigilante rope-jumping squad. However, the bad guys throw a headless robot (the one in the picture above) at Mr. T - thus beginning a very quick fight. Mr. T gets thrown across the room by this freak of a robot, before it gets destroyed by a single kick to its chest area. Right. One of the worst things about this cartoon - except the criminally low production values - is the huge leaps in believability it takes. Even Scooby Doo cartoons explained in simple terms how the culprits carried out their intricate plans (like having the ghost of Ben Franklin being a bank robber). Mr. T's show by contrast tells you little, and you'll understand even less.
It's at this point you realise something. Damn it. Still five minutes or so of the cartoon to go. Time for a chase scene! Despite the fact that Chief Bad Guy (Dr. Yarby.....shhh) went to great lengths to kidnap the doctor in the wheelchair, he pushes the old guy out onto a busy road - but he's saved by yet another of the seemingly endless line-up of Mr. T's gymnasts. This distraction means the bad guys get away. Frustrated, 'T decides to pay a visit to Dr. Yarby and try to find out what happened to Mr. Nakamura. With no motive to do so, Dr. Yarby then reveals to Mr. T and the audience that yes, she is Chief Bad Guy! She then uses the mind-control device on him (who'd have guessed she'd do that?).
See that picture above? That's what you look like when your mind has been sapped away by Dr. Yarby's device. This causes Mr. T to react angrily to yet more of his gymnast team when they find him. He throws some furniture around. He shouts. He throws some more furniture around and is about to hit someone with a lamp...when he drops it and proudly states that nothing is strong enough to control his mind. Remember this, because it soon leads to the best quote of the series. I'd smack these kids with a lamp anyway, but they instantly deduce that Mr. T must be doing it because his mind is being controlled. So instead of whuppin' a few people, 'T collapses.
Either I stopped paying attention, or a good twenty minutes had been cut from my copy of the cartoon, because after Mr. T recovers the gang instantly come up with the idea of going to an airfield where a space shuttle is about to be launched. Apparently, Mr. Nakamura was working on some sort of space project, and Kim knew this all along. So why not go to the sodding airfield in the first place? The gang climb onto a bus driven by Alice from The Brady Bunch (hooray! Another person to join the endless group!) and race towards the airfield.
It seems they got there just in time! Mr. Nakamura and Chief Bad Guy are inside the shuttle, about to take off. They power up the shuttle, and even get it off the ground. How does Mr. T stop it getting any higher? By using the bus to RAM A LAUNCHING SPACE SHUTTLE.
Obviously huge, overwhelming amounts of fire don't affect buses, because the shuttle is successfully stalled. Instead of trying to restart it, Chief Bad Guy tries to make a swift exit. But Mr. T has other plans. Recalling his mind-control session, Mr. T sets out to capture the culprit, warning him/her that "My brain is sane, and I'll cause you some pain". What a line. Despite having wasted several opportunities to catch the bad guy, Mr. T easily pins him down this time. The standard total face mask (available at most stores) is removed...and oh my! It's revealed that Dr. Yarby was the culprit all along. Told you that "he" was really a "she". Yes, the only character left who could be a culprit turned out to be the culprit.
And so this headache-inducing story ends, and Mr. Nakamura is returned to his normal mental state. Apparently, love is stronger than a mind-control device. Who'd have thought it? But the show's not finished yet! After fading out from the final poorly drawn scene, it closes with another Mr. T comment.
Remember to listen to Mr. T. Just don't expect to believe a single thing he says.
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