Watching this episode, I started to wonder whether they crafted episodes like this, where literally fifteen minutes are spent with the civilians in South America who are about to be part of the crisis, to shoot chunks of it on one stage while the main character puppets are busy on another. The only entertaining thing that happened in those fifteen minutes was realizing that Matt Zimmerman, who did the voice of Alan Tracy, dubbed one of these one-off puppets and didn’t disguise his voice at all.
The other big thing that happens in these first fifteen minutes is that we meet Sancho and his wife, who are deeply offensive caricatures, even accepting that they’re from an era where “si, señor” yokels were common, and who run a nasty, filthy restaurant with a hideously unclean kitchen infested with rats. Their food poisons the crew of the Crablogger, and they pass out after the big machine sets off on its preprogrammed course, so nobody can stop it or shut down its reactor or clear out all the fuel that will destroy a dam in its path, and so on.
It’s hideously overcomplicated and completely lacking in internal logic, and Lady Penelope has to spend forever finding the guy outside of London who programmed the Crablogger’s reactor and get him to dictate the shutdown sequence into a recorder while keeping her face hidden because nobody in South America has a telephone and can ask the guy for help, and he didn’t design the machine with an “emergency stop” button.
This one is so stupid that Marie and I just gave up and turned to Facebook for entertainment, which has never happened before. Daniel was completely thrilled, though, and just about self-combusted with excitement when the Crablogger threatened to topple over a narrow ridge, because that was the most amazing thing he’d ever seen, and that’s what’s important. We mock and roll our eyes because we’re boring old grown-ups, but he got to watch the Crablogger smash its way through a village, toppling walls and buildings, and had a much better time than we did.