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It Takes A Chimp

Episode Synopsis

Originally Aired November 15, 1986

~"What do I want with weeds when I have the most beautiful flower in the garden right here." - Alex to Tillie~

    How much is that elephant in the window?

    Alex Jagger choked at the $400 price tag.  Maybe for a real, live elephant, but who in heaven's name would be foolish enough to pay that much for a toy elephant bank?!  To the 'fool' in question, however, $400 for such a gem was more than reasonable.  For Simon McKay knew enough about the elephant in the window to realize what a find it truly was.  It wasn't just any toy elephant bank, mind you.  It was an original Bradbury elephant!  He hurried into the store to buy the bank & then charged Alex a quarter to show him how it worked.  Pulling down on the elephant's trunk, Simon told Alex to place the coin in the trunk's notch & then Simon pulled the tail up.  The elephant flipped the coin over it's head & into a slot in the saddle on it's back.  $399.75 was definitely more than reasonable for such a fun & rare toy.  Especially when the buyer has far more important things than money to consider.  Like having as much fun as possible.

    The fun was interrupted by the arrival of a stranger who seemed to be running for his life.  The unknown man darted out into the street &, to the horror of all, right into the path of an oncoming car that had no chance to stop in time.  Screams resounded as Alex & Simon raced to the victim's aide.  The stranger was bleeding & barely conscious.  Alex ran to find the nearest phone while Simon tried to keep both the wounded man & the onlookers calm.  The man kept trying to say something to Simon, but, between the raised voice of the horrified driver & the weakened condition of the man, Simon couldn't make out what he was trying to say.  Unwitnessed by all, save the still camera in the pursuing car now parked one street over, the man finally reached over his head & dropped a coin into the elephant bank Simon had set down in order to tend to the injured party.

    That half dollar would herald both trouble & a new friend.

    An invitation to a charity garden party at the California estate of Lady Whitehurst was something very special for Tillie.  To see her name listed on the invitation, along with those of Simon & Alex, was beyond her wildest dreams.  She had one ultra-special evening gown, but never anywhere important enough to wear it in the 25 years since she bought it.  This was her chance to show off her colors & glitter & she was taking it.  Tillie was a bit miffed to see Alex & Simon dressed as though this were just an ordinary event.  The boys, on the other hand, were taken aback at the sight of the elegant beauty standing before them.  Simon called her "Poetry in motion", which made Tillie blush to match her beautiful gown.  When rebuffed for not dressing up for the occasion, Simon very happily showed Tillie his color & glitter, which mainly consisted of a glittering rainbow he'd painted on each of his black, high-top sneakers.  If it was Simon McKay Lady Whitehurst wanted to meet, then it was Simon McKay she was going to get.

    Tillie was crushed to find that she was the only one at the garden party who was dressed to the nines.  To make matters worse, all three friends discovered that Lady Whitehurst was a terrible snob.  She delighted in making fun of Tillie, leaving Alex & Simon very upset.  Tillie, however, thought herself beneath anyone who held a royal title.  No matter how mean Lady Whitehurst was, Tillie still felt that she would never measure up in terms of class.  Simon & Alex both scoffed at the idea that Lady Whitehurst had more class than Tillie, but she wouldn't believe them.  They tried their best to cheer up their friend, but Tillie managed to slip away from them so she wouldn't be such an embarrassment.  She tried to be herself, but couldn't find any new friends among the other guests at the party.  Tillie felt like a fish out of water, to say the least.

    Simon & Alex split up to look for Tillie after she disappeared.  Simon eventually ended up inside the Whitehurst mansion & looked around at the nick-knacks lining the walls.  He came upon a grandfather clock which was, at that very moment, striking three & then came across one of Lady Whitehurst's henchmen.  Simon quickly excused himself & made his way back to the garden.

    Poor Tillie had since found an empty table & was sitting alone feeling bluer than ever.  To her amazement, she suddenly found herself flanked on either side by Simon & Alex, who had preferred her company to anyone else at the party.  Tillie was a rose between two very dashing thorns.  The boys whisked her home without a word to Lady Whitehurst.

    When the Bronco pulled into the garage, there was a utility repair van parked in the alley.  The trio didn't take much notice of it.  The two men inside the van, however, panicked at the site of the Bronco.  They were the same two men who had been chasing the stranger through the streets & taking pictures of him dropping the coin in Simon's elephant bank.  There was a third party currently inside Simon's house & the men tried desperately to call their cohort out before they were discovered.  When the cohort failed to answer the call, the men in the van left the scene before all was completely lost.

    Tillie, Simon & Alex were very glad to be home where they could relax & feel comfortable.  That is, until they suddenly heard the sound of multiple toys coming from the direction of the workshop.  Alex headed downstairs, gun drawn, & found only a chimpanzee dressed in fatigues sitting among some of Simon's toys.  The chimp took off up the stairs & headed to the living room fireplace, surprising Tillie & Simon on the way.  It took Simon a minute to stop Alex from chasing the confused & scared chimp around the living room.  Then Simon calmly made friends with the chimp.  They didn't know where their new friend was from, but Alex quickly discovered it's occupation - cat burglar.  They emptied out a bag that the chimp had been carrying.  Among the items the chimp had nicked was Simon's new elephant bank.  Simon called the chimp Oliver & Alex realized that this was in reference to Oliver Twist.  There had to be a 'Fagin' somewhere who taught the chimp how to steal.  Alex suddenly remember the utility repair van that had been parked in the alley upon their arrival.  He dashed outside to see if it was still there.

    Tillie knew by the way Simon spoke to Oliver that he had every intention of keeping the chimp with them.  He wanted to rehabilitate Oliver, but Tillie wasn't happy about it.  She had rehabilitated many a juvenile & adult delinquent in her time, but she never thought she'd see the day when one would be a real live ape.

    Dinner ended up consisting of fried bananas, at least for Simon & Oliver.  Simon loved fried bananas, but not the way Tillie was acting towards Oliver.  She was treating Oliver in much the same way that Lady Whitehurst had treated Tillie earlier that day.  When Simon mentioned this to Tillie, she thought about it & agreed.  Tillie apologized to Simon who refused to accept her apology since he wasn't the one she was being mean to.  Tillie couldn't believe what Simon was suggesting, but eventually apologized directly to Oliver who graciously accepted.

    When Simon pointed out that it also wasn't fair for Tillie to scold Oliver's table manners when she hadn't even given him silverware, Tillie pointed out that she had.  Oliver suddenly took off for the living room & tried to hide in the fireplace again.  Tillie saw guilt in the chimp's eyes & demanded that Simon frisk Oliver.  Simon discovered that Oliver had not only stuffed the silverware in his bag, but also the elephant bank.  Simon shook the bank & realized he could hear more than Alex's quarter rattling around inside.  Turning over the bank, he was surprised to see the stranger's coin fall onto the coffee table.  He put both coins in the jar Tillie used for her grocery money, all the while musing that the bank was becoming a better investment all the time.

    For anyone keeping score, it now only cost Simon $399.25.  If this kept up, the bank would literally pay for itself.

    After Tillie reluctantly gave Oliver a bath, Simon read him a bedtime story.  As Simon tucked Oliver into bed for the night, he patted the bed spread & suddenly felt something under the covers that wasn't Oliver.  Oliver tried to hold the covers over his head in shame, but Simon finally managed to pull the covers back to reveal a treasure trove of valuable trinkets.  Once again, the elephant bank was among the loot.  Simon knew how frightening it could be to sleep in a strange place & gave Oliver the bank to hold onto for security.  This rehabilitation was going to take a lot of work, but that could wait 'til morning.

    Simon ran into Tillie in the hallway as she was making her way to bed.  It was a good thing, too, because the bed Simon tucked Oliver into just happened to be hers.  Needless to say, this was yet another strike in Tillie's book, but she was too tired to fight about it.  She decided that, since Alex was out for the evening, she'd play musical beds with Alex ending up the looser.  Tillie went quietly into her room to retrieve her pillow, but when she turned on the light she found the bed empty & no sign of Oliver anywhere in the room.  Tillie called for Simon & the two headed out the recently opened side door in search of their new friend.  Poor Oliver had been awakened by the sound of the high pitched whistle he was trained to respond to & was heading in the direction of the call.  Oliver made it from the house, across the backyard & was climbing the trellis on the other side by the time Simon & Tillie made it to the window he exited the house from.  Simon called to Oliver, who, by this time, was on the roof of the garage & as confused as ever.  Oliver was torn as to which call to answer.  Simon inflated the emergency escape slide under the window & slid down into the backyard.  By now, the men who were trying to get Oliver to come to them, were shouting as well as using the whistle.  Tillie could only look helplessly out of the upstairs window & watch, hoping that Oliver would come back.  Simon continued to call to Oliver & tell him not to listen to or go with the bad men.  He hurried up the ladder of his tree house so that he would at least be eye level with Oliver.  Poor Oliver was going back & forth, uncertain of what to do.  The bad guys had finally had enough & one of them climbed up to the garage roof to grab Oliver while the other man drew a gun & started firing at Simon, who was still in the tree house.  Tillie hurried to the backyard as fast as she could.  Once Oliver was in custody, the two men took off leaving Simon & Tillie at the back gate watching helplessly as the tail lights of the utility van headed down the alley & around the corner.

    When Alex finally got home he found Simon & Tillie in the kitchen trying to console themselves over hot chocolate.  They told Alex what had transpired in his absence.  What upset Simon the most was that Oliver didn't want to go with those men.  They forced Oliver into that van.  The only thing Oliver had in his possession was Simon's elephant bank, but Simon didn't care because he saw it as Oliver's security blanket.  Tillie knew that, whatever Oliver was sent into that house to steal, there was far more going on than petty theft.  Alex agreed.  He had been spending all afternoon & evening trying to dig deeper into the unusual events of the day.  The city had no record of any work being done on the street where the utility van had been parked.  He also had Linden checking into chimp thefts at local zoos & laboratories to see if that would lead to Oliver's Fagin.  To Tillie's surprise, Alex had even asked Linden to do a background check on Lady Whitehurst.  All three of them being specifically invited to a surprise garden party which would leave the house empty at exactly the same time of the burglary was just too precise to be a coincidence.  It just didn't sit right with Alex's instincts.  The only thing Alex had learned so far was that not much was known about their ungracious hostess before she married Lord Whitehurst.  Lord Whitehurst couldn't be questioned because he had mysteriously died shortly after their marriage.  Tillie refused to believe that a woman of nobility would do anything like this, but Simon was willing to believe it.

    The next day, Tillie walked to the market.  She only got as far as the corner of Elm Street when the same gray van pulled up & Tillie was pulled inside & whisked away.  A short while later, Alex answered what turned out to be the ransom call.  Alex got Simon to start the recorder that was hooked up to the phone.  The man on the other ended demanded the return of the coin that had been in the elephant bank or Tillie would be killed.  He told Alex to bring the coin to the bus stop at the intersection of Lincoln & Montana in one hour.  Simon suddenly remembered which coin the caller was referring to & grabbed the money jar from the end table.  Dumping the contents on the coffee table, Simon carefully looked through all of the coins hoping that Tillie hadn't accidentally taken the half dollar with her to the market.  He explained to Alex about finding the coin in the bank & putting it in the jar the night before.  Simon then came across a very unusual half dollar.  When he first saw the coin, it hadn't occurred to Simon that there was something different about it.  Real half dollar coins have a rough edge.  The edge on this one was smooth.  Alex held it in one hand & a real half dollar in the other & noticed there was also a difference in weight.  On closer examination, they discovered that the fake coin slid open to reveal a micro photo of a blue print hidden inside.  Simon made a copy of the film & fashioned a tracking device small enough to fit inside the coin.  He gave Alex the coin & the tracking monitor.  Alex wanted to go to the drop point alone because it was just too much for him to have to worry about protecting Simon at the same time.  As much as Simon wanted to go, he understood Alex's concerns.  Out of respect for his friend, Simon chose to stay behind.

    Well, if he couldn't go to the drop point, then Simon would just have to find some other way to make himself useful.  He listened again to the phone recording & heard something familiar in the background.  The same chimes he heard at 3 o'clock the afternoon before.  He knew exactly where Tillie was & he knew that Oliver was with her!  He raced outside to tell Alex, but the little gray sports car was already driving away.  Okay, so it would just be Simon & his magic carpet bag to the rescue.

    Simon was absolutely right about Tillie & Oliver ending up in the same place - the same cell, to be exact.  Tillie had been blindfolded in the van & was now being forced down into a basement & into a large cell which already contained Oliver.  Tillie was happy to see Oliver, confused as to why they were there & thinking that if it weren't for bad luck she'd have no luck at all.  She assured Oliver that Simon would come to their rescue.

    Alex & the coin waited for the next bus to arrive at the designated stop while Simon & the carpet bag made their way to the Whitehurst estate.  When the bus finally arrived, Alex waited for someone to exit the bus, but no one did.  He finally told the driver to continue on.  Then a man suddenly leaned out of a bus window & demanded the coin from Alex.  In order to keep the man from getting suspicious, Alex pretended to be hesitant about giving the coin without getting Tillie in return.  After finally handing over the coin, the bus departed & Alex ran back to his car to begin the pursuit.  Simon, meanwhile, arrived at his destination & made his way around the estate fence carefully checking to see if any guards or dogs were on watch.  He made his way to the most secluded area he could find & took a futuristic looking earth moving vehicle out of the carpet bag.  This radio control vehicle started digging into the ground.  After a while, it dug a tunnel right under the electrified fence & Simon was able to enter the estate grounds undetected.

    Alex drove along trying to keep an eye on the road as well as watch the tracking monitor.  It was a good thing he had that monitor, because the kidnappers had anticipated someone following the bus.  At some point along the route, the van pulled up alongside the still moving bus & the man inside the bus leaned out & handed the coin to the driver of the van.  Then the van turned down a side street to get away from the bus.  Alex saw the turn indicated on the monitor & took off after the van.

    Simon made his way across the grounds to the house.  He snuck around the house until he found a sturdy looking downspout on one wall.  This time the carpet bag produced a climbing toy.  Like most of Simon's electronic toys, it was radio operated.  Unlike his other toys, this one looked just like a native of the Alps, right down to his plastic lederhosen.  Simon attached the device to the downspout, fastened a belt around his waist, then ran a line from the device to a clip on the belt.  Once Simon was securely fastened, he pushed a button on the remote which started the mountaineer climbing up the downspout until it reached the portion where the pipe runs from the wall to the gutter on the roof eave.  Then Simon pushed another button, which caused the line to retract back into the device & pull Simon up off of the ground.  Simon got about half way up when the remote control slipped from his grasp.  It hit the ground in such a way as to start the yodeling sound & stop the line, leaving Simon hanging helplessly in mid-air.  The yodeling caught the attention of Lady Whitehurst who leaned out a nearby window.  She reminded Simon of his early departure from her party & let him know that, this time, he would be staying - permanently.

    Simon's rescue hit a snag in more ways than one.  Hopefully Alex was having a better luck.

    The driver of the gray van never noticed the gray sports car that was following him.  Although they had anticipated someone trying to follow the bus, they never anticipated the possibility of anyone following the van.  He drove around until he came to another bus stop where the man from the bus was waiting for him.  When the van stopped to let the other man in, Alex seized the opportunity.  Pulling up behind the van, Alex stopped his car, jumped out & ran to the unlocked back doors of the van.  He opened the doors & took custody of both men, who were unarmed.  Alex bound & gagged the man who had been on the bus & locked him in the small cage in the back of the van that was used to transport Oliver.  Then Alex ordered the driver of the van to continue on to the Whitehurst estate.  Alex then called Linden from the phone in the van & asked for agents to be sent to the mansion to arrest Lady Whitehurst & the rest of her gang.

    Back at the mansion, Simon was once again on solid ground & soon found himself reunited with Tillie & Oliver in the basement.  When Lady Whitehurst's henchmen opened the cell door to put Simon in, Oliver raced out & climbed up a stack of boxes to escape out an open, ground level window.  Simon & Tillie were thrilled to see Oliver make his escape, but Lady Whitehurst was not.  She had just entered the room, limping on her recently injured leg.  She ordered her henchman to get help & catch Oliver.  After the men left, Lady Whitehurst gloated over Simon & Tillie.  She was the criminal & yet they were the ones behind bars.  Simon, however, didn't see it that way.  Life is, after all, a matter of perspective & Simon reminded Lady Whitehurst that, from where he was standing, she was the one behind bars.  He may have been inside the cell, but he still had to look through the bars to see her.  Get it?

    Tillie was also beginning to see things from a different perspective.  Until now, she had considered a fancy title & noble heritage to be the hallmark of grace & class.  Tillie had neither & so she felt she had no grace or class.  She was finally starting to realize what Alex & Simon had been trying to tell her all along.  It truly is what's inside a person that counts.  Not their net worth or titles or family lineage, even through marriage.  She stood there & watched as Lady Whitehurst's true colors started to seep through & the false veneer of glitter faded.  Tillie finally saw Lady Whitehurst for the mean, selfish, arrogant criminal she was & Tillie no longer felt beneath her.  Lady Whitehurst grew angry at the confident air of her captives & she hobbled off telling them that they would never leave the estate alive.

    Outside on the estate grounds, the men were all absolutely certain that the only place Oliver would run off to would be the trees around the mansion.  While they were busy trying to find the chimp among the tree tops, Oliver was busy making his way around the outside of the mansion until he came upon the carpet bag, which had been left by the downspout where Simon was captured.  Oliver grabbed the carpet bag & quickly made his way back to the basement window & to his caged friends.  Tillie & Simon were overjoyed to see Oliver with the carpet bag.  Simon asked Oliver to open the bag & bring him the red balloon.  Oliver did as Simon asked &, this time, the carpet bag produced an over sized red balloon with a white canister attached to one end.  Tillie helped Simon put the Power Balloon between two bars on the cell & hold it in place while Simon turned a black knob on the white canister.  The balloon inflated until it filled the entire cell.  The only draw back to this plan is that Tillie & Simon were still inside the cell, each ending up on opposite sides & being squished into the bars.  The pressure was almost unbearable, but they managed to hold out until the balloon had grown so large that it began snapping bars off of the cell.  Once Simon heard the bars beginning to snap, he called to Tillie.  She had possession of the white canister on her side of the cell & she turned the black knob until it stopped.  The balloon began to deflate & the pair were able to make good their escape.

    Meanwhile, Alex & the kidnappers had returned to the estate.  Alex led the van's driver into the mansion at gun point & they made their way up to Lady Whitehurst's office.  She had been busy packing up money & valuables that had been in her safe.  When Lady Whitehurst saw Alex enter the office with his gun drawn, she knew the jig was up - for the moment.  Another one of her henchmen entered the office behind Alex & took him by surprise, knocking the gun from his hand.  It was a tense moment as Alex fought off several men alone, but Tillie, Simon & Oliver soon joined in to make it a fair fight.  Simon knocked out one the henchmen, Alex threw another out of the window, Oliver went after his trainer & Tillie had fun giving Lady Whitehurst a lesson in the school of hard knocks.

    The rescue mission was successful at last, even if most of it didn't go as planned.  But then, not much in life ever goes as planned.

    When Alex returned home from the office the following day, he found Tillie, Simon & Oliver having a party in the dining room.  They were celebrating Oliver's acceptance into a training program at the local school for deaf children.   Alex was excited at their news & even more excited to tell them the news of Lady Whitehurst's questioning at the police station.  It seems that our heroes had succeeded in stopping the most notorious jewel thief in Europe.  The mysteries of hundreds of previously unsolved robberies had been unraveling in that interrogation room.  Now there was even more reason to celebrate with cheers & toasts of carbonated cider to their new friend, Oliver.

~"You've got more class in your little finger than she's (Lady Whitehurst) got in her whole body." - Simon to Tillie~

written by The MGT.    Updated May 30, 2007

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