To the indifferent or unattuned ear, it sounded nearly identical to the normal intro of “Dora the Explorer.” But little Suzie Jenkins, 6, is a veteran Dora aficionado (a word she had learned, in fact, from Dora). Suzie had been mastering Spanish with Dora since before she could even master her own bowel control. In fact, her parents used to reward successful potty trips with Dora episodes, making Dora a key player in Suzie’s potty training — one might say Dora had taught the shit out of Suzie.
So when the one-hour “Dora and the Lost Ark” special came on with a modified intro, Suzie was on her edge of her seat. This was going to be an adventure.
“Hi, I’m Dora!”
Dora began with the customary greeting, but Suzie nearly forgot to return it, so distracted was she by the odd man joining Dora on today’s episode.
“And I’m Indy,” said a grizzled old man who looked like her grandfather if he were dressed as a safari tour guide for Halloween.
Recognizing the voice, Suzie’s dad Bartholomew looked curiously over at the screen, unprepared to see the actual, real-life, 75-year-old Harrison Ford crouching next to the animated Dora on the TV in front of his daughter. Perplexed but intrigued, he silently waved over his husband Angus and they joined their daughter in the living room, wondering where this episode was going.
“Indy is a history teacher and an explorer like us! He needs our help to find a special box called the Ark of the Covenant!” Dora said cheerily.
This elicited a sharp sidelong glance from Indy, while he grumbled something about, “didn’t get my Ph.D. to be called ‘teacher’…not just a box…”
“First we need to go to the jungle temple!” Dora continued.
She was unfazed by the grumbling. If this bastard Jones thought he could shake her with a few under-the-breath comments, then he didn’t know how bad Boots’ “banana” problem had gotten after the financial collapse back in ‘08. He had been dangerously exposed to the subprime loan market, but he refused to diversify like she told him to…but anyway, there was business to attend to.
“Let’s get out Map so we can see which way to go to the temple!”
The Map put his eye drops in — so the kids wouldn’t have to ask their parents why he looked so “tired” — and flew out of his pocket for his customary 15 seconds in the spotlight.
“I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the — ”
“We don’t need a map,” Indy said gruffly. “The ancient texts say the temple can be found at the mouth of the sacred Orindeira River. Let’s get going.”
He pulled out his machete and started hacking a path through the jungle behind Dora.
The Map returned to his pocket, utterly dejected. The Map might be a freeloading deadbeat, but he was Dora’s freeloading deadbeat. A professional, she maintained her composure, but this Jones character was starting to grate on her.
At the temple, they successfully retrieved the idol Indy had insisted on getting, and the weird little band came out and played their song. (After all these years she still had no idea who they were or how they followed her around so quickly with that snail in tow. The show’s producer insisted she had never hired them and didn’t know who they were.) After that, it was off to their second destination, Nepal. But before they could even get out of the temple, the boulder came.
This pissed off Dora even more. She told Indy beforehand that they both knew damn well they didn’t need that idol to get the Ark, but she was hamstrung by his point that her show’s formulaic plot required they go to two locations before getting to their final goal, and he cornered her into going to the temple. Now she was about to be crushed to death by a boulder chasing them out of the temple. She figured she may as well get in a Spanish plug to make the whole thing worth it.
“Oh no!” she said, still maintaining the sickly, unnaturally upbeat tone of voice that parents hoped would keep their little brats from crying. The voice she had long learned to despise but that was the only thing paying the bills. “A boulder is chasing us! Everyone stand up on your feet and help us run! Stand up, please!”
She paused, waiting for the message to penetrate the kids’ thick skulls.
“It’s not working! Can you help us go faster by saying ‘run’ in Spanish?”
“No time for that!” Indy yelled, tackling Dora into the bushes as the boulder rushed by, only inches from killing them both.
They managed to escape unscathed, but Indy lost his cool.
“What are you doing!? We don’t have time to teach the kids Spanish in a life or death situation! You need to keep your priorities straight you…”
Bartholomew and Angus were afraid of what choice words their daughter might hear if Indy continued, but as they watched, Dora turned to screen, calm as ever, and gave a quick slash across the throat motion, at which point the show immediately cut to commercial.
To be continued…