B.A. and Face stuck in some kind of prison/kitchen

“Alan Greenspan tries to rescue his daughter with inflation-curbing money policy, but it fails and the A-Team has to rescue him.”

Last week I was actually too sick to watch The A-Team, which is a measure most doctors use for their patients. But I did think about them plenty, and that put me in the right frame of mind. Why get upset about a little congestion, when the team’s seen far worse on their missions and kept their heads each time? Look at how they handled themselves when B.A. got shot a few episodes back – did they fall apart? No, they got in the van and did what they had to do. I pondered this for a while, then “borrowed” the neighbors’ van and drove myself to a doctor in a small town somewhere to demand treatment. And what do you know, I’m on the mend already.

Which brings me to my larger point. Now I don’t want to be a “back in my day” sort of guy, nor can I pretend to know what it was really like in the A-Team’s heyday, but I can say it doesn’t feel like their approach speaks to our heyday. It’s too straightforward and we’re too meta, too in need to talking about what we’re doing instead of just doing it. You can’t conduct commando missions on Facebook… can you?

The A-Team on Facebook

See? It just doesn’t add up. And that’s not even the worst thing the modern world could inflict on them; that would be tacking on weird layers of childhood trauma to explain why the team did anything – Hannibal’s dad refused to ever plan anything, so he grew up to be an obsessive planner. Or Murdock’s parents refused to believe in the healing power of balloon animals, or whatever. Is that what we want? Of course not. So a little less meta-commentary, please, and more action. A lot more. I’m counting on you, America.

One More Time

Wild Guess Preview: The A-Team is sent to help Wilford Brimley remember the number to order diabetes supplies over the phone, but not before Brimley’s nemesis, a murderous pirate played by Andy Griffith, skewers Hannibal’s plans for a homemade “leprosy bomb.” Surrounded on all sides without any weapons but talcum powder and large posters of Jimmy Carter gargling, Hannibal realizes the only way to finish the mission and escape certain doom is to rob the Bank of Hanoi – the very act that put them on the run in the first place! (Why am I not a TV writer?)

Hannibal is an old woman
I love it when makeup comes together. This makeup did not come together.

The Recap: Hollywood! It’s glitz, it’s glamour, it’s… Hannibal dressed as an old woman, getting strangled by an asbestos bodysuit monster for a movie. The director thinks the scene was “as scary as my Duncan yo-yo” – obviously he didn’t look closely at the creeping horror that is Old Crone Hannibal. Some military police show up, because Hannibal is working under Colonel Lynch’s name – hey, I think this is the first time we’ve actually seen Lynch on-screen since Triple A put him in the trunk of a rental car in the pilot! They scamper up to catch Hannibal, but they go for the guy playing the masked monster, and Hannibal grabs a nearby motorbike to make his escape. “He’s going to warn Templeton Peck!” says the ADR, and he does, pulling ol Faceman away from an attractive but pantsless woman for a few ramp jumps on the motorbike. The military cops chase them toward B.A.’s hideout; he takes off in a sweet-looking vintage red convertible… right into the path of Face and Hannibal. They spin out, B.A. slams into a parked car and they’re all surrounded by Lynch’s men at last. Uh oh. Face pretends to throw up on Lynch as they’re led away; if you can’t beat ’em, barf on em.

So the team is in custody at long last, and Lynch is positively giddy about it. But he barely gets enough time to taunt them before a small, balding man from the State Department show up to take custody of the team. Lynch is furious and vows to go to “the top” to fight the decision, but this very Randy Newman-ish looking guy says “I AM the top” and Lynch has to clear the room.

Murdock and a chicken
A meeting of the minds

Triple A, meanwhile, has figured out the team’s been captured. She wants to get inside the base but it’s in lockdown; she has to call Murdock, who’s in the middle of playing with monkeys, to get help. Animal therapy can wait, says Murdock – “the king of crazy is on his way.” He lets all the animals loose as a diversion, then steals a delivery truck to get away from the hospital.

So why is this State Department guy interested in the A-Team all of a sudden? Turns out they know a fella named General Ludlum. All too well, as it turns out; B.A. punched him out and then “that sucka sent me to the brig!” The State Department guy explains that the general has been captured in Borneo trying to rescue his daughter from guerrillas, and since the A-Team is already on the lam they could go in and rescue him without leaving any government fingerprints. How clandestine! The guerrilla general is named Rasham and he’s basically in league with the Commies, so he has enough evil on his rewards card to qualify for a free burrito. Their reward for doing the mission? A “head start” on Lynch’s men when they come back; the charges probably can’t be dropped. B.A. doesn’t want to help the sucka, and Face isn’t sure it’s a worthwhile mission. On the other hand, it beats a guaranteed thirty years in military lockup, so Hannibal agrees to take the mission.

Drugging B.A. with milk
It does a mission good.


Hannibal explains to the military brass what kind of supplies they need, like maps and walkie talkies. B.A. wants a boat. A boat? Yes, cause he doesn’t fly. Hannibal has a way to deal with this little wrinkle; he requests three glasses of milk. What follows is a transcript of one of the weirdest conversations you will ever hear on an action TV show:

Hannibal: Drink your milk.

B.A.: I don’t want to drink my milk.

Hannibal: But you love milk!

B.A.: I don’t want it now.

Face: Mmmm, mmmm! Oh, there’s nothing like a glass of ice-cold milk to give the body all the necessary nutrition.

See, the milk is a new way to drug B.A., one that’s much more enjoyable than shots and provides more calcium! They’re escorted to an airfield; the State people even make it look like they escaped so Lynch isn’t wise to the mission. Murdock meets up with Triple A in his stolen bakery truck, and they not only follow the team to their military plane, but steal the other plane on the runway, scamming the pilot with a story about high-protein donuts. Note: if you ever feel like writing an A-Team cookbook, start with this episode.

Tossing an unconscious B.A. out of an airplane
Do you see why B.A. doesn’t want to go in a plane with these guys?

I guess we just flew like 12 hours, because we’re over Borneo and they’re pushing the unconscious B.A. out of the plane (don’t worry, he has a parachute on.) All the conscious people parachute out soon after, and Murdock’s plane hits the ocean in a cataclysm of stock footage as they all land in the jungle. There’s like ten minutes left in the episode, so how they start AND finish a mission AND have time for wisecracks before vanishing into the night air is somewhat unclear, although that helicopter sitting outside looks promising. In the interests of time, Hannibal suggests going straight into Rasham’s headquarters with a “classic frontal assault with a half-Pincer movement.” B.A. interprets this to mean that Hannibal is on the jazz. Face adds: “…and we’re in trouble.” They each beat up a guerrilla soldier and break into Rasham’s headquarters, which seems to have a lot of kitchen implements and chicken parts. Oops, they broke into the kitchen. The soldiers regroup and arrest them. B.A.: “some half-Pincer movement!”

General Alan Greenspan and daughter
“Tell me about Ayn Rand again, pop”

Murdock and Triple A watch as the team is led away at gunpoint to the jail building, where they meet up with the general (who is, I think, played by Fed chairman Alan Greenspan) and his daughter. He tried to rescue his daughter with a firm inflation-curbing money policy, but it didn’t work and he got captured too. The general not only remembers the team, he remembers the exact date B.A. “busted [his] nose in ‘Nam!” (March 15, 1971, if you want to know – and yes, I’m adding it to Wikipedia.) Rasham stops by to tell them they’re going to be shot in an hour, right after “Unsolved Mysteries.”

So yes, time and resources are short, but not so short that we can’t have a preparation montage! B.A. notices some gasoline barrels and ammo sitting right outside their makeshift jail cell, and so they turn the metal bedframe into a metal slingshot, which they use to shoot a hole in the gas tank outside. Rasham comes back and decides he’ll execute Face first. Face successfully begs for a last cigarette before being shot, and spits the lit cigarette like twenty feet to ignite the gas… but it fizzles out, to everyone’s exasperation. But wait! Triple A has a flare gun, and she shoots it into the gas and there’s shooting and exploding and running and Hannibal jumps on a jeep and knocks out Rasham with ONE PUNCH! They all load in the chopper, save for Face, who’s somewhere else trying to undo his handcuffs, and B.A., who refuses to fly. Since there’s no milk around to spike, the general knocks B.A. out with the butt of a gun, saying “I’ve been waiting a long time for that!” Face fights his way out of trouble and grabs the copter legs just in the nick of time. This is the commando mission equivalent of a quickie, I think.

Newspaper: 'A-Team escapes again'
“Dear Editor, I object to your reference to our airport plan as ‘drastic'”

They make it back to the States and the trusty van, where Triple A writes an article about their escape from the military. B.A. thinks it’s crazy to advertise that they’re still fugitives, but Face calls it “advertising” for future clients. Hannibal says everybody should be calm, it’ll be weeks before Lynch finds them again. Which, of course, is the moment when Lynch drives up to them. And the chase is back on as the credits begin…

This one was… interesting. The structure was weird and a little busy for just the one hour, but not handled badly – nice to see Lynch again, and very nice to see the debut of B.A.’s love affair with milk. On the other hand, I hope never to see George Peppard dressed as an old crone again. That I’m willing to post on Facebook.


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