“Are all 18 of this town’s residents all really wearing lederhosen?”
I think I’m on the upswing of this latest sickness – I’ve passed the fever dream stage finally, and it’s just as well because my fever dreams have becoming increasingly boring. This one had two main stages – in the first I was fixated on figuring out the geometric shape best described by my sleeping position. The second was a dream about being onstage and forgetting to practice my lines, only the entire cast had done the same thing. So none of us knew the lines to this play â€“ it was vaguely Shakespeare, though it had a musical number mixed in somehow â€“ and we decided to hide it by doing the final lines and closing song of the show in a giant sleeping bag, under which we hid our scripts. And remember, this is my fever dream, when my dreams are most out of control and esoteric. Maybe it’s me that’s getting boring, not the dreams. I’d do something about this, but I have to go learn my lines for that Shakespeare musical first.
The White Ballot
Wild Guess Preview: The A-Team heads to Chicago to help Murdock’s brother in his campaign for Mayor. Since he, too, is a crazy fool, he’s not campaigning under his real name, Bob Murdock, but as a superhero called â€œThe White Ballot.â€ His antics rile the city’s political bosses and they try to rub out his campaign, only to find Hannibal and friends working the precincts… with plenty of firepower to spare! Then, on election day, everyone votes for Harold Washington, Murdock’s brother goes on a bender and the team has to spend a dreary night watching Level 1 improv at Second City.
The Recap: The opening sequence has Triple A in it again! They must be showing episodes out of order. We’re in Parkland, New Mexico, and a small-town sheriff named Jake Dawson and his men are harassing a small-town journalist named Jimmy Baker for printing â€œliesâ€ about Dawson just before the small-town election. Then Dawson says â€œI’m gonna win anyway,â€ so what’s the problem? The sheriff is played by Clifton James, who you remember as Sheriff J.W. Pepper in â€œLive and Let Die.â€
The A-Team is not in this small town, they’re at a burger joint named Frostie’s, lured there by Triple A, who seems to know this Jimmy Baker guy. The proprietor asks how B.A. would like his coffee served? â€œIn a cup, fool!â€ I’m gonna try that next time I stop by the neighborhood coffee shop! Hannibal is not there; Face says he had some close-up takes to do for his latest movie role, â€œThe Gila Monster Who Ate France.â€ Jimmy and Triple A tell B.A. and Face the dirt on Sheriff Dawson, about how he keeps control by murdering people – the last guy that challenged Dawson for sheriff ended up in a ditch. â€œSounds like this guy Dawson needs to be taught a big lesson,â€ says B.A. Jimmy says Dawson’s also using his sheriff power to run side businesses, like a casino and a whiskey smuggling ring. Face suggests a plan: how about we run our own candidate? Jimmy says that’d be dangerous. Face agrees; â€œwhere are we gonna find somebody dumb enough to go into that town and be a candidate?â€ Poor Face.
Vote Face: the only candidate who wears his sunglasses at night.
Yes, it’s Face who’s going to run, under the guise of Joe Morgan, a returning Army veteran. There really was a Joe Morgan in this town, so it works! Triple A is going to write up an article about Morgan’s return to build up the local excitement. Also, she’s going to pose as Morgan’s new bride, and they’ll come in by plane. Murdock is now on hand, and he’s playing an invisible harmonica to irritate B.A. Face logs one problem with this plan: what happens if he actually wins? Murdock says not to worry, â€œthe sheriff will have you killed long before anybody goes to the polls.â€ Hannibal clarifies: he’ll attempt to bump Face/Morgan off, and they’ll get the whole thing on video.
A surreal photo-op for the ages.
Sure enough, the plan starts off without a hitch; the entire town of about 18 people shows up with signs and cheering and everything, and Face and Triple A take in a warm welcome from the people. Are they all really wearing lederhosen? No, that’s just the local marching band. Hannibal is posing as a big shot TV reporter, Murdock is his motormouth cameraman, and B.A. is the sound guy. They get Sheriff Dawson to stand there with a little flag and a key to the city, and when Face and Triple A step out they stage a big photo op â€“ except that Face refuses the key to the city and that makes Dawson mad. â€œI’ve been around too long to not know when I’m being blindsided,â€ says Dawson. â€œHe wants something.â€ He orders one of the deputies to look into this Morgan guy because â€œnobody gets away with treating me like dirt.â€ The team is happy that they’ve managed to rile Dawson â€“ Hannibal says wait til their campaign gets going â€“ the sheriff will be â€œout of wind just trying to get out of his own way.â€ ???
The van is pressed into service as a mobile campaign HQ; B.A. drives, complaining about the brass band music and PA system, while Murdock implores the voting public to come to a Joe Morgan rally at the local park. Murdock confides in B.A. that he, too, once had political aspirations: he ran for student council president in high school, but lost on a technicality: â€œthey weren’t having an election at the time.â€ They also hand out fliers on the street, which gets the sheriff’s minions riled up, especially since they tried digging up dirt on him and couldn’t find anything. â€œThis guy’s the invisible man,â€ says one of the deputies. â€œThen how come I keep seeing him everywhere?â€ bellows Dawson. He wants dirt, dammit. The deputy leaves to go find some.
Hi, I’m here to shut down your gambling, drinking and carousing, and I’d like your vote for it
What we find, though, is Face and the team dropping by Dawson’s illicit casino to make a campaign speech. The bartender immediately calls Dawson to tell him â€œAmerica’s conscienceâ€ has stopped in. The casino-goers aren’t impressed at first, but then Face pulls a rigging device out from under the roulette wheel (one B.A. just planted) to explain they’re being cheated. Now they’re on his side, but the bartender isn’t â€“ he brings over several small men, and they get their butts kicked by the team, who also smash up most of the casino equipment. Then the sheriff stops in, and says â€œour hero Mr. Morgan has done his last bit of damage in this town.â€ Yikes.
If you thought things were starting to wind down, think again, because Colonel Decker is at his desk, getting word that the A-Team is in Parkland. They’re on their way before the end of the scene. Plus, they send a message to a very happy Dawson that he should detain Joe Morgan. The deputy asks if they need backup when they head over to apprehend him. Nah, he says, all we need is this here shotgun. They also want Hannibal, because they want the film he took at Morgan’s welcome home ceremony. They drive up to the A-Team’s hotel, and the deputy SHOOTS HIM?!? Ah, it was just pillows, but the team had their video camera on hand for the shooting. Hannibal leaps from the hotel’s outdoor staircase right onto the sheriff’s car, and he forces the sheriff to drive off. He says he wants Dawson out of town permanently, but Dawson says he knows that they’re fugitives. Hannibal is unfazed: â€œAll this means is that I have to work fast… and I always work fast.â€ He brings Dawson to the rest of the team â€“ AND HE BROUGHT BURGERS! They chow down while shaking the sheriff down for info on the next round of whiskey smuggling, and they promise that they’ll turn him and their evidence over to Decker (nice bluff).
So the semi-truck carrying the whiskey drives through. They drive off in Dawson’s police car to follow it, but all the local deputies (and all of a sudden there are like twenty) are following too, and they keep the team boxed in while shooting at them. Then they shoot out a tire and Dawson’s car does a full flip into the woods. The team is luckily unhurt and everybody starts shooting, but they run out of ammo and have to surrender. Dawson says he’s going to solve his political problems AND Decker’s problems all at once, by killing the team off. Eep!
But wait! Triple A is at the sheriff’s office questioning a deputy when Decker and company barge in. The deputy tells Decker that the team is being held at a garage somewhere. Fine, Decker says; take us there.
There is a dingy-looking garage, where Dawson is taunting the team about how he’s about to kill them, but first he has to go get a beer. So he leaves one guy to guard them. Almost immediately Hannibal finds a crawl space in the ceiling for Murdock to, well, crawl through. Murdock climbs up, all the while singing â€œCeilings… nothing more than ceilingsâ€ to the tune of â€œFeelings.â€ He climbs through, surprises the guard, steals his keys and sets everybody free to begin the preparation montage.
This scheme is about to flatten out! (I should really be a TV writer.)
The sheriff shows up ahead of the MPs, and offers his deputies $500 each to stand down and let him waste the team. But when he tries to open the garage door, the entire side of the garage falls on his car. Murdock leads them toward Hannibal, who’s in a giant medicine ball shooting Pennzoil. Then they dump sawdust on the cops. Then B.A. throws them all into the wall. Then Hannibal leads them all to a truck and locks them in. Then Decker shows up and he’s got Triple A, so they have to tread carefully… which means they surround Decker and company with the big semi-trucks and hold them at bay with machine guns. Hannibal pretends that they have to leave without Triple A, and gives her a quote for her next article: â€œThe A-Team is proud to help diminish the rampant violence so prevalent in society today.â€
The villains are subdued, and protected from heat, friction and high-mileage burn-off
The van hits the road, and Hannibal says he’s impressed with Face’s campaign skills. Triple A says she’s less impressed with his skills as a fake husband. The team has to let Face know that he actually lost the election by five votes, though he ended up the winner when Dawson went to jail. Murdock has caught the election bug and plans to run for president, offering â€œvanilla snookiesâ€ to every voter. I’m not sure I want to know what those are. B.A. threatens Murdock, and Face notes everything’s back to normal for their â€œone big happy family.â€ The end.
A nice break from the routine here â€“ probably could have strayed even further, but this was just fine. Sheriff Dawson was quite good, as you’d expect, and bringing in Decker was a nice touch. Just one thing: who the heck was The White Ballot?