My Year With The A-Team: Season 2, Episode 14 – The Battle of Bel Air

The team meets Tawnia Baker

“There’s something about a 5:30 am event aimed at stopping a 2 pm event on a show that airs at 8 pm that makes my head hurt.”

In lieu of writing anything thoughtful or evocative, I’m going to cruise the internet and find something related to the A-Team. Tonight’s stop: Etsy.

A-Team cufflinks listed on Etsy

I’m not exactly sure what A-Team cufflinks would say about a person, and a good deal of this is because I’m not completely sure what cufflinks are. Until I looked it up I was half-certain cufflinks were the things you put at the end of corn on the cob to keep from getting burned. I think I wore cufflinks at a wedding once. I’m also pretty sure I got my thumb stuck in the jacket sleeve because I put the cufflinks in wrong. Would that have happened if I’d been wearing A-Team cufflinks? Probably not, but I would’ve walked into the wedding carrying a bunch of corn on the cob and that would’ve been just as disruptive. Maybe more so.


The Battle of Bel Air

Wild Guess Preview: Murdock overhears a prophecy during “paranormal sensitivity therapy night” that one day a rapper known as the Fresh Prince will come to Bel Air and fish-out-of-water hilarity will ensue. He and the team scramble to find this Fresh Prince, but they’re not the only ones – the producers of “Silver Spoons,” worried that they’ll lose one of their stars to the Prince’s show, are also on the hunt. The day is won when Hannibal dresses as DJ Jazzy Jeff and inadvertently writes the first verse of “Parents Just Don’t Understand” and Ricky Schroeder’s head explodes.

Tawnia meets the A-Team
“I’m Tawnia. Stephen J. Cannell sent me.”

The Recap: The white smoke is wafting from the chimney; the post-Triple A sede vacante is over. Meet Tawnia Baker, your new spunky female reporter sidekick. She’s at a security company called Intermode, stealing some kind of secret military message from Col. Decker about the A-Team and their whereabouts. This draws attention from two evil executives – one of them, Carson, is played by Kurtwood Smith, the dad from “That 70’s Show”! – and while Tawnia does sneak away, they’re worried she knows about their secret plot to assassinate some kind of sheik (not the Iron Sheik, don’t worry) later in the day, and decide. The other guy, Not Carson, says they need to “find her before she finds The A-Team.” Also, find her before 2 o’clock, which is I think when the assassination is going down. It’s 5:30 am, by the way; this is mentioned to kick off a recurring “countdown clock” during this episode, but there’s something about a 5:30 am event aimed at stopping a 2 pm event on a show that airs at 8 pm that makes my head hurt.

Tawnia and her red Cutlass Ciera find the A-Team inside a sporting goods store, Face’s new place of employment. Hannibal doesn’t trust her – he says Decker’s been “crowding” them and wants to leave the country as soon as he finishes playing the title character in “The Monster from Camp Runamok” – but she swears she’s trying to warn them Decker’s nearby. In fact, he’s hiding behind the returns and exchanges counter. “Miss Allen takes an overseas assignment and you don’t waste any time replacing her,” says Decker. Thanks for the backstory, Colonel, but now the team has to make their escape, which they do by inflating a tent or something and then handcuffing Decker on their way out. Hannibal says he loves it when a plan comes together, and then they all take off in Tawnia’s Cutlass.

The escape isn’t perfect; the car overheats thanks to some bullet holes left by Decker’s men. Also, they’re not so sure about this Tawnia Baker person, but she insists she’s a reporter and a friend of Triple A, who had to take an assignment in Jakarta because she was so closely associated with the team. “You could use someone who’s not hot, to work the outside,” Tawnia says. Hannibal says “we don’t need any more press,” but Face is willing to do some personal investigation… waka-jawaka… and Hannibal says fine. Everyone drives off except Face, who sticks with Tawnia.

That 70's Dad, and he's got a gun
“I’m taking your ass DOWN, Ashton Kutcher”

The evil Intermode guys are still looking for answers on Tawnia – Carson (That 70’s Dad) “even used the chopper” to look for her, but nothing doing. The other guy reminds him that they need to be back by 2 pm to go kill that sheik, but Carson says don’t worry. “We’ll either be back with the girl… or she’ll be dead.” They go to Tawnia’s apartment; Face is there trying to get into her pants, but she cleverly puts him off by bringing up the idea of a relationship and “relationship” is pretty much Face’s least favorite word. Carson and flunkies burst in and demand information; Face gets in a few good shots, fending off one bodyguard with hairspray in the eyes, but they toss him off the balcony and into the pool, very “Diamonds Are Forever” style, and take Tawnia somewhere. Face jumps into his Corvette to tell Hannibal what’s happening – it’s now 7:30 am. They pick up Murdock and B.A. to pay a visit to Intermode. Now it’s 10:30. Since the episode is already half over, do we really need this clock gimmick?

Face and Mike the Skunk
In later missions, Face employs a roadrunner, woodpecker and a mole wearing a fez

Face has brought a secret weapon along for the Intermode rescue mission – it’s a blue container marked “Mike.” “You smuggled Mike onto my ride?” asks B.A. Mike is a skunk! They let Mike into the ventilation shaft, where he launches two proton torpedoes and blows up the building…. no, actually he just makes it smell the way it smells outside my house every night during the summer (we have several Mikes in our neighborhood), and the team shows up as animal control techs, saying that Carson called them. Face and Murdock go upstairs and rescue Tawnia, while Hannibal and B.A. confront Carter and the other bigwig – we’ll call him Vice President of Whining, as all he does is go on and on about how they can’t miss their 2 o’clock assassination. The veep says Intermode’s “state of the art” security will stop the team from leaving the building, but B.A. destroys the phones and smashes their security monitors. “Don’t like jerks sneaking in on my privacy, understand?” TAKE THAT MARK ZUCKERBERG. Murdock and Face accidentally set off the security alarm, but they blow a giant hole in the glass wall in the lobby and run out. The “state of the art” security does nothing except go “there they are!” If I were Hannibal I’d let these idiots try to blow up the sheik; if their security system is any indication, these guys couldn’t hurt their target’s feelings, much less kill him.

Murdock has a moment of drama
Commandeering a helicopter makes Murdock feel like Freddie Mercury!

It’s just after noon; Face and Murdock scam a helicopter; Hannibal is with Tawnia trying to stop the assassination, so he misses out on the preparation montage where B.A. adds a machine gun nest to the helicopter’s back seat. Then, at 1:30, the Intermode guys get in their own helicopter and head out to do something evil.

Tawnia is at some garden party/press event where she finds the sheik in question and warns him of the plot on his life. They race over to the waiting van just as the Intermode copter shows up and launches missiles at him. Very subtle plan! The A-Team follows, shooting their own weapons, but I should mention their helicopter is not exactly in flying shape. Murdock does a pretty crazy flying maneuver, pulling up right before crashing into the side of a cliff, and the evil copter can’t match it; they slam into the mountain and explode. Since no one ever dies on this show, the evil dudes crawl from the flaming wreckage, completely unscathed, as Murdock and Hannibal share a laugh.

Now they’re back at this beachside house, which I thought belonged to the Arab sheik, but Tawnia is serving drinks to the A-Team and gushing about how they gave her the best story of her career. She makes her pitch to keep working with the team, which they don’t like, but she persists, saying they’ll have to take her because Decker knows she’s on their side. Hannibal says we’ll give you a ride, and she says great, we’ll have a chance to get to know each other. They all do a double-take as we wrap up.

Pretty good! I’m not sure a “new Triple A” is really the answer here, but Tawnia seems nice enough. We’ll see how she holds up over the half a season or whatever they give her! As for me, I’m going to spend some quality time on Yahoo! Answers looking for questions like “Will George Pappard be in the A-Team movie?”

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