My Year With The A-Team: Season 2, Episode 16 – Pure-Dee Poison

Murdock on the ground.

“The villains’ security is pretty slight: a few tripwires, a few hidden cameras, a few guys dressed like Elmer Fudd eating cheese.”

A busy week is kryptonite for a guy trying to recap a TV show. Boy is that a goofy sentence, but it’s true – how can I concentrate on the important things when I’m running errands or going to appointments? I did get at least one truly great moment out of all the running around; I was at the doctor’s office again, and a dude in the waiting room has his cellphone go off. Loudly. And the ringtone is “Your Kiss Is On My List” by Hall and Oates. And from what I could see, he was pretty damn well mortified by the scene. He answered the phone fast, like a gunslinger.

I do not wish to speculate on what the A-Team’s ringtones would be, but I do wish to note that while living the A-Team way must be difficult, there’s a silver lining: it’s like the ultimate excuse to get out of appointments and errands. Your friend wants you to come to some meeting about his new business selling timeshares in some development in Kentucky? “Geez, man, I’d love to come, but this Army colonel is chasing me around the country.” And you can’t help people move couches, or go to graduation parties of people you barely know, when your weekends are mostly spent in firefights with Venezuelan federales or crazed hillbillies. Maybe being wanted by the military is primarily a way to get your priorities in order. If so, where do I sign up for fugitive status? And where do I pick up my awesome van?


Pure-Dee Poison

Wild Guess Preview: Face’s MBA correspondence course leads the team to an odd mission, in which they must convince Old Doc and Auntie Mae, the makers of “old-timey rat poison,” that a whimsical Southern brand name for their product is not a good idea in the 80’s. But there’s an even bigger problem: the poison is actually a growth and nerve tonic, and the rats who ate it are now 60 feet tall and superintelligent! Guest-starring Bob Vila as the voice of the head rat, “Vito.”

Reverend Taylor shoots moonshine
Ralph Abernathy stars in “Walking Tall 2: Rip Roarin’ Reverend”

The Recap: What was it I said before about fighting crazed hillbilles? “Pure-Dee Poison” is moonshine, judging from the hillbilly bar we’re visiting. And the local preacher, Reverend Taylor, doesn’t like the moonshine, judging from the shotgun he uses to blow it to smithereens. (“Let us pray,” he says, just as he opens fire – this guy is badass!) The preacher is played by John Amos, who was the dad on Good Times. He says something about how the war is just getting started, but we knew that because the opening credits are still rolling. Taylor’s luck changes when the credits end, though; the head head moonshine guy and his thugs beat the Rev up and pour milk on his pool table.

Hannibal in his muttonchop fisherman disguise
I say, this dastardly poltroon must be brought to his senses! Anyone for eel fricassee?

So the Rev takes the next logical step: he rents a wet-dry vac from the hardware store and cleans up his pool table. Er, actually he meets up with Hannibal at a dock somewhere. Hannibal has fuzzy whiskers and a yellow rainslicker; he’s sort of Chester Arthur-meets-the Gorton’s Fisherman. Taylor knew Face in Vietnam, and now he needs the A-Team’s help to deal with this moonshine guy, who’s called Drew. Taylor explains Drew’s ‘shine operation, the “largest in the South,” is poisoning his parishioners. Also, he sells the moonshine to underage drinkers, and you can’t play a decent game of billiards in the county anymore because of all the milk puddles. The team promises to help.

Hannibal and Tawnia, an icky hillbilly couple
Stand by your Hannibal!

The awesome van drives into Arcadia (“Flower of the South”), and Tawnia’s on board, thrilled to death that the team finally invited her along on a mission. Hannibal notes “you might not be thanking us for long.” They drive to one of Drew’s booze joints, with Hannibal and Tawnia posing as an icky hillbilly couple. They shake Hannibal down as they’re let in, but not Tawnia; good thing she’s the one with the gun in her hat! The rest of the team storms in and they beat some answers out of the four guys in the club. The head guy admits he’s part of the Drew delivery route, and Hannibal decides, in lieu of blowing the place up, that they’ll help run the place from now on. “I love it when a partnership comes together.” Nice.

Murdock and Face scam nitrous at the dentist's office
Murdock’s bib says “RELAX” all over it. I didn’t know Frankie Goes To Hollywood produced dental supplies.

The thugs wash tables while the team considers their next option. They got the jump on Drew this time, but B.A. wisely points out that moonshine trucks are hella-fast so as to outrun the cops: “We’re gonna need something to give us more horsepower than them,” he says. What could give them the edge? Nitrous oxide, says B.A.! Face knows how to get hold of the nitrous, too – he takes a reluctant Murdock to the dentist. Murdock is convinced dentists are hiding things in his teeth: “Dog toys, vacuum cleaners, who knows!” So old Howlin’ Mad turns on the paranoia at the dentist’s office; when she gives him some nitrous to relax, he starts giggling uncontrollably and runs out the door, with Face chasing him. They head to the van and now they’ve got nitrous! But shouldn’t they always have that on hand? It’d sure help them escape Decker.

Anyway, the team puts an elaborate plan into action as the thugs arrive: Face, posing as a bar employee, pretends to fire Tawnia from a waitressing job, and one of the moonshine drivers tries to console her with an offer of moonshine. The other drivers go inside and Hannibal informs them of the “merger” in club ownership, adding that they’re going to take all the moonshine and pour it “down the nearest hole.” The main driver, who looks a lot like Stephen J. Cannell, says he’d like to shove Hannibal down said hole. So there’s actually a hole, it’s not just a metaphor? Just as they start to throw down, Tawnia spills some of her new friend’s moonshine, tosses a lit cigarette into it and blows up his truck. The thugs take off in the other truck – Tawnia explains by way of an ADR that she couldn’t blow the second truck up – and now the team piles into the van to chase them. Hmm, usually they’re the ones getting chased. After a few rounds of obligatory gunfire, B.A. announces it’s “time for the smoke, man” and they pull over, turn on some Dead… no, they add nitrous to their tank and immediately overtake the thugs and shoot out their tires. Face shoots all the moonshine bottles and Hannibal declares Drew out of business. “From now on, we own the road.” Hardcastle and McCormick might not like it, but I sure do. I’d also like to point out that the heroes are using inhalants to outwit moonshiners – so much for the Just Say No era, eh?

The thugs have to walk back to Drew and explain that the situation is “escalating.” Drew says “we can escalate too.” Uh oh. Speaking of escalating, B.A. is getting close to Taylor’s daughter, Stephanie, at the community center. She says he’s special. He blushes – the emotional tenor of their conversation is pretty much taken from the scene in “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” where Clarice tells Rudolph she likes his red nose and he’s all “aw, shucks” about it. But now Drew and his dudes show up at the community center – somebody hide the pool tables! Hannibal says the team will keep shutting Drew down unless he closes his operation immediately; Drew sort of smirks defiantly and says “nuh-uh.” The thugs pile into their trucks and leave, only there’s a catch – Murdock’s under one of the trucks and he’s been screwing with their vehicles! Actually, he’s installed little cameras in their grills, so they can find Drew’s secret headquarters. “Ready to fold, spindle and mutilate?” Hannibal asks B.A. The answer is yes.

Drew’s security is pretty slight: a few tripwires, a few hidden cameras, a few guys eating cheese and watching the cameras dressed like Elmer Fudd. So the team sneaks in pretty easily – Murdock nearly spills the beans in front of a hidden microphone, but covers with a nice wild pig impression. They make it all the way to the main building, but unfortunately the thugs have taken Tawnia and Stephanie hostage, and so the team has to surrender.

“Look at the saviors of Arcadia County now,” laughs the thug, except that he locks the away in a barn full of hand tools, industrial equipment and fertilizer. Bright move, pal. There’s even a welding torch – can you say preparation montage? Soon everyone is building PVC pipe bombs and adding armor plating to the tractor, and things are looking good. Then they try to start the tractor, and it coughs repeatedly, and now things are not quite as good. But it does finally start just as Drew’s men surround the place, and things are a-gonna start blowing up real good. After some nifty pipe bomb vs. guns action, Hannibal requisitions some guns of his own, and shoots some holes in the main moonshine tank. He gives the bad guys a chance to surrender; the thugs do, but Drew refuses, so Murdock smokes him out by blowing the still up with a stick of dynamite that he got from somewhere. Drew is blown into the air, right into Hannibal’s clutches. “Next time a preacher talks,” he says, “you better listen.”

B.A. has a girlfriend!
Next mission: The Island of Misfit Toys

So everybody’s happy, except for Drew and friends, and so Taylor gives his thanks to the team. Stephanie gives her thanks to B.A. in the form of a hug and a peck on the cheek; he blushes and then flies into the air, yelling “She thinks I’m cute! I’m cuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuute!” and then Santa asks B.A. to help him deliver toys on Christmas Eve with the awesome van.

Pretty good, though not quite on the level of the last few episodes. The mission was just too easy – who locks their enemies in a room with all the tools to defeat them? No one breaks into a guy’s house and locks him in the room with the gun collection, right? If it got any easier they would have time to run errands.

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