My Year With The A-Team: Season 2, Episode 17 – It’s a Desert Out There

Hannibal and B.A. with old people

“James Madison laid down the law and worked with underprivileged kids. James Madison was the B.A. Baracus of early American history.”

I’m just now back from a short trip to Virginia. (Contrary to several news reports, the trip’s purpose was not so that I could return home and say “I just rode in from Richmond” in a “Gone With the Wind” voice.) I’m going to write quite a lot about this trip soon, but I bring it up here because of a day trip we took to Montpelier, the lifelong home of President James Madison. The funny and knowledgeable tour guide told us many things about Mr. Madison: for one thing, he’s known as the Father of the Constitution, the man who did the bulk of the research and writing that underpins the U.S. Constitution. Also, James Madison, upon marrying his beloved Dolley, became stepfather to her son Payne, and spent much of his time and money helping Payne out of his gambling-related troubles. To recap: James Madison laid down the law and worked with underprivileged kids. James Madison was the B.A. Baracus of early American history.

James Madison is B.A. Baracus
If fools were angels, no government would be necessary, sucka


It’s a Desert Out There

Wild Guess Preview: The singing sand dunes of Death Valley hire the A-Team to deal with Don Henley, whose new single “Dirty Laundry” is canceling out the dunes’ own music. The team takes out Henley in about four seconds (I just can’t resist jokes at his expense, can I) but the money-less dunes can only pay the team back in musical sand, which gets all over the awesome van just as Face is coming back with the clean laundry.

The Recap: Welcome to Sid’s Oasis, helping old people lose at bingo for over 57 years! And that’s not all, thanks to a crooked and very pinched-looking casino employee who radios someone called “Sundog” at a militia camp in the Gaza Strip or something. Sundog, who’s played by Duke from the “Rocky” movies, is excited and says “the iceman cometh,” which is a lot of mixed metaphors for saying “gonna rob old people.” Isn’t it counterproductive to rob the old people after they gamble?

Evil dune buggies
The other evil buggies have little ooga-ooga horns and bells!

Sure enough, the olds’ bus is accosted by three post-apocalyptic dune buggies stolen from the set of Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn – one of them has a cute little red flag on top! Sundog hops on the bus and announces, “We are the Scorpions… when we sting, you die.” The A-Team is fighting the Scorpions?

Scorpions!
Hannibal Smith, we will rock you like a hurricane

I hope Season Three is mostly the A-Team fighting hair bands –  I’d love to see them take on Britny Fox or Tesla. Anyway, Sundog makes everybody get off the bus and hand over their valuables, punching a Bernie Sanders-looking guy for good measure. He also tells them not to call the cops – but he doesn’t say anything about calling the A-Team! So the team visits one of the old couples, who acts like Hannibal and B.A. are their kids arriving for Thanksgiving brunch. They’re convinced the Scorpions had an insider at the casino to tell them the bus was coming – and they also didn’t care for the “Animal Magnetism” album. Face and Murdock come inside, Hannibal says “you’ve just hired the A-Team” and now they have to go right back outside. The old couple is thrilled.

So the team retraces the geezers’ steps, first checking the spot where the robbery went down and then heading to Sid’s Oasis to see if it’s where, as Face puts it, “the old folks were turned into targets.” Hannibal wants to draw the Scorpions out, with the help of “Uncle Ned, the Neon Natural.” That’s either a stripper for old women or Hannibal’s latest disguise – and I hope to God it’s the latter.

Hannibal warms up the dice
Casino Royale: co-starring Uncle Ned, the Neon Natural

And with that, it’s off to the casino! Hannibal puts up a pretty serious “hard eight” bet at the craps table. Face thinks maybe he should be rolling the dice; after all, he’s the slick one and “these hands have had the gifts since birth.” But Hannibal says “with me, it didn’t stop at the hands!” and he rolls two fours to start a serious winning streak. Murdock spots the pinched lady keeping an eye on them and relays the intelligence to the others. Face starts flirting with her and she feeds him her line about a “travel tip” to get home faster; Face pretends to thank her and she runs off to go call Klaus Meine – I mean, Sundog.

The team starts driving down the same dusty stretch of road as the Grandma Coach, and out come the dune buggies. They shoot out one of the van’s tires and try shaking the team down, but B.A. and Murdock burst out of the back of the van and the team gets the jump on the Scorpions, and make them promise never to release any song called “Wind of Change.” Hannibal gives Sundog a punch in the gut, right where Sundog hit the old guy at the beginning, but one of the other dudes throws a smoke grenade and they use that to make a quick getaway. “Grenades… smoke… we’re gonna find out why,” says an apparently incoherent Hannibal.

A horsey guy yells at Duke from Rocky
The cast of “Rent” goes renegade

Whatever it is they’re looking to find out, they’re going to find it with Face putting the moves on the pinched lady at Sid’s Oasis – as soon as a frustrated B.A. can get the tire fixed on the van. Hard to say whether he’s more irritated by the tire or by Murdock telling him all about the “gentle, poetic and tender spacefaring side of yourself.” Face says hi to the pinched lady – he says he came back because he finds her “mysterious… like you were hiding some secret only you knew about. Wanna swap incredibly personal secrets?” She leaves to call Sundog, only Face has bugged her phone – and the rest of the team is in the van, tracing the location. Sundog says she should “keep a lid on [Face]” – good luck buddy! But now Sundog is in trouble with some tall, thin horsey guy, who disapproves of his “side action.” Sundog says “we had an opportunity… we took it.” But horsey says that if Sundog makes another mistake, “I’ll take you out so fast you won’t make a sound when you fall.” Eerie synth music underscores his point. B.A., Hannibal and Murdock are driving their way, but then they see the dune buggies and decide to turn around. I thought the whole point of their trip was to FIND these guys – why flee the second you find them? Hannibal shoots out the tires of his pursuers, who are too dumb to say anything more clever than “something’s going down.”

Hannibal’s concerned. “Those guys are on full-scale maneuvers… they’re up to something more than just ripping off tourists.” What, though? They hope Face will find out – only the pinched lady just drugged Face with some champagne. The horsey guy tells her that they’re breaking camp and soon “everything will be over with.” Then he wants her to go see some guy named Al and “keep him happy” (ew) because there’s a surprise coming.

Murdock is Garrison Keillor
All weapons for this mission provided by Powdered Milk Biscuits.

So she goes to the jail and meets with Al, a dimwitted dude with a bad attitude. And she’s trying to keep him quiet, but then someone walks in – it’s Garrison Keillor! No, it’s Murdock dressed as Garrison Keillor. And he’s taking notes on their little meeting. Al is being transferred to a different jail. They argue and then she leaves. And then Murdock leaves, after telling the guard that his client believes in extraterrestrials. “A lot of wackos out there.” Ha! He goes back to the van and tells Face about Al – Face only pretended to be drugged so the pinched lady would carry on with her evil plans. He thinks Al’s name is familiar but can’t be sure, so he wants to have Tawnia check on it for him. Tawnia says Al is the former leader of the Scorpions, only he’s being moved to LA to meet with the DA there, and the Scorpions don’t like it.

The pinched lady walks into an office somewhere, an office the A-Team has already inhabited, and Face notes that she could lose her gaming license for hanging out with criminals. She could probably also lose her name, if she had one. After the obligatory “I don’t know anything” protests she says the Scorpions are going to take Al out at 3 pm during his prisoner transfer.

“We got two hours,” says Hannibal, and it’s time for preparation montage – two hours to take a geezer bus and turn it into an armor-plated geezer bus. My mistake, the bus turns into a replica of a US Marshal bus – so they’re going to take Al into custody! Tawnia is there, too – she wants a story on Al’s transfer, so she stows away in the cargo hold of the fake bus. They drive off and Hannibal compares Al to Louis XIV (?) – he tells Al that the Scorpions want to rub him out, but Al doesn’t believe it and starts threatening Hannibal. They meet up with B.A. and Murdock, who board the bus and start setting up for a firefight. Murdock discovers Tawnia in the cargo hold and the team asks her to stay in radio contact through the awesome van before driving off again.

And here come the dune buggies! Murdock implores Al to get on the floor and take cover; Al doesn’t budge, so B.A. says “the man said hit the deck, Jack!” Now Al listens. Guns guns guns, then one of the thugs jumps on the back of the bus, and Hannibal punches him til he falls off. Now he can go back to shooting grenades at the dune buggies and making them flip over. Problem – the thugs shoot out one of the bus tires. Solution: B.A. beats the shit out of all the thugs by himself! They handcuff the thugs to the bus and Tawnia drives up in the van just as the police make their way to the scene. Hannibal tells the thugs they’ll all have a nice run in jail once Al tells his story to the cops. And they head out.

Murdock's wacky toast
Actually, “Murdock’s wacky toast” would be a great product

Now onto the important stuff: party cake with the old people! Murdock gives a wacky toast about not drinking too fast or you’ll get bloated, and then plays with his stomach to the point that even B.A. giggles.

Hmm. This one had a more interesting plot than the moonshine hillbillies, but there’s something missing, and I think I know what it is: Murdock wackiness. The last two episodes haven’t had much of it, and I think they’ve suffered as a result. I’ll even go further: a lack of Murdock wackiness is not only disappointing, it’s unconstitutional! Right, Mr. Madison?

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