My Year With The A-Team: Season 2, Episode 18 – Chopping Spree

Face and Dennis Franz

They have to find a guy named Tiny Roscoe, whose name has GOT to be a double entendre.”

Today is Mr. T’s birthday. Let us sing out in praise of the great man, without whom this year-long adventure would not take place. Think of the impact he’s had – why, without T, the underprivileged kids of the 80’s would never have learned to make ashtrays, setting the stage for the massive ashtray industry of today! The fashion industry would be dominated by brand names and self-impressed designers had T not been there to warn us to “table the label… wear your own brand.” And the number of entertainment franchises he helped lift off the ground… Wrestlemania, Rocky, Penitentiary, The Skinny Crime-Solving Gymnasts… I could go on, but let’s just sum up T’s influence this way: without T, you wouldn’t know how to treat your mother right. Simple as that.

I once wrote a haiku in celebration of T, but I feel this time around we need something bigger, something more fitting to honor him. How about a limerick?

There once was a man called Tureaud
Who pitied the fool, thug or soul
Now he’s Mr. T
He helps suckas like me
And his greatness we all should extol

Hmm, not that great. Maybe next year I’ll do a statue.


It’s a Desert Out There

Wild Guess Preview: 80’s action series, meet 80’s commercial pitchman! The A-Team squares off against none other than Ron Popeil, who employs his unending set of special TV offers and handy household gadgets to stop his wily foes. Popeil nearly finishes the team off by catching B.A.’s gold in a Ronco Record Vacuum, but is eventually foiled by his own Showtime Rotisserie – he set it, forgot it, and got too hungry to continue fighting. So the A-Team pelts him with chicken, yelling “BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!!!” with each wing or drumstick and Popeil dies of a massive irony overdose.

The Recap: Good morning, non-descript 80’s henchmen! Are you here to steal that small silver Saab, or are you just here to show off your sunken chests, thinning hair and mirrored sunglasses? Looks like the former, especially after a valet dude runs up and whines “Hey, that’s not your car!” but you punched him in the gut and drove off. The valet grimaces in a Steve Perry sort of way (is “Steve Perry” a style of grimacing?) The henchmen drive the car to Dirksen’s Auto Repair and Salvage, and a guy there calls Sam Friendly’s Used Cars. Sam is Dennis Franz, and he wants whatever car they just stole “chopped and ready to go.” Then a fancy looking guy called Tony Vincent walks in and mumbles some vague stuff about a grand jury investigating him and tells Sam “you’ve got two days.” For what?

Meanwhile, Valet Steve Perry is humming “Oh Sherry” to himself as he visits O’Reilly’s Legal Service, which is actually a front for the A-Team. Valet Steve is actually Valet Davey, and he’s not a valet anymore – he lost his job because Friendly’s guys were stealing from the same lot. B.A. encourages Davey, saying Davey’s brother believed in him when he was “a kid in trouble.” This alone convinces Hannibal to go after the car thieves and clear Davey’s name, even though they’re supposed to be in Saudi Arabia rescuing a princess or two, and for actual money. Side note: Murdock is doing “gardening therapy” – he even sprinkles some of his special grow powder on B.A., who says “I don’t need to grow, fool!”

Hannibal, using data from Tawnia, figures out where the car thieves have been focusing their efforts, and decides to lure them out with bait – Face’s Corvette. No surprise that Face is very against this plan, but he and Tawnia park the Vette, with keys inside, at a restaurant. They’ve been doing this a lot, apparently – Tawnia says it’s their “sixth lunch in two days.” But this time shit is going down – a guy is breaking into the Vette! They all race over and shake him down, but it’s a false alarm – they guy has an identical Corvette parked a little ways away. And while the team is questioning this dude, the real henchmen show up and steal the van! It’s a swerve! B.A. is beside himself because they took the van. Murdock is beside himself because his plants are in B.A.’s van. Face is kind of OK with the van being stolen instead of his Corvette, but it does put us in the odd position of watching the A-Team chase their own van. The henchmen shoot out a Vette tire and that’s the end of that.

So nobody’s happy right now – Face is still worried about his car, which he’s washing by hand; B.A. is a tower of rage over the van, and Murdock’s longing for his plants. Davy says they’re right to worry – he’s seen cars chopped up 20 minutes after being stolen. Hannibal wonders if there’s a chopping operation nearby, and Davy says if there is, someone called Tiny Roscoe will know how to find it. Tiny Roscoe? That name’s got to be a double entendre.

A-Team meets Tiny Roscoe
The team fights Tiny Roscoe. Heh heh, heh heh… cool.

So they go to a warehouse and demand to know where Tiny Roscoe is. “Who wants to know?” asks the guy at the door. “Me, fool!” says B.A. “Me too, sucka!” adds Murdock. In lieu of answering, the dude takes a swing at B.A., who throws him and the four other guys around the room for a while; after a little more enhanced interrogation, Tiny says Sam Friendly is the guy they want – he brings stolen cars in from out of state, sells them, then steals the car back and chops it up for parts. It’s a pretty well thought out racket, you gotta admit, but that’s no comfort to a van-less B.A., who trashes the warehouse on his way to find the van. “He’s gone bonkers, Hannibal,” says Face.

“Gonna break some bones, man. Somebody got to pay!” That’s B.A.’s take on Sam Friendly, and that’s only because of the van being stolen and presumably chopped up – good thing he’s not on “NYPD Blue,” or he’d have to endure his van being chopped up and see Dennis Franz’s butt. The henchmen are about to chop up the van, but Friendly tells them they have to do “the Victor job” first, which involves building a duplicate of some other car. Still unclear what’s going on there.

Hannibal is Johnny B
Hannibal’s wardrobe provided by Liberace 500

No time for that now, though, we have a plan to put into effect! Face scams a job selling cars on Friendly’s lot (he manages to sell about seven hundred cars in one day, judging from the sales slips). Then Hannibal pulls up dressed as “Johnny B,” a record producer who needs twelve limos and a Porsche. All of this, by the way, is being done so that Face can rifle through Friendly’s files and find out when the next set of stolen cars will arrive – which, conveniently, is in like two minutes. Hannibal and Murdock hijack the car carrier from former French Premier Georges Clemenceau. Then they kidnap Friendly and take him to the chop shop lot, where they find the van and hold the remaining henchmen at gunpoint.

B.A. listens in on the thugs' conversations
Surveillance costs less when you use 10-10-321!

B.A. literally runs his hand up and down the front of the van – I think he missed the van more than Pee Wee Herman misses his bike. He smacks Friendly in the gut as payback, but just then Tony Victor, the suit guy from the beginning, and his thugs get the jump on the team and hold them at gunpoint. “Retire them with flowers,” he says. Which I guess makes sense. Then Vincent and two henchmen dress up as policemen and get into a fake police car – Hannibal recalls that the judge on Victor’s grand jury is being buried today, and that the DA on Victor’s case will be there – so there’s your secret project. There should really be a summary review at the end of each section of this show, to make sure everybody’s following along.

The team is in a pickle, for sure; luckily, Murdock is still roaming free, and he scams a Dirksen repair guy out of his tow truck and arrives at the junkyard before Friendly can take the team out. This is enough of a distraction for the big fight to begin – Face wails on a guy with an old muffler pipe, while Hannibal and B.A. just punch away until thugs stop fighting back. B.A. tells “Mr. Un-friendly” that he’s going to “use you as my car bumper,” but first he has to stop Tony Victor. He also notices a hearse in Friendly’s junkyard – “what a great way for four wanted guys to get into a funeral filled with cops.”

Murdock and a machine gun inside a casket
Murdock fires a machine gun inside a casket. Even by pro wrestling standards this is weird.

And so it’s preparation montage time – a short one, since we’re almost out of time, but enough to turn a broken-down rusty old bucket of bolts into a snazzy black limo. They pull up just as Vincent and his guys arrive – it took Vincent forever to get to the funeral, did he stop for burgers or something? So now a hearse is chasing a police car around a cemetery, and just when things couldn’t get any weirder, Murdock pops out of the back of a casket and start firing his machine gun, which is enough to shoot out one of the tires and make the police car flip over. Now the real police show up and somehow they know the thugs are fake. “Hey, what do you know, we just nailed Tony Victor,” says an ADR.

Murdock kisses his plant goodbye
Plant, the two of us need look no more…

Back to meet up with Davy and wrap up the week’s adventures. Hannibal says he’s happy that Tony V and Friendly are in the slammer. “Don’t want to buy a used car from that fool,” says B.A. Murdock is planting his plant in the wild; time to say goodbye, and he’s getting a little teary eyed. B.A. finds this ridiculous – “I don’t talk to no plant, sucka!” – but after some cajoling even he goes over to give the plant a wink and a smile as the episode ends.

Another middling episode – if I may use a car metaphor, the pistons just weren’t all firing here for some reason. Dennis Franz as the villain was a good idea, but the whole Tony V subplot just seemed not well thought out; same for the Murdock plant angle, even though Dwight Schultz was clearly giving it his all. And we’re left completely hanging on the Saudi Arabia mission Face kept bringing up; did they finish it, or what? We’re in a bit of a slump here, folks. Time to dig in and hope for a comeback.

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