My Year With The A-Team: Season 2, Episode 4 – Bad Time on the Border

In My Year With the A-Team by Brady Carlson0 Comments

The team interrogates a sweatshop guy

“Hannibal is roasting to death in the hot American Southwest and B.A.’s checking in with the babysitter?!?”

So my immobilizing boot is on, and as expected I’ve veered well off the Highway of Badass onto the smaller, bumpier road of looking like one of those TV commercial people who can’t be turned down for life insurance. It’s also definitely living up to its name as far as immobilizing; it goes almost all the way up to my knee and so walking around is complicated. But there’s also an unexpected upside: the boot is so elaborate, getting it on or off takes so long that it almost forces me to concentrate on whatever project I’m doing! And since this is a project… could inexplicably wrecking my ankle while walking across the living room end up being the smartest thing I do all year? Actually, with my track record, it probably would’ve been anyway.


Bad Time on the Border

Wild Guess Preview: Remember how “Seinfeld” used to do those episodes where the characters would be stuck somewhere, like a restaurant or a parking garage? That’s the deal here, as the team wraps up their boat trip from Ecuador and sits at a border crossing in Texas. Hannibal dresses as “Roger Castro,” one of Fidel’s brothers who’s seeking asylum; Face and Murdock accidentally marry the Doublemint Twins while trying to buy sno-cones, and B.A. uses his always-present welding gear to turn a border fence into armor-plating. They do indeed bust through the border, but their pants stay in Mexico, making for an awkward ride home.

Mexican border crossing
Mexico, home of – not any Mexicans, according to this episode. They’ve all been moved to L.A.

The Recap: If they’re having a bad time on the border, it’s probably because of this faux-Mexican music they keep playing as we start this week’s show. An evil white guy in mirrored sunglasses is rounding Mexicans into a moving truck marked “Presley Casuals,” prompting horrible visions of illegal workers being forced to sew gaudy sequins into 2XL jumpsuits!?! There are only two people of note in this scene: some lady who’s quite sick (“Give her a shot of penicillin or something,” says the white guy) and her daughter, Maria, who wants to help her mother get well and therefore flees to the United States while the bad guys are otherwise occupied. So these white guys have to smuggle people across the US border, but an eight year old girl can do it without any trouble?

B.A.'s talking softball
Swing at a hanging breaking ball, or be the breaking ball’s fool

Maria has the super power of being able to find B.A. Baracus whenever she’s in trouble, a power which all kids of the 80’s had (remember that episode of “Silver Spoons” where Ricky Schroeder had the A-Team dangle John Houseman out the window?). B.A. is heading up a softball game; we first see him pitching to a nerdy kid who totally whiffs. The kids all think it’s unfair for B.A. to play against kids but they’re scared they’ll end up making ashtrays all day if they say anything. He spots Maria and it’s time to forget these softball geeks. “Would you like to be my friend?” he asks, and she assents by way of a big hug. B.A., of course, wants to help his friend, so he catches up with the rest of the team on some fancy boat. “If we don’t help her, Maria won’t have anybody in the world,” says B.A. Of COURSE she will, she’ll have YOU, sucka! Hannibal notes that whoever separated Maria from her mother “isn’t real big on human dignity.” B.A. concurs: “When I get finished with ’em, they’re gonna be real big on PAIN!” Damn right!

Maria tells the team about the Presley Casuals truck, so they visit a nearby factory and are grossed out by the maquila-style workhouse. They intimidate the factory manager while Murdock tries on a yellow raincoat and quotes Moby Dick. The manager, Presley, says Maria’s mother isn’t there, which they already knew, so not sure what this is all about, but then he calls for some pasty, out of shape guys who he considers muscle. The fight lasts – well, it was over before I finished typing this sentence, and so Presley confesses that he and the mirrored sunglasses guy from the first scene are running a smuggling ring in Tijuana with “this guy Prince.”

Prince?

Prince hovers over a border crossing

Far be it from me to say how to name TV villains, but did none of Stephen J. Cannell’s people turned the radio in 1983? His Royal Badness was all over the place, partying like it was 1999. Maybe the production staff was dreaming when they wrote this? (At least they didn’t name the villain Hall And Oates.) Anyway, Hannibal says human trafficking isn’t ok even for a funk-rock icon, and then the group heads off to Tijuana in a boat; Face and B.A. are massively seasick even though they all took a boat home from Ecuador a week ago, Hannibal is dreaming up a plan and Murdock is singing the “Gilligan’s Island” theme to his pet bug, Herman Melville, while dressed as the Gorton’s Fisherman. God, I love this show!

Tijuana – or at least, Tijuana on this show – has no Mexicans in it. Everyone there is white, and, from the looks of their clothes, a trucker. The only exception is Prince, who is not the slim Minneapolis guitar virtuoso but a sleazy-looking white dude in a salmon-colored leisure suit – think Elton John played by Ratso Rizzo. Hannibal goes undercover as “Sergio” to work out a smuggling deal. Prince calls someone at the Border Patrol called Lt. Taggart – oh, that’s the mirrored sunglasses guy from before – and they arrange for the border crossing the next day. Face and B.A. listen in on what looks like a hair dryer.

Hannibal gets hot and wet
Any man caught surviving as a soldier of fortune in the Los Angeles underground… spends the night in a box

The next day comes, and Prince is running this deal himself. He’s stealing all the Mexicans’ jewelry, with “Sergio” standing in the crowd. The rest of the team watches nearby, and they follow as Presley Casuals heads back toward L.A. They’re following in an old white van… which breaks just as they start their pursuit. Now what? The evil Presley truck pulls into what used to be John Saxon’s religious cult compound, or it looks like it anyway. Hannibal immediately grabs one of the thugs’ guns and calls out “Alright, guys, let’s go!” But there’s no guys there – they’re stranded in Mexico! “Oh great,” he says, and the thugs are angry. He warns them that the rest of the team will show up “in a little bit.” The thugs don’t find this funny at all and they put Hannibal in “the tin can,” a Cool Hand Luke-style box.

Back in Mexico, B.A. and Murdock are trying to fix the steering on their white van, while Face and Triple A fret and pace – even if they could drive away, they don’t know where Hannibal and the thugs went. Murdock suggests, via his bug proxy Herman Melville, that they go beat the info out of Prince. B.A. is infuriated – “I’ll SQUASH that bug!” he says – but Face thinks it might work, as long as they can figure out how to beat up his dumb muscle. Or, even better – they go around the muscle by having Triple A dress up like 80’s Eurotrash and charm the info out of him!

Triple A hits on 'Prince'
Actually, by 80’s standards this is not a terribly icky couple.

So she shows up at the bar and looks almost as scuzzy as her mark. “My name’s Prince,” he says, forgetting to add “and I’m funky.” It’s not fun watching Triple A hitting on Michael Moriarty like this! She whips up some surreal tale about her boyfriend Donny insisting she accompany him on duck hunting trips to Mexico; then Face shows up as the boyfriend’s friend. His job is to be thrown out of the bar by the bodyguards; they escort him outside and then get beat up (off-screen) by B.A. and Murdock. Then they all waltz in with guns. Murdock taps Prince on the shoulder. “I’m Donny,” he says. Then he points at B.A. “And this is Marie.” GOD I LOVE THIS SHOW. “You got a choice, Jack,” says B.A. “You either talk… or you HURT.” Again, I LOVE THIS SHOW.

Murdock dances with Roberto
Buzz Aldrin’s got nothing on Murdock’s dancing skills.

So the team commandeers Prince’s wheels and they head off to save Hannibal – well, no, first B.A. has to call Maria to tell her “don’t stay up late… eat all your greens.” Wow. His friend is literally roasting to death in the heat of the American Southwest and B.A.’s checking in with the babysitter?!? Oh, actually it’s montage time – “wait til you see what we’re gonna do to your fancy ride,” says B.A., and the usual assortment of welding armor plates goes into effect. Murdock steals a helicopter from some random guy named Roberto saying he’s a Secret Service agent watching out for Soviet nukes. He dances with Roberto to illustrate his point (!) before taking the chopper. Luckily, Hannibal is actually not roasting any more; they dumped him into some fenced-in area with the other smugglees. They’re all worried, but Hannibal assures them his friends will come and butts will be saved.

But Taggart has been tipped off by the guards in Tijuana, and he’s ready for Hannibal’s friends. The second Presley truck drives up… and Prince’s car drives through the back door of the truck! Ok, I take back everything I said about the extensive preparations; that is one badass car! B.A. is driving like a maniac while Face throws what look like explosive Frisbees at the guards, who are all wearing baseball caps and blue shirts; it looks like they’re fighting an army of Ernests. The team blows up everything – everything in L.A., everything in Mexico, everything in North America – and Hannibal leads the Mexicans out of their holding cell before clobbering Taggart. “You better have a hell of a lawyer,” he says. Triple A finds Maria’s mother; she and Murdock airlift her to the hospital. B.A. clobbers Prince and tells him to go write “Raspberry Beret.” Not really.

Murdock sends Herman Melville to his new home via paper airplane
Murdock is either in fourth grade or works for the Ministry of Magic

We’re back on the boat, and Maria’s mom is already back on her feet, most likely due to the Happy Meal she and Maria got from Triple A. Then Face’s boat neighbor offers up some sandwiches. So the last six minutes of the show is everybody eating?!? Triple A says Taggart and his men are all facing numerous charges; Hannibal adds that Maria and her mom are being sponsored by a Hollywood producer friend of his, and they’ll “get to study a giant American ego up close.” And Murdock sends Herman the bug onto the next chapter of his life using a paper airplane.

Fun trumps continuity and coherence yet again, as we get another enjoyable episode. I feel like I say that a lot; maybe it’s a hallmark of the series. Frankly, if the writers spend more time on developing talking bugs named Herman Melville instead of explaining fairly major plot holes, I’m not going to argue.

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