The team puts on their sheriff badges

“Clearly these soldiers don’t know about the dangers of dynamite-induced Jeep flipovers when they chase the team.”

I caught the end of “The Three Amigos” on TV the other night and got stuck thinking on one of Martin Short’s lines – it was that scene where the villagers offer the amigos a place to stay, and Martin Short, summoning up as much chest-puffing gravitas as he can, says “we are men without homes… we were meant to wander.” It’s not something one of the A-Teamers would say, but it certainly applies. And it’s a little depressing, really – sure, B.A. can hang out at the youth center, and Face can take a girl out on a date, but you can’t spend a lot of time with friends or loved ones when you know that at any moment you’ll have to run for it because Decker or Lynch is on your trail. I’ve noticed a lot of that in what I’m reading and watching lately: the most recent example is re-watching “The Warriors,” which is essentially a story of guys who want to come home and can’t; it’s Homer’s Odyssey with afros, flared pants and Lynne Thigpen.

For my money the saddest example of this is not the A-Team but David Banner on The Incredible Hulk. The A-Team has to run for it quite often, but quite often they do so having made a little money, or at least impressing the hell out of the locals. And they’re not the type to complain about their plight – Hannibal even says in the pilot that yeah, it’s annoying to be fugitives when you’ve done nothing wrong, but they’ll be cleared eventually, and until then they’ll help people out like always. David Banner, on the other hand, never catches a break – when he helps people he gets accused of being a criminal and a murderer; no one ever hands him any money; time and time again he gets close to finding a way to control his transformations into the Hulk and they slip just out of reach. And at the end of every episode, win or lose, he’s standing on the side of the road with absolutely nothing – no money, no friends, nothing – just hoping to get a ride to the next town. David Banner may be not just the most depressing character in TV history, but the most depressing character in human history – surely the poor people in Charles Dickens novels, the ones at the mercy of the rich bosses, look at David Banner and go “Jeez, at least I’m not that guy.”

Maybe this is just something that happens to TV and movie characters, but it sure seems like our world is just a whole lot of lonely people taking on dangerous missions for each other. Would it be easier if one of us just threw a party and we all got together? Maybe we could throw on an episode of The A-Team or two?


Sheriffs of Rivertown

Wild Guess Preview: Inspired by last week’s “fake A-Team” episode, some down-on-their-luck musicians head to Rivertown and impersonate the Canadian rock band Sheriff at the annual Rivertown Rib Fest and Homebuilding Expo. The actual band Sheriff has to hire the A-Team, first to chase away the impostors, and second to listen to endless anecdotes about the recording of “When I’m With You.” Bored to the breaking point, B.A. welds the whole band to the “Win a free thermal window evaluation” booth and justice is at last done.

The Recap: This one’s set in the “Republic of San Marcos” – we’re back in South America already? Rivertown is home to a large oil company, known as “Amco” – I suppose if they did this episode today the oil company might be called “B.” Amco’s facility has some problems, mostly due to a foreman named Boyle, who orders two nice oil workers to work on a tunnel excavation even though they’re machinists and have nothing to do with tunnels. “We’re the company out here,” Boyle says, “and every now and then, we change the rules.” From the looks of the sweat stains, they don’t change their shirts.

While the nice oil workers go off to the tunnel, Boyle and his friends head to the local tavern, named Tavern to make it easy on the short-term memory, to play cards while Boyle’s girlfriend Nikki sings a lite-rock tune in the corner. In the distance, we hear an explosion, and more evil dudes come by and cheerfully explain there’s no hope for the men they set up inside the tunnel. That’s how we know they’re evil – that and their neckerchiefs.

Hannibal and the cleaning lady
Clara Dickerson loves it when water and Murphy’s Oil Soap come together.

In Los Angeles, Amco’s board is holding an important meeting. In the dark. With the cleaning woman. Seriously, the board chair invites her in, hands her a cigar and reiterates that he’s “sincere in our plea for help from the A-Team.” Ah, he thinks the cleaning lady is Hannibal. He then goes on about how the Rivertown electrical project has been set back by suspicious explosions that have killed 20 employees. He wants the A-Team to head up security at the project. “Sounds like you need ’em bad,” says the cleaning lady. “Why are you telling me all this?” “Wait, aren’t you Hannibal Smith?” Nope, she’s Clara Dickerson, waste management artisan. The real Hannibal Smith is posing as a security guard, and he reveals his identity to the board before lighting his own cigar and sharing a laugh with Clara.

A-Team burger picnic

An army travels on its stomach.

Hannibal drives off (in Face’s Corvette, which we haven’t seen in a while) to brief the team on their new mission, and wow, he bought burgers! Hannibal says that yes, the last Rivertown sheriff disappeared without a trace, but “a lot of people are going to benefit from this,” including the team, who not only get their full fee but can fly down on the Amco executive jet. B.A. is immediately suspicious – “I’ve seen this trick before. You give me a burger and expect me to eat it!” He takes Hannibal’s burger instead, but then he remembers Hannibal did the old burger-switcheroo trick once before, so he trades with Face. But he’s not sure about that, either, and considers switching with Murdock before finally taking back the first burger. B.A.’s channeling “The Princess Bride” here, isn’t he? Hannibal hands B.A. a milk carton to wash down his food, and that’s what has the sleeping powder in it. “He was doing so well,” Face says, shaking his head, before scarfing down his burger.

B.A. takes the deputy oath

Not exactly solemnly swearing, but swearing nonetheless