My Year With The A-Team: Season 3, Episode 14 – Cup A’Joe

The team admires its new armor-plated semi-truck

“‘I call this ‘B.A.’s Chili,”” he says, revealing a name both catchy and descriptive.”

We found some great Mr. T videos last time, but it turns out the rest of the team has some pretty great video moments as well. Consider this awesome George Peppard moment in which he throws everybody on “Password” for an uncomfortable loop:

Let’s just recap this a little bit. First of all, we have George Peppard badmouthing NBC’s top executives – by name – in the middle of an NBC taping, with the host fruitlessly trying to hem and haw his way back to the original plan…

George Peppard in a blue bodysuit

George Peppard is wearing a blue bodysuit! Wardrobes by Botany 500, and apparently Marcel Marceau.

And then, the coup de grace:

Password board: Blow and suck

Just what are you insinuating, my good man? I wonder if they were trying to get “Password” cancelled – bring on a cantankerous guest in a blue bodysuit, pick really suggestive clues… or maybe they were just aiming to make the greatest game show episode of all time. If so, mission accomplished.


Cup A’Joe

Wild Guess Preview: The team avoids Decker with a side trip to Seattle only to encounter a new foe: hipsters, wired on caffeine and struggling to finish their novels at the new Starbucks franchise. They take their middle class angst out on the team – or they try to, rather; Hannibal starts up his own coffee stand and defeats them with an explosive blueberry scone.

The Recap: We’re at the Cup A’Joe, the friendliest, warmest, most Lake Wobegon-ish diner you’ll ever come across. Joe is fixing up a mess of breakfast; his daughter Patty is serving coffee to Skeeter, the lone customer. But just as everyone in Lake Wobegon is actually suffering from delusional psychosis, not all is as happy as it seems at the Cup A’Joe: someone named Cactus Jack is driving all their other regulars away.

Cactus Jack

Have a nice day, Hannibal

Oh, sorry, different guy. Cactus Jack Slater is the villain here, and he’s at the diner to demand the deed to the place. He pulls out a gun and puts ol’ Skeeter in the Mandible Claw (actually, he punches him, but I like my version better). Then he roughs up Joe and has one of his goons shoot up all the dishware. “Look at that,” Slater says, starting one of the more goofy tough-guy lines ever uttered. “Your dishes are all blown to hell.”

Face and Hannibal as a road crew

Soldiers of fortune working, next 5 miles

Joe ends up in the hospital, so Skeeter takes Patty and Joe’s wife Edith in his semi-truck to start a new family – er, to find the A-Team, which is pretending to be a road crew just up ahead. I love that this group is actually excited when they find the A-Team, maybe because it’s the first time all four guys have been together in an episode in a long time. They all head back to the diner to put things right. B.A. says he can repair the damage Slater did to the place: “give me a couple hours, some tools, get rid of Murdock, and I’ll have this place looking like new.” Murdock is excited to help with the cooking; B.A. wants a donut before he starts working, but Edith shoos him away. Patty says there’s another problem besides repairs: they’re out of foodstuffs. So Hannibal asks to borrow Skeeter’s rig, which he disguises as a Cactus Jack delivery truck. But how to get a real Cactus truck to stop and give up the goods? “We’ll think of a way,” says Hannibal.

The way is Patty’s hinder, apparently; she’s doing the old stuck-by-the-roadside scam. The Cactus driver stops and looks at her, um, engine, which gives Murdock a chance to sneak over and disable the guy’s rig – which gives the team and their fake truck a chance to pick up his goods at the Cactus supply depot. All proceeds well until Slater, watching from his office, realizes that his usual driver is not the one picking up the groceries. He tells the guards to block the exit, but B.A. floors the semi-truck and they break through, with Hannibal cheerfully blasting the air horn on the way out.

But there’s more fun to be had at Cactus Jack’s HQ; Face drives up in a suit and tie (well, technically, in a car, but he’s wearing a suit and tie) and posing as “Warren Havenhurst, claims adjuster.” And he gets the receptionist to hand over Slater’s plans for a new shopping center before Slater tells him to get lost. Face/Warren says he must have the wrong address, and gives Slater a desk calendar on his way out. Nice touch. We now know why Slater wants the Cup A’Joe, but we don’t yet know why he has a picture of Bing Crosby on his office wall. “Get the rest of the boys,” Slater says. “We’re going back to the Cup A’Joe.”

The diner, by the way, is packed again – they’ve graffitied every Cactus Jack sign in the area to say “free lunch at Cup A’Joe’s.” Chef Murdock is heading up the kitchen with boundless energy. B.A. is there too; he appears to be making soup. Face arrives and explains Slater’s scheme, although Hannibal figures it’s a little too far off the highway for everything that Slater’s planning. Cactus is now at the diner, though the team doesn’t get to ask him about this little inconsistency; instead, Hannibal tells Slater about the sign that says “the management has the right to refuse service to anyone… well, you’re anyone.” Slater throws a punch at Hannibal, but the colonel ducks and the fight is on… and then it’s off, because B.A. basically throws everybody out the door. Patty can’t believe the team took Cactus Jack Slater out that easily, but Hannibal says it wasn’t a big thing. “We did ’em over easy,” he explains. “Next time, we’ll scramble ’em.” Next we have a slightly surreal scene where Murdock needs a refill on paprika and temporarily loses his shit over it; B.A. has to find some in their supply truck, albeit grudgingly: “Fool thinks he’s the Galloping Gourmet,” he says of Murdock. Yeah.

Slater is scheming again, this time with some city planning guy we haven’t seen. Apparently he’s paying the guy off to build an off-ramp right to his new center. Slater also says he’s going to kick off their evil plan with some demolitions experts who can make the diner “go boom.” The team, of course, is listening to this, thanks to the hidden microphone in Face’s insurance calendar. Hannibal says the only way to defend against explosives is to find the explosives before they go boom – and to do that, you need an explosives detector.

Face and Murdock as bomb detectors
Murdock’s like one mouth guard away from “Silence of the Lambs” here.

That can’t be too hard to come by, can it? Face just needs to drop by the Army base down the road in a military outfit; he also brings Murdock, who wears a bomb-blast suit and mask and talks in a Darth Vader voice. Face is “Colonel Milo” of the explosives disposal unit, and he scams some Army guy into giving up a bomb-sniffing dog; Murdock, playing along, says their last dog had just been blown up. “The last thing he said to me was ‘Woof’” – I love Murdock. They end up with a friendly-looking pup named Shotgun, who saves the day by finding explosives inside a Cactus truck. Hannibal jumps in the truck and drives it fast and far out of town, bailing out just before the rig goes kaboom. But when he, B.A. and Face come back to the diner, they only find Murdock – two of Slater’s thugs have knocked Murdock out and kidnapped Patty and Edith. Slater calls to say he’ll do them in unless the team leaves town and Joe signs over his diner.

Exploding truck
MacGyver gets his CDL

The team is up against it now – Face says Slater’s “holding four aces”; B.A. adds “that’s a hard hand to beat, Hannibal.” “Not if you’re drawn into a straight flush,” says the unflappable colonel, and that means a plan is forming.

Hannibal draws a gun from a hospital bed

Doctor, doctor, give me the news, I’ve got a bad case of shooting you

They drive to the hospital, where two thugs are making “Joe” sign over his diner to Slater. Only – no surprise here – it’s Hannibal under the gauze and hospital gown. He disarms the two crooks and makes them get in the awesome van, so they’ll confess to where Slater’s taken the ladies. And Hannibal’s got a surprise for old Slater, and it involves the truck they just blew up – yes, it’s montage time, and there’s a whole lotta welding going on.

The new armor-plated semi-truck
I think the ‘pointed battering ram’ is a standard option on tractor trailers these days

Slater’s congratulating himself on getting hold of the Cup A’Joe, but, of course, he doesn’t see the armor-plated tractor trailer that’s about to barrel through his front window. This destructive little maneuver stops his yakking, and it gives the team a chance to pound Slater’s men down once and for all. B.A. gets to throw a guy through the window, and Murdock gets one of his attackers with his chef’s hat. “The original Cactus Jack’s,” Face laughs. “I want to remember it just as it is.” Which is funny because it’s all torn up, you see?

Murdock tries B.A.'s spicy chili

Murdock tries the chili. But will he now go on a quest for his soulmate with Johnny Cash?

Joe is out of the hospital and feeling fine, except for a busted arm. Hannibal’s laughing about his new recipe for jailhouse stew: take Slater and his men, put ’em in jail and “simmer for about 20 years.” Face is making eyes at Patty, and he’s giving her most of her $10,000 deposit back, minus expenses. She gives him a kiss, but he’s all “you’re not Markie Post” so it doesn’t go much further. Murdock and B.A. are in the kitchen making chili; Murdock insists the big guy is off-base with his recipe, but B.A. says he knows what he’s doing – “I call this ‘B.A.’s Chili,’” he says, revealing a name both catchy and descriptive. He makes Murdock take the first taste – it’s good, but HOT, judging from the smoke coming out of his mouth. And that’s it.

Very, very good – a little cookie cutter, but certainly well done. If nothing else it’s nice to see all four guys in the show at the same time for a change!

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