“If an unconscious, donkey-riding, sombrero-wearing B.A. doesn’t convince you this is the greatest TV show ever, nothing will.”
Had the best A-Team dream ever the other night: I dreamed that for some reason I had to go with Murdock across the country in a bus, as part of a mission. Each place we went we were followed or nearly captured by somebody, but at one point I managed to get us out of trouble by explaining to some military officer how occasionally the military let us loose to do missions for them, and that was why we were free, not because we were fugitives. Oh, said the military guy. So you and â€“ he pointed toward Murdock, trying to think of his name â€“ are on a mission? â€œYes,â€ I said. â€œMy name is H.M. Murdock. And this,â€ I said, pointing to Murdock, â€œis B.A. Baracus.â€
The Doctor Is Out
Wild Guess Preview: I know virtually every one of these previews has been a team-up with some unlikely character, but seriously, this time the A-Team gets hired by Linus and Charlie Brown because Lucy’s psychiatry stand has become the emotional blackmail capital of the â€œPeanutsâ€ universe. Murdock kind of likes her â€œtough loveâ€ approach, but Face wants to get out of town as fast as possible, mostly because Sally has switched her affections from Linus to him, and he’s not sure he wants to become Sally’s sweet baboo.
See, this is what HBO’s “In Treatment” should be like.
The Recap: We’re starting off at the VA hospital? With Murdock on the couch? This is gonna be good. â€œMy problem is that everything I dream comes true,â€ he explains to the doctor, such as his recent dream where he was standing in for Bruce Springsteen onstage, only he couldn’t sing, he could only moo and started â€œgrazing on the amp cords… and then I exploded.â€ Despite this being the greatest thing anyone has ever described, the doctor isn’t impressed: â€œIt’s time for you to start dealing with reality,â€ he says, and he wants Murdock to start with the A-Team. No, sorry, no time for that, some military looking guys bust into the room and take the doctor with them. They also drug Murdock and set some files for a â€œColonel Stoddardâ€ on fire.
If Murdock goes outside right now, the lunatic really will be on the grass!
Whoa, Murdock’s tripping on whatever drug they gave him; he watches them head off in a chopter through the window, but he sees it in like inverse colors, so it’s sort of like the A-Team as performed by the Australian Pink Floyd Show. He wanders outside and makes a very incoherent phone call to report an emergency at a house near the ocean, then hides in the back of the ambulance. Ah, he’s smuggling himself out of the hospital!
Face is teaching this woman on the intricacies of saying “bite me.” Seriously.
The ocean house is where Face is doing some kind of line reading with a blond lady called Wendy. He’s about to put the moves on her, but the doorbell rings and it’s the paramedics wondering where the woman who fell into the ocean is at. Face says she’s fine, she’s just working on her lines in the back. (By the way, her main line is â€œbite me,â€ so throughout this conversation there’s a woman shouting â€œBite me! Bite me!â€) Murdock walks in, tries to bite Wendy, then falls over on the living room floor.
The rest of the team hurries over and Face is distressed not just that Murdock was drugged, but that he showed up just as he was â€œabout to give her the lead in ‘Rock and Roll Vampire.’â€ Face doesn’t even quite believe Murdock’s story about the doctor being drugged and kidnapped by US soldiers, though Murdock insists it was all true: â€œThey snatched my shrink and I want him back.â€ Hannibal believes him, so he has Face check out the VA and see what he can find out.
The rest of the team drops by Richter’s house to see if he’s there; Hannibal’s pretending to me an old friend of Dr. Richter. The doc’s daughter answers; she’s played by Jeannetta Arnette, or Miss Meara on â€œHead of the Class.â€ …ok, I guess I’m the only one who remembers her witty banter with the principal, Dr. Samuels. Anyway, she says Richter’s fine, he’s in San Francisco for work and won’t be back for a few days. After Hannibal leaves, she turns to some soldiers, hidden in her foyer, and asks when her father will get to come home. They brush her off and say â€œETA two minutes.â€ â€œETA of what?â€ she asks.
Face pulls up in the Corvette; Richter supposedly asked for time off because his mother is dying. So the team scales the backyard fences to see if there really is anybody in there. Spoiler alert: there is. Murdock spots a soldier going through the doc’s files, and then two soldiers are bringing the daughter outside. Hannibal yells â€œDrop the girl!â€ and then it’s a little gunfight action until the chopter shows up and the soldiers depart, with their files in tow. No, wait, they dropped the files; Murdock scoops ’em up as the soldiers skedaddle anyway.
Oh my lord I WANT that dartboard
Colonel Max Stoddard is the name on these files; same name that was on the files the soldiers burned at the VA. But nobody knows who Stoddard is, so Hannibal assigns Face another research project. He heads to the federal building pretending that Murdock, who’s dressed as a very eccentric Army grunt/Boy Scout (he even wears a WWI style hat), has captured the prominent fugitive Templeton Peck and has to deliver him to General Fulbright. When the real soldier leaves to go get the general, they do a search on the computer in Fulbright’s office, where they find out that Max Stoddard is â€œMilitary advisor to Major Ramon Garcia Federal Police Forces engaged against Revolutionary elements Bajajos, Curaguay, South America.â€ That’s a long title. Face also sees the military is in the midst of a disciplinary review of Stoddard. Even better: Fulbright has a Hannibal Smith dartboard on his wall. â€œWonder where he keeps the voodoo dolls,â€ Face says.
They report back and Hannibal takes a look at the files; it seems Murdock’s psychiatrist, Dr. Richter, was about to report back on Stoddard’s activities in Curaguay, and not in a positive way, either. â€œIf we’re going to talk to this guy Stoddard,â€ Hannibal says, â€œWe’ve got quite a trip.â€ No, says B.A., he has a new policy: â€œI don’t go further south than San Diego.â€ I guess you can’t drive to Mexico anymore? Murdock gets so upset with B.A. that he has an anxiety attack and starts seizing up. Hannibal and B.A. try to hold him in place… and then Face jabs B.A. with a needle full of knockout drugs. â€œAh…. Face…â€ B.A. mutters as he slumps to the ground. Right onto Murdock, actually.
And with that we head to Curaguay, a country, Murdock notes, that has â€œrevolutions about once every 18 months.â€ What they have now is Dr. Richter tied to a large wooden cage thing, and Stoddard staring at him just a little too long. â€œI was just remembering the first time I ever tortured a guy,â€ he says, thus establishing his bonafides as a weirdo. Then he explains that he kidnapped the doc and took him thousands of miles away, trussed him up and tried to feed him to alligators… all to prove he’s not crazy. Good strategy. Stoddard concludes the nut-fest by saying that maybe if Richter changes his report he’ll consider not dismembering him.
How many times I looked just like this in college… actually none, which I now regret
The team is making their way through Curaguay. B.A. is unconscious, riding a burro while wearing a sombrero. If an unconscious, donkey-riding, sombrero-wearing B.A. doesn’t convince you this is the greatest TV show ever, nothing will. The conscious members of the team are chatting with Richter’s daughter, only her answers are making Hannibal and Murdock very suspicious. Face says he believes her 100 percent, which is the moment she confesses she’s not Richter’s daughter and is actually a journalist. Face: â€œWell, anybody can make a mistake.â€ Hannibal says he never trusted her, but figured if she came along she couldn’t notify anybody about where the team was going.
So they stop by a watering hole, a place they were told to ask for Stoddard. The regulars say they don’t know Stoddard and say â€œYanquis are not welcome.â€ They approach; Face points toward the sleeping B.A. and warns them that they â€œdon’t want to wake up El Tigreâ€ but they start a fight anyway, pounding the three teamers down in about a ten to three ratio, while the lady frantically tries to wake B.A. up. He does, but only after the team’s been tossed into piles of hay and held at gunpoint.
â€œYou guys really make me mad,â€ B.A. says. â€œYou wake me up so I can get killed.â€ That’s what looks next, all right. But then the lady who isn’t Richter’s daughter tells the soldiers that â€œyou don’t want to kill Stoddard’s daughter.â€ Wait, now she’s Stoddard’s daughter? â€œWelcome to the house of mirrors,â€ Hannibal says, smirking. Poor Face says â€œI just don’t know what to believe anymore.â€ Murdock is quite impressed with her craziness, though. She tells Stoddard’s right hand man, Lt. Phillips, that she and the team have the rest of the papers Stoddard was looking for, and that’s why they’re in town. Then she grabs Phillips’ gun and tosses it to Hannibal. Another fight ensues, and this time the team comes out on top. Afterwards the lady confesses that she’s not actually Stoddard’s daughter. No surprise there, but Face is questioning his very nature: â€œI, of all people, should be able to see through a con artist!â€
Time to go find Stoddard, but Hannibal says they’re going without their mysterious lady friend, because nobody’s sure which side she’s on. She says ok, I’ll level with you: â€œI’m with the CIA.â€ (Face: â€œI’m losing it.â€) Hannibal says even if that is true, â€œWe don’t do business with The Company.â€ So they tie her to a tree and drive off.
Night falls on Stoddard’s camp, and this time it’s actually night, not â€œheavily filtered afternoonâ€ that’s passed for night in some past episodes. A soldier notifies Stoddard that â€œEl Presidente has called for a ceasefireâ€ and is offering to send all US troops out of the country. â€œNot in this lifetime he won’t,â€ Stoddard says. He says they’ll go after El Presidente and â€œbreak the ceasefire ourselves. We’ll snuff that dude… there’s still plenty of war left.â€ How on earth could Dr. Richter have possibly thought this guy was crazy?
The team sneaks into Stoddard’s camp the next morning. B.A. pulls the doctor off his wooden frame, while the others cover him with their machine guns. They also manage to blow up several buildings just by shooting at them. The getaway is more difficult, in that they run right into Stoddard and more troops: â€œFar enough,â€ he says. And then the lady walks up; she’s working with Stoddard after all. Argh.
In the original script King Kong was supposed to rescue them from these cages, but there was a scheduling problem.
Now the team and Richter are in wooden cages. The lady comes over and apologizes; she says the only way she could avoid getting killed was to give the team up, but Hannibal says â€œsave it for your book.â€ Dr. Richter wakes up and he’s glad to see Murdock. Oddly, he’s surprised to see the lady. â€œThat’s Sarah, Sarah Teasdale!â€ She’s one of Richter’s clients, though she’s so wacky even he isn’t sure what her deal is. Stoddard comes over for the usual self-congratulatory villain chat; Hannibal cracks wise and Stoddard punches him through the wooden bars. Sarah comes over to Stoddard and confesses that her real name (another one?) is Marisa, that she’s El Presidente’s daughter who’s turned against her father. Stoddard quizzes her and, just as she did when Phillips asked her about Stoddard’s military career, she knows the whole story inside and out. And Stoddard buys it, which makes Face apoplectic. Sarah comes over and starts tussling with Face behind the bars, then walks off with Stoddard. Hey, she gave Face a knife or something, because he’s able to free himself from his ropes and help the others get untied too. Hannibal asks the doc who this lady is, and he says, â€œFrom time to time… everybody.â€
Stoddard leaves one guy behind when he leaves, and the team overpowers him straight away; they also lock up some other dudes in a nearby barracks. Hannibal wants everyone to find as many guns and as much ammo as they can find; they do this, while Hannibal and the doc go off to do something. Murdock and B.A. walk a little ways into the forest and find… a chopter? They have to do a short montage to get it ready, but this is welcome news. Hannibal and the doc find some rocket launcher parts. â€œHow we’ll we launch them?â€ â€œWe’ll find a way, doc.â€ And so we get another montage while the team finds a way to launch the rockets.
The plan is ready. Hannibal, Face and B.A. drive off in a Jeep to meet Stoddard and his men, while Murdock and the doc fly off. The doc says he’s always had complete trust in Murdock. â€œI don’t believe a word you’re saying,â€ Murdock replies as the chopter takes off. They hone in on the Stoddard people and launch the rockets, while the rest of the team takes positions and starts shooting; Sarah even knocks old crazy pants Stoddard out of his Jeep! All the soldiers can basically do at this point is crash their Jeeps into the bar and surrender. â€œI’ll see you at the next session,â€ the doc tells Murdock, and H.M. is overjoyed.
Face “scams” the all-you-can-eat breadsticks from Olive Garden, not realizing it’s a regular part of the menu
We’re back at the beach house, and Murdock is so grateful that the team helped, he can barely speak. â€œGood,â€ says B.A., who’s grouchy even by his usual standards. â€œThen maybe I can enjoy my meal!â€ Face offers up a gourmet meal in celebration. B.A. thinks of a better reward: â€œHow about money?â€ Hannibal’s still trying to figure out who Sarah really was, but not B.A.: â€œI think she’s a nut, pure and simple.â€ Murdock disagrees, and says she simply has â€œa highly developed sense of adventure.â€ Sarah drops by with a date, and the team peppers her with aliases: â€œBetty?â€ â€œMarisa?â€ â€œSarah?â€ â€œI just have one of those faces,â€ she says to her companion with a wink. And we’re out.
An interesting change of pace â€“ this felt a lot more like a season three show, a little grittier and not as light as season four has been thus far. Still, it was very well written, and Stoddard was a sharp villain who was played well; nuts but not over the top. And crazy Sarah was a nice touch, especially by droving Face up the wall by out-conning him.