My Year With The A-Team: Season 4, Episode 18 – The Duke of Whispering Pines

The A-Team inside a mine

“If I ever start an old-timey/gangsta band, our first song will be called ‘I Whittled Me a Gun.'”

Amidst all the hubbub I realize I have neglected a very important event. Dwight Schultz had a birthday not so long ago! The talented man behind the crazy fool certainly deserves some birthday accolades; sorry that they’re so late. Nothing personal, I assure you!


The Duke of Whispering Pines

Wild Guess Preview: The team heads to England, where they meet a German expatriate, Duke Franz Schergen-Murdock – and Howlin’ Mad is the long lost member of their royal clan! Soon they’re parking the awesome van in front of posh hotels and swanky castles, but there’s a dark side: the Duke is the one responsible for the growing problem of Renaissance festivals!

The Recap: B.A. and Murdock are taking a little side trip in the awesome van! Officially they’re visiting B.A.’s high school friend Debra; off the record, they’re avoiding the set of Hannibal’s latest movie (“’The Bride of Aquamania Part 2”), because Face wants them to work on his catering truck for minimum wage. Debra sent B.A. a telegram addressed to Scooter, and Murdock thinks this means Debra wants him, needs him, loves him. “SHUT UP!” B.A. answers, and drives off the road as he tries to grab the telegram back from Murdock.

B.A. and Debra talk over old times
B.A.’s little heart necklace is too adorable for words!

Debra is thrilled to see the big guy: “I just wish the Duke was here to see you,” she adds. That would be Jason Duke, B.A.’s friend/rival, the guy who was high school football captain before B.A.. (Earlier B.A. sneered at the Duke to Murdock: “He’s probably fat, bald-headed and wearing a stupid tie!”) The happy couple got married after college; Duke got a hotshot job on Chicago’s North Side, but a few months ago he got hired on in this sleepy little town, Whispering Pines, as an investment whiz. Only problem is, the Duke has disappeared, which is why Debra called Mama Baracus to get in touch with B.A.

B.A. and Murdock drive into to town to figure out where the Duke is. B.A. wants to storm into the bank and demand answers, but Murdock, who’s wearing a mood ring and acting very groovy as a result, suggests a slightly more subtle, Face-style approach. “It’s all about attitude,” he says. “And the right props.” And thus, a scam: Murdock dresses in a nerdy computer salesman getup, and he drops by the local pawn shop pretending that there’s a computer recall going on (he uses his mood ring to “test” for radiation on the computer monitor!). He writes up a receipt and promises to have the monitor back in the shop “before you can say ‘Ralph Nader.’”

B.A. and Murdock try their computer scam at the bank
He’s the T in I.T.!

Now on to Phase Two: they drop by the bank and start setting the computer up in the Duke’s office. But the bank president, John Wells, comes in and says Jason Duke isn’t there. Murdock checks Duke’s schedule book, and wouldn’t you know it, he didn’t write any computer appointment down. Oh well. “Lunch!” Murdock says, and as they leave he tells B.A. that Duke didn’t leave on his own as “he’s got appointments straight through today.”

There’s a police officer standing outside the awesome van, and his questions imply that he’d like the two teamers to be moving on as quickly as possible. Murdock says they were thinking about lunch at the cafe, and the cop says “There’s nothing to eat there.” Then he starts making up a bunch of phony charges – he wants to put B.A. in jail for using the word “heck” – but says he’ll let them all slide if they leave town today. B.A. insists they aren’t leaving til they find Jason Duke. So the sheriff puts B.A. is in jail. Dang. Murdock calls for “the Aquamaniac, please” on the police station phone while B.A. sits angrily in the jail cell. The cop tells them “Jason Duke isn’t a very popular fella in this town.”

B.A. and Murdock in jail
B.A. gets all film noir here.

And he isn’t kidding – that night, three armed hillbillies let themselves into the jail and taunt B.A. and Murdock for being “the Jason Duke fan club.” Then they drive them out to some dirt road and they put Murdock in a noose! Luckily Face and Hannibal drive up in the catering truck with guns a-blazing and save the day. And then Debra starts acting funny too – when B.A. comes to the door the next morning, she says the Duke isn’t missing, that “I just got a call” that the Duke was in Chicago. No one believes this, but she shuts the door on them just the same.

Hannibal the country lawyer and Face the nerdy computer salesman
We handle divorces.

So what the heck (now I’m gonna end up in jail) is going on in Whispering Pines? Since Murdock and B.A. can’t show themselves again, Hannibal and Face decide to head to town and “stir the pot a little.” Face says he has an idea, but unfortunately it’s the same idea Murdock had – Fairfield Computers calling on Jason Duke. And, just as quickly, he ends up in jail, with the cop taunting him and then calling somebody “asking about Jason Duke.” Face makes a note of the phone number as the sheriff dials; then Hannibal walks in as country lawyer Mike Tackabee, demanding that his “client be released immediately.” The sheriff is surprisingly happy about this. “Tackabee and Drier? You guys handled my divorce! Best hundred dollars I ever spent.” The sheriff frees Face and asks that they kindly move along.

Ok, that didn’t work, but at least Face got that phone number, so they walk over to a pay phone and try it out. “Someone called Blackburn,” Face says. And this Blackburn is at Debra’s house, warning her to “quit talking to those guys from out of town, you understand?” Murdock tails him while B.A. sneaks over to figure out what’s going on with Debra. It’s just like the team thought: “They’ve got the Duke,” she explains.

A dog chews on Murdock

What color on a mood ring represents “attacked by dog”?

Murdock’s having a bit of trouble: he’s trying to buy a bike from a kid so he can follow Blackburn, but the kid won’t sell; “this bike’s been customized,” he says. Also, there’s a dog chewing on his pant leg. But then he has a flash of genius: he says “I’ll throw in this dog,” and all of a sudden the kid’s willing the sell! Murdock hands over the money and the dog, and now he’s got a very small blue bike. He follows Blackburn so far that the segment qualifies for montage status; it’s got background music and everything. They end up at some kind of mine, where the thugs who tried to hang Murdock are working. “A gold mine!” Murdock says to himself, but just then Blackburn sees him hanging around on the road above and yells “let’s get that turkey!” And his flunkies pile into a yellow pickup for a chase scene. They keep on Murdock’s tail, but Howlin’ Mad rides across a bridge with a very specific weight limit – a limit too low for a pickup truck. So they have to make “aw shucks” faces while he rides away.

Murdock tells the team that they’re in the middle of a big, big problem, and he’s not just talking about the coffee and snacks Face just made in his catering truck (though they’re all relieved when Debra sneaks over and brings them some edible food). According to Debra, the Duke is a precious metals expert, which is explains why the bank wanted to bring him to town. “But why make him disappear?” Hannibal asks. He says they need to find out who owns the mine. Debra says there’s a claims office down at the bank. Hannibal has a plan, but it involves “personal sacrifice” for B.A.: namely his gold. B.A. is not thrilled about this, but since it’s for Debra he goes along with it.

Mike Tackabee is back! And he drops by the bank to check on that gold he borrowed from B.A. The clerk recognizes the name: “You guys handled my divorce!” she says. “Best hundred dollars I ever spent.” Hannibal: “You weren’t married to the sheriff, were you?” Anyway, Hannibal spins a tale about how his client is staking a claim at an old mine, and that someone’s working the mine next door. She says they’re not supposed to tell who’s who, but since he’s Mike Tackabee and all, she says it’s Wade Blackburn. Then she calls Blackburn after Hannibal leaves. So why give out the name?

“There’s just too many people spooking around that mine,” Blackburn tells the bank president, Wells. He tells Rusty, the skinny hillbilly, to take care of this new gold claim, and then he brings the Duke out to sign some bank certificates that will let them put the gold in a Swiss bank account or something. They ask if the Duke knows a “big black guy with a mohawk and a gold necklace” who asks a lot of questions. Duke says he knew a big guy with a mohawk, but he had no gold – “the guy I knew didn’t own squat.”

Rusty gathers up his fellows and they drive over to the team’s phony claim, and they find Hannibal there, in his Waylon Jennings disguise. “Wheezer’s the name, Albert Wheezer,” he says. “We want you out of here, old man,” Rusty says. Hannibal/Wheezer gives a terse but clear response: “My mine!” So they punch him a couple times and make inarticulate but derisive remarks about the “old timer” before leaving.

The rest of the team is actually inside the mine, doing mining games, like… mining! Murdock is teasing B.A. about having a crush on smart, beautiful Debra. “She ain’t that smart,” B.A. says. “She married a guy who wears ties!” They bust through a rock wall to Blackburn’s mine and find a whole lot of interesting stuff: an armored car filled with gold. Not gold nuggets, like you’d find mining, but bricks; Hannibal recalls an armored car robbery from not that long ago, one in which the car was never recovered. They figure Duke’s role here is to sell the gold on the international market without anyone catching on that it’s stolen. Hannibal suggests they try a trade: the gold, “which we now have,” for Duke. Face says there’s one problem: the gold is too heavy to move. But Hannibal says “we don’t have to move it… all we have to do is make it disappear.” So it’s montage time, only the team appears to disassemble the armored car rather than put guns on it. They hide most of the gold under some dirt; then, despite Face’s protests, they paint the catering truck to look like the armored car.

Hannibal whittles himself a gun!
I whittled me a gun!

The next morning Blackburn and his fellas come back to the team’s claim and Albert Wheezer is there, whittling. “I whittled me a gun!” he says, and starts shooting, blowing up the dudes’ pickup. If I ever start an old-timey/gangsta band, our first song will be called “I Whittled Me a Gun.” “I seen many things in my life,” he tells them as they surrender, “but I never saw what I saw last night… I saw an armored car in a gold mine.” He tells Blackburn the truck is up on the road above (it’s Murdock and the catering truck in disguise), and that if he wants it back, he’ll have to bring Jason Duke to Otter Creek at noon for a swap.

That’s where they park the van, right on the bridge; Hannibal says he’s always wanted to do a “bridge drop,” Hollywood-style. Blackburn hands the Duke over to B.A. and Hannibal, but there’s just one catch: Otter Creek Bridge is the bridge Murdock went over on the bike earlier, the one with the really strict weight limit. So as they walk back the bridge gives out and the catering truck hits the creek. (“You and your bridge drops,” B.A. mutters to the colonel.) Rusty notices “the gold is floatin’” – “gold doesn’t float, stupid!” Hannibal says, even though he’s now in Blackburn’s grizzled clutches.

B.A. and the Duke
If they can rustle up just a few more guys from the high school team, they could start their own Shufflin’ Crew

Blackburn marches the team, Debra and Duke into the mine; he says they have an hour to tell where the real gold is hidden or “we blow the mine.” “Could you make it two hours?” Hannibal jokes. “Some of us haven’t seen each other in a while.” The Duke thanks B.A. for his help, even though it didn’t work out. “It ain’t over yet,” B.A. says. “Hannibal will think of something… the man always has a plan.” And Hannibal does, in fact, have a plan: “We put the truck back together.” B.A. clarifies his earlier remarks: “It ain’t always a good plan.” We begin Montage 2: Revenge of the Background Music, and then Hannibal comes out and tells Blackburn they have the gold, and “we’re gonna bring it to you.” The armored car comes blasting out, with Murdock at the wheel and Face at the improvised flamethrower that blows up thug cars. B.A. and Duke do a nice tandem flying tackle on two more guys, and Hannibal pummels Rusty and his brother. B.A. and Duke also smack Blackburn and Wells. “The captain and the defense!” Duke laughs. B.A. high-fives him and says “We still got it!”

Duke and Debra throw a little post-fight celebration for the team at their house, where Face has some good news: since the bank president is in big trouble, Duke is in line to take over as bank president. Murdock wants to be first in line for a bank loan, because “I think mood rings are gonna come back in a big way.” Duke says sure, and then he has something to give B.A.: his “Most Valuable Player” award from high school. B.A. sends Sacheen Littlefeather to politely refuse the award… no, actually, he and Duke shake on it.

Boy, what can you say here, except that this was damn good?

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