“The lead villain is upset that his dad is hassling people and that he didn’t buy enough party supplies. It’s like the A-Team is fighting Ned Flanders.”
Finally back home, and ready to rumble… so let’s jump right in.
A Little Town With An Accent
Wild Guess Preview: The pictureseque German town of Grappleborg is in crisis: someone has stolen their umlaut! Luckily the team is on the case; they fly to Cairo, where they learn the thief loves tennis. Then they head to Reykjavik and find out the suspect rides a motorcycle. Eventually they end up in Tokyo, where they arrest Carmen Sandiego’s VILE henchmen, Scar Graynolt, and his accomplice, Dazzle Annie. The Chief reports back that Hannibal has been awarded the rank of Sleuth.
The Recap: Welcome to Zack’s Service Station, which is, appropriately enough, a service station owned by a kindly older feller called Zack. He helps a slightly slow, beefcakey employee called Kelvin, but chooses not to help McMahon, a tall guy who smarms around and keeps trying to buy the place. â€œSome people are just too dumb to know a good deal when it comes along,â€ McMahon says, and then he hits Zack and has his goons trash the place. Sell out to me, McMahon adds, â€œand we let you live.â€
Zack heads to church, where he (hopefully) bumps into Merlin Olsen’s Father Murphy and Tom Bosley’s Father Dowling, but he’s not there for spiritual guidance â€“ Mr. Lee sent him here. He steps into the confession booth and tells the priest that he seeks the A-Team, so he can deal with â€œthese hoodlumsâ€ from the oil company that are pushing him and the other gas station owners around. We see a puff of smoke and then Hannibal says if you’re looking for the A-Team, â€œyou’ve already found them.â€
McMahon’s scheme is pretty straightforward; Murdock sums it up as â€œsimple Grade A extortion.â€ The other service station owners are scared to take on McMahon or his company, Octiline, so B.A. lays it out: â€œAin’t nobody in the world got a right to take away what’s yours, and the only people that are gonna keep ’em from doing it is you. Now we can help you, but you gotta take a stand. Are you with us?â€ Kelvin’s in, and so is everybody else. â€œLooks like we got a mandate,â€ Murdock says. They’re really following Kelvin’s lead?
Full Service Murdock. Something we could all use more of.
Hannibal wants to put some pressure on McMahon to see who the real evil boss is. So they fix up the service station and put up a big â€œUnder new managementâ€ sign. Murdock, as always, gets carried away by the setting and wants to provide (uncomfortably) full service, as evident by his fancy grey uniform, his new moniker (â€œMr. Cleanwrenchâ€) and talking the first customer’s ear off. B.A., meanwhile, has taken slow Kelvin under his wing, teaching him about mechanics and self-respect. B.A. refers to himself as â€œMr. Badwrench,â€ which is mindblowingly awesome.
If Sheriff Plummer’s nickname is anything but “Liquid” I’ll be very disappointed.
The sheriff, Ann Plummer, drops by to say hello and welcome the new guys to Greentree Creek. â€œYou look very familiar,â€ she says to Hannibal, who says he’s flattered but almost certainly makes a mental note to bolt the next time she visits. Zack says hi to her too, but as she’s unable to prove that Octiline is threatening the other station owners before buying them out, he’s a little icy and says â€œmaybe the law can’t do anything.â€ She drives away, and there’s that white truck again. The tall dude McMahon drives up and Murdock checks his tire pressure, or at least attaches a tire gauge with a homing device on it. (Are you thinking â€œcash cow for AutoZoneâ€ too?) Hannibal tells McMahon that he’s the new owner and he’s not selling; also, he wants to negotiate with McMahon’s boss, not an underling… â€œyou’re too stupid to be a boss.â€ McMahon tries being a tough guy and waving a tire iron around, but Hannibal laughs at him: â€œThat’s a fancy dipstick, pal. I hope you know how to use it.â€ He doesn’t. Hannibal puts an offer to buy back the other guys’ stations on McMahon’s unconscious and ugly face. â€œHere’s the contract,â€ he says… â€œand one of our free pens.â€ That’s a full service smackdown! That said, what would be the point of self-service smackdowns?
McMahon and his guys drive away, but Murdock’s homing device is in place â€“ so H.M. and Face follow in the awesome van, though Murdock is a little upset because B.A. is using his little red truck, the one he won on Wheel of Fortune, to teach Kelvin about mechanics. They end up at a large house in the country that features a long driveway and an old guy in a straw hat. A short, Kevin Pollak-esque guy yells at McMahon, and Face seems to recognize him; he calls Hannibal at the service station to say McMahon is talking with Sonny Marlini. â€œSonny ‘The Enforcer’ Marlini, from Detroit?â€ Hannibal asks. He says a high-level Mafia guy like this trying to buy up small-town gas stations doesn’t make sense, so he has Face and Murdock stick with Marlini to see what he’s up to.
Wow, Carol Burnett! Oh wait, that’s Murdock.
Sonny drives off in a brown luxury car to see his big-haired girlfriend at a motel… ewww. Face tries scoping out the room, but suddenly Sheriff Ann shows up, and she’s not fully buying Face’s explanation that he’s on the wrong floor. â€œDidn’t you hear me honk?â€ Murdock asks, when Face runs back to the van. No, Face says – â€œI was too busy peeping.â€ Since Face has already been spotted, Murdock goes up â€“ or, more accurately, Murdock dressed as a cleaning woman! He uses an Edith Bunker voice and plods around the room, listening in on Sonny’s phone calls as he drops off towels and picks up trash.
We head back to the service station, where Murdock says Sonny mentioned something about a secret truck delivery coming in on the nearby Route 116. What’s in that load, we don’t know, but Sonny pulls into the station for some gas, so maybe he’ll fess up while he’s there. Sonny apologizes to Hannibal for his goons’ earlier behavior; Hannibal reiterates that he wants the other stations too, and Sonny says he’ll think it over. Sonny might be the friendliest, most cheerful villain in A-Team history. I’ll bet the Octoline customer service is top-notch.
Nonetheless, Sonny has trucks heading down Route 116, and they must be stopped. As such, B.A. and Murdock are in the middle of the road, arguing over Murdock’s very red and very turned-on-its-side truck. Face and Hannibal use this little diversion to commandeer the trucks and force open their cargo. Is it drugs? I’m betting drugs. The first truck has an antique roadster in it. The second truck has furniture. Where are the drugs? Maybe inside that picture of â€œSam Marlini, the biggest mobster in Detroitâ€ and Sonny’s dad. He’s supposed to be dead, but Murdock remembers that old guy in the straw hat at Sonny’s place… â€œthis thing’s getting bigger and bigger, guys!â€ Hannibal says. â€œI say we stay.â€
Hume Cronyn and Mark Linn-Baker star in “The Really Polite Godfather”
Sonny is, in fact, giving his dad a bit of a talking to: â€œI leave you alone for a few days, and you start shaking gas stations down like it’s 1946!â€ Sam has a defense ready: â€œI gotta have a little fun!â€ Sonny’s also upset because he has a full-time chef making food for a dinner party and nobody remembered to buy tables, chairs, plates or silverware; seriously, he’s upset that his dad is hassling people and that he didn’t buy enough party supplies. It’s like the A-Team is fighting Ned Flanders. The doorbell rings, and Sonny thinks it’ll be his dad’s beloved furniture, but it’s a mummy wearing sunglasses. It’s McMahon; the team wrapped him up and sent him back to warn Sonny away from the service station. Pop is upset: â€œWhat happened to my furniture?!?â€
Hannibal has it, of course, and when Sonny drives back to the service station and confronts the team about it, they hang him up in the garage on a hook. â€œWe don’t like scum like you moving into the neighborhood,â€ Hannibal says, and they make Sonny cough up the details of his napkin-free dinner party. Murdock, who overheard Sonny’s party-planning phone calls, says the Miami contingent is sending a new guy to the meeting, Carlos â€œBlue Moonsâ€ Mendoza (why more than one moon, is he from Miami, Tatooine?). Hannibal’s brain, already working overtime here, realizes that new guy is their ticket into the meet-up.
The real Carlos Mendoza is checking into a hotel, and Face is behind the counter. He hands Mendoza the key, and then Bellboy B.A. takes his bag and leads him to the room. Er, to the van, where Murdock grabs the guy and they all drive off. Murdock goes to Sonny’s party in Mendoza-face, working his way inside with a heavy Cuban accent and a hidden microphone so the team can listen in back at the service station. â€œThe fool’s got a lot of guts,â€ B.A. admits. Here’s who else has some guts: Sheriff Ann. She storms the service station with a bunch of troopers and catches the infamous A-Team! â€œYou’re making a big mistake, Annie!â€ Zach says, but she â€œran a fingerprint checkâ€ and verified their identities, so they all end up in custody.
Cuban Miami’s answer to Don Johnson? No, still just Murdock.
Murdock is sitting in the big mob meeting, where old Sam is ladling out territories for his people to control. Keep in mind that this is an 89 year old gardener with no furniture, but whatever. Sam asks Murdock what he’ll do with his territory, and H.M. has to stall for time, asking the gangsters to bow for a moment of prayer for his associate â€œTony Balloonsâ€ and blathering about how his big plan has â€œno big changes… maybe some little changes.â€ Sam and the other mobsters are suspicious â€“ especially when the real Carlos Mendoza walks in, albeit in his underwear. See, Sheriff Ann untied him and McMahon back at the service station and they made their way back to Sonny’s. They all want the impostor dead â€“ and, Carlos says, â€œI would like my suit back.â€
So everybody’s trapped, just not in the same place. Which is why Hannibal is in a field outside Sonny’s house with Sheriff Ann…. huh? He must’ve explained about the mob guys; if not, he’s doing it now, as they peer in with binoculars. â€œThose people control half the mob in this country,â€ Hannibal says. â€œIf you don’t try to make an arrest, I don’t know what you’re wearing a badge for.â€ Ann says she doesn’t have enough people to take on the â€œarmyâ€ Sonny’s got in the house. Hannibal: â€œYou’ll have an army out here, if you let us help.â€ She concurs; Hannibal says job one is getting Murdock out of Sonny’s clutches. Which they do as Murdock’s being stuffed in a limo. They instead stuff the three goons, including McMahon, into the trunk and drive away.
Face and B.A. are still being held at the garage, but Sheriff Ann calls and tells her guys to release the teamers. â€œAnd Smith says to tell his people to build it,â€ she adds. The deputy doesn’t understand what this order means, but B.A. does: â€œIt means he’s on the jazz.â€ And we launch right into the montage.
Hannibal’s in the limo he stole from Sonny’s place, and he uses the phone to bait Sam. â€œHannibal Smith here,â€ he says. â€œI’m just calling to let you know we’ve got your furniture and your fancy car.â€ Sam, who’s just dying for a chance to set up his sectional sofa, rounds up â€œthe boysâ€ and heads to Zack’s for a showdown.
Blow up three limos and your next fill-up is half price!
The team has set up his furniture inside the service station, and he doesn’t like it: â€œI’m gonna take you and your people and cut ’em up into little pieces!â€ But the team has a plan, and it’s an unassailable one, especially because it starts with Murdock sitting inside a gas pump and using the pump handle to shoot flaming gasoline! Face has a grenade launcher, too, and between the two of them they blow up the limos and more or less the entire tri-county area. When the mobbies make a run for it, Hannibal and B.A. bust through the garage door in Sam’s vintage roadster; Hannibal rides on the side with his tommy gun, very gangster-style. It takes just a bit of fancy shooting to coax one limo to flip over the flaming wreckage of another, and the Marlini reign of terror is over. â€œWho are you?â€ Sam asks Hannibal, looking incredulous. â€œOne of the families?â€ â€œSomething like that,â€ Hannibal replies. â€œWe’re a team.â€ Hell yeah!
The team must’ve rebuilt all the stuff they blew up, because Zack’s is back in business â€“ Kelvin is even working on Murdock’s little truck again. â€œYou’ve got to be real careful,â€ he says. â€œI won this on the Wheel of Fortune.â€ B.A. hears on the radio that the Army has heard about their temporary arrest in Greentree Creek and is on the way (though Sheriff Ann did report that they’d escaped). B.A., Hannibal and Face get ready to drive off in the van; Kelvin offers to lower Murdock’s truck from the hydraulic lift, but Murdock insists on doing it himself â€“ and he promptly drops the truck onto its side. A mortified Murdock turns to Hannibal, who hands him his gun. Murdock turns, closes his eyes, and fires, putting the truck out of its misery. Poor Murdock.
Solid â€“ maybe not spectacular, but very solid. Sam got more interesting throughout the episode, and while Murdock’s time as Carlos Mendoza was short, it was certainly sweet.