My Year With The A-Team: Season 4, Episode 3 – Where Is The Monster When You Need Him?

In My Year With the A-Team by Brady Carlson0 Comments

Movie theater sign: "Gatorella" starring Lake Charles and "The Monster"

“Their destination is Podeteria de la Ria, which I think means ‘ankle doctor on the river.'”

This needs no introduction:

And in case you thought you were seeing things, nope – that was Telly Monster wearing gold chains, like Mr. T:

Sesame Street sings about the A-Team

Now that is beautiful. And you bet I’m taking a little of the credit.


Where is the Monster When You Need Him?

Wild Guess Preview: An evil, math-hating foreign consortium has stolen the number 7! The feisty digit was last seen on Sesame Street, so Hannibal and company team up with Oscar, Big Bird, Gordon and, of course, Super Grover to put an educational hurtin’ down on the number thieves. Best of all, B.A. meets those Martians that go “yip yip yip yip yip” and they start going “yip yip fool yip yip sucka”

Hannibal tries on his monster head
You make a “one-eyed monster” joke here and you’re grounded, buddy

The Recap: Sweet, we get a little Aquamaniac action to start this week! Hannibal is being fitted for a new green monster suit at the Western Costume Co., and he’s talking with his new producer, Jerry, about taking the movie monster archetype in a new direction. Gone are the days of the “reluctant killing machine, sad but driven” – he’s entering a new, more thoughtful phase. Their new movie, by the way, is called “Gatorella.”

Hopefully this new, more thoughtful movie monster will be able to think of an escape, because Decker is outside, and he has his sting planned down to the second – he even puts on his hat at the right moment. But somehow his MPs jump the gun and show up too soon, which gives Hannibal and Jerry a chance to make a getaway; Decker’s men give a good effort, but Hannibal jumps his car up a ramp and there’s really no way to keep up with that.

Hannibal and Jerry head to an airstrip; they’re on their way to Mexico to shoot this picture. Face is organizing the cast and crew, or trying to; mostly he’s hitting on a big-haired blond and trying to placate a snooty actor called Charlie (“CHARLES! Never Chuck or Charlie!”). He’s also dealing with an unusually cranky Murdock – apparently the plane Face scammed is informally called a “coffin with wings,” and H.M. Is none too thrilled about it. One of the movie crew guys asks about the big guy passed out in the cabin, and Face assures the guy that “he’s just there for ballast.” Then, gunshots as Hannibal and Jerry pull up, followed by the MP cars; Face hustles everyone on board and they take off, Murdock cursing Face out the whole way. Why is everyone giving Faceman a hard time?

Face: haters gonna hate

Suffice to say this is not the smoothest plane ride ever; Murdock even prays as they get airborne: “The sky is so big, my plane is so crummy, please don’t let me eat it!” But they get to the destination in one piece – Podeteria de la Ria, which I think means “ankle doctor on the river.” B.A. wakes up just as Charles, the diva actor, chastises him for taking up too much room on the plane. “Plane?” Uh oh. “I’m on a plane!”

Face points out Manuel, the chief of police, and assures the others they’ll get “red carpet treatment” when they get off the plane. Instead Manuel points a gun and says they have to turn around and fly back. Huh? When Face was location scouting and Manuel was his best friend, now he’s threatening to take the whole cast and crew prisoner? “Does this guy have a daughter, Face?” Hannibal wisecracks. Manuel says “Things change, señor,” though what things have changed he leaves unsaid. Manuel gives them an hour to leave town and then heads out, so Hannibal tells everybody to start unpacking anyway.

Face’s plan is unraveling, and he’s beside himself with worry: “I just don’t get it… I lie, I cheat and I steal, and I just don’t get any respect!” On the plus side, Charles is leaving; he’s going to try to hitchhike home instead of shoot the picture. Jerry says his contract specifies Charles has to be in the pic, but Face looks over the contract and says actually he doesn’t. So Face gets to play the part instead.

Hannibal in the rest of his costume

Hannibal truly in his element

“Now someone just has to say ‘Action!’” Face says – and someone does, only when they start the scene, some Australian guy drives up and starts shooting at the movie set. He’s the same guy who played Doyle, the river Nazi, in the “Bend in the River” episode; anyway, he says they can go shoot their picture in another town a few miles south, just not there, and if they don’t like it they can get shot. And then they leave. So in like five minutes somebody of yet another nationality will show up and tell them to get out of town?

B.A. is incensed: “Hey man, I don’t like to be run off.” Hannibal concurs, and decides they need to figure out who the gun-totin Aussies are. One of the crew reminds Hannibal that they only have prop weapons, but Hannibal, on the jazz as ever, says “Maybe we’ll get lucky!” He sends B.A. and Murdock to look through props and special effects and see what they can find. Jerry is apoplectic, so Hannibal calms him with words of wisdom “You never know how clever or stupid the enemy is, until you test ’em!” The rest of the movie crew keeps busy with a montage, led by B.A. and Murdock.

And so Hannibal and Face go into town and find the Aussie guy hitting Manuel and driving off. They borrow a rusty old car to follow him, though they have to take all the chickens out of the front seat first. (They’ve had to do this before, which means chickens are the third most recurring villain on this series behind MPs and hillbillies.) They drive up to (I think) the same Mexican hacienda from the tow truck episode in season three, but this time it’s not a drug smuggler’s house, it belongs to Ramon DeJarro, “the most brutal torturer in Argentina.” He’s got the death sentence on twelve systems – well, no, but he is wanted for war crimes. Whatever it is he’s doing in Mexico, Hannibal says, “we aren’t going to like it.”

Well, enough of whatever that was, because it’s back to making the movie. Face is convinced Hannibal is over-directing him, and yet again the Aussies come driving up and firing their guns. As disjointed as this episode is, this is a pretty good running gag. “What are you, a total fruitcake?” the Aussie asks, wondering why they didn’t just leave town already. Hannibal then lectures the poor fellow on military tactics, and he demonstrates with a clever simulation of shooting and explosions. This freaks the Aussies out and they hand over their guns; then Hannibal shows them the original guns were props. Can’t scam any better than that. “There’s no business like show business,” Hannibal says.

There’s also no business like going after an international fugitive, as the team proves when they drive up to that fancy house and shoot their way toward DeJarro. B.A. runs his Jeep up to a wall – a wall where DeJarro’s standing. Dude pulls out a gun, but B.A. yells “Put it down or I’ll hit the gas!” Hannibal sends Face and Murdock to check the house for any prisoners, and who should they find but Charles the prissy actor! “See what happens when you don’t live up to your contractual obligations?” Face tells him.

The team rounds up Dejarro and his men and brings them to Manuel, the police chief, so as to turn them over to the federales. But Manuel says there’s a problem: “he has all our wives and children.” And then Dejarro snaps his fingers and more henchmen surround the team with guns. “This is a real neat town you found, Facey-man,” Murdock says through clenched teeth. “I know,” Face says through more clenched teeth. Even I’m clenching my teeth at this turn of events.

Now the team and the crew are all in the Dejarro dungeon, and they need an escape plan. Murdock suggests one: tell Dejarro “we have secret weapons in our possession, and that we could atomize him at any moment.” Charles complains upon hearing this, but B.A. comes to Howlin’ Mad’s defense: “I’d rather listen to him jibba-jabba than you whine!” Murdock actually does have an idea, and it involves his stuntman alter ego, Tommy Danger, who’s known for his death scenes. Murdock suggests Hannibal “shoot” him with a pen disguised as a gun, and scare the villains into surrender. Hey, a gun ruse worked once already this episode, right? “I like it,” Hannibal says,”now all we need is a squib.” And Murdock’s got that angle covered too – he’s smuggled in some parts that might work nicely.

Dejarro, and he has a gun

Robert Ludlum presents “The Picasso Identity”

Dejarra is on the phone arranging for his money to be moved from Argentina to Switzerland, because that’s what villains do. He tells the Aussie guy to basically kill all the other characters, cause nobody’s gonna notice any of that. The Aussie is hesitant, so Dejarra points a gun at him. And the argument is over.

Hannibal equips Murdock's t-shirt
Murdock tries on the Manzier

Time for the prison montage – no guns, welding or armor plating, just makeup kits, X-acto knives and packets of fake blood attached to Murdock’s shirt. So the next morning the Aussie comes and collects them all, and they get into the transport truck. When en route, B.A. breaks free of his ropes, then unties everybody else; in return, Hannibal pops his dislocated shoulder back into place.

Hannibal "shoots" Murdock
Tommy Danger’s moment in the spotlight

When they unload, Murdock runs over to Dejarro and warns him that Hannibal’s got a gun. Hannibal pretends to be upset by this, and he pretends to shoot Murdock with the pretend pen-gun; this moment of confusion lets Hannibal grab Dejarro’s real gun, attaches him to the windshield of his Jeep and drives… well, not really away, but around, mostly so Face can return fire on the henchmen from the back seat, and also because driving through three walls with a war criminal on the hood is fun. Thugs are disarmed, Aussies are punched, and the villagers are safe at last.

Decker meets Hannibal in an old man disguise
Cool, Hannibal’s dressed as Big Boss from Metal Gear!

And they somehow manage to film the entire movie, too, despite being imprisoned and/or in gun battles for much of the three days they were in Mexico! Back in the US, Decker storms a movie house that’s playing “Gatorella,” and he ends up meeting Hannibal disguised as a geezer with an eye patch. He leads the MPs to an “observation room” upstairs, and when they storm in, he locks them inside. Then Hannibal heads back downstairs and they get to watch their movie.

Wow. The first half of the plot was disjointed and kept bouncing around, but it all came together nicely for the finale. Good villain, too, and the “Face’s bad day” angle was great.

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