My Year With The A-Team: Season 4, Episode 5 – The Road To Hope

In My Year With the A-Team by Brady Carlson1 Comment

The A-Team eats lunch at an outdoor restaurant

“It’s the charge of the drunk brigade! Half a pint, half a pint, half a pint onward!”

Occasionally we like to focus on the lesser-known aspects of this program, and today we’d like to give a special shout-out to the guitar riffs that lead us from one plot point to another. When B.A. sees a giant foe for the third time and says “Not again!”, it’s the guitar riff that gives us that extra push of exasperation. Or when Hannibal realizes they’ve been cornered and they have to put down their weapons, the guitar riff underscores the moment of desperation. Lots of shows have these, of course, but the A-Team’s guitar riffs are really something special – keep an ear out for them next time you tine in.


The Road To Hope

Wild Guess Preview: Wide awake at 3 am in his VA hospital room, Murdock has a prophecy: he and the team must travel to Arkansas and find then-Governor Bill Clinton and later-to-be-Governor Mike Huckabee. Why? Because their future political rivals have taken up time travel, that’s why! With a guest appearance by “Timecop” Jean-Claude Van Damme, hopefully.

The Recap: Lunchtime in L.A., and Hannibal is getting a bite at a semi-upscale place with a stunning view of the smoggy coastline. Murdock is there, too, though he’s convinced he’s made himself invisible. Face and B.A. pull up in a red old-timey jalopy and it’s down to business: a rich lady wants to pay them a lot of money to fly to Monaco and do a security upgrade. Hannibal thinks the lady is front for Decker and that she “should be selling bridges in Brooklyn.” Face says actually the Brooklyn Bridge goes for more money than she’s offering – “I’ve sold it twice already.” Hannibal’s going to “run her by Jack Daniels” later – what, give her booze?

Hannibal in his drunk hobo disguise

Vigilante Missions As Our Fathers Made Them

Oh, right, his drunk hobo disguise – been a while since we’ve seen that one. The team is on a rooftop in case Hannibal needs a quick exit, though Murdock’s use of the code name “Invisible Apple” irks B.A. “Hey fool, you’re Apple Two!” Hannibal meets another wino on the street, who calls himself Jim Beam. So where’s Johnnie Walker, or Captain Morgan? Jim Beam warns Hannibal/Jack that two other homeless guys had disappeared in their alley in the last two weeks. But he also says there’s a free meal for anyone who goes to the restaurant down the street and asks for William.

Face watches all this from the rooftop, but he can’t tell which hobo is Hannibal; neither can Murdock. B.A.’s parked on the street; they tell the big guy he’ll have to pick the right wino when the action starts to go down. And it does, but not the action they expect: Hannibal knocks on the restaurant door and asks for William, but he gets chloroformed and loaded into an ambulance. B.A.’s about to follow, but they still think Hannibal’s in the alley, and the rich lady shows up and hands the money to a very confused Jim Beam. She drives off, and Decker drives up; he tries to take Jim Beam in his car. So Murdock and Face jump down from the roof, knock out the guards and grab who they think is Hannibal; B.A. drives them all away in the awesome van.

Murdock and Face rescue Jim Beam

Wrong liquor, gentlemen! We’ve rescued the wrong liquor!

It’s a great rescue, plus they got away with the money… only they rescued Jim Beam. The real Hannibal is in some medical room being interrogated by a grouchy guy in a suit named Bob, and a creepy British doctor called Jack. They figure out he’s not Jim Beam by pulling off his wig, so Hannibal makes up a story that he’s a newspaper reporter – and they promptly drug him again. “Now what do we do?” Bob asks. Jack suggests they bury him “and see what comes up in the spring.”

The rest of the team is at a hotel room, where Jim Beam is explaining how he told Hannibal to go to the restaurant to get some grub. But that’s about all he knows, so B.A. suggests they go check out this William and this restaurant to see what’s up. Murdock goes in, “turns invisible” and grabs William the chef. Nobody sees him, cause he’s invisible, get it?

Jack is back in the ambulance, about to try out his kill-bury-hope for plants theory on Hannibal. He makes Hannibal dig his own grave, and Hannibal complains that the ground “isn’t properly irrigated.” “We’re going to kill you, goofball,” says the Brit. Not so, says Hannibal, who tells a complicated joke about a gorilla at a restaurant until he can break the water pipe below him. This sprays enough water for him to make a getaway; he finds a nearby bulldozer and drives it into the side of the ambulance, which explodes after being lightly brushed by the bulldozer. I didn’t know Pinto made ambulances?!?

The team interrogates William

William, it was really nothing

Face is questioning William; Murdock’s got him tied up in a shower and is ready to dump hot water on him. William says he doesn’t know much: “Some guy I never saw before gave me 200 bucks to chloroform a bum!” So in 1980’s L.A., you can just walk up to people and offer them money to chloroform bums? Or do they have to take out ads?

Craigslist ad: Chloroform a bum for me

William describes a large guy with an anchor tattoo (“Sounds like Bluto,” they all say), so the team heads out to find him and find Hannibal… except that Hannibal’s sitting in the living room. “I made some neat new friends,” he says, and says something needs to be done about Bob and Jack and their somewhat oily brand of evil. “We’re gonna take Christina’s money and find out who’s been killing my fellow knights of the road” – tow truck drivers? Face needs the money for that red car he bought, and B.A. picked up some reading machines for his day care center, but Hannibal insists: “it’s a chance to get down to Skid Row and party with some real gentlemen!”

Hannibal’s theory is that these guys are whacking the bums and stealing their identities, to sell to criminals who need to operate under the radar. And since Jim Beam mentions that he’s seen a large guy with an anchor tattoo down by the Moonlight Mission, Hannibal says they’ll start there – or, rather, near there: “We’re going to open a mission across the street from the Moonlight Mission, and run them out of business! Welcome to The Road to Hope Mission!” The “mission” will be“run” by “Father Foley,” or Face in his second priestly disguise in two episodes. His cohort will be Murdock, or “Harry Dean Hanover” who says “Hallelujah!” B.A. grudgingly rounds out the cast as organist and percussionist “Brother Ignatius Blacktop.” Hannibal says he’ll be up on the roof watching for Bob and Jack. “Neat, huh?”

First things first: Face and Murdock have to scam the building across the street, so they dress up nice and talk to the friendly real estate lady. She warns that the building is on the verge of being condemned, but they say they’re from some kind of historic preservation office and she’s all for it. The building having been secured, we get a montage of said building being restored to glory, and afterwards there’s a long line of hard-luck dudes waiting for the grand opening, and Father Foley welcomes them with promises of good food, good company and “five dollars for your best prayer.”

Across the street, two large Moonlight Mission goons watch as everyone leaves their place to go over to The Road to Hope. “I better call Skerritt and Colton, they’re not gonna like this,” one says, and since we have no idea who Skerritt and Colton are, we’ll just have to trust their judgment.

Preacher Murdock talks with bums
The High Priest of Howling Madventists!

Preacher Murdock is rousing the masses in the chapel area, with B.A. assisting with a mean church organ, hugs (yes, he hugs a guy) and words of wisdom: “You can be what you wanna be, brother… all you have to do is believe!” Who’s going to argue with B.A. in a moment like this? Murdock is truly in his element as he expounds to the homeless guys during dinner: “It’s good to see so many well-fed men under one roof – it makes me wonder where all the female bums are.”

Hannibal’s on the aforementioned roof, and he sees Skerritt and Colton (Jack and Bob, as it turns out) pull up in a limo. He and B.A. follow them in the awesome van to a house in the country, where they discover that Bob is E. Robert Colton, of the famous and wealthy Coltons. Why, they wonder, is a billionaire’s son working with “some underworld suckfish” like Jack? Face drives over to help them find out from the man himself.

Hannibal holds Colton hostage
Actually, you don’t look like Bluto that much, pal

Face and Hannibal bust in pretty easily and take Colton, though he says, as they always say, “you don’t know what you’re messing with.” They take him to see Jack the British heart surgeon at Colton’s other house, though Colton hits a hidden alarm button on their way out and they have to shoot their way to the awesome van. Face even has to scale a wall to escape; luckily B.A. throws him a trampoline! They drive over to the other Colton house in a mail truck. Hannibal knocks on the door, but instead of answering, Jack and some dudes dressed in fatigues come out of hiding and hold the team at gunpoint. Time to dig more graves.

Murdock recruits the hobos
Sir, the hobos have taken Palermo!

So the team is locked up in a barn on Colton’s country estate, and they figure out that this isn’t an identity theft for money ring, it’s some kind of identity theft for international quasi-terrorism ring, which is considerably worse. B.A.’s got part one of the escape figured out, at least: he’s got a homing signal they can send to Murdock. H.M. gets the signal, which uses clock time as its code: 6:16, which means “mayday, superior numbers.” Murdock is worried: he’s just one man, albeit an invisible one; he’ll need a group of men to take on this private army. Cue the winos singing from the other room. Oh man, Murdock leading winos to victory over international terrorists is the best idea of all time. He asks if any of the bums are veterans, and a few raise their hands. Then he asks if any of them, by chance, can become invisible. Fewer hands go up. Putting this obstacle aside for the moment, H.M. hands out guns to the veterans, and they ride in Face’s new car; “the rest of you men, in the catering truck!” Onward, impoverished soldiers!

Face, Hannibal and B.A. are, in fact, digging their own graves, taunting Jack all the way. “Keep it up, whitey,” he tells Hannibal, “cause I’m gonna waste you.” His uniform says “SST” on it, so I guess he’s part of Greg Ginn’s private army? Hannibal offers him another joke: “What are 30 winos doing in a catering truck?” Jack doesn’t care, so Hannibal gives him the answer: “They’re all armed, and they’re right behind you.” And the greatest battle ever begins: winos vs. terrorists! It’s the charge of the drunk brigade! Half a pint, half a pint, half a pint onward! Oh god I feel so ALIVE seeing hobos fight these guys. Murdock and his cohorts drive circles around the terrorists, and on one pass he hands guns off to the rest of the team. From here it’s not even difficult; a few well-placed grenades, a flying tackle or two, and it all ends when B.A. throws Jack into Hannibal’s grave. In heaven there is no beer, Jack, that’s why we drink it here.

Newspaper: 'Skid Row Strikes Back'
“Sebastian Bach says ‘We are the youth gone wild'”

This mission makes the paper: “Skid Row Strikes Back,” says the headline. The bums all cheer Murdock for his fine command, and many of them say they’re taking steps to get back on their feet. Murdock gives a puzzling thank you speech and says, as Preacher Harry Dean Hanover, “there’s nothing left for me to do but become invisible and gradually disappear.” The only loser in all this? Faceman, whose gorgeous new car is now full of bullets. Wah-wah-wah-wahhhh.

Wow, vigilante justice and social justice? This one’s win-win! Massively, massively fun – yes, this season has upped the camp factor by a lot, but it’s something new, and the shows are interesting and they’re well put together.

Hobos vs. terrorists, man. That’s one for the record books.

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Comments

  1. Murdock’s speeches were the best part of this episode. “If you’re not here, then you won’t be here” I think it was. I agree with you on the interest factor.

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