My Year With The A-Team: Season 4, Episode 8 – Blood, Sweat and Cheers

Hannibal and Face sing, to B.A.'s chagrin

“They probably could’ve convinced the thugs not to ram them if they’d bought one of those little yellow ‘Drunk Stuart Whitman On Board’ signs.”

Wow, check this out:

Weighing in at just 230lbs, and resembling James Bond’s Little Nellie from ‘You Only Live Twice’, the Dragonfly generated a lot of buzz when it took its first hydrogen powered flight, with zero emissions! Capable of carrying up to 800lbs and flying for 90 minutes, the Dragonfly can reach a top speed of 100 knots thanks to small, but powerful motors mounted on its frame.

Isn’t this exactly the kind of thing you’d expect our man Murdock to be flying around in? I take this as an example of the impending Murdockization of the world, and I am glad. A Murdock-inspired world is a world I could get behind. It must take place. It WILL take place! Pilots, crazy fools, invisible dog watchers, your time is now.


Blood, Sweat and Cheers

Wild Guess Preview: NBC brings you a tough, sassy crossover between The A-Team and Cheers! Ted Danson’s bar is being harassed by a mystery villain, who wants to make it part of a chain of English pubs. The team finds out that the man behind the scheme isn’t a man at all, it’s a robotic clone of Winston Churchill! The team deftly defeats Robot Churchill’s many clone soldiers – this was not their finest hour – and the robot’s head explodes after Cliff Claven begins reciting little-known facts about the Caribbean mongoose and its role in the Haitian Revolution.

The Recap: Awesome, Stuart Whitman is back! This time he’s not a dodgy cowboy, he’s a doting grandpa-to-be, taking his daughter in law, Dana, to the doctor. “Taking” is probably too charitable; he’s sitting in the back getting sauced while the daughter drives herself to the doctor. “Jack Harlan must be going somewhere in a real hurry,” says some greasy guy, watching him from the roadside. He and his also-greasy cohort decide to slow Jack and Dana down by smashing into the side of their car and running it off the road. They probably could’ve convinced the thugs not to ram them if they’d bought one of those little yellow “Drunk Stuart Whitman On Board” signs.

Dana is OK, but Jack is banged up, and so his son, Kid shows up in a muscle shirt looking much like a very concerned Kevin Bacon. Jack is still boozing it up, even at the hospital! Kid says “if you’d just called Uncle John in the first place, this whole thing never would’ve happened.” Jack doesn’t care for Uncle John, saying “he’s no better than Kyle Ludwig and the rest of his goons.” But the son says it’s time for action and he walks off.

Or drives off – Kid is a race car driver, see, and he rides – rides! – like the demon that drives my dreams. And then he goes to see the aforementioned Kyle Ludwig, who’s played by my longtime favorite, Wings Hauser. Kid insists “nothing’s gonna make me drop out of the championship,” and Kyle tests this theory by whacking him in the gut with a tire iron. Then his goons take rubber mallets to the kid’s car. Do race car drivers have goons? Or just race car drivers played by Wings Hauser?

Hannibal, Kid and Jack
“Sure I was drunk during ‘Night of the Lepus.’ You would’ve been, too!”

Now the kid in the hospital, and Uncle John, aka Hannibal, has come to see him! Kid says nobody can help him, but then Hannibal says nothing is impossible – after all, the military thought they could keep the team from his wedding, and they made it. Murdock says yeah, he even took a piece of wedding cake and left it in the awesome van so long it “spread wings.” B.A.: “You left cake in my van?!?” Flying van-cake notwithstanding, Kid is still discouraged and wants to quit the race. But Hannibal says the team’s top priority is protecting the Harmons from Ludwig. Er, maybe their second priority, if B.A. is to be believed: “We gotta get that cake outta my van!”

Drunkle Jack is trying to make up for his boobery by getting new parts for the kid’s car; since Ludwig controls all the auto parts stores in the county, he has to drive east to Trenton. Same thugs sitting on the same stretch of road, same repeated slamming into his vehicle, and finally Jack has to dive out of the truck as it careens off a cliff and explodes. The team is able to do a little damage to the goonmobile, but not quite in time; Hannibal asks if Jack is ok, and he says “I was just fine, until you showed up.” Ouch.

The team heads back to the garage, where the kid is convinced his car is unrepairable. I guess they don’t have montages where he lives, eh? B.A. pipes up: “Hey kid, if it’s got an engine in it, B.A. Baracus can fix it!” Murdock concurs; he even notes that B.A.’s “first job was a lube job.” “If you don’t shut up with your jibba jabba I’ll give you a lube job, fool!” B.A.’s on a roll this week. Face does a little snooping around and finds out the Kyle Ludwig is the nephew of Carl “The Hatchet” Ludwig, a Chicago crime boss. Hannibal starts putting a plan together, but Jack, who’s been drinking in the corner, finally stands up and complains that “the great Saint Smith” is going to “put my kids in the middle of a war.” Not quite, says Hannibal; all they need is a new car, and they can even get Ludwig to pay for it… “if Face asks him the right way.”

Face schmoozes with Ludwig's masseuse
Face has always been a sucker for blondes in Lands End blouses.

The right way is for Face to show up in the middle of Ludwig’s massage, claiming to work for the prestigious Figoratti Racing Group. Long story short, he says the Figoratti team is short on cash and that Ludwig could get himself on the team if he’s willing to invest in a car or two. Ludwig loves this and says he’ll get the money from Uncle Carl. Jeez, everybody’s an uncle of somebody on this episode. Uncle Face doesn’t just get a promise, he gets fifty grand! Uncle Jack says they’ll never get the broken-down wreck running again, but the team goes off to buy some new parts and Uncle B.A. leads us through Uncle Montage, and Uncle Car is like new in no time.

Uncle Kid Harmon is back on the track, and Uncle Kyle Ludwig is honked off: “where did Harmon get that?” He walks over and warns the kid to stay out of the race. “You must be Kyle Lovesick!” Hannibal says. Ludwig corrects him, and asks who Hannibal is. “I’m the clean racing fairy,” he says, and, pointing at B.A., adds “this is my helper.” He makes fun of Ludwig until the guy storms off in a huff; then Ludwig tells his goons he wants the kid’s damn car wrecked already, and he wants it done right, and he wants it done tonight. Oh, and that he’s hiring other guys to do it.

Ludwig sends three guys to the Harmon garage, and Murdock welcomes them, because, after all, this is the place where B.A. Baracus, the greatest auto-fixing man in the world, “put camshaft to lathe.” The thugs make them leave the garage at gunpoint; then they send a Molotov cocktail under the blanket covering Kid’s car. Actually, as B.A. demonstrates, they just torched Ludwig’s car – the team switched the blanket and the nameplates on the garage. “Now don’t you feel like a dum-dum?” Murdock asks, after the team beats the new goons and takes their guns.

Now Ludwig’s freakin’ because he’s driving his crummy backup car in the qualifying race, and because Face has brought a Figoratti guy (actually Murdock – he looks like Tommy “Apache” Seebach) to see Ludwig drive, and see if he’s really ready to join their team. The unbelievably short race (The Daytona One?) ends with Kid Harmon getting the checkered flag. Kid is happy. Dana is happy. Murdock is making funny Italian hand gestures. Hannibal is happy. Jack is drinking, and he wanders over to a pay phone and slurs “Colonel Decker, please.” Oh man, he stooged on Hannibal?

Murdock speaks Italian, saying 'my dog will have puppies very soon'
Billy the invisible dog is pregnant?!?

Ludwig wants to smooth over his weak performance by providing big-time hospitality for the Figoratti team. That means Face and Murdock get to drink champagne in a hot tub with Ludwig’s lady masseuses. Murdock is speaking Italian like the characters on Cartoon Planet, but with Face “translating” it all comes out nicely; Ludwig never catches on that Murdock’s making fun of him. Ludwig assures them that he’ll beat Kid Harmon in the finals; he says he’s “got some drivers on the payroll” who will knock the Kid out of the running.

Kid is a little busy at the moment getting into a fight with his drunken father, who’s knee-deep in self-pity, and in booze. “You turned my son against me,” Jack tells Hannibal. “You got even.” Even? After Jack storms out, Hannibal explains that he and Jack both went after “the same girl… your mother.” She chose Jack because he was more family-friendly and reliable, but he started drinking after the mother died. Hannibal tells Kid that Jack deserves their help, not their scorn, and Jack, who’s listening on the other side of the door, is touched by this, although he might just be having one of those boozy “I love you man, no seriously, you have no idea” moments.

Face races back to tell Hannibal about these rogue other drivers; Murdock covers for him by pretending to get really sloshed. “How you say, barfoli, barfol?” he says to Ludwig in his fakey Italian accent. But when they take him upstairs, he’s instantly fine, and goes through Ludwig’s personal safe to find the names of the crooked drivers. This is good, and it’s also good that Jack is manning up and admitting he was wrong about Hannibal. Too bad he already called the MPs! Decker and his men storm the garage and congratulate themselves, again. This is bad.

Kid is at the track and he’s nervous because Uncle John and B.A. aren’t there. “They let me down!” he whines, but Jack shows up and says he’s the one that let them down. Then he wishes him good luck and walks away. Kid gets in his car; Ludwig pulls up and flashes a peace sign at him. (I assume he has one hand in his pocket, too.) The crooked drivers go over their complicated game plan of knocking Kid out of the race.

Dolls of B.A., Face and Hannibal
Tonight on the BBC, the Thunderbirds impersonate the American A-Team!

Decker’s convoy is driving away, and he’s radioing his men to warn them about a “fourth man” that might try to rescue them. That fourth man is watching from a nearby hillside; he’s got his binoculars and an Italian phrasebook. And he’s got Ludwig’s goons! He intimates to them, in broken English and hand gestures, that the military guys are actually a rival Mafia outfit, and they’re going to whack Kyle to get to his uncle. Then he says, in Italian, “Would you like to have my baby?” The goons promise to take care of the problem immediately, and they take the convoy at gunpoint, but Decker’s not worried; his convoy is carrying three dolls and zero team members! “Roll ’em out,” he says, and the real convoy, a pickup truck with a trailer, starts driving.

Murdock milking Bessie
Moooooourdock

Face and Hannibal are passing the time inside that trailer by singing “You Are My Sunshine,” and B.A.’s working on his ropes. Murdock must’ve noticed this when he was scoping out the convoy earlier, because he’s already changed disguises; now he’s a farmer, milking his cow Bessie in the middle of the road. “Think how proud B.A. is gonna be of you!” he tells the cow, which may be the greatest thing ever. The troops stop and ask Murdock to move his cow, but Murdock says when a cow wants to give milk, she doesn’t care where! The troops all try to move the cow together, and when they do, Murdock steals their truck and drives away with the team.

B.A. drives a race car
B.A. never did win no checkered flags, but he never did come in last

Decker’s furious, but he’s not licked yet: he knows Hannibal won’t leave until he’s helped Kid Harmon. So he’s going to stay here and make sure Hannibal doesn’t leave, even if you come and get him. No, that’s until you come and get him. He’s right: the team heads right to the race, where Kid is barely holding his own against the crooked drivers. Since they know which drivers are on the take, they pull one off the track through a ruse and B.A. takes his place at the wheel. “This is his twin brother,” Murdock tells the pit crew boss. B.A. burns a little rubber, smacks into one of the other crooked drivers, and the dude’s car goes flying off the track! Just one more to go, though Face notices that “Decker’s got a little surprise party for us” just off the side of the track. B.A. takes care of two birds with one stone by slamming the last crooked driver through the track wall and into Decker’s car, which promptly explodes. Kid’s now free to blow this thing and go home – I mean, to overtake Ludwig and win the race. Jack shakes Hannibal’s hand and says thanks before running off to congratulate the kid. Kyle Ludwig comes over after the race and starts hassling the kid, but Jack steps in and decks the guy. The team piles into B.A.’s race car and tears off, with Decker yelling “there they go!” Hannibal smiles and says “I love it when a plan comes together!”

One last little bit of business: Kid’s got to show off his giant trophy, to which the team applauds. Kid asks how it was that Decker knew they were at the race in the first place. Jack looks nervous, but Face and Hannibal cover for him, saying that Jack is going to ask around and figure out what happened… “like the good friend he is.” “And a good friend I’ll always be,” he says to Hannibal. Then he throws his flask to the ground. B.A. and Murdock have a little witty repartee, and we’re finished.

The Season Four streak continues – this was more like a solid A than an A+ like the last few episodes, but that’s hardly a bad thing. This one kept getting better as it went along: Murdock’s Italian guy persona was endlessly funny, and the battle of wits between Decker and Hannibal was a nice way to keep their never-ending battle fresh.

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