My Year With The A-Team: Season 5, Episode 1 – Dishpan Man

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

The A-Team and Frankie

“I suppose now the team will have to go to Spain to find Robert Vaughn’s daughter?”

One week to go – and all of Season Five ahead. According the schedule I made in January I should’ve reached this moment in mid-October, but to quote Princess Leia, we have no time for sorrows, Commander. Hmm. When did the Commander get here, and when did I start talking to him? Anyway, it’s time to go to work. On to Season Five!


Dishpan Man

Wild Guess Preview: Hannibal has a new acting gig, but this time he’s no movie monster – he’s Madge, the manicurist with the “thirst for power”! He’s a little out of his range as an actor, but it’s a big break, and a handy one too; when the team crosses paths with the greedy owner of a chemical plant, Hannibal lowers the guy into a big vat of Palmolive, and yells “You’re soaking in it, slimeball!”

A videotape of the A-TeamIn military lingo, “1HG422-7” just means “The Complete Second Season”

The Recap: Wow, we’re starting the new season without an opening theme or anything. There’s an airplane with two dogs on it, and a lady in red carrying a videotape labeled “A-Team,” and Robert Vaughn’s eye. The tape contains clips of previous episodes – I like that they included clips of B.A. riding in a golf cart during “Members Only.” The woman in red says something about how they could do the drop right away, but Vaughn’s eye says no, “I’ll do it… my way.”

Frank Sinatra 'My Way' album cover

And wow, a whole new opening sequence – no narration, a synthed-up remix of the theme music, and “Robert Vaughn, as General Hunt Stockwell.” It’s the beginning of a whole new era.

Hannibal's Aquamaniac costume is on fire
The Aquamaniac recreates Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” album cover

A whole new era with an ambulance – Hannibal was shooting a movie, and his Aquamaniac suit caught on fire. He’s shouting at the EMTs to get his suit off because his shoulder is smoking, but the guy says he can’t… “your zipper melted.” True to form, Hannibal’s less concerned with his being on fire than with “how this director is interpreting this role.”

Hannibal has a visitor at the hospital, one Frankie Santana, the special effects guy from the movie. Or, the former special effects guy – he got fired when Hannibal burst into flames. The colonel and “Dishpan Frankie” are comiserating about their rotten luck when Face and B.A. walk in. Face is complaining that something’s wrong with the Corvette, and Frankie diagnoses it sight unseen. Face likes Frankie. B.A. is less impressed, probably because he calls B.A. “the labor rep from the jewelry mart.” Frankie smooths it over by giving him a new way to clean his gold – microwave it for 15 minutes (?). Then he splits to go job hunting; Frankie hands out his business cards before leaving and says “if I can ever be of any help to you guys, just give me a call.” Foreshadowing.

With no one left to blab at them, the team settles into Hannibal’s hospital room and watches TV; they catch a news story about an airline hijacking in Spain. Then B.A. and Face drive off in the awesome van. Some guy is watching them from a car; he radios to Robert Vaughn’s eye that “the big bird is home alone.” So another guy comes into Hannibal’s room while he’s sleeping, and puts some chloroform over him. They drag him out to an ambulance (again?), which drives off, and then they load Hannibal onto a plane. A plane belonging to Robert Vaughn’s eye, and the rest of Robert Vaughn.

General Stockwell
Man, Stockwell loves, these blu-blockers

Hannibal wakes up. Robert Vaughn introduces himself as General Hunt Stockwell (ret’d), “a dedicated American patriot” who works “inside the system” in various spooky capacities. “You’re also a little pompous,” Hannibal replies, but Stockwell ignores this and starts talking about the Spanish airplane being hijacked. “There’s a man on that airplane that’s very important to me,” he says, “and, I think, to you.” This man is Captain Curtis, the only other man who knew of Colonel Morrison’s orders to the team, and therefore the only man who can clear them. Hannibal says Curtis died in Vietnam, but Stockwell pulls up some airport security film to show that Curtis really is alive. I suppose now the team will have to go to Spain to find Robert Vaughn’s daughter? Hannibal, always looking for a way to clear his name, agrees to the rescue… “for now.”

We now switch to the scene inside the hijacked aircraft; the hijackers have big hair, like SCTV-era Eugene Levy. Curtis tries to open his window shade, but a hijacker stops him. “Disobey me again, and you will be the first to be sacrificed,” he says. Curtis’s cohort is worried that he’s going to get them killed, but Curtis says so what. “If we’re late for that arms shipment to Lo Bianca, we’re dead anyway.” So the one man who can clear the A-Team is an arms smuggler? Lovely. The hijacker peels off a few rounds at the soldiers outside and shrieks about how he will “KILL ALL OF THEM!” blah blah blah.

Hannibal is back in the awesome van with B.A. and Murdock. Face is in the Corvette, and Frankie was right about his brakes going out – B.A. grimaces as we hear a loud off-screen crash. Hannibal fills them in about his kidnapping, about the mysterious Hunt Stockwell, and how Captain Curtis is alive after all. “I don’t like this guy,” Hannibal says, “but I think it’s the best chance we’re gonna get.” They all vote to go forward with the mission, but nobody’s thrilled about it. And Face has a practical question: how are they going to get on the hijacked plane anyway? Hannibal smiles. “Effects,” he says.

So they drive to an airfield to meet up with Frankie the special effects guy. And does B.A. have a bone to pick: he put his gold in the microwave, like Frankie suggested, and it turned into burnt mush! Frankie says B.A. should’ve told him it was 18 carat gold instead of 14, because it’s much softer. B.A. wants to pummel this guy, but Hannibal says hold off, “Frankie’s our passport onto that airliner.” Huh? They all head over toward the plane. “PLANE?!?” B.A. says. Murdock headbutts him from behind, which doesn’t hurt him. But it’s only meant as a distraction – Hannibal delivers the knockout with a pole, and they get airborne. Frankie’s patter is no match for Murdock, though – he says H.M.’s bomber jacket is starting to deteriorate and asks if he’s ever used tanning butter, Murdock: “only on pancakes.”

B.A. shrieking

Note to self: don’t get B.A. skydiving lessons for his birthday

The team gets a briefing by video from Carla, the woman in red, and from Stockwell. He says get back in touch when you’ve saved Curtis and we’ll send transportation, though he continues not to say why he wants Curtis back at all. “Real confidence builder,” Face says. But no time for pondering, they have to get ready for the jump into Spain. B.A. wakes up just as they get in position, and he’s shrieking in sheer terror until he passes out again. Murdock shoves him out the plane door; Face asks if he remembered to pull the ripcord before tossing B.A. out. “No,” Murdock says, and then he realizes what that means. “OH!” He dives out after the big guy and pulls his cord, and they all float down to the ground.

B.A. is grumbling again. “I don’t like to fly, and I don’t like being pushed out of no airplane.” Frankie is busy hiding the parachutes… and he’s calling Stockwell on his walkie-talkie! Stockwell reminds Frankie to install homing devices on each of the team members, which he then does. Then he asks Murdock if the four of them are really the A-Team. Murdock nods. “Nauseating, isn’t it?”

Murdock rides his little chopter
Murdock fired once, and Murdock fired twice/and that bloody Red Baron went spinning out of sight

Hannibal and B.A. are scoping out the scene at the airfield; looks like their only shot at getting on board the plane will be at night. But then things get more complicated; the hijacker deplanes some of the passengers and loads them into a black van. This is before the Flyers’ Bill of Rights, so Hannibal realizes they won’t be able to wait ’til night. Murdock has an idea: he can keep an eye on the hijackers in the air. How? “Lately I’ve been packing a helicopter with my underwear.” And, to everyone’s amazement, he has all the parts to a little chopter in his foot locker! So they do a little montage and put the thing together and Murdock takes to the skies, following the hijackers. Face is busy scamming ground transportation, albeit with less success; all he can find is a rusty, beat-up pickup truck. The hijackers see Murdock’s chopter and start shooting, which is bad news for a tiny chopter, and so Murdock ends up hitting a tree, very George of the Jungle style, and falling to the ground. Good thing he has a believable disguise: “I’m with the Chamber of Commerce,” he says as the hijackers surround him, guns drawn. “I’ve got brochures, pamphlets, soap…” When this fails, Murdock warns the guys he’s basically too crazy to know what he’s doing, and demonstrates this by singing “Sixteen Tons.” The lead hijacker says “Kill him, he’s a fool.” Ooh, low blow. “Do you know there are places in this world where fools are worshipped?” Murdock shouts. “Like Hollywood, California!”

Speaking of California, here comes the rest of L.A.’s favorite underground team to even the score! Hannibal, B.A. and Face take positions and start shooting; Murdock rushes off in the confusion, sneaks up behind the lead hijacker and knocks him out, using only his scarf. Flashy. The team rounds the clowns up, and Murdock asks “where were you guys? I was running out of inanities!” (“That’ll never happen,” growls B.A.) These hostages are free, and one of them is the co-pilot, who tells Hannibal there are still four armed hijackers on the plane, and they intend to take off anytime with the remaining hostages.

Hannibal has a plan to keep them on the ground, though; he wants to convince the hijackers that the fog is so thick that they’ll need a copilot to fly successfully, and then they can just sneak Murdock on board. The soldier says there isn’t any such fog, but Hannibal says “tonight, you’re gonna have a cold front.” Frankie is building that cold front. “Ok,” says the soldier, “it is done.”

But even though it is done, they still have to do it. And before that, Frankie checks in with Stockwell again – at least until Hannibal finds him. “You’ve got a lot of explaining to do,” the colonel says. So Frankie explains: Stockwell blackmailed him into the mission by stopping his dad’s pension checks. Hannibal says they need Frankie for the mission to succeed, “but nobody take their eyes off him.” B.A.’s fine with that. “Leave him to me,” he says.

And here comes the fuel truck, manned by the team. Face hooks up the “gas” while Frankie hands smoke canisters to B.A. and Hannibal. The hijackers fall for the fog excuse, though they radio to the tower to find out exactly how a giant cold front moved in that fast. Murdock answers in his Carlos Mendoza voice. “We are having, from time to time, fog. Lo siento.” The plane’s pilot, who’s also one of the hostages, says he’ll need a copilot to fly in low visibility, and the big-haired hijacker says fine, so long as they leave immediately. So Murdock comes aboard.

A film countdown shows up in the airplane's front window
Hijackers are always distracted by the sight of Foreigner album covers

Frankie has some more surprises in store: on Murdock’s signal, he turns on some fake field lights and starts a projector to make it look like they’re moving down the runway. This gives Hannibal, Face and B.A. a chance to sneak on board via the cargo hold, and after the hijackers buckle up on Murdock’s suggestion, they storm the plane, punching out hijackers one by one. Eventually Frankie’s film reel runs out and they see a countdown in the front window, but Murdock is able to knock the big-haired guy out just as he starts to go crazy. Captain Curtis looks around at these fellers and says “I remember you guys… you’re the A-Team!” “Is that music to our ears,” Hannibal says.

Murdock brings back groceries

We got beets!

The hijackers are in custody and the hostages are free. The Spanish soldiers are saying muchas gracias to the team for their help. But Hannibal only has eyes for Curtis. The captain seems a bit squirrelly; “I can clear you,” he says. But “Stockwell is a man I’d just as soon stay away from.” So they drive to a little farmhouse down the road; Murdock goes off to find foodly provisions while the rest of the team discusses their options with Curtis, who again begs to keep Stockwell out of the loop: “I think he may want to kill me.” The gunfire that begins a moment later seems to suggest as much. Stockwell walks in with two besuited flunkies, and makes all friendly-like with Curtis! “Hello, Hunt,” Curtis says back. And that’s not all – he says the A-Team brought him to the farmhouse to kill him… “because I saw them kill Colonel Morrison.” “Then I guess I’ll have to break my promise, Colonel,” Stockwell says to Hannibal, and he takes the whole team into custody. He loads them into a van and they all drive off… just as Murdock comes back with two bags of groceries! To be continued?

This was intriguing, but just generally OK. I’m not sure what Frankie brings to the mix yet other than variety – he’s got some of B.A.’s mechanical skills and a little of Murdock’s manic energy, but the addition feels a little like how movie franchises always tack a “computer expert” onto a well-established character. Stockwell is definitely creepy, though; I’d like to see exactly what he’s all about. And there were a fair number of good Murdock moments.

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