My Year With The A-Team: Season 5, Episode 10 – The Crystal Skull

a crystal skull

The natives start WORSHIPING MURDOCK! This island, Toga, is the best island in the whole world.

Our New Year’s Eve marathon continues!


The Crystal Skull

Wild Guess Preview: Agh, to promote the fourth Indiana Jones movie George Lucas and Steven Spielberg traveled back in time and filmed an A-Team episode about a crystal skull discovered by Shia LeBeouf. It’s sad to see Face holding a special Indiana Jones Burger King collector’s cup while throwing grenades at thugs, frankly. But at least it’s not as horrifying as the ultra-violent, bloody “Golden Girls” episode they made to promote “Saving Private Ryan.”

The Recap: The Australian Outback? Is Cannell trying to have the team do a mission in the handful of remaining countries before the show wraps up? Frankie, Hannibal and B.A. are driving in a Jeep, carrying a little transparent skull. Frankie says this is the easiest mission he’s ever done, but he asks if it still counts toward their eventual pardon. B.A. pipes up: “He called it a freebie! Still, I don’t like it!”And that’s when some other Jeeps drive up and start shooting. It’s like a gun battle between the A-Team and the Bruces from Monty Python – I keep expecting someone to start singing “Immanuel Kant.” The teamers get away with some well-timed smoke grenades; they find Face and Murdock in a plane, writing proverbs to go in fortune cookies. One of Murdock’s fortunes reads as follows: “Man who must write 200 fortunes by Monday needs support of all friends around him.” Frankie gets on board while B.A. and Hannibal hold off the Aussies.

The islanders worship Murdock
Survivor: Los Angeles Underground

The Australians shot up the plane a little, and there’s an oil gusher in that there aircraft, meaning this trip is going to end sooner than anyone thinks. Time to parachute out; Frankie hands the “cursed” skull off to Face, who hands the skull off to Murdock. They all jump. Frankie and Face touch down between two sets of islanders with spears. The dudes move in for the kill almost immediately, but Murdock, who’s still in the air, starts shooting his rifle to scare off the islanders. They indeed scatter, but when Murdock unpacks the crystal skull thing, the islanders are impressed. And they speak English! AND they start worshiping Murdock! This island, Toga, is the best island in the whole world. “He has saved our people from disaster,” says a Toga guy. “He is the answer to our prayers. The great king Murdocka has been sent here from the heavens.” The great king Murdocka ponders their chants of “Tupu! Tupu!”: “Tupu, or not tupu, that is the question.”

Murdock is king
It’s good to be the king – especially if you’re King Murdocka

Ok, now this is starting to make sense. By shooting his rifle, Murdock actually scared off a rival clan, the Toga Toga, who had been attacking the single Toga people for a number of years. The islanders put Murdock on a throne and bring him a bevy of beautiful ladies. “It is custom,” the chief says, “for king to take bride.” Murdock has to choose the most beautiful woman on the island. He declines, saying he couldn’t choose between such rare beauties, but the chief says take your time… “romance all women!” So he has to romance all the ladies and then choose but one? Could this be…

Murdock is The Next Bachelor

Face despairs: “I would’ve been perfect for this job!” But there is a catch: if the king fails to please any of the ladies, then it proves he’s not really a king and will be killed. But a king’s life isn’t just all pleasuring ladies: two men come to Murdock to settle a dispute over building huts, and Howlin’ Mad decrees that “a hut is very important.” Uh… oh, there’s more: the two men have to rebuild the huts together, “for, in the words of the great god Joe Namath, ‘hut, hut, hut!’” The villagers love this, but not nearly as much as me.

Frankie activated a homing signal when they got to Toga; B.A. and Hannibal on a boat, following that signal. B.A. is a little nervous: “I heard there was cannibals on some of these islands.” Eek. Stockwell calls, and he’s nervous because the skull is supposed to be at a presidential dinner the next night, else it lead to “strained relations” with Middle Eastern countries. Hannibal says they’ll get the skull in due time, but he’s got to find his men first; “the Middle East will have to wait.”

His men are in a bit of a bind: Frankie sort of mentioned how he thought one of the ladies on the island was attractive, and the chief took that to mean that Murdock had chosen a bride. So it’s Murdock’s wedding day. “I am Lisa, your Time-Life operator,” she says. Actually she says “humble servant,” and this upsets Murdock, who’s a sensitive 80’s man. “This woman will not serve me,” he says. “This woman will be my equal.” The men of the island shout something; not sure if it’s good or bad. Face: “The woman’s movement comes to Toga Island.” Actually, what’s come to the island is two white monks from Toga Toga, who disparage Murdock and tell the Toga people that “this man is no god.” The chief says yes he is, and we’ll prove it: Murdock will undergo the test of Tatauupu. The what? “A test of immortality,” says Brother Marino of the monks. Gulp. “The test of fire!” one of the islanders yells out, excited. Murdock is not excited.

Murdock walks through fire
Love is a burning thing, and it makes a fiery ring

But Frankie has an idea: he makes a flame retardant for Murdock, using the asbestos in his bag (he carries around asbestos?) and aloe from a nearby plant. Murdock walks right across the flaming rocks with a smile on his face, though he does get quite a few painful blisters in the process. See? Murdock is a god. But the Toga Toga guys return for another raid, clobbering our guys from behind, kidnapping Lisa and stealing the crystal skull! Good thing Hannibal and B.A. have made it to the island. “Where’s the skull?” Hannibal asks. “That’s a long story,” Face, Murdock and Frankie say.

The deeply religious B.A. is unhappy at Murdock: “Pretending to be a god ain’t cool, you’re gonna pay for it one day!” Murdock decides to level with the islanders and say he’s just “a guy who wants to help you.” The islanders aren’t sure what to make of all this. Stockwell isn’t sure, either: the rendezvous is ten hours away and now the team doesn’t have the skull anymore? “We know where it is,” Hannibal offers. “A Chief Sadaraka has it.” But this doesn’t smooth things over. Stockwell again reiterates about how the president needs this immediately, don’t break your promise to me, blah blah blah; Hannibal hangs up and tells the team “we’re all invited to the White House for dinner!”

Frankie dressed as an islander
Frankie Santana stars in “The Puma Man 2: Vidino Gets His Groove Back

They dress Frankie up as an islander and boat to Toga Toga Island, to infiltrate the other side and steal back the crystal skull. Chief Sadaraka is there, but so are the monks, and they’re not very monk-like; they’re pointing guns at the chief and saying that Lisa will “work… like the others.” Work? Ah, there’s a diamond mine on the island, complete with a European guy cracking a whip and yelling “put some back into it!” Face and Frankie sneak over to the mine and steal one guard’s gun; then they hold the whip guy at gunpoint. He still has the whip, but he’s not Indiana Jones so he can’t fight back. Hannibal, B.A. and Murdock, meanwhile, drop by the monastery. The “monks” are all inspecting diamonds; their chanting is all on tape. The teamers burst in, shoot the place up and rescue Lisa.

Party time! The islanders are dancing, Murdock is dancing, Frankie is dancing, B.A. is shaking his head. “Bunch of fools worshiping the king fool of all time!” And the chief is upset: “Where is Havatika?” he says, pointing to where the skull had been sitting. Murdock: “we’re working on that.” Hannibal has a great plan, and says “the great god Murdocka is exactly what we need right now.” I know how he feels.

What they don’t need is the fake monks, who have taken a chopter from their short, cranky leader and used it to drop bombs on Murdock – “look at that idiot, he thinks he’s a god,” says Marino – but no, actually the team’s made clay figures of everybody, so the dudes are killing inanimate objects! (The dolls sort of look like the skeleton figures from the Grateful Dead’s “Touch of Grey” video.) When they land, Hannibal starts shooting and the Toga people swarm around the crooks, many of whom end up in the water.

This is good, but they still don’t have the skull. Hannibal wants Face and Frankie to blow up the fake monastery, while he, Murdock and B.A. talk with the Toga Toga chief about the fake monks. “They’re stealing your wealth!” B.A. shouts. “Putting your brothers in chains, making ’em slaves! You’ll be next, sucka!” Sadaraka tells his men to get rid of the fake monks. But he draws the line on the skull, for it “is sacred to my people.” Murdock works out a deal where they have a one-on-one fight with the best fighter from each tribe; winner keeps the skull. The chief says he’s ready to fight, but he’ll only fight a chief… or a king. “Then the great god Murdock-a can fight the chief!” Hannibal says. Murdock doesn’t like this, though B.A. is giggling. His prediction? PAIN. (Just kidding.)

The chief hands Murdock the skull
Skullduggery.

And the fight is on! They stand on a tree trunk bridge, each holding a bamboo pole, though this resembles nothing so much as a slow-motion version of the Joust event from “American Gladiators.” Murdock is wiry, but he holds his ground and eventually forces the chief to do a cannonball into the water. The now all-wet chief hands Murdock the skull and says “this is now yours.” And they make peace between the two tribes! Cool! But then there is not peace, because the Australians that were chasing the team way back at the beginning are here on Toga Toga, and they want the skull back. Geez.

Frankie dressed as a monk
Frankie hopes some Normal sword whittles the Australian smugglers down to size!

“I don’t suppose you’d be willing to give it up for the sake of world peace?” Hannibal asks, but the Aussie guy says no, “let ’em kill each other.” He’s going to sell the skull to a guy in Singapore – at least until Hannibal mentions the “monastery full of diamonds” on the other side of the island. Which is where they head. Frankie and Face are there, admiring the diamonds and lamenting that they have to blow ’em all to bits. When they hear Hannibal telling an Australian about all the diamonds inside, they know just what to do: dress like monks and walk outside! One of the Aussies recognizes Frankie as “the guy who shot at us,” but Frankie says he’s a monk… “I just signed up!” Then he hits his remote detonator and the monastery blows up. The crooks flee, but the islanders are right there to give ’em hell. Murdock even tackles the lead guy and grabs the skull back, to the islanders’ delight.

Murdock totem
I am totally going to start making one of these for my garden.

Time for a farewell feast. Murdock explains to the chief that the skull doesn’t actually have any power, not compared to wisdom, “and heaven knows, you have enough of that.” He does have a going away present, though: oh wow, his baseball cap! And the chief has a surprise of his own: A MURDOCK TOTEM! YES! “That should scare off any enemies,” Frankie says. Stockwell flies by to pick them up, and since he only sees the party he assumes they’ve been on vacation the whole time. “This is the last time you get an easy mission, Colonel Smith” he says. Whatever. Party!

Campy, yes, but this was a lot of fun. How do you top Murdock as a god? That must be why they put it in the last season.

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