“Let me repeat that: THE NURSING HOME PEOPLE ARE DOING A PREPARATION MONTAGE.”
For those who might have thought this project was a bad idea, let me simply point to this project and say: it could be much worse. Take this poor guy, who’s watching the movie â€œJulie and Juliaâ€ every day for a year. Your pain is palpable, Lawrence! But at least you’re (hopefully) named after Mr. T.
The Grey Team
Wild Guess Preview: It’s an old-timey A-Team taking place in the silent film era! Hannibal J. Guildersleeve is a madcap inventor who shares his creations with his friends The Face, Professor Baracus and H.M. â€œHorse Feathersâ€ Murdock. Then the evil Dr. Smedley steals a special new elixir from the laboratory â€“ and the Team of A-Level Gentlemen must retrieve it, and save the orphans from casting about forever in a hot air contraption!
The Recap: There’s a phone ringing! In a house! And a man with a cardigan answers it! â€œOne hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money, Mr. Anderson,â€ says a voice. â€œI trust you’re not avoiding me.â€ Anderson recognizes the voice: it’s a Soviet agent called Sarnoff â€“ oh, that’s rich, name the villain of your last episode after the man who founded NBC. â€œMy government has paid you well,â€ Sarnoff continues. â€œWe expect the documents.â€ Anderson says he’ll deliver today.
Here’s the wrinkle: Anderson’s daughter, Paula, has been listening in on the call from her bedroom. She’s upset that her dad is selling out to the Reds, so she sneaks downstairs and steals his briefcase, which contains papers marked â€œStrategic Defense Initiative: Star Wars Progress Report.â€ Paula runs outside, and two chunky guys in a car follow her. Anderson strolls outside and yells â€œPAULA!â€ which is a good tactic when your daughter is being tailed by thugs. She pays him no heed and runs off.
I’m gonna miss those crazy smiles.
The team is a little puzzled why Stockwell wants them to go find a teenage girl – â€œSince when did we go into the stray kid business?â€ Face asks. But Stockwell explains about the Star Wars papers â€“ find Paula and make sure the papers aren’t taken by the wrong people, he says, or there goes any chance of a pardon. Ah, so he’s in a bad mood this week. First thing to do is pick up Murdock, who’s working at a Puppy Platter fast food joint and, appropriately enough, wearing a t-shirt that says â€œFINI.â€ Face explains that â€œUncle Stockwellâ€ needs his help and they all head out.
Paula is at an apartment building, knocking on the manager’s door. â€œMr Green?â€ she calls out, knocking. I think Mr. Green is in the hall with Professor Plum, actually. Oh, it’s kindly old Bernie Greene, who gives her a cup of tea and listens as she explains about her dad’s briefcase and the guys who want it. â€œMy father is a traitor,â€ she says. Then turn him in, kid!
Hopefully Rick James or Isaac Hayes will play the piano in this crate.
The team is lifting a large wooden piano crate as a cover for visiting Mr. Anderson â€“ though their work is not to B.A.’s standard: â€œstop jibba-jabba-ing and start lifting!â€ Hannibal tells Anderson he’s from â€œStockwell Movers,â€ and explains that the piano is there to make it harder for people listening in on bugs. Face conjures up a jazzy tune while Anderson explains the situation: Sarnoff is â€œthe top Soviet operative in this country,â€ and he’s been trying to draw the guy out into the open. Anderson isn’t really a traitor, just a patriot with a cardigan. And there’s more: the documents are phony, but the Reds don’t know it, so â€œthere’s nothing the other side wouldn’t do to get them.â€
The team’s only lead is to find Bernie Greene; too bad the thugs have already figured this out too. â€œWhat they don’t know,â€ Bernie tells Paula, â€œis that they’re dealing with Bernie Greene, a pretty tough piece of beef jerky.â€ When the thugs knock, Bernie opens up his little peephole window and sprays the fire extinguisher â€“ hey, he is pretty tough! Then he and Paula duck out the fire escape. The thugs follow, but Frankie and B.A. pull up in the awesome van, and they belt the guys… who identify themselves as FBI agents. Uh oh.
Stockwell actually wants Hannibal to take on the FBI, but Hannibal says absolutely not â€“ and while he’s at it, the colonel’s getting mighty sick of Stockwell and his missions. â€œWe’ll get Randy Anderson’s daughter back because he’s a decent man,â€ Hannibal says, â€œbut not for you, General. Not anymore.â€
Bernie assures Paula that he’s hidden her secret briefcase, but now they need to hide themselves, and Bernie knows the perfect place: his friend George Nemchek’s room at the Silver Creek Retirement Community. George is dozing on the couch, exhausted and cranky from having the wildest beard in the retirement world, but he’s got a heart of gold and says they can stay with him â€“ after all, the â€œstaff is so afraid of me they talk to me as little as possible!â€ Hahahahaha â€“ huh?
Frankie’s been doing some scouting with B.A., and apparently Bernie and Paula hid out in the movie theater all afternoon – â€œthey sat through two Chuck Norris movies,â€ he says. If I ever have to hide out, I hope I get to go to that theater! Frankie also managed to find out from the ticket taker that Bernie is friends with a certain George Nemchek who lives at a certain nursing home.
Hannibal and Face are at the park, watching Sarnoff meet up with Anderson. Wow, he’s got a handlebar mustache â€“ and a gun! â€œNaughty, naughty!â€ scolds Hannibal, who pulls out his sniper rifle and lines up a shot. But Anderson begs off convincingly and Hannibal doesn’t have to shoot. â€œNow it’s up to Murdock,â€ he says.
Murdock is at a TV studio, pretending to be a professor who works on SDI research and accusing the government of lying about the Star Wars program. He does this to draw out Sarnoff’s operatives â€“ and, in fact, one of them drops by; it’s a lady blue dress. She says his interview was â€œmost interesting,â€ and forces him to drive away at gunpoint to tell her all about his research. she gets in his car. Murdock’s in a K-Car, so he sputters away more than drives; still, Face and Hannibal follow.
Sweating to the relatively recent-ies
But enough international intrigue; it’s time for nursing home aerobics! Thrill as oldsters in leotards stretch to the Bee Gees’ â€œNight Feverâ€! Paula is sitting near all this, (understandably) depressed out of her mind. Bernie, who confesses he prefers Twisted Sister (and no, I didn’t make that up), drops by with George to cheer her up. Paula wonders if she should turn in her traitorous dad; George tells her to listen to her heart, and her heart says get the hell away from senior aerobics at all costs. So she calls dad – but the Soviets are listening in and they overhear Paula say that she has the briefcase.
He blinded her… WITH SCIENCE
â€œSDI, Professor Murdock,â€ says the Russian lady. â€œWe vant to know everything about it.â€ H.M. says he can’t work in dark warehouse conditions, at least not around guards and â€œspectators,â€ so the woman sends the guards and the other scientists away. Then he starts romancing the lady – â€œI am a man of science, but if you take away the science…â€ oh yeah, he’s a man. Face and Hannibal are outside, and Face is about to be sick listening to Murdock’s goofy lines. Hannibal reassures him: â€œI’m sure you could make up much better lines.â€ But then again, he says, Murdock â€œmay know something that you don’t know.â€ Face starts practicing Murdock’s lines.
Jibba jabba meets whipper-snapper.
The awesome van is at the nursing home, to find Bernie and Paula. But when our guys start walking in, they’re mobbed by hundreds of old people. I don’t mean it’s heavily populated, I mean the old people are closing in on them â€“ B.A. and Frankie literally have to run out the door to avoid a barrage of murderous senior citizens. No matter where they go, they’re surrounded by geezers! B.A.’s exasperated and confused: â€œWhat’re you people doing? We’re the good guys, we’re not here to hurt nobody!â€ Frankie explains that Anderson sent them to find Paula, and she recognizes them from the fight with the FBI dudes. â€œI told you,â€ B.A. says. â€œWe’re the good guys!â€ The old people are disappointed: â€œOh nuts,â€ says the old lady. â€œJust when things were getting interesting around here.â€ They all walk away.
Anderson shows up himself, but so does Sarnoff, along with half a dozen armed Soviet guys. He takes both Andersons hostage and drives off with them. But that’s not the end of the fun here â€“ the old people start grabbing supplies to fight off the other Soviets. Let me repeat that: THE NURSING HOME PEOPLE ARE DOING A PREPARATION MONTAGE. They belt the Soviet agents with crutches, shoot hot water at them… they even roll a wheelchair at them. Huh? It’s got an oxygen tank on it, and B.A. and Frankie points their guns and make it explode, to a round of applause. All I want to know is, who drugged me and put this show on instead of the A-Team?
I’m also going to miss these crazy grimaces.
Hannibal has a plan: since Bernie stashed the briefcase in his apartment, Sarnoff will have to go there to get it. And the team will be there, â€œas soon as we get Murdock.â€ Face wonders how they might do that, since the Soviets have their lab guarded tightly. Oh, not a problem, says Hannibal – â€œMurdock is going to get out for us.â€ And he does; he tells the Russian lady that he wants them to be â€œjoined together in blissful detente… my Apollo and your Soyuz,â€ and she finds his metaphors a little too graphic. â€œYou will now be killed by my comrades outside,â€ she says. â€œGoodbye.â€ (â€œGreat, isn’t it?â€ Hannibal says to Face, as they listen.) Murdock smuggles himself out by using one of the Soviet laser devices on the wall and cutting an escape hole.
The suckas on the bus go round and round, round and round…
Bernie and George are going to drive with Frankie and B.A. to head off Sarnoff. Or maybe not: â€œWHAT? SOMEONE SHOT THE TIRES ON MY VAN!â€ But George will not be denied: â€œWe’ve got more experience than those Russians, and before I check in to St. Peter’s hotel I want to use that experience!â€ So he hoists his walker in the air and hails a bus; B.A. tosses the driver out and they get on board. The other old people see this, and now they want to come too – â€œdon’t forget the Geritol commandos!â€ one yells out. Oh my god, this is the most insane thing ever. â€œHey Pops,â€ B.A. tells George, â€œyou drive pretty good! I’m impressed!â€ Bernie mentions that George used to be a bus driver â€“ until he got fired for â€œreckless driving.â€ Frankie: â€œWe’re gonna die.â€
Sarnoff keeps telling the Andersons they’re gonna die if they don’t produce the briefcase, but Paula keeps explaining that Bernie hid the thing and neither of them knows where. But the bus is on its way, followed by some sharp-eyed cops who recognize that 80 insane senior citizens hijacking a bus could be a problem. Sarnoff comes downstairs and makes the cops drop their guns, lest he shoot Paula or her dad. Bernie gives himself up and says he’ll give up the briefcase if Sarnoff lets the Andersons go. Sarnoff says files first, then the hostages go free.
Face, Hannibal and Murdock drive up, and Hannibal says â€œit’s up to you, Face.â€ Why Face? â€œYou’re driving.â€ Oh. Face drives up some kind of ramp and lands their vehicle onto a police car. And while the Soviets are distracted, the old people start whacking them with crutches and canes again. Seriously. â€œI did it!â€ Face says. â€œMy god, I did it!â€ The cops take the Soviets into custody.
Spinoff: “In 1986 a pair of old guys broke out of a nursing home and promptly escaped to the Los Angeles underground…”
The team gets a little parade at the nursing home. They also get a little surprise: George and Bernie have decided they’re going to join up and help the team fight bad guys. Frankie says, um, it’s been nice working with you guys, but no thanks, so George and Bernie decide to â€œshow this young feller how it’s doneâ€ and carry him off, which is amusing. This gives our original foursome gets a little time to ponder their future. B.A. says â€œit looks like Hannibal is on the jazz again,â€ and yes, Hannibal has a plan for the day if/when they get their pardon from Stockwell: â€œwhat are we really qualified to do?â€ he asks. â€œGo after thugs in the park?â€ Face asks, like George and Bernie? Sort of, says Hannibal – â€œMotorcycle gangs, organized crime figures…. there’s a world of slimeballs out there.â€ â€œI’ll get the van,â€ B.A. says.
The show just couldn’t help but reach one last level of complete lunacy before wrapping up, could they? But as unbelievably campy and contrived as the plot was, the team still made it fun. And the ending was quite nice â€“ the road goes on forever for our guys, as it should. Me, I gotta start figuring out what I’m gonna do at the end of the project â€“ I’m not qualified to do anything either, but there’s not a world of more A-Team episodes out there!?!