Would you rather quibble about continuity, or would you rather watch Murdock throw pies while wearing a wedding dress?
You may have noticed a slight lull in this project, and I want to assure you this is not in any way a sign that “My Year With The A-Team” will end up being renamed “My Six Weeks With The A-Team Before Pneumonia Made Me Rethink My Life Goals.” My resolve, as they say, has never been stronger. Unfortunately, so has the resolve of whatever irritating karmic force is picking on me at the moment. After spending a long week and a half successfully fighting a cold, I managed to sprain my ankle doing nothing more strenuous than walking to the living room. Then I had to take my cat, Rocky, to the animal hospital to treat an overactive thyroid gland. The treatment consists of (expensive) radioactive stuff, so he had to stay at the hospital for a few days until he stopped glowing. The hospital kindly provided a webcam system so we could keep an eye on him, so we spent three days watching our cat sleep on the internet. He’s home now, and my cold is gone, and I can mostly walk again, so it’s back to business at last.
Since most of this project has been about me developing self-discipline, I’m sorry to say that I don’t really have a routine for recapping these programs. I’ve tried ensconcing myself in a back room, I’ve tried walling myself off upstairs, I tried buying a seven-story office complex… still I end up on the living room couch, irritating the cat, or on the bed, laughing and typing and forcing everyone else in the house to pull covers further and further over their heads. On top of all of this is a very large and important fact that our house is freezing cold, all the time, no matter how high we set the furnace; it is this particular house that causes political types to talk about weatherization credits. I did buy a pretty bad-ass space heater, but my computer is too quiet to compete with the white noise of its gale-force heat. Which means I have to suffer for my art. I like neither living the cliché nor shivering through each episode of my favorite show, but I fully recognize I’m not in control of my existence; why else would I refer to a space heater as “bad-ass”?
Till Death Do Us Part
Wild Guess Preview: In the most convoluted episode of network television ever produced, Face decides to leave the A-Team to marry one of his special lady friends, a maker of traditional hand hooked rugs, but a renegade rug maker decides to force her out of business the hard way. She then hires the A-Team, which can’t complete the mission unless Face is around to get them supplies. So Face rejoins the team, which upsets the hooked rug lady because “you’re choosing them over me,” so she divorces him with the help of the renegade rug maker’s lawyer, who is simultaneously suing Face’s wife into bankruptcy. Hannibal’s plan ends up fixing everything: he hires the lawyer to help B.A. with a class action suit against “the jazz” and Triple A makes a hooked rug with the rug lady, which is considered adultery thanks to a clerical error in the local legal code. Face rejoins the team and they all pretend none of this ever happened.
The Recap: We’re in Wilson County, Texas; the team has apparently thought better of hanging around in L.A. with Colonel Lynch back on their trail. A woman is driving around Wilson County making faces at the radio newscast. This I can understand just on principle, but she’s actually upset about one story in particular: some famous dude named Calvin Cutter is getting married to a woman called Jacqueline Taylor, which is her. She pulls her Mercedes convertible into a greasy spoon diner and calls a friend to say that Cal is holding her prisoner, and she’s escaping to Dallas, where Larry Hagman will protect her. But before she can figure out that saying “I’m heading to Dallas” right after saying “I gotta get out of Texas” is pretty confusing, some thugs in a nice brown Beemer and cowboy hats break open the phone booth and drag her away.
Transition! Over in Hollywood, Jackie’s blond friend has heard her message and is trying to get to the airport via a yellow cab driven by Hannibal, except that he drives to a car wash to pick up Face and B.A. The friend explains that Cal is forcing Jackie to marry him, and is getting away with it because he’s rich and powerful, and because Jackie has a reputation for being “a banana.” Sounds interesting, Hannibal says, but what’s in it for the team? Free plane tickets to Texas, and not much else… wow! B.A. gives a resounding “NO” to that, but somehow they get to Texas anyway, judging by the leftover “Dukes of Hazzard” music.
Commando missions AND quality catering!
I should mention that this wedding is not simply approaching, it’s here, and here is Cal’s ranch. So the team drops in dressed as the help – Murdock plays a prissy French chef, while everyone else is wearing red usher suits. Murdock samples their phony cake even though it’s made of shaving cream – perhaps he watched “The Stuff” and learned that “everybody’s got to eat shaving cream once in a while”? They meet up with Triple A, who’s posing as a wedding photographer. She says the ranch is “set up like Fort Knox,” so Hannibal has everybody scope out the compound to find a weak spot. Trouble is, there aren’t any; the only one who gets into the house is B.A., who drops the “cake” off in the kitchen and ends up bringing out a tray of drinks. (But not before another classic line: when the real chef asks him “where did you come from?” B.A. says: “What kind of stupid question is that, fool? I brought the cake!”) Face tried to get in the front door with flowers but had to settle for having them sent up to Jackie’s room. Murdock notes “the goons in the tuxedos are armed.”
Hey, you left off “XOXOXO”!
Somewhere else, Cal and a henchman drink a toast to his wedding day. “If only Jackie’s father could’ve been here,” Cal says, he would’ve liked to see how happy she is. So we immediately cut to Jackie, who is unhappy. The goon delivers Face’s flowers and she finds a note inside: “Tracy hired us to get you out of here. Hang tight. (smiley face)”
Isn’t Face’s handwriting just too cute?
The team regroups and looks over Triple A’s surveillance photos. Hannibal notes that there’s a trellis on the side of the house that’ll hold Face and Murdock, which should get them upstairs to Jackie’s room. Murdock, in his French chef getup, says “Murdock does not climb trellises, Murdock is a designer of pastry!” Then he coughs up a soap bubble from the shaving cream. Face climbs up the trellis, as does The Designer of Pastry, who is still coughing. They make it to Jackie’s balcony just as the goons show up and demand she come out for the wedding. A person in a wedding dress and veil does come out, but they’re coughing. Oh god, we’re going to see Murdock in a wedding dress. Face and Jackie climb back down the trellis and to Hannibal, who’s waiting with the catering van.
“Murdock is the triumph of hope over experience”
The wedding march begins, and Murdock coughs his way down the aisle, which makes Cal cranky. The preacher quickly asks “Jacqueline” if she’ll take this man to be her husband, and Murdock flings open the veil and says “Well, I didn’t go through all this to see how I looked in white!” The thugs run at him, but B.A. pops out of the wedding cake and starts shooting. Then Murdock throws pies at people before they leave in the catering truck.
I may have to stop here, because no paragraph can ever be cooler than what I just wrote.
Ok, let’s go ahead anyway. Cal has set up a roadblock with help from the corrupt sheriff, but as we learned in the last country-fried A-Team episode, roadblocks are a piece of shaving cream cake for this crowd. We get a glimpse of a boom mic as they ditch the catering truck and head off in the official A-Team van. Face thought it was a beautiful wedding: “Tires exploding everywhere, cake that shoot back… the whole thing right out of Bridal magazine.” Jackie says Cal’s really after the fortune she inherited from her father, and that she suspects Cal had her dad murdered in the first place. Murdock is stunned. “And to think I almost married into that family!” Jackie says her dad used to secretly record all his meetings just like Richard Nixon, and that he might have even taped his murder without Cal knowing it. She also says she can’t get the tape because Cal, who doesn’t know there is a tape, is hiding the tape. The continuity department is hereby fined $100.
I always giggle at weddings!
Among Jackie’s many holdings is a TV station, so the team drives her there so she can cut into that Jack Lalanne infomercial and let everyone know she’s been kidnapped. (Which begs the question, why didn’t she do that at the start of the show instead of running to a hillbilly bar to use the pay phone?) The TV manager says sure, but then immediately runs off to stooge her out to Cal over the phone. The tourism people in real life Wilson County can’t be happy with this snapshot of local life – “no, really, not everyone here is a complete monster.” Cal sends his goons right over, but Hannibal is cooking up a healthy and delicious plan; he wants the station’s traffic copter, but since that’s on loan to the sheriff, he’ll settle for a video recorder. They all sneak back to the van with cameras and drive to a justice of the peace: this time, Hannibal’s plan is that Jackie will marry Face, taking her off the market and freezing Cal out of her business interests. Face hates this plan so terribly much, but Hannibal insists, B.A. loans him a ring, Triple A throws rice and Murdock videotapes the whole thing.
The wedding night is unorthodox; they all sleep in the van, which now has a busted brake line for B.A. to fix. Hannibal, though, is going into town, to mess with Cal’s head and maybe find that secret murder tape. Murdock asks Hannibal to give Cal a letter apologizing for leaving him at the altar. “He was lucky to have had you,” Hannibal tells him, and walks off. B.A. mutters in disgust.
We will conduct our commando mission tomorrow between 9 and 12, or between 1 and 5
Cal has a big office building with a helipad on the roof. He also has Hannibal in his office, searching for the murder tape. Cal is angry but Hannibal shows him the tape of Jackie getting married to Face, and says they either get a clean getaway out of the county or Face, by virtue of being Mr. Jackie, takes a controlling interest in Cal’s company. Cal is so mad he smashes a picture of Jackie on his desk, or Face’s desk, I guess now.
Gourmet presents Diary of a Crazy Fool
So Hannibal returns to the van site with good news, AND with food from “Captain Bellybuster’s Burger Heaven”! Murdock even gets a special Captain Bellybuster baseball cap, complete with wings. (I think it’s the same hat they used to deliver flowers to the crooked cop Stark, but with the wings painted blue.) The van isn’t yet fixed, but Hannibal says they can use Cal’s helicopter to escape. B.A. says no, and now he won’t eat his burger because he thinks Hannibal drugged it. He switches sandwiches with Murdock, who grudgingly eats it and then collapses. B.A. giggles over how he just outsmarted Hannibal… and then collapses, because Hannibal actually drugged the sandwich he gave to Murdock. As Wallace Shawn might say, never go against a Hannibal when a mission is on the line!
Hannibal and Face drop by the office again and tell Cal they’re going to take over his company and/or leave town in his helicopter BUT WHAT ABOUT THE VAN HANNIBAL. One of the goons looks for the chopper keys, but he sees that the secret murder tape no one knew about is now missing, and so Cal refuses to hand over the helicopter keys. Fine, because Murdock and Triple A and the drugged B.A. show up in another chopper, the one from the TV station. They fly away and start up a big long aerial gunfight which is notable only for a break in the action where Murdock lands at a gas station and refills the tank, which took some gunfire from Cal’s helicopter. The chase ends when Murdock flies his way just above Cal’s chopper, and Face dumps either old motor oil or solid waste onto Cal. Then they fly over the county line, and the copter finally gives out, so they land in the river. Which is the moment B.A. wakes up. “Where are we, man?”
So Cal is apparently done, and the team drops by some office building to annul Face’s marriage to Jackie. They all got a little banged up in the copter chase – Face is in a cast, Murdock in a neck brace. OH THERE’S THE VAN and it seems fine all of a sudden. Jackie is grateful they found the tape and implicated Cal, even though they won’t be able to testify against him. Murdock notes he wouldn’t testify even if he could, because he can’t be compelled to testify against his spouse. Face asks his now ex-wife for a date, and she laughs and says he’d get the seven-year itch in a week. B.A. giggles to close things out.
Whew! A very busy, funny and completely convoluted episode. It was never quite clear why anything was happening. But sometimes funny trumps everything else. Would you rather quibble about continuity, or would you rather watch Murdock throw pies while wearing a wedding dress?
And with that, I’ll see you in two weeks! (Just kidding)