Bikers rev their engines and project menace, but since the only resident in town is locked in a closet the display isn’t very impressive.

“Life is what you make of it,” said Grandma Moses. “Always has been, always will be.” Sage advice, though I wonder if she’d have tried to issue a corollary if she saw the kinds of life-making we all do at the start of the year. Resolution season is just plain hard to watch: not long ago I observed a fiftyish dude making a huge and impressive show of effort on the Nautilus machine, letting out a huge snort like a boxer each time he swung his legs forward. Too bad he was on an arm-curl machine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of self-improvement, but I’m also a big fan of “to thine own self be true,” and I’m pretty sure no own self’s legs are meant to whip back and forth like a five year old on the swing at the park, at least not at that age. I explained this to the fellow, gently I hope, and after a hard moment of self-reflection he said that yes, it was time to eschew these fruitless workouts for something more productive, like a long session of chasing and/or pounding on me. I’m in hiding now, and resolve to stay that way ’til things cool down.

Luckily, I have the A-Team to keep me company. Recapping this series was my own new year’s resolution, and it seems like one I’ll be able to see through to the end. That said, I’m definitely noticing the A-Team saturating my worldview a little more with each episode I watch. Rather than absorbing each show with the detached, analytical view of an anthropologist, my brain takes each episode as if I was a student learning the Method. When I’m in the car, I’m expecting a military convoy to chase me; I find myself absentmindedly searching through the junk drawer in the kitchen to assemble a homemade rocket I just know I’ll someday fire at John Saxon and his henchmen. Most recently, I wanted to spend some time reading, so I came across a website full of A-Team fan fiction. This in itself would make an interesting study, especially to learn why so many aspiring writers develop stories in which one or all of the A-Teamers get killed in some overly dramatic fashion. My favorite was “Ice Cream Vignette,” a story where Murdock and Face fight off several attackers while making an ice cream run for B.A. That’s actually the story. The best line is “Face found himself dropped back onto his feet as the two sibs tried to dig ice cream out of their eyes.” If only Grandma Moses were around to paint it.

Black Day at Bad Rock

Wild Guess Preview: The A-Team gets hired by MECC, the educational software group, to do some field research for their new game, “Oregon Trail.” Thanks to a spiteful group of fellow pioneers, the A-Team has nothing but trouble on their leg of the journey: a thief steals two wagon tongues, Murdock loses the trail and must wait for three days, and Hannibal gets dysentery and cannot ford the river just east of Bad Rock. When things look their bleakest, a Native American guide tells the team about a fish that will call in some political favors and get them across the stream… if they’ll assassinate its rival, a guppy who’s been leading in the latest round of polls.

The Recap: We’re starting in medias res this week; the team has finished a mission, but not before B.A. took a gunshot to the leg! He apparently blames this on Face, as he repeatedly yells “Face is gonna pay! Face is gonna pay!” They take him to a Dr. Sullivan in a town called Bad Rock; she’s easy to find because she’s about the only person who lives there. The doc says B.A. is going to be OK if he gets a transfusion of AB blood, and she thinks their cover story about a quail hunting accident is complete crap. A light goes on over Hannibal’s head: Murdock also has AB negative blood; they just need Triple A to spring him from the mental hospital and everything will be fine. Or not, as just after Hannibal sets up the drop with Triple A, the doc calls the sheriff, worried that the team is part of a motorcycle gang that’s been harassing the town.

Shel Silverstein, biker
THIS is where the sidewalk ends, bitches

The leader of said gang, Sonny, is in the local jail, as it turns out. He’s also a dead ringer for Shel Silverstein. Sonny tells the sheriff his fellow Barbarians are gonna bust him out of jail and run wild in Bad Rock, and also that there’s a light in the attic. The sheriff heads over to Doc Sullivan’s and takes Face and Hannibal to jail for no apparent reason. Then he runs their names through the computer and finds out they’re wanted by the military. Colonel Lynch’s convoy springs into action, apparently driving all the way from the Pentagon to catch them in California. Hannibal laughs off the sheriff’s taunts about finally getting caught, saying he’ll escape soon enough but adding he might stick around if Shel Silverstein’s biker buddies really do come back. The bikers are indeed coming back, but first they cut all the phone lines in town to cut the townies off from the rest of the world. These bikers are fairly clean and speak clearly; they’re a bit like if your high school forensics team decided to join the Satan’s Helpers. They head toward the jail, and so do the military police! And so do Murdock and Triple A! There’s a showdown looming and it’s not gonna be pretty.

Back in jail, Face and Hannibal easily fool the cops into getting their jail cells open, and then lock the cops inside. Sonny offers Hannibal his services in exchange for a little freedom, but Hannibal says he “couldn’t stand the smell” of a biker escort and now Sonny vows revenge on the A-Team too. Face heads to the van to make radio contact with Murdock, while Hannibal drops by the doc’s house to check on B.A. He tells B.A. that Murdock is on the way to give him blood, and now B.A. is really pissed. “Murdock? I ain’t swappin’ blood with that sucka!” This day is not going well.

B.A. Baracus and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Luckily, Murdock shows up a moment later and it’s time for the most action-packed blood transfusion in TV history! B.A. is flipping out about getting Murdock’s “crazy juice”; as Face, Triple A and Murdock load him into the van, Hannibal patches things up with Doc Sullivan by smooching her… and then locking her in a closet. Suave. The team drives off.

And just as quickly, the bikers show up at a local diner to rev their engines and project menace, but since the only resident in town is locked in a closet the display isn’t very impressive. Hannibal and Face notice them, and decide they want to help save the town from the bikers. Step one in this process is to use the conveniently-nearby crane to hoist their bikes high into the air, which they do before driving back to town to rescue the sheriff, who reluctantly agrees to join forces. Triple A rescues Doc Sullivan, who also agrees to help.

Now we need a plan, and Hannibal notices there’s an abandoned real estate office that looks just like the police station. He wants to “do a little shell game” to confuse the bikers, so they quickly gather paint, P.A. speakers and other supplies for a plan that’s one part anti-gang and one part urban renewal. There’s an exciting montage in which rope is laid out, signs are moved and Murdock eats paint as they make the real estate office into the “police” station.

Murdock's Chicken Dance
Why did the chicken cross the road? Because he was a crazy fool!

The bikers ride into town to break Sonny out of jail, and Hannibal goads them into driving into the fake police station, which they do, and he fake locks them inside with a fake electric fence. Then Murdock struts out onto Main Street to do a chicken dance for the bikers. They chase him down a side street and fall on hay bales or something and Face rounds them up. Hannibal clotheslines a few bikers by pulling up a hidden rope, and B.A., who’s been wheeled up to the church steeple, uses a sniper rifle to blow up a parked car and catch the biker’s pant cuffs on fire.

The bikers are pretty well finished, which means it’s time for the MP convoy to show up and time for the team to get out of town. B.A. reminds Face that now that he’s feeling better, it’s payback time! Face freaks, B.A. rears back with his left hand and… smiles. It’s all good. They drive off. We’re all done.

This one was a bit experimental, what with the whole B.A.-getting-shot plotline, and not only did it work, it reinforced that the A-Teamers have hearts of gold and take on missions for free. On the downside, we have yet another underwhelming nemesis. These bikers couldn’t crush a Coke can, much less a town. And speaking of the town, where the crap are all the people in this alleged town anyway? The only thing that will calm me is a remix of this episode called “Black Day at Busytown,” where the A-Team helps Lowly Worm and Huckle Cat defend Office Flossy from Dingo Dog and his fellow miscreants. Somebody get on that right away, ok?

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