Hannibal Smith doesn’t sleep… he waits.

Good news: my fever dreams have gotten crazy again! Two nights ago I dreamed I was caught in the middle of a heated confrontation between a bird and an eyelash, which is close enough to the “does this dream remind me of a Tex Avery cartoon?” threshold to make me believe again.

I doubt more needs to be said on this topic, so I’ll leave you just with a quote appropriate to my quest to have goofy dreams. It’s from Thomas Edison: “There is no expedient to which a man will not go to avoid the labor of thinking.” Yes!

The Maltese Cow

Wild Guess Preview: A-Team meets alternate reality? Instead of being a fugitive from the military in the 80s, Hannibal is a hard-boiled private detective in 1920’s San Francisco. Wealthy aviator H.M. Murdock hires Hannibal and his trusted associate Face to find the Maltese Cow, a jewel-encrusted bovine that was made in the 16th century and has been missing ever since. But not all is as it seems; a mysterious man known only as “Baracus” insists that Hannibal’s client is actually his enemy, and that H.M. Murdock is nothing but a crazy fool! Will Hannibal find the Cow, uncover the truth and avoid the wrath of the Decker organization?

Ninjas attack a Chinese restaurant
Deleted scenes from ‘The A-Team vs. Tampopo’

The Recap: Oh, sweet, Professor Toru Tanaka is in this episode! Looks like Triple A is not, though, so I guess that’s it. After an odd preface in Athens, Greece, where some guy finds an envelope full of money and a bejeweled dragon, our episode is based in L.A.- Chinatown, to be exact. It’s where some masked hoodlums are trying to shake down Sam Ying, owner of the Golden Pagoda restaurant. Sam says he’s not going to pay protection, so the thugs take money from the register and steal jewelry from the guests. Then they say they’ll be back every Tuesday, and please don’t call the cops; I guess they saw “Year of the Dragon” and don’t want Michael Cimino and Mickey Rourke to move into the neighborhood. Ying calls the A-Team instead.

So the awesome van and Face’s Corvette pull up to the restaurant; Sam Ying helped them in Vietnam, so they’re helping him as investors in the Golden Pagoda. Murdock is doing sort of a Philip Marlowe, film noir gimmick; he’s “Mac Murdock,” private eye. B.A.: “Shut up, fool! You ain’t Mac Murdock, you’re just crazy!” Sam explains a group called the Lun Chin are behind the extortion scheme, and they’re pretty nasty characters. “Not even The A-Team can fight the Lun Chin,” he says, though Hannibal’s not so sure of that. Sam adds that the Lun Chin HQ is two blocks away, but impossible to infiltrate because of their many guards. Hannibal says “never say never, old friend,” and so the team drives past Lun Chin HQ to grab some surveillance photos. Some henchmen drive right up to the van, including Tanaka, who advises them to get going. They go, but not before Hannibal announces he has a plan. He also says the team has a 2 o’clock appointment. They do?

Oh, they have to be back at the restaurant for the next round of extortion. The masked guys show up and Hannibal laughs at them; then the rest of the team surrounds them with guns and menace and then throws them behind the bar. “The Lun Chin boys were spilled over the linoleum like a six pack of broken promises,” intones Mac Murdock. See, Guy Noir could learn from Murdock here. Hannibal’s plan is to steal these guys’ uniforms and sneak into Lun Chin’s headquarters. Face doesn’t believe anyone will buy them as Lun Chins, but Hannibal smiles. “They don’t have to buy us, all they have to do is rent!” Ha.

A-Team dressed as ninjas
The purpose of the A-Team is to flip out and kill people

There’s one stop to make first, though, and it’s to visit Sam’s daughter’s boyfriend, Tommy, who’s an unwilling Lun Chin accomplice but is somehow entrusted with lots of secret info anyway. Tommy says Lun Chin is sneaking a mobster called Chris Thomas back into the country and giving him a new identity, so they can be part of his drug-smuggling operation. The team drives back to Lun Chin HQ and break up a big meeting of their top dudes. B.A. spells it all out: “Now here’s the new law, sucka… we’re closing you down!” Face takes their big wooden box of money (every criminal outfit should have one) and says he’ll distribute the cash back to the neighborhood businesses. Hannibal says he wants the whole operation out of Chinatown by 2 o’clock the next day. “And pal? I don’t mean 2:05.” The Lun Chin guy is stoic, then flips out and says go get them, so the thugs give chase as the the team flees in their stolen car. The Lun Chin guy says he’s worried that if they don’t smuggle Chris Thomas into the country they’ll lose his drug connections; also, “the Golden Pagoda Restaurant must be destroyed.” One thing at a time, mister.

It’s morning, and the team is by the docks, looking for where Lun Chin is going to smuggle Thomas in. Face distracts the guards with a fake asthma attack; everybody else takes the guards hostage and get aboard their boat. Thomas is there, and it should be noted that he’s astonishingly paranoid, even for a TV villain. He blurts out how he’s registered with the Libyan government, for basically no reason, and Professor Tanaka has to reassure him that the smuggling will go as planned. Thomas says fine, but don’t ever touch my briefcase; again, paranoid. Face and Murdock sneak up on them and grab the briefcase, but as they do the little jeweled dragon from the info falls out. But enough of that for now, some ninjas have boarded the boat and are attacking. B.A. wants to fight one of them hand to hand, so he gives Hannibal his gun. This fight is more even – B.A. and Tanaka get into it – but it’s really only a distraction so that Thomas and Tanaka can make their getaway. Tanaka asks what the dragon is and Thomas explains it “makes a nice microfilm case.” Hmm. They drive off, but the team can’t, because a bunch of police showed up and they bust everyone who’s still on the boat.

Officer Hannibal sneaks the team out of the police station
Hannibal Street Blues

At the police station, Hannibal offers to help the cops find Thomas, but they’re not interested. Then they leave the team in an office unsupervised. Hannibal, never one to miss an opportunity, calls the supply room and orders up an extra uniform, which he dons just as the fingerprint system uncovers their real identities. He marches the rest of the team downstairs just as the young lab cop is racing up to tell his bosses they’ve caught the A-Team. “I love it!” says Officer Hannibal when the cop tells him the news, adding “when a plan comes together” just as they waltz out the door. The rest of the team is angry at Hannibal. B.A. says “you almost got us put away for good, being on the jazz!” Hannibal is Zen-like: “It does get the heart going, doesn’t it?” They drive off in a police car.

Attacking with fireworks
The wheel in the secret Lun Chin supply room keeps on turnin’…

They drive back to their van, but someone’s already slashes the tires and B.A. is NOT HAPPY ABOUT THIS. The Lun Chin appear to have also trashed their hotel room; they’ve written something in Chinese on the wall, which Murdock translates as “death to the enemies of the Lun Chin.” He explains: “one day I had this gonzo headache and before it went away I could read and speak Chinese.” The main Lun Chin guy has also taken Sam and family hostage; he says when the team rescues him the soldiers will “entrap them” and they can “catch up on old times… there will be no new ones.” He and Nervous Thomas get in a limo but Hannibal and B.A. drive them off the road in their police car and bring them back into the HQ, meeting up with Face and Murdock as they go. They hole up in a room with lots of boxes marked “Fireworks,” which gives Hannibal an idea: “we’re gonna have ourselves a good old American Fourth of July!” This sounds like fun, except all of Lun Chin’s guys are outside shooting guns, so this preparation montage is going to be shorter than usual. Tanaka leads the bad guys into the fireworks room and Murdock starts up his light show, which distracts all the thugs long enough for the team to get the jump on them. They even find Thomas’s microfilm, which Hannibal suspects has the names and contacts for all of Thomas’s old gangster buddies. They drop Thomas off in front of the police station, bound, gagged and with his microfilm taped to his back. The note is signed “Merry Christmas, The A-Team”!

B.A. dons the detective hat
A dark night in a city that knows how to keep it secrets, but one sucka is still trying to find the answers to life’s persistent questions…

The team is celebrating at the Golden Pagoda, or at least everyone except surly old B.A. is. Murdock tries to assuage him by saying Mac Murdock is done, it was just a phase, “like that time I thought I was a plaid jacket named Willie.” In response, B.A. chases Murdock out of the restaurant. Hannibal and Face, meanwhile, go over the finances of the operation; after repairs and repayment of the protection money to everyone in the neighborhood, the team got $1,050 each. But since Face is taking out FICA and other deductions… ah, never mind. Face is off to meet a date. B.A. returns and puts electrical tape over Murdock’s mouth. Then he steals the Mac Murdock detective hat and intones, “That night, there was a new private eye in town, and his name was B.A. Baracus. Right now he’s looking down at the Maltese Fool.” Best B.A. bit of all time. Hannibal likes it, too. We’re finished.

A bit by the numbers, but not unenjoyable. The main problem here is trying to cram too much into the hour. Wouldn’t Lun Chin have been evil enough without smuggling Chris Thomas? But Mac Murdock was inspired, and having B.A. give him comeuppance at the end was a riot.

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