This town has about 300 people, yet they can sustain a whole gazette?

Here’s something that’s been stuck in my mind lately. A lot of the A-Team’s time is spent in transit. They’re in the awesome van, or a plane, even a boat, and they sometimes travel some long distances. So how do you suppose they pass the time? We haven’t gotten a whole lot of clues from the show yet. Occasionally you see Hannibal reading the paper, but not terribly often. B.A. has an attachment to his radio, but he only seems to listen when there’s a plot point coming. And while Murdock has his Ouija boards and detective hats, he’s usually back at the mental hospital at the end of a mission instead of in the van on the road trips.

But they must fill the long hours on the road somehow, right? I suppose they could talk about the old days in Vietnam, but since they were all together then too it doesn’t seem like there’d be a whole lot to go back over. It’d be like those fuzzy high school friendships we all have on Facebook now, where every interaction we have in the present is related to things that happened back then. “Hey, how’s it going? Remember how the football team made it to State and we were both in high school then?” It’s picking at the bones of a bird that was pretty small to begin with. The A-Team’s war stories are probably a little more interesting and meaningful than that, but you get the idea.

As a sidebar, I did a little search on what soldiers in Vietnam did to pass the time, and found a fascinatingly vague response on

Stand Guard, load magazines, clean weapons, sleep, write home, eat, sweat (its hot there), get wet (it rains there), dig deeper fox holes, read mail, plant claymores (mines), and one other thing PRAY.
Some soldiers got involved with the local women and community.

“Got any big plans for tonight, man?” “Yeah, I’m going to sweat or get wet. Should be fun.”

And with the exception of Face, the team members don’t seem too endowed with the gift of gab. Hannibal’s Zen master reserve would be shattered by a lot of chatter, and B.A.’s got no time for the jibba jabba, as he puts it. (Mr. T put it perfectly for his reality show: “Say what you got to say, then shut your dang piehole!”) So while these are some pretty intelligent dudes, I don’t suppose they’d go over the news of the day, or discuss the classics over cucumber sandwiches and Earl Grey. Not that they need to. Some things are too cool for words.

In Plane Sight

Wild Guess Preview: Surrounded by Decker at a summer flea market, the team has only one escape left: they secretly join an air show! Murdock’s all for it, of course, but before anyone can be rocked like a hurricane, the team learns that the narrator for the Smuckers commercials is replacing the fuel in the air show’s planes with jelly, and they have to stop his sugar-fueled sabotage before there’s a crash. Er, more crashes.

The Recap: Even the show doesn’t seem to have all the info yet! All we know is there’s a plane flying “somewhere over Venezuela,” and the pilot is eating a sandwich. He has some kind of engine problem and has to bring the plane to the ground at some Army type base, where the soldiers give him a hard time. He thinks he’s bringing turquoise back to a jewelry maker in the States, but they find a false bottom in his wooden crates and there’s cocaine underneath. He claims he has no idea. They arrest him anyway. The whereabouts of his sandwich are unknown.

Ma feels Face's face
Ma feels Face’s face. “Face’s face”… that’s hard to say. Dang.

Cut to the awesome A-Team van driving into Porterville, where the team meets a Laraine Newman-ish woman named Judy, and her Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy-ish uncle and aunt. The aunt notices Murdock’s reading a book on abnormal psychology. “Are you a psychiatrist, Mr. Murdock?” “No, ma’am, I’m insane.” She goes off to get chicken soup for everyone while Uncle explains it was his son that was arrested at the start. Hannibal gently explains that his route from Long Beach to “somewhere over Venezuela” is pretty standard for drug running. Hume says he wouldn’t have carried the drugs knowingly… “honest, patriotic Christians don’t become drug runners.” The son has a Purple Heart, he’s a good boy. Ma is breaking stuff in the kitchen because she’s clumsy; she and Face have a moment of bonding about how she used to send her son, Robby, cookies and Face never had anyone to do that because he’s an orphan.

Back in the living room, Uncle wants Hannibal to find the guy who’s using Robby as a patsy, and he’s willing to sell his farm to do it. Face, who was whining about the money in the first place, says why not do a C.O.D. deal: they’ll pay when they get their son back. They head out to the van to review the chicken soup. B.A. says “not as good as my grandmother’s, but it was all right, man.” He also says however they work this mission, he doesn’t want Murdock flying them. Murdock takes exception to that, and remarks that he’s “consciously decided to conform to less aberrant behavior simply because of your constant verbal abuse.” B.A. “Even when he talks straight he sounds crazy!”

Judy hypnotizes B.A.
You will solve mysteries with a gymnastics team…

Hannibal says the first thing to do is check out Robby’s business partner, Al Jackson, in Long Beach. He fesses up after about three seconds of threatening, though all he really knows is that Robert Hicks didn’t know about the drug runs and that the real operation is based in Colombia. Hannibal, knowing the drug guys will need a new pilot, enlists Murdock for an undercover operation. B.A. reminds him this mission is “serious business, so you won’t be able to take your invisible dog Billy, or any of your talking bug friends”! Murdock is offended and goes to start up the plane. Face says they have a big problem; he forgot B.A.’s knockout drink. Judy has a solution: she’s a hypnotist! She convinces B.A. to let her “look” at one of his gold chains, then uses it to hypnotize him, and off they go. Face loves it. “To think of all the sodium pentathol we wasted!”

Murdock puts on 'TV Monster Make-Up'
It really ought to say “ACME” on there somewhere.

Hannibal asks Judy if there’s a way they could give him a cue that would cause him to fall asleep upon hearing a certain word, and she says sure, I use the word “eclipse.” She gets to work on that while Hannibal has a mini-intervention with Murdock. “The words coming out of your mouth could come from an insurance salesman,” he says. “You’re turning legit.” Murdock says no, really I’m not. He decides to play the drug pilot, Dick Nash, as an angry, scarred dude. Hannibal approves.

Murdock threatens some thugs
Murdock threatens thugs as Dick Nash. I’m just glad he’s not playing Pluto Nash.

They land and Murdock, as Dick Nash, meets up with the next link in the drug running chain; they go off to see Nash’s “cargo” while Face and Hannibal go through the records (“everybody keeps records,” says Hannibal, even drug lords) to find what really happened to Robert. They find the name Winston Corliss, and recall that Triple A had a friend who covered his drug operation for a newspaper. Face asks, but didn’t that guy get killed? Yep. “Corliss is scum,” says Hannibal. They head out, realizing that if they can get Corliss all the drugs will be gone, or something.

Murdock is loading drug crates with the drug guy when another drug guy pulls up. The first drug guy explains how weird Dick Nash is, and the other guy says that’s not Dick Nash, cause Dick Nash is black. Oops. They chase Murdock, but the rest of the team is coming right at them, and after a few punches the drug dudes are down for the count. Hannibal says they have the drugs, they know the drug kingpin, now they just have to catch him. B.A. says not quite: they can’t get him to fly again because this time he’s ready for them, and – “Eclipse,” say Hannibal and Face together, and he’s asleep again. Face wonders how they’ll actually catch Corliss since he’s safe in Colombia and they can’t just extradite him, but Hannibal says he has a plan, “brilliant and foolproof.” The plan? “All we have to do is get Murdock to crash the plane.” Ah.

They actually do this, sort of; Murdock rolls his face on the ground to create some realistic injuries. Hannibal wants him to have a black eye, too, so Face smacks Murdock, who willingly takes the punch (“all in the line of duty,” he says). Hannibal’s idea is that Corliss will come running to find Murdock at the hospital once he hears about the crash, because he can’t afford to lose a second drug shipment. And he’ll find the team when he finds the plane. The Venezuelan soldiers are also looking for the plane, because they’re suspicious there are drugs there too. Sure enough, Corliss is yelling at his two thugs for information on the fake Dick Nash, so they go to the hospital and kidnap him; they also take Face, who’s wearing a not-too-believable disguise of mustache and dark glasses. They all pile into an evil limo and drive off in pursuit of the crashed plane.

Meanwhile, Hannibal, B.A. and Judy are about to start a preparation montage, but first they have to change the “Venezuela 5 km” sign to read “15 km,” to trick Corliss out of his Colombian safety zone. Hannibal is pleased, but then the Venezuelan federales show up before they even have a Corliss to give over to them. They have to flee, but how? Hannibal takes the controls of the plane so he can taxi it through the jungle. B.A.: “Never thought the day would come where I wished Murdock was here!” The weirdest chase scene the show’s ever done, and that’s saying something. Finally they lose the troops when B.A. shoots out the tires in one of their Jeeps and the second Jeep crashes into a tree and a third Jeep flips over.

Hannibal does his duck call
Right after filming the duck call scene Hannibal was attacked by that laughing dog from Nintendo.

The bad guys drive into Venezuela, following Face and Murdock’s instructions, but, of course, the plane isn’t there anymore and that’s problematic. Hannibal realizes their conundrum and decides to head back to let them know what happened, while B.A. sets up a perimeter of defense to hold off the federales. Hannibal says it’ll be easy; he’ll just use his duck call. “Not the call!” says B.A. “Especially after what happened to us last time!” Apparently Hannibal’s duck call was so good “some duck hunters almost had us over for dinner.” The duck call sounds off, Face and Murdock hear it and they know where to find the plane. The federales realize the plane hasn’t left the area, so they’re also going to split up and search around.

Hannibal returns to the plane site and he and B.A. prepare for battle. Face and Murdock and the drug dudes show up just ahead of the federales. They have to beat on the thugs and rejoin the others in time for the firefight with the federales. Hannibal sneaks off to find Corliss, so Face takes his position. But he runs out of ammo. He asks B.A. for some bullets. “What?” “Clips! Gimme clips!” And B.A. falls asleep, cause Face said “eclipse” without meaning to. The federales move in just as Hannibal finds Corliss, and the rest of the team (minus B.A.) hauls over the cocaine and explains the situation. Corliss says the army guys won’t like it when his friends in the Colombian government hear about his arrest, but the colonel says “I could care less… you’re in Venezuela now.” Ha!

B.A. tries to attack Hannibal
Eclipse! Eclipse! ECLIPSE! SERIOUSLY

Back in Porterville, Uncle and Aunt are reading about the arrest in the “Porterville Gazette.” Now at the start of this episode we saw a sign that said the town had about 300 people, yet they can sustain a whole gazette? Anyway, Robby’s going to be released and they’re happy, AND they’ve collected almost all of the fee they owe the team. Hannibal says actually we don’t need most of it, the biggest expense is usually the plane and that was free this time. B.A. says that reminds him, how are they getting him on and off of airplanes? Murdock says “it’s probably narcolepsy… it happens to Billy all the time.” B.A.: “There you go again, talking about your crazy made-up friends. I knew you wasn’t going straight, fool!” Uncle says maybe Judy could help; see, she knows hypnosis. Uh oh, B.A. just figured it out. Everyone protests, but B.A. demands an answer from Hannibal. He says “eclipse,” but see, Judy canceled the cue after the snafu during the gunfight. So Hannibal’s gonna have to do some smooth talking to get out of this one! Until next week…

Another very solid episode. Perhaps not truly great, but very strong. Seems like we’re entering a phase where every episode is a B+ or A-, not out of the park, but definitely well-told and entertaining.

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