“To recap: one guy doesn’t want to sell weapons to two guys who don’t really want to buy them. Can we start over?”

Remember a while back when I wrote about seeing a plot I’d seen on The A-Team used in an episode of “The Incredible Hulk”? I can now even top that – I saw an episode of “The Rockford Files” where Rockford’s dad was driving a semi-truck and was stopped by some thugs. The A-Team not only reused this premise for the “West Coast Turnaround” episode, they even used the same footage of the semi-truck rolling over as two light blue 70’s cars look on in satisfaction. Luckily, Rockford didn’t come into the hospital dressed as a hippie listening to a Walkman, the way Hannibal did, but you can imagine the effect this is having on my sense of reality. Perhaps everything is really just a rehash of everything else? If so, am I a rehash too? Am I just some footage that’s been on the shelf for a few years in Stephen J. Cannell’s production house, waiting to be plugged back in? If so, are you, the reader, enjoying this writing the second time around, or are you shocked and a little disappointed at how derivative the prose has become? And if I become aware that I’m reused footage, can I break out of the cycle in some really cool way and become the subject of papers on semiotics? “Carlson’s references to A-Team cufflinks demonstrate that cinematic time has stopped; the movement-image fails to captivate and professors like ourselves must overthrow the authorities and rule on behalf of the people,” etc etc

Say It With Bullets

Wild Guess Preview: Here’s an unusual one: the A-Team gets hired by a kindergarten student who’s tired of the other kids stealing his lunch and leaving him out of recess kickball. Hannibal and Murdock infiltrate the class by posing as kids who’ve been held back numerous times (“Billy Madison” did this too, but their version was the pits), while B.A. and Face rig up a “Speak ‘n’ Shoot” toy which fires live rounds when you spell words correctly. After a few long gunfights, they take the bullies into custody and the class is calm. Unfortunately, the school is now structurally unsafe and the building has to be condemned.

The Recap: A defining moment: Marla Heasley’s “also starring” credit is outside of the opening sequence, so Tawnia Baker is not quite Triple A’s replacement. We start off in the middle of a poker game, where Monte Markham is promising to smuggle some weapons to some guys and then having second thoughts. He gets in a car with some Army guy, who says he wants out of the deal. Monte says ok, I’ll get you out. To recap: no one wants to be part of the deal where the one guy reluctantly sell weapons to the guys playing poker, who don’t really want to buy them anyway. Can we start over?

Hannibal in art scholar disguise
I love it when I save up to 15% on my car insurance

We’re at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, a nervous Army woman called Corporal Brown wanders around a dinosaur skeleton and then bumps into Hannibal, who’s supposed to be disguised as an art scholar but looks more like one of those cavemen from the insurance commercials. He reveals his disguise after checking in with Murdock, who’s channeling classic TV shows and frustrating B.A. in the process: “‘Leave It To Murdock’… fool.” Hannibal knows Brown’s story already; she and her brother had uncovered some weapons smuggling on their Army base and then her brother got killed. She says Lt. Mason Harnett is supervising all the smuggling (that’s Monte Markham, see) and Hannibal assures her that even though the Army is after the team, they’re “as patriotic as the Pentagon” and will get to the bottom of this.

So the team breaks into Harnett’s house, which is really an adorable little place, and go through his things. They discover that a) his house is much too nice for a Lieutenant’s salary; b) Harnett also has a beach house, and c) he just started renting a U-Stor-It right when the weapons went missing. They also check his gigantic answering machine, which has a message from the poker guys that they want to meet up tomorrow at noon for a weapons buy. Time to hurry over and stop them.

The awesome van goes right over to the storage place and break into Harnett’s storage area, which is packed to the gills with weapons. “I wonder who the customers are,” says Hannibal, and he doesn’t have to wait to find out because they and their bushy mustaches are right there to shoot at the team. Cool, one of the shooters is the guy who starred in “Parts: The Clonus Horror”! B.A. drives the van up and Face and Hannibal dive in for a fast getaway. I’m not sure what this actually accomplished, but Hannibal is happy; now, he says, they’re all going to get into Army uniforms. “We’re in trouble now,” says B.A.

Murdock and Tawnia take a guy hostage

So Corporal Brown is back at the U-Stor-It… and she’s with Decker! Apparently this was all a ruse after all. Decker is convinced the team took the weapons and intend to use them as evidence against Harnett. Then he says he’ll get Harnett for Brown’s brother’s murder – so it wasn’t a ruse? – but only after he gets the A-Team. So, never, then. Decker’s trusted sidekick salutes an empty storage locker as they leave. I’m not making that up.

The team has not only dressed as Army men, they’re dressed as MP’s! Face is really not digging this plan, mostly because Leave It To Murdock and Tawnia are left to scam Harnett instead of him. Hannibal asks why Murdock is carrying a remote control, and he explains it’s mostly for himself, “in case I get tired of ‘Ozzie and Murdock’ or ‘I Love Murdock’ or ‘Murdock for a Day’ I just flip through the dial and then it’s time for ‘Bachelor Murdock’ or ‘Have Murdock, Will Travel.'” “Any more of this TV talk and I’m gonna snap off your rabbit ears for good!” B.A. has built a bug for Tawnia to attach to Harnett, and then Murdock will listen in. She says she’ll make sure Harnett is broadcasting “loud and clear,” which for some reason comes off sounding a little icky.

Anyway, the team drives up to the Army base, with B.A. complaining that this is “the craziest plan” Hannibal’s ever thought up. They meet up with Brown, who leads Colonel Harrison Swift and his entourage to Harnett’s office. Harnett leaves the base and Tawnia follows him in Face’s Corvette. Decker, meanwhile, is watching the team from a nearby office, and he tells the base’s leader to set up a guard perimeter around the entire base.

So Tawnia drives up next to Harnett’s car and flirts with him; Murdock is tailing both of them, singing “I love Murdock, and he loves me…” She gets him to spin off the road and then makes frightening suggestive faces at him.

I Love Murdock

Hannibal and Face are looking through Harnett’s books, and Face dubs them “sloppy”; delivering Harnett to the authorities will be easier than they thought. Except for the fact that Decker and (finally) a large number of troops is right outside the office. Hannibal realizes they’d been duped by Corporal Brown, and he’s mad. The one major flaw in Decker’s plan is that the team is in a warehouse full of weapons, so they head over to see what armaments they can use. When Decker lobs in tear gas, they nonchalantly find and put on gas masks. Hannibal says use whatever weapons you like, but don’t shoot the Army guys: “it’s not their fault they’re there.” They’re able to escape by using Cpl. Brown as a hostage, and by B.A. throwing grenades all over the place. Hannibal says the base is large enough to give them lots of hiding places, but Decker decides to comb every inch of said base; he even sends a whole group of Jeeps to patrol what looks like the set of “Little House on the Prairie.” Tanks, armored vehicles, foot soldiers… basically the entire U.S. military is now looking for the A-Team.

Face has a gas mask!
Face has also located the cardboard and card #8.

They pick a pretty good hideout, though: the house Decker’s staying at on the base. Who’d look for them there, after all? B.A. searches the house for supplies, but all he finds are LP records, including that old favorite, “Sounds of War.” Where’s “The Ballad of the Green Berets”? I heard that at the grocery store last night, you’d think I could hear it on my favorite military action show. Hannibal then calls Decker to say they don’t have the guns, and Decker figures out where the team is.

So Tawnia is busy smooching it up with Harnett, and installing an electronic bug on his jacket so “Candid Murdock” can record him setting up his weapons deal with the poker guys. Harnett figures out the bug eventually and Tawnia’s in trouble for a moment, but Murdock dives in, tackles Harnett, ties him up and puts him in the van; I think that’s “A-Team Murdock.” Harnett tells them where he’s going to meet up with the poker guys.

The A-Team looks through old records
The A-Team considers breaking Decker’s resolve by playing Supertramp’s “Breakfast in America” LP through the loudspeakers

Decker is set to storm the guest house, but some random military guy with a mustache comes over and says the guest house is too nice for them to shoot up, so don’t do it. Decker tells the team via megaphone to surrender, but we see them sneak out the back door in a preparation montage. Hannibal activates the “Sounds of War” LP via remote control and Decker “returns fire” at the sound effects record. They don’t just shoot up the house, they blow the heck out of it; Sherman’s army did less damages to the houses on the way to the ocean. This is also the team’s lucky day, because there’s a tank waiting for them as they sneak away. Decker’s men storm the guest house and find that they’ve been fighting an LP. Decker is mad mad mad.

Hannibal in a tank
I just picked up Sean Connery and Denholm Elliott; we’re going after the Grail!

Inside the tank, Hannibal says they just have to waltz past Decker’s troops and then they’ve got a clean path to the edge of the base. Brown notices that they’re actually enjoying this, and B.A. says “we ain’t got time for the jazz!” Hannibal: “Did I ever tell you guys about my childhood? I always liked waiting on Christmas Eve more than I liked opening the presents on the next morning. But the next morning, when I started ripping, I started RIPPING!” And he fires at something and then they flee with a Jeep behind them. Decker’s in the Jeep, so Hannibal shoots at it and it flips over. Brown says they’re acting like they’re playing a game. Hannibal says “What else is there? Besides, I love it when a plan comes together.” Um, point taken, I guess? They crash through the base border fence and meet up with Murdock and Tawnia. Hannibal climbs out, saying “Ever notice how you meet the nicest people in tanks?”

So there’s one last piece of the puzzle: the poker guys, and they’re worried. They want to vanish with the guns and sell them, but the team is on the way, after having dropped off Brown and Harnett. The poker dudes are loading the weapons into their van. But here comes the real van; also Face and Murdock are in the Corvette. B.A. and Hannibal race into the beach house, while Face gives chase to the evil van. Murdock shoots one of the evil van tires and it launches into the air; seriously, it flies like 100 feet. Back at the house, Hannibal and B.A. both burst through windows and punch people, putting an end to the smuggling that never really was. The team rounds up all the dudes but Decker’s men show up, and they leave the thugs for Decker. Decker says he’ll maybe help them if they help him catch the team, but they don’t like a “maybe.”

The van is driving away, and Brown is with them again for some reason. She offers them money, but they refuse; they also smoke cigars in celebration, which B.A. doesn’t like. Murdock knows what they’ll like: “The Howdy Murdock Show!” B.A. grabs the remote, sets it to “off” and throws it out the window. “Now we’re walking… or some of us are.” Murdock plays along and is unable to finish his sentence. I like that B.A.’s getting a sense of humor.

And that’s that! Sort of strange pacing and very busy, but it was interesting throughout and Murdock’s TV talk was hilarious. Good work. Let’s just hope I don’t happen upon the same plot in an episode of “Airwolf” one of these nights.

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