Aren’t there any cops in the city to deal with this violent cab company war?

I gotta say, I’m still gliding on the high I got from watching the “Range Rider” episode. What charisma! What storytelling! What style! It’s almost like the show’s been reborn, especially now that Decker’s on board to chase the team around instead of the bumbling Colonel Lynch. Well consider me reborn, too. I’m going to devote my every free minute to this program, making sure that I can glean every last detail from every scene, and bring it back to you so you can – hey, is that “Marcus Welby, M.D.” I see on TV? Hold everything, guys, I’ll be right back.

The Taxicab Wars

Wild Guess Preview: You all wanted it, and now you’ve got it: Latka Gravas, Urban Terrorist takes on the A-Team in a violently hilarious crossover with Taxi. Tony Danza and Judd Hirsch have to hire Hannibal and company when one of Latka’s multiple personalities turns out to be a paranoid looney hell-bent on destroying the city’s transportation infrastructure. There is intrigue everywhere and much planning is done on both sides, but the city is saved when Murdock realizes he can simply out-crazy Latka. Not to be denied, Andy Kaufman breaks character, yelling “I can’t handle any more violence!” while throwing rubber goldfish at the camera. There is great commotion, Dirk Benedict gets into a shoving match with Rhea Perlman, and then next week Kaufman’s manager comes on to explain the whole thing was just a hilarious prank.

The Recap: Hey, is that Ernie Hudson working the dispatch for the cabbies? Nice! Ernie sends one of his Lone Star Cab drivers to do a pickup in an alley, but there’s an evil guy there with a walkie-talkie, telling some thug-looking guys to “get ready.” (There sure are a lot of people communicating by walkie-talkie in this series.) They drive over to a deserted warehouse, where some thugs led by a work over the driver and blow up his cab. Not nice.

Texas Hannibal and Ernie Hudson
It’s Dallas meets Ghostbusters… on The A-Team. Huh.

The thugs note that Lone Star was down to three cabs, and now they’ve got two. Dispatcher Ernie says the company’s finished, that they can’t keep up with Love Cabs dealing dope out of their vehicles and blowing up the competition. Of course, this is the moment Hannibal drops by dressed as a Texas land baron. He starts racing around their offices, checking for rats, spouting off about plans for a shopping mall and grabbing the female driver’s hinder. Then he offers to loan them the money to stay afloat for ten percent of the business. They say sure, what have we got to lose. “Your life,” says Hannibal, but then again, as his fake Texas daddy used to say, “A life without danger is like a house of ill repute without the naked ladies.” What a quote. Then he calls for the team (on walkie-talkies, obviously).

Really ugly cab drivers

Ick. These guys are too ugly even to be roadies.

The Love Cab dudes celebrate their victory by hiring some really ugly new drivers, all of whom are ex-cons, all of whom are dressed like Village People. These new goons are picking up some new cabs, only the team is planning to steal those cabs first – well, Murdock is planning a new secret identity, “Captain Cab.” Face, Murdock and Hannibal steal the new cabs right off the thugs’ car carrier and drive them to a car wash, where B.A. has a large supply of fast-drying auto paint – and, naturally, little patience for Murdock’s Captain Cab routine. (Face warns “I think he’s building up to a mask and cape.”) They run the cars through the paint gauntlet and now they’re all white – ready to join Lone Star’s fleet instead of Love’s. The only problem is that the car painting has Earl Scheib all upset, and his private army is out to blow up any re-painted cab it can find. (Not really.)

Murdock introduces B.A. to 'Socky'

Why do I feel like Mick Foley watched The A-Team before getting into pro wrestling?

So Lone Star has some new cabs, and some new drivers in the A-Team. They also have “Socky,” Murdock’s new canine hand puppet. B.A. responds as you’d expect: “This is my talking fist. His name is Knockout. Do you want to hear Knockout speak?” They hit the road, with Triple A running dispatch along with Ernie Hudson and the creepy Love drivers tailing their vehicles. Face’s fare is Liz “Mrs. Seinfeld” Sheridan! (She calls Face a “big hunk” – I guess I needed to see that.) We get the big chase scene we were expecting earlier, and… the Love guys win? Hannibal’s car flips over? Face’s car crashes into it? B.A. slams into a parked car? “I think we’ve softened them up,” says Hannibal.

Face flirts with Mrs. Seinfeld

Morty and Kramer aren’t gonna like this.

The team regroups at the garage; Hannibal and Face are pleased because the Love guys actually destroyed their own cabs, but Hannibal thinks it’s time for a change of tactics; they’re going to intimidate the guy in charge at Love, a guy called Crane. He says maybe Crane won’t listen to us… and it’s unclear exactly what he said here, because he had a cigar in his mouth, but I think he says “maybe he’ll listen to Clarence Williams the Third.” Y’know, the guy from the Mod Squad! Oh, wait, it’s his Texas getup again, Clarence Wickersham the Third. Hannibal and Face drive over to Crane’s house; Face poses as “my nephew, Harold… he’s a little retarded (sic) but he is a nurse. And a notary public.” That’s one of the odder and more unpleasant sentences I’ve run across on this show. They tell Crane to make $193,000 restitution for the broken cabs, but Crane says no deal. Hannibal says fine, then we’ll just wreck an equal number of your cabs. Crane calls for his muscle, but Hannibal fakes a heart attack and uses his “pacemaker” to signal B.A. for help. The van pulls up, and B.A. and Murdock fire lots of warning shots and Hannibal says “Lone Star Cab Company is going on the warpath… and we ain’t taking any prisoners.” Crane says “this guy wants a war, he’s gonna get a war.” The battle of cliches ends in a draw.

Captain Cab emerges from the phone booth

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Some guy in a tablecloth knows!

So we’re onto plan #3, which has Hannibal, Face and Murdock luring the Love cabbies to the Lone Star HQ and letting B.A. deal with them, Scooby Doo style. And that brings us to this week’s preparation montage, where we see the usual amount of armor plating being welded onto something. For some reason Face isn’t sure about Murdock, but Hannibal reassures him that Murdock is “solid… he’s just a little different.” To underscore the point, we cut to Murdock in a phone booth dressed in his new Captain Cab mask and cape. Hannibal calls up Crane as Clarence and tells some weird story about chickens. Then they drive through the Love garage door, blow up a lot of things and drive off. Crane and his dudes load into their remaining cabs and follow Hannibal. (By the way, aren’t there any cops around to deal with this violent cab company war?) After the Love guys drive off, Captain Cab sneaks into their office, which is easy because they left it unlocked. He blows open their safe and steals all the money inside, with the help of Socky the puppet dog.

So Hannibal and Face make it back to their garage in time for the Love guys to shoot up a Lone Star cab, which is actually still one of the Love cabs painted to look like a Lone Star cab, and then drive through Lone Star’s garage door. But they find B.A.’s armor plated taxicab behemoth, which chases them back outside. The cabbie from the beginning is toting a gun all of a sudden, and he goads the Love cab into driving at them headlong. Turns out the armor plating is also a ramp, so the Love cab flips over, and they take everybody into custody. “Somebody call the cops,” says Hannibal. Couldn’t they have just done that to begin with?

Hannibal shakes hands with Ernie Hudson and they talk about how they’ll send over 10 percent of the profits from now on. B.A. is in a hurry for some reason. Face starts hitting on the female driver, and actually gets to kiss her?!? We get an epilogue from Socky the dog, explaining he will continue to work with the A-Team so he can “triumph over sock abuse.”

I suppose as part of this recent reintroduction to the A-Team it works, but it’s not doing it for me the way like the earlier episodes. Face has very little to do here; he’s more or less Hannibal’s sidekick. And the Captain Cab angle seemed contrived, like the writers remembered they needed to give Murdock something wacky to do; it’s basically a retread of his Range Rider character from last episode. And not to be picky, but the whole idea of the show is that the A-Team only comes in WHEN NO ONE ELSE CAN HELP. Sure seems like the cops could’ve helped from the start, or why else would they have gotten called at the end? And after all that, I forgot to make any D.C. Cab jokes! Ok, maybe if Paul Rodriguez had driven somewhere wacky with Mrs. Seinfeld, and then Irene Cara needed a ride… I’m gonna go lay down now.

Previous episode: Season 2, Episode 7 – Labor Pains