Dixie Joe hails from Seattle – exactly where in the South is Washington State?”

I’ve saved the best for last in our A-Team YouTube compendium: a little shirtless Dirk Benedict action!

Dirk is known for his devotion to health and fitness, and that comes through here, even in the direct-to-video format. Sure, it doesn’t quite have the glam value of “Be Somebody… or Be Somebody’s Fool,” but the fitness instruction here is a lot more practical than the “lift a bag of popcorn” in T’s video. If I’d found this at the start of the project, I just might be in the badass shape I’ve been gunning for all year!

Just one piece of it seems a little off, though:

Dirk Benedict does 'The Eliminator'

When I think of The Eliminator, I think of that big obstacle course they had on “American Gladiators,” with fire and violence and a race against the clock. This, um, makes me think of elimination of a very different kind. Then again, I’ve never done this exercise and I sure don’t look as buff as Dirk Benedict, so I’m gonna give ol’ Steel Stomach the benefit of the doubt.


Wild Guess Preview: Lest you think the title refers to some kind of sporting event, the “champ” here is Murdock, who thinks he’s French artist Marcel Duchamp. He brings a welcome artistic touch to an otherwise mundane rescue operation in northern California, but when he strips nude and begins repeatedly descending staircases, the team has to step in and put a stop to this latest obsession. So they give him Richard Scarry’s “What Do People Do All Day” and he sets about building a carrot car… descending a staircase.

B.A. meets Willie the trainer

Tony Bennett wants to train B.A.


The Recap: The team is paying a visit to Willie’s Gym, a boxing less-than-mecca which irritates B.A. to no end: “the man trains nothing but losers!” Face just made a business deal to buy 60 percent of one of these losers, Billy Marquette. B.A. says they shouldn’t investing in boxers, they should invest in “something safe… like gold!” he says, pointing at his accessories.

The team looks for Billy in the locker room, but he’s actually out back in the getting-punched-in-the-gut-by-thugs room. These thugs work for Sonny Monroe, and they want Billy to take a dive in his upcoming fight against Dixie Joe, or else Billy’s sister will meet with an accident. Billy says no, so a mustachioed guy punches him a lot. You’d think a freaking boxer could take a punch or two, but not so; he crumples to the ground and the team has to help him up. And now they’re really sore at Face for investing in a guy who can’t even beat up a carful of thugs.

Billy refuses to talk – they imply it’s because he’s scared of Monroe’s thugs, but actually he’s from Minnesota so it’s in his nature not to talk. Tina asks the team for help, and Face says sure – after all, the first rule of good money management is “always protect your investment.” “YEAH,” adds B.A. So they do. Task number one is to find out who was beating Billy up, and Face handles that quickly: the car belonged to Ringside Enterprises, run by Sonny Monroe. Tina says Monroe owns the other 40 percent of Billy’s contract. She adds that Monroe can be found at a nearby clam bar, so that’s task number two.

Monroe is indeed at the clam bar, and he’s played by the guy who played Moe Greene in “The Godfather.” Murdock and Face are there too, putting a mini-microphone on Monroe’s table so they can listen in on his conversation with the mustache guy. Monroe wants the thugs to tear up Willy’s Gym again, and he mentions something about a drug deal going down too. Upon hearing this, Billy finally accepts the team’s help: Monroe is going to bet on Dixie Joe, the underdog, in their fight, and if Billy takes the dive, Monroe can use the profits for his drug business. Hannibal says he has a “flawless” plan that foil Monroe’s flawed plan. “All we have to do,” Hannibal says, “is show them how hard a chin B.A. has.” Ok… I think?

Dr. Face and Billy
Actually my pipe alerted me to Billy’s bone fracture some time ago.

Ah, ok: they put Billy in the sparring ring with B.A., and when Monroe drops by, the stage an injury to Billy’s hand. Everybody goes to the hospital, where Billy tells Monroe that B.A. is a monstrous new fighter called Volcano Johnson. “They say he killed a couple guys in the ring down in Florida.” Face drops by pretending to be a doctor, and he uses some x-rays and fancy talk about metacarpal bones to declare that Billy won’t be able to fight for at least six weeks. “But I need him in the ring in a month!” says Monroe. Well, Face says, then you’d better find another fighter. Monroe asks Billy about B.A., or as he’s now known, Volcano Johnson. Billy says he’s managed by Jimmy Pearl, and he warns Monroe that Pearl is “into some really heavy action.”

Hannibal is Jimmy Pearl
Jimmy Pearl has Rent-a-Bevy on his speed dial.

Jimmy Pearl is Hannibal, naturally, and he’s walking with a lady on each arm when Monroe tries verbally messing with him. The colonel outmatches him the whole time, and he won’t even discuss Volcano Johnson: “Why don’t you get this chorus line out of the way, before one of these ladies knocks you down?” Monroe looses his goons on the team, but they too are out of their league. I tell you, watching B.A. throw guys is always fun, but it’s especially fun when he’s wearing a tuxedo! Monroe tries again later at Willie’s Gym: he kidnaps Murdock, who’s playing a lowly trainer. He says Jimmy Pearl actually owes a lot of money to bookies, and only holds onto Volcano because it helps him meet women. Murdock asks Monroe if he can stay on as trainer if he takes over Volcano’s contract. Monroe says sure, “you’re a good boy.”

Murdock offers liniment oil to B.A.
It’s called Moxie. Everyone in New England drinks it.

The trap, as they say, has been sprung. Now they just have to…. do whatever you do after you spring a trap. Which is, it seems, to shoot up a bookie’s office somewhere, because they need him to act like he’s Jimmy Pearl’s bookie; Monroe drops by later that day and buys all of Jimmy’s markers, which means he now controls Jimmy, but since Jimmy is Hannibal and Hannibal set the whole “markers” thing up with the bookie… ach, my head is spinning. Face and B.A. come out after Monroe leaves and take Monroe’s money, thereby recouping their investment on Billy Marquette.

“Now I own Jimmy Pearl and his boxer,” Monroe says to no one in particular, and Hannibal’s eager to play along with this scenario – “doesn’t the rat always come back for the cheese?” Their rat arrives at the training center and proudly shows off the Jimmy Pearl markers, to which Hannibal acts all concerned. Monroe says Volcano Johnson will have to take the dive in the Dixie Joe fight – Hannibal says fine, but for the betting scam to work Volcano has to be the favorite, and he’ll need a big buildup to do that. This is accomplished in a mere scene change; Monroe calls some guy and says Volcano Johnson is now an 8 to 1 favorite. Jeez, Dixie Joe can’t get no respect!

The guy Monroe calls is called Carrenza; he’s Monroe’s cocaine contact. Hannibal says they need to find out where this guy is, and to do that he questions a random woman who’s sunning in Monroe’s greenhouse. (Seriously, that’s where she is. Or maybe it’s a sauna and I just watch too much of “The New Yankee Workshop.”) She lets it slip that Monroe’s become so paranoid that he’s started taping all his phone calls. She also mentions that the combination to Monroe’s safe is set to her measurements – Hannibal has Face check her out via binoculars, and he knows right away she’s a 38-26-38. Ha. So when night falls, all Hannibal has to do is open up the safe and grab the cassette marked “Carrenza.” He hears that the drug guy is going to watch the fight on cable, and that they’ll meet up to make the drug buy after the fight.

Face tracks down an address for Carrenza and poses as a cable TV guy who needs to repair the guy’s connection – that way Carrenza will show up with the drugs after the fight even though B.A. isn’t going to take the dive.

B.A. gets ready to fight
Hannibal’s prediction? PAIN

It’s fight night, and we’ve gotten ready to rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrumbllllllllllllllllllllllleeeeeeeeeeeeee. Dixie Joe is announced as hailing from Seattle – exactly where in the South is Washington State? Volcano Johnson hails from Parts Unknown and is described by the ring announcer as “mysterious and awesome.” Cool. Here’s what isn’t cool: Monroe’s mustache guy has spiked B.A.’s mouthpiece water – “that stuff could slow down an elephant,” he says. And while B.A. pretty well dominates the first few rounds, the drugs start to take their toll, and Dixie Joe – Dixie Joe! – is giving the big guy a clubberin’. Face and Bobby’s sister Tina are still working their cable scam – they pull the plug on Carrenza’s cable, playing video static and a prerecorded audio track of Face calling a one-sided Dixie Joe victory. This ensures Carrenza will head to the arena to meet up with Monroe. But right now it really is a one-sided fight – B.A. is all drugged, and Dixie Joe is pounding on him. Hannibal calls Face to say “things are starting to unravel.” And that’s an understatement: Carrenza walks past him at the arena with a big bag that “doesn’t have boxing gloves in it.” Face heads back to the arena to head off the drug deal.

But there’s still an immediate problem: B.A.’s been drugged. Murdock implores him to push through the pain and fight on: “Because somewhere out there, there’s a little kid who’s got a picture of Volcano Johnson taped above his pillow.” Finally they wake B.A. up with Murdock’s special concoction of smelling salts, and Volcano Johnson heads back for revenge as Murdock shouts “Howard Cosell’s counting on you!” He knocks Dixie Joe out in about forty seconds.

Hannibal holds up drugs
Party at Hannibal’s house! Someone call David Crosby!

This upsets Carrenza, who was assured by Monroe that the fight had been fixed. Monroe’s not happy either – “I want Pearl,” he tells the mustache guy, and they try to punch out Hannibal and the crew in their locker room. But Face and Murdock are on top of this, and they pound ’em down without too much trouble (even B.A., who’s pretty out of it, helps out by falling on Monroe.) Carrenza’s briefcase flies open during the fight, and the drugs are in plain sight. “These little beauties will get you slimeballs twenty years each,” Hannibal says, laughing.

Billy and Tina are grateful that the team got them out of Monroe’s grasp. Hannibal says that’s not all – he hands Billy the 60 percent of his contract they owned, since they made their money back by scamming Monroe at the bookie. Murdock says the whole experience was thrilling, and Face gives himself a pat on the back for being bold and getting the team involved in boxing in the first place. “That’s why the A-Team has signed you to fight next Tuesday night,” says Murdock. Face protests, but B.A. grabs him and says “you’re gonna be there – or else.” Hannibal laughs and says he loves it when a plan comes together.

We’re on a roll again! Season three has been almost completely solid, with almost no missteps. Or maybe I’m just so into this project by now that it all seems good to me. I don’t really care which.

Previous episode: Season 3, Episode 15 – The Big Squeeze | Next episode: Season 3, Episode 17 – Skins