Hannibal’s taking a complicated and dangerous international mission solely to zing a guy!

Here’s what I’ve learned so far, having now gone slightly past halfway on the calendar year, if not halfway on the list of A-Team episodes I’m supposed to watch in the calendar year:

1)I really like The A-Team;
2)I get distracted by berry-producing plants and flowering shrubs very easily;
3)If I could somehow meld the two together, maybe turning Face into a half-man half-sunflower? I’d finish this project with time to spare and have time to make some refreshing and delicious fruit sorbet.

This is an observation, not a major concern; I’m still confident that I can wrap up the remaining… ohmygod, there’s still 59 episodes to watch? And it’s when? Ohgodohgodohgodlet’sgoalreadylet’sgo!

The Bend in the River – Part 1

Wild Guess Preview: Murdock signs up for water aerobics at the VA mental hospital, and soon he’s got the whole A-Team enjoying the benefits of low-impact, water-based stretches and bends. But they soon run afoul of a diabolical enemy: the Big Mouth Billy Bass, which surrounds them in a large outdoor pool and repeatedly sings its off-key version of “Take Me To the River” until it looks like the team is about to break…

The Recap: Welcome to “The Amazon, Brazil,” a land of unique flora, fauna and stock footage. And Richard Moll, too, according to the credits! But for now we’re stuck with a Crocodile Dundee wannabe named Brian Lefcourt, who claims “El Cajon, the river pirate” is a myth. This is funny because El Cajon the myth really hijacks his boat and takes him hostage. One of the mythical henchmen also steals Brian’s St. Christopher medal and eats it. El Cajon also steals Brian’s diary, but doesn’t eat it.

El Cajon

Donkey sweat? Sorry, but I just don’t see it.

Having stolen diaries and jewelry, El Cajon and his men head back to camp to play the board game Girl Talk and give each other makeovers, but there’s a small blond guy there and he thinks El Cajon has his money. “You fat bucket of donkey sweat, where is it?” cries the little man. El Cajon needs time to think, though; he props his bad leg up on a table and then shoots at the guy with a shotgun lodged in his shoe, very James Bond style! “The fat bucket of donkey sweat do it again!” laughs El Cajon; that should really be on a t-shirt. El Cajon’s men lead Whitey away.

So what does this have to do with the A-Team? Ah, Tawnia’s back, and this Brian is a colleague at her newspaper who was sent to find a lost treasure city. (Since when do big city newspapers take editorial direction from the game “Pitfall”?) And he’s her boyfriend. Hannibal is unswayed by Tawnia’s emotional connection, but decides to take the mission anyway because he thinks El Cajon’s name is funny; he translates it as “Mr. Coffin,” and wants to tell him so in person. So Hannibal’s taking a complicated and dangerous international mission solely to zing a guy!

Father Face and a nurse

“Father, you look a lot like the doctor who came in here for Murdock’s tuberculosis…”

“Face, you spring Murdock,” says Hannibal’s off-screen voiceover, and so we see Face dressed as a priest visiting the VA hospital. He’s there on the pretense of picking up a recently deceased service member, only he’s actually smuggling Murdock in a coffin, meaning there’s more than one El Cajon in this episode. Murdock, by the way, is wearing a black beret and a white jacket, talking like an arty film director and complaining about the aesthetics of the coffin. He also starts singing and belching inside the coffin, which nearly derails the escape.

Hannibal, meanwhile, is loading machine guns and ammo into mail crates with B.A., who recognizes this as a sign that they’re flying to the next mission. Hannibal takes the direct approach this time: yes, we’re flying. “Only I don’t fly, Hannibal,” says B.A. “I ain’t gonna turn my back on you. You ain’t gonna get me with no knockout drops, man. Ain’t no way you’re gonna get me to eat or drink anything.” Hannibal says he understands, and B.A. hits the floor, since Hannibal had already spiked his milk! Face and Murdock pull up, so we’ve got an unconscious B.A., Face dressed as a priest and driving a hearse, Murdock blabbing away in a coffin and a bewildered Hannibal taking it all in… beautiful. They pick up Tawnia and now it’s flying time.

The Amazon is heating up even before the team arrives, though: another cranky white guy in a bad outfit is asking El Cajon for the money; maybe there’s another El Cajon out there who actually has money, like in The Big Lebowski? The new white guy also knows that El Cajon has Brian the boyfriend, and he’s mad about that too. El Cajon tries his I-need-to-sit-down-and-secretly-shoot-you trick, but this guy sidesteps the fake leg/shotgun and takes Brian and his friends away. El Cajon acts all friendly but then says “you made a big mistake with me, muchacho.”

B.A. in a coffin

First Murdock in a coffin and now B.A. This is a morbid show.

The team finally arrives in Brazil, and they actually lugged B.A. in the coffin the whole way! Trouble is, he just figured out he was locked in a coffin, and is literally screaming to get out. Hannibal tells B.A. not to think of it as being shipped to Brazil in a coffin, but to “think of it as accompanying our ordnance locker.” Um, sure. B.A. doesn’t buy this either, and takes it out on director Murdock, who yells “this will not be in the final cut, I promise!”

Director Murdock

There’s a tax on wearing puffy director pants.

Apparently that little scuffle gets settled, though, because the next thing we see is Hannibal, Father Face and Director Murdock dropping by the local watering hole to ask about moving a coffin (did a coffin company put money into this episode?) through the bend in the river. Richard Moll is annoyed by this, apparently, because he locks the doors to the tavern. Murdock either helps or hurts the situation by explaining to the assembled drinkers that he’s the greatest film director of all time and that if they all want to be in his movie they have to get him 200 llama sweaters. Richard Moll starts some trouble, so Hannibal calls for B.A. and he shoots the place up. Then Hannibal takes the tall guy outside and roughs him up until he explains where Little John the river guide is. He fesses up, they leave, ok then.

The team is down by the docks looking for Little John, only he’s already left. Richard Moll is there, though, and he brought all his rowdy, machine gun-totin’ friends to help him get back at the team. “We’re gonna borrow your barge,” Hannibal tells the locals, and they cast off, shooting back at the opposition. Richard Moll drives up a ramp, trying to launch his pickup truck onto the barge, but he misses by, oh, about 300 feet. “Nice drinking with you!” Hannibal yells out.

Bobbie Gardena and Face

This kid’s got spunk!

Click. Gun in Hannibal’s back. It’s the barge captain, Bobbie Gardena (or something). She’s feisty in a Karen Allen sort of way, even after Hannibal disarms her with some smooth talk about a hundred thousand dollars. She realizes there’s no money after all, and Hannibal smiles: “Well, not yet. But who knows!” She responds by throwing a knife. “I like this girl!” says Face, quickly pulling off his clerical collar. Bobbie says Tawnia’s sweetie, Brian, was taken prisoner by El Cajon, and that none of El Cajon’s prisoners have ever been seen again due to his pirate’s code (her words, not mine). “Mr. Coffin’s in for a big surprise,” says Hannibal, “because we have a code of our own.” Huh?

Richard Moll has tipped off El Cajon, though, and Mr. Coffin is mad that they’re trying to bust through his river bend. “We will show these men what happens when one passes the bend in the river without the permission of El Cajon!” What happens, apparently, is that the team blows up El Cajon’s boat with a bazillion rounds of ammo and makes his men walk back to the coast. Hannibal shouts for them to halt at the water’s edge, and finally he gets to ask the question that’s been on his mind the entire episode: “are you the jackass that calls himself The Coffin?” Murdock tells El Cajon to stop sweating, because it’s ruining his film. It is the Amazon, though, dude. Even Face is getting into Murdock’s shenanigans: “I love this movie,” he tells Mr. Coffin. “Don’t you?”

El Cajon takes the team to his camp, where B.A. locks up the henchmen and El Cajon complains about the TV reception in his hut: “Only Donald Duck on Saturdays, without sound!” When they get to the hut Cajon pulls his gun-in-the-leg trick on Hannibal, but his paper-wrapped bullets are no use since he’s been in the water. Cajon realizes that he needs to deliver Senor Lefcourt if he wants any further Disney cartoons.

Brian, as you’ll remember, was taken away by Doyle, one of the white dudes working with El Cajon; he also appears to have grown muscles since we last saw him. Imagine if someone started inflating Mark Harmon; that’s what he looks like. El Cajon calls Doyle to say the team is with him and wants Brian, and Doyle says he’ll be there soon.

And there he is, with nothing more than a pretty sunset to illustrate the passage of time. The team gets the drop on Doyle pretty easily; even Tawnia’s trying to be all badass and push him around. But the boat captain Bobbie Gardena, shows up and tells the team she’s pulled the firing pins from all their weapons. Doyle sends the team off to some prison area. Bobbie says she wants one last trip through the bend in return for her help, and Doyle slaps her, which I guess is a no.

The team is tied up and heading down the river. B.A. hopes Hannibal is working on a new plan, but Hannibal says “we haven’t finished with the old plan,” which takes them directly to Brian Lefcourt. Ok, so they’re handcuffed and under guard by heavily armed pirates, but still. Bobbie says “cast off!” and that’s the end of part 1.

The slowest-starting of the three two-part episodes thus far. Obviously there’s more time to build out the story, but we haven’t seen any real fireworks yet. I’d bet the Mr. T doll on my desk, though, that it’s about to change. In fact, I’m going to go work on part 2 this very second but that DOESN’T MEAN I’M WORRIED ABOUT GETTING BEHIND SCHEDULE, OK

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