Having the A-Team fighting their two greatest foes at once – Decker and hillbillies – is genius.
As I write this, I’m at a doctor’s office, to confirm that the missus is 13 weeks pregnant! To make a very long story short, this is a moment we’ve been looking forward to for a long time. You’d think I’d be more attentive, and in fact, the words “you’re doing what?“ have been mentioned. But who among us doesn’t have to juggle between their work and their family? I’m just getting a head start.
Oh, and obviously this little one is going to learn all about our favorite fugitives. I’m even saving up for a big black GMC van. Plenty of space for car seats, if you don’t have a need for stockpiling grenades.
Wild Guess Preview: The A-Team will not be seen this week so we may bring you a special paid program, starring the A-Team, about Bounty. Spill a little motor oil or battery acid during a commando mission? Not to worry – Bounty’s at its best when spills are at their worst. Bounty. The choice of the Los Angeles Underground. Ask for it in your grocer’s freezer. Or something.
The Recap: Cowboys at the VA hospital? This isn’t one of Face’s scams, these are some bad (looking) hombres, and they mean business: they shoot their way into Murdock’s room, break up his video game session and drive him away in a pickup truck. No slow burn in this episode!
Now Face is at the hospital, posing as a doctor and pumping the staff for information. The nurse on duty tells us all we need to know: “They were just two big guys. They talked like hillbillies.” Since it’s a VA hospital, she called the military along with the police, which makes Face nervous. He heads straight for the elevator; when it opens, Decker’s inside. “Peck!” he says. “Decker?” Face mumbles. He runs for it, and manages to sneak himself out inside a hospital laundry cart.
The Aquamaniac picks up the slack as the temporary fourth member of the A-Team.
Face meets up with B.A. and Hannibal at a movie set. They know “two hillbillies with shotguns” have Murdock, but that’s it; they don’t know where the dudes went, or why they wanted Murdock in the first place. Hannibal figures they want Murdock alive, or else they’d have done him in at the hospital. He also figures they’ll force Murdock to make contact via the mobile phone in the awesome van. So that’s where they go.
Burl Ives stars as Dog the Bounty Hunter
The one silver lining in all this? The cowboys have been listening to Murdock’s constant chatter, and they’re already starting to lose it. “You’ve been going on for two hours, what are you, crazy?” says the driver. “Of course I’m crazy!” Murdock answers. “You got me out of the psychiatric wards of a VA hospital, stupid!” They take him to another guy, and he’s definitely more hillbilly than cowboy; in fact, he looks like Paw Rugg from Hanna-Barbera cartoons. This guy knows a lot about Murdock: “Two tours in ‘Nam, Silver Star, three unit citations, wounded twice, best damn HUEY pilot we had.” He says they is the most down-home bounty hunter folk you’ll ever meet, and they’s want to get theyselves a good old re-ward from the gummint for catching this here A-Team.
Murdock says he doesn’t know about the A-Team, he’s just “a guy from the mental ward,” but they tie him up anyway and make him call the van. Maybe these guys are the Hillbilly Anti-Defamation League, trying to get an apology for this show’s constant suggestion that behind every evil plan in the world there’s a posse of drunken backwoods guys.
B.A. records a message for his new Fool-Pitying-By-Phone service.
Anyway, Hannibal answers Murdock’s phone call, and the top hillbilly takes over: “if you want to see Murdock again, you and Peck and Baracus will come to me.” And he tells them to drive to a cafe and check in by phone, saying they’re being watched the whole way.
Look closely: Face may, in fact, be the hard hat guy in that famous Krazy Glue commercial!
Hannibal complies and gets another set of directions; this time, though, B.A.’s listening in from a telephone pole, and he’s able to trace the number. They do a nice little scam to get the address that goes with that phone number: Face bursts into the phone company office with a toolbox, making up a story about a construction project. B.A. comes in to escort the operator out of her office, because she doesn’t have a hard hat on. That gives Face a chance to check out the phone number B.A. traced to the hillbillies, 125 Mason Road.
That is, in fact, where Murdock is bring held. The big hillbilly, whom we’ll call Pa, and his sons (and their Native American colleague; sometimes the show forgets he’s there) are all excited about getting to shoot the A-Team. Pa even reminds them that “‘Dead or Alive’ means ‘Dead.'” Yikes. They all drive off for reasons unclear to me, and that leaves Murdock unattended. An unattended Murdock is a crafty Murdock; he breaks loose from his ropes and leaps through the second floor window to the ground. Unfortunately he does this before the hillbillies have really left, so they turn back and chase him into the woods. Then the rest of the team drives up; they notice Murdock’s escaped, and they also hear Decker and friends heading to the scene, so they scram. Decker sends them off with bullets, one of which shoots the top of the van’s antenna off- uh oh. Hannibal says they’ll have to use their “contingency plan” to find Murdock.
B.A. does not like how this situation is developing. “Poor old Murdock,” he says. “Out there all alone, being chased by them bounty hunters.” Face is touched by B.A.’s concern, but the big guy quickly reverts to form: “It’s just that the crazy fool can’t help himself.” The crazy fool is trying to help himself, by heading to a nearby gas station, but when he tries calling the van, the operator says that number is out of service. Short on good options, he stows away in the back of a big blue van driven by Dr. Kelly Stevens, a roving veterinarian. The hillbillies force her off the road at gunpoint and search her truck, but somehow he hides out of sight and all they find is a nervous dog named Homer. “Little lady, just consider yourself lucky we didn’t find what we were looking for,” says Pa. “Be grateful you’re still breathing.”
Murdock is good with visible dogs, too
I’m pretty sure all of this is highly illegal, but nonetheless Dr. Kelly high-tails it out of there. And when she’s a safe distance away, she pulls a handgun out of the glove box and checks the back again… where she finds Murdock petting Homer the dog. Murdock disarms her (not literally, figuratively) with his charm, and also by noticing that she’s actually holding a cap gun. She says that while she knew there was somebody in the van, she didn’t turn him in because Homer the dog liked him; animals are “a good judge of character,” she says.
Dr. Kelly takes Murdock back to her office, where they start checking the local AM stations; according to Murdock, this has been the team’s “contingency plan” going back even to Vietnam. (Did they have the awesome van in Nam, and if so, why did the antenna break there too?) They also start flirting with each other, in a sweet, slightly wallflower-ish way; when Dr. Kelly says “I’ve never thought of myself as pretty,” Murdock runs to the mantel, picks up a small mirror and points it at her, saying “Pretty.” Awwwwww.
And now for a roundup of the remaining plot points: Decker’s setting up a roadblock with the local sheriff, who promises “a church mouse couldn’t get through without us knowing about it.” The hillbillies drive through his checkpoint and learn that “a hiker” was seen in “a blue van.” They put the pieces together and drive to Dr. Kelly’s place.
This is the last time Face comes out of a damn up-tempo record and he’s got to talk about a damn dog dying!