It’s Beverly Hills! Fancy cars, imported caviar, vintage wine and… special guest star Dennis Franz?

Best comment on yesterday’s little announcement, from our friend Avishay in California: “Holy cow, that’s so exciting! Little Laurence Tureaud Carlson will be such an awesome kid.”

And really, what can you add to that?

Beverly Hills Assault

Wild Guess Preview: After decades as the fish out of water in California’s poshest neighborhood, Daisy Mae Moses, aka Granny Clampett, decides she’s had enough of high society and starts sending letterbombs to her neighbors. Jed is scared to death of the old lady, so he hires the A-Team to shut her down, or at least confine her madness to the ce-ment pond.

The Recap: It’s Beverly Hills! It’s fancy cars and fancier parties, Gucci purses and Armani suits, imported caviar, vintage wine and… special guest star Dennis Franz?!? When I think of Beverly Hills, Detective Sipowicz is not the first guy that comes to mind. And the first place that comes to mind is not a dingy basement. Maybe this is Beverly Hills in another state? In said basement are two thugs, who beat up a painter called Speed. Their boss, Mr. Shawn, only wanted them to scare Speed, but since they’re inept they knocked him into a coma. Mr. Shawn yells at them in a William F. Buckley sort of voice.

A mime in Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills Mimes: a new TLC reality adventure

And now, a beach montage! Surely here we’ll find Beverly Hills’ young and wealthy mingling and having fun and… wait, there’s a mime and two starving artists? Is this an April Fools’ show, where they say it’s in Beverly Hills and then after a while Hannibal comes out and says “Just kidding, we’re in Atlantic City”? The mime and one of the starving artists, Peggy, are worried about Speed, their comatose friend, and wish they could do something about the guys who beat him up. The artist says “Maybe there’s a way…”

Hannibal in a Dr. Johnny Fever sort of disguise
Hannibal’s Johnny Fever getup is great, but where’s Face as Herb Tarlek? Or B.A. as Venus?

And so they get sent on one of Hannibal’s wild goose chases – for this one, the mime and Peggy have to go to a record store and ask for “Jim Nabors’ Greatest Love Songs.” The clerk is Hannibal, of course, disguised as Dr. Johnny Fever from WKRP, and eventually he reveals himself and introduces them to the team. Peggy says the cops won’t do anything to help Speed because he’s a free-spirited hippie painter and not a “Beverly Hills rich guy.” B.A. blanches at the sound of those words; he doesn’t trust The Hills at all. The mime offers his trust fund as payment, and Hannibal says they just hired the A-Team. Face is happy this mission won’t take them to a place that requires mosquito netting, but Hannibal says “it’s still a jungle out there on Rodeo Drive.” Sure, I guess.

The audience knows Mr. Shawn is behind these shenanigans, but Peggy does not; she only knows Speed was working for an art gallery in town. So she and the team give us one of the odder montages in A-Team history: walking around Beverly Hills looking at paintings. (If we get an antiquing montage later in the series I might scream.) Eventually Peggy spots a Speed original, and they have their gallery.

Time for a scam, and once again Face is at its head; here he poses as an art writer who likes to wear funny hats. He tells the gallery lady, Diane, that he’s most impressed by this Speed fellow and that he compares well even when put up against that renowned local artist. H. M. Murdock. (Oh yeah.) Mr. Shawn is watching, appears curious, maybe even a little suspicious, about this art critic, but holds back for now and Face scams a dinner date with Diane.

Murdock gets a key from Face
Forget it, Murdock is the top maitre’d at the Chez Paul. He’s pulling down six bills a week!

They head to the ritziest place in town, where Face goes through Diane’s purse and steals her keys! This is so that he can bring the key to Murdock, who’s posing as the restroom attendant; Murdock takes the key’s impression, though he’s pouting that none of the rich people have “engaged [him] in meaningful conversation” or given him much in tips. When Face gets back to his table, Mr. Shawn in there; he was suspicious of Face’s persona, “Michael Delane, art writer,” but he called the magazine for which he claimed to work and they said he was great, so Mr. Shawn likes him. (We later learn this is because one of Face’s girlfriends works there and volunteered to lie about him to Shawn.) “Please accept this invitation to visit the gallery anytime,” he says.

The team takes this invitation literally and they drop by the gallery late at night, using the copy they made of Diane’s key. And it doesn’t take long for Hannibal to find something fishy: according to Shawn’s files, he signed Speed to an exclusive contract of just $50 a painting, only the picture they saw in the gallery was selling for $5,000. B.A. sets up a transmitter so they can listen in on Shawn’s conversations, and then they head out. By the way, there’s a club called “Jazz’d” across the street from the gallery, nice touch! Shawn’s incompetent thugs show up in security guard outfits, and so the team beats them up and throws them down the stairs before heading out. Back at the restaurant, Shawn gets a note that his gallery’s been broken into. Diane says she and Shawn are the only ones who have keys, and they pull out their keys just to be sure. Face pretends to be upset for them, but he’s smiling on the inside.

The team disabled the alarm before they went into the gallery, so why did the guards show up anyway? Because they were scheduled to be there. Shawn is on the phone with someone called Brooks, and they need another artist for their evil plans. Hannibal decides Murdock is their man; B.A. is rolling his eyes, but Murdock says that most artistic geniuses were unappreciated during their careers, and “maybe that fate awaits me.” Face warns that Murdock “might get B.A. to test out your theory a little earlier than you planned.”

Murdock paints
Murdock paints.

Hannibal’s plan is for Face to go to a local art show in his Michael Delane getup and talk up Murdock’s art to Mr. Shawn, so much so that Shawn insists on meeting him immediately. So they visit Murdock, who’s now a tortured soul with wild hair and constant complaints about “losing the light.” Murdock tells Shawn that he wants his name to eventually be on par with “Rembrandt… Van Gogh… Willie Mays…” Wait, huh? “Do you deny that Willie Mays was an artist in center field?” Shawn says with his representation, Murdock can go very far, and so Murdock agrees: “Let us break pizza to cement the bargain.” Shawn offers a handshake but “Murdock does not shake hands. Murdock does not play sports. Murdock does not open canned food… Murdock paints.” Brilliant!

So they sign a contract and Shawn puts Murdock in the same basement studio where Speed was working/being beaten into comas. Shawn’s first request is for Murdock to do a reproduction of a very small photograph, and within the next 24 hours. When Shawn and the goons leave, Murdock radios Hannibal and they realize the “photograph” is actually Monet’s Wild Poppies and that Shawn’s scam is art forgery. Murdock can’t actually paint, so the team has Peggy the street artist do the reproduction; then they smuggle it to him in a pizza box, delivered by B.A. Shawn approves, and he hands it to the guards, who drive off somewhere. The rest of the team follows in the awesome van, thanks to a homing beacon inside the painting (?).

The thugs/guards drop by a fancy looking house and drop the painting off, but leave with a different painting. Hannibal puts all the pieces together: the security guards steal actual paintings from rich people’s houses while they’re pretending to set up alarm systems, and replace the originals with the reproductions. Hannibal has a special plan in mind: “This calls for something… rich,” he deadpans.

B.A. rips a suit he's trying on
B.A.’s gonna like the way he looks. We guarantee it.

Rich means driving a fancy red jalopy to a fancy men’s boutique, where Face has arranged for “Mr. Baracus” to get a new suit. Mr. Baracus is not the most willing customer in the world; when the clerk suggests he might want new shoes to go with the suit, he says “You put your hands on my boots and I’m gonna throw you through that window!” And we get another bewildering montage: B.A. trying on clothes! They finally find a nice cream-colored suit, though B.A. says “I don’t think it goes with my boots.” Ha! The clerk asks if B.A. needs any jewelry, but then looks at the big gold chains and says “No, I guess not.” Love it!

On to the next part of the plan: Face arranges with a wealthy friend to borrow her house for a few days, pretending that it’s B.A.’s house. B.A. decides to be obstinate here, too, and the funny keeps on coming: he wants a tennis court, even though there isn’t one. And he wants to know about the stove: gas or electric. “Electric,” he’s told, and he says “I like gas.” And he thinks the house needs more windows, even though the place has windows everywhere! Finally he goes along with the scam, though only after Hannibal encourages him to “give it a try.”

Hannibal and Dennis Franz
Dennis “Beverly Hills” Franz tries to scam Hannibal.

Peggy is painting in the back yard, and she tells Face how grateful she is that the team is helping Speed. She also tells Hannibal that his “original Renoir” will be ready the next morning. So he calls the security company to schedule an inspection and installation. Ah, here’s where Dennis Franz comes in! He plays Brooks, Shawn’s partner in cahoots, and Hannibal shows him the “Renoir” during the security check. Brooks brings a photo of the piece to Shawn, who calls his “broker in Sweden” to arrange a buyer, and tells Murdock to start on a counterfeit version of the counterfeit. Then he goes back to the house, and he offers to take Hannibal and B.A. out to lunch, which is how he gets clients out of their houses and get some thievery going. Very clever scam.

The thugs do their dirty work, but Face is watching, and he tails them in the red jalopy to their warehouse, where he gets cornered by guard dogs and the security guards. So Face is in custody, Murdock’s locked in a basement, and B.A. and Hannibal are stuck having lunch with Dennis Franz. Sheesh.

The guards bring Face to the restaurant and Brooks knows the whole scam; he tells his thugs to kill the team and hand them off to the military police to collect on the bounty (wouldn’t they still get charged for murder?). Brooks and one guard leave, and since the other guard is completely incompetent it takes the team about four seconds to knock him out and walk away. They even drive away in Brooks’ convertible!

Brooks and Shawn are at the gallery, and they’re taunting Murdock about how his friends are dead and he’s going to be next. But the team drives through the front of Shawn’s gallery, crushing most of the art and starting a big gunfight. Mr. Shawn, like all art gallery owners, has a piece on him at all times, and he fires back. But this fight is pretty short: Murdock knocks Brooks over a railing, and Hannibal tosses Shawn down the staircase. “At least we didn’t dent your Mercedes,” Hannibal laughs, as Dennis Franz tries to think of the happy times to come on “NYPD Blue.”

The van has a smiley face on its back doors!
On PC keyboards, typing Alt-S-U-C-K-A displays a B.A. smiley face.

All is well again: Brooks and Shawn are headed to jail, all the stolen artwork is being returned to the owners, and Face says they’ll give Peggy some of her money back because the mission went under budget. On the other hand Peggy’s friend is still dressed as a mime, so not everything is perfect. And is Speed still in a coma? No one seems to remember him. Murdock is loading the van up with art supplies, so he can build on his new artistic reputation. B.A. says no, “because you can’t paint nothin’!” And with that, he tosses all of Murdock’s art stuff on the street and snaps his lucky paintbrush in half. But Murdock gets the last laugh this week: he’s painted a giant smiley face on the van’s back doors! And with that, we go to the credits.

I liked this one a lot. These villains were mostly pushovers, but it was fun seeing the team unravel their scheme piece by piece. In fact, the only odd thing here was the opening bits where we saw all the non-Beverly Hills-ish people and places in Beverly Hills. Otherwise, it was great fun.

Previous episode: Season 3, Episode 22 – Bounty | Next episode: Season 3, Episode 24 – Trouble Brewing