I love it when a plan comes together, especially when it’s conquering an evil banker and an evil beer company with soda pop.

Mr. T is everywhere these days, which is the way things ought to be but often isn’t. I caught his FlavorWave infomercial on TV the other night, and, of course, he’s making the rounds for his new gold endorsement. T even ended up getting mentioned in the debate over the Juan Williams/NPR controversy; there’s a Williams quote out there from a past article or discussion, that “a jeweler in Beverly Hills who closed his door to heavily bejeweled Mr. T would be foolishly closing his cash register.” Sure sounds like he watched last week’s episode, “Beverly Hills Assault”!

Me, I’m lobbying for T to be the first guest on Conan O’Brien’s new talk show, on the grounds that the show is on TBS and “TBS starts with T.”

Trouble Brewing

Wild Guess Preview: A mom-and-pop beer company is getting the usual nasty treatment from an unsavory competitor, and so they hire the team to crack open kegs and bust open heads. There’s a big, sudsy showdown in the middle of the evil brewery, but just as Face does a flying tackle on the last thug… Jack Lalanne shows up in his blue workout suit and asks “have you ever considered the benefits of home juicing?” Which puts the brewery vs. brewery rivalry to bed pretty quickly.

The Recap: This week’s victims: the kindly makers of Hi-Brite soda, healthy soda made with fresh spring water. The owners, sisters Cathy and Maryanne, want to keep their company afloat despite a hostile takeover attempt by one Jason Webb. But first they have to crash their truck; they say it’s because the brakes were out, but really they’re looking to retire early, I think. (I’m usually right about these things.) They gals extricate themselves from their flipped-over truck just as Webb’s hired muscle comes by and warns them to sell out to Webb before they have another, more fatal “accident.”

Murdock inside an ATM
Automated Talking Murdock!

Scenarios like this are why the A-Team does what it does, so Cathy and Maryanne head to the big city and make contact with Mr. Lee, who directs them to withdraw money from a gigantic ATM. They have to put sorts of personal information into the machine, which B.A. uses to do a security check; when he says they’re clean, the machine dispenses a “you have just found the A-Team” note instead of cash. It also displays Murdock’s face, which is a nice touch for any automated banking system.

The sisters explain their plight during a ride in the awesome van: they say Webb is probably after their spring water, the source of their power. They also ask Hannibal if he could hold off on lighting his cigar: “Cathy and I are into health,” says Maryanne, “and it’s really a habit you should try and stop. Nicotine depletes your vitamin C, and it’s not good at all for the nerves.” Hannibal smiles and says not to worry, “I don’t inhale.”

B.A. looks at his sandwich

B.A.’s confused because the sandwich doesn’t have a homing device in it.

What he does, though, is come up with plans, and step one in this plan is to get the soda operation back in business. So they all stop by the Hi-Brite factory. B.A. and Murdock get the machines up and running, and this inspires Murdock to try the Hi-Brite healthy living philosophy; he tells B.A. it’s time for the team “to go au naturel,” eating and drinking only the finest, high-quality stuff. B.A. holds up his fist and says “This is all natural, sucka!” Later, Cathy hands B.A. a sandwich, and he’s really confused by the bean sprouts: “Where’s the meat? This sandwich is full of weeds!”

Face and Hannibal ask Cathy and Maryanne to get a bank loan so they can launch a big new ad campaign. And they get it, which means the Templeton Peck Ad Agency is open for business, offering a multi-tiered, platform-agnostic strategy to emphasize consumer engagement and encourage relationship-building for grassroots brand advocacy and the promotion of product awareness. Or they want to sell some soda, one or the other. Thanks to Face’s ads they’re getting more orders than they can keep up with; even Murdock is on the phone, and he gets to say “flavonoids.” Everyone’s happy that the factory is humming again: “I’d like to see Webb’s face when he finds out,” says Hannibal.

Webb’s squirrelly face is on the phone, and it’s whining about how he thought he shut Hi-Brite down. He tells his thugs (one of whom is inexplicably dressed like Marty McFly) that he wants their factory watched round the clock and their delivery trucks run off the road. Since he only has two thugs this is problematic, but they say they’ll do their best. But to wreck the trucks, they first have to find them; easier said than done now that Face has slapped a Webb’s Brewery logo on his Hi-Brite truck. He even drops by the Webb factory, where he pretends he’s a new driver, Happy Harrison. He drives off, but in a different truck, meaning one of the Webb drivers will actually deliver Hi-Brite soda!

Some other Webb guys are watching from just outside the Hi-Brite factory, and Hannibal has a plan for them too: he and B.A. lure them into a truck chase down the street. (This leaves Murdock at the factory singing “Old Grey Mare” and eating trail mix, for a brief but beautiful moment.) The Webb guys run Hannibal and B.A. off the road, but when they approach the truck for some fisticuffs the two teamers not only beat them silly but toss them over a bridge and into a river. Murdock and Face hit the scene too; Murdock tells the goons that they probably lost the fight because of “severe vitamin deficiency.” Then he blows up their truck. “Start walking,” Hannibal tells the dudes.

Hi-Brite is flying high again! Cathy asks Hannibal if there’s anything they can’t do. “Ballet,” says the colonel. “We stopped going to class.” Hannibal also wants to drop by Webb’s office, because he’s convinced something fishy is going on there. Murdock takes this moment to offer B.A. a multivitamin supplement regimen he’s drawn up, but B.A. takes the paper and eats it.

'Thanks for delivering our soda' sign

They politely escaped from a maximum security stockade…

Webb’s already mad because his thugs got pounded on by the team; now he’s really angry because Face tricked one of his drivers into delivering Hi-Brite soda when he dropped by the factory. They leave a sign that says “Thanks for delivering our load of soda for us. The A-Team.” The thugs say the Hi-Brite ad campaign is really hurting them, so Webb says go to the ad agency. They drop by, grab Face and bring him to see Webb, who offers 10 Gs if he’ll pull the plug on the Hi-Brite ads. Oh, and if Face says no, Webb’s going to kill him. Gulp.

Face heads back to his agency, and he’s a little upset: “Why am I always the one who has to stick his head in the lion’s mouth?” Hannibal smiles: “It fits your personality!” Face did find out one important detail: there’s probably a hidden safe in Webb’s office. Hannibal wants to know for sure, so he sends Murdock. And Face. B.A. snickers.

They get into the factory easily enough, using a thermal exhaust port about two meters high, but there’s a security camera trained on Webb’s office and that makes getting in there complicated. Luckily, Murdock has an answer here: he takes a Polaroid of the security monitor, and carefully puts that in front of the camera. They do find a safe in there, like Face suspected, and in the safe they find a map and some old checks: Webb is trying to buy out everybody in the area. And there’s a check to a construction company in there too. The Polaroid slips from its spot on the camera, so they have to high-tail it back to the awesome van and drive through another part of the security fence to escape. The fence goes along for the ride, in fact.

Face and Webb selling soda on TV
Nice freakout from the guy in the back.

Webb and his goons know just who to blame: the A-Team. And they think this ad wizard Templeton Peck might be involved, too! The brainiacs visit the Peck Agency again; there’s no one there, but they do see “2:00 – Soda Plant” on his itinerary. So they go to the plant and try to take Face out, but Face is filming a live commercial for Hi-Brite soda, a blind taste test. And when Webb bursts in, Face acts like he’s agreed to be a celebrity taste tester! Webb backs off – “no, I gotta go” – and goes. Face says fine, more soda for me then.

Hannibal, B.A. and Murdock, meanwhile, are checking out the construction company that was on the check Face and Murdock found in Webb’s office, and they come across a 3D model of a high-rise condo development. It’s a 12 story block, combining classical Neo-Georgian features with the efficiencies of modern techniques. The tenants arrive here and are carried along the corridor in extreme comfort, past murals depicting Mediterranean scenes, towards the rotating knives… no, wait, that’s Monty Python. This condo development calls for a lake right where the Hi-Brite factory is set. And there’s more: the financial backer of the project is Valley View Bank, the same bank that loaned money to Hi-Brite at the start of the episode. Cathy and Maryanne happen to drop by the bank at that moment to repay the loan, but when they do, the banker, Barrington, says “You’ve just defaulted on your loan,” and whips out a gun. Y’know, there are subtler ways to steal somebody’s land!

Face and Murdock shoot soda pop

Bet you couldn’t stop an evil brewer with Sunny D!

Barrington and Webb take the gals to the brewery, and they leave word of this so that the team knows about it when they go to the bank. That means everyone knows there’s gonna be a showdown; Face says he feels like “one of the six hundred riding into the Valley of Death” (nice reference). Hannibal figures Barrington wants the soda pop plant so much, “why don’t we give him a taste of what he wants?” Murdock loves it: “All seven flavors?” That means it’s time for a super-healthy soda-fueled montage, in which the team reinforces a Hi-Brite truck into a preservative-free mobile disaster unit. (Actually there’s some PVC piping in there, but who among us is perfect?) They pull up in the truck and Barrington greets them with a gun, saying how much trouble the team’s caused him. Hannibal says “you haven’t seen anything yet.” And with that, Murdock opens up the side of the truck and starts spraying soda at everyone. One of the security guards is on the roof; Murdock sprays him with high-pressure beverages, and he falls forward off the roof and onto some sandbags. Then Face starts spraying from the other side of the truck. Hannibal gets to deck Webb, and B.A. tosses a few goons into a dumpster; then Hannibal takes one sister under each arm and says “I love it when a plan comes together.” Me too, especially if the plan is the A-Team conquering an evil banker and an evil beer company with soda pop.

B.A. has a giant 'Murdock' vitamin
We’re Murdock Kids, ten million strong and growing

Team Hi-Brite is victorious, and looking forward to a bright – er, brite – future. Maryanne even apologizes to Hannibal for doubting their abilities at the start of the mission. Hannibal says he understands: after all, “there’s a method to our madness.” Did someone say madness? Murdock’s got a big bag of vitamins, and he’s worked out a regimen for each team member’s needs. Face gets iron supplements; Hannibal gets a robust multi to with “trace elements and minerals,” helpful for brain power. B.A.’s system is about endurance, because “we know you’ve got the bulk.” B.A.’s got a special Murdock vitamin all worked up; it’s like a foot long, but he says “take it and you’ll be a new man.” Murdock looks at it funny, but gulps it down anyway. And he starts talking like B.A.: “Hey sucka, you’re dead meat!” B.A. is confused as we close up.

This is as formula as the A-Team gets, but it’s expertly done. It’s like hearing Victor Borge do his inflationary language routine; yes, you’ve seen and heard it before, but it’s so skillfully executed that you appreciate the ability much more than you miss the novelty. Hey, there’s an idea: the A-Team meets Victor Borge! He could play a pianist in a small town getting hassled by a brash young composer who’s trying to smuggle drugs in his baby grand…

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