The colonel and the chief, and a firehouse full of innuendo. Prime time heat, 80s style!

One fun side effect of working on this project is that friends and relatives have been finding Mr. T memorabilia and sending it to me. Earlier this week a friend send me a classic Mr. T doll, on the condition that he start fighting the other Mr. T doll I have. I’m not sure whether I’m actually going to let them fight, though. Mr. T cannot be defeated, even by himself, so a T vs. T fight battle might accidentally unravel time and space and lead us to a universal Big Crunch. Which would make it hard to finish this project.

So far my favorite piece of T product is a paperback kids book from the “Mr. T and Me” series, called “The Hard Luck Mutt.” It’s the story of two kids who see a stray dog and start throwing rocks at it until Mr. T shows up and starts throwing grenades at them! No, actually T takes them aside and explains that the dog is probably cold and hungry and is lashing out. He also gives a magnificent line that sums up the whole life lesson in one tough-ass sentence: “God made that dog – AND GOD DON’T MAKE NO TRASH!” That’s what I’m talking about!

So anyway, if you’re looking to send me more A-Team stuff, by all means, feel free. If you’re looking to mess with a stray dog… no way.


Wild Guess Preview: The A-Team has to avoid fanning the flames for a change, as English psychedelic great Arthur Brown leads a hostile takeover of a charcoal briquet factory and threatens to reenact his hit song “Fire” on all of central Texas. But the team has a powerful secret weapon on their side for this mission: special guest star Smokey the Bear. Well, and lots of guns, too.

Kelsey and his goons
I’m cracking skulls.

The Recap: Welcome to the abandoned town of Haleyville! Four of the locals work for the Haleyville Fire Company; the other four are evil firefighters who wear blue jumpsuits and set up roadblocks to mess with the Fire Co. (The evil guys’ leader, Roy Kelsey, is played by Paul Gleason, who was the smarmy principal in “The Breakfast Club.”) Roy is trying to scare off the Haleyville fire team because he’s evil and because their chief, Saunders, is a lady; actually, she’s Dee Dee McCall from “Hunter.” Kelsey and his goons beat up the fire department, which is just weird, and then we get a jump cut to an overhead shot of the entire L.A. metro area, the only shot long enough to last through the extensive guest star credits.

Colonel Briggs plays both kinds of music, country and western.

Fire Chief Saunders is in L.A. – at the Wax Museum, in fact, where she finds Hannibal’s voice inside a suit of armor. But before the rest of Hannibal can appear, someone named Colonel Briggs shows up and tries to bust Saunders for aiding a fugitive. Uh, who are you and what have you done with Colonel Decker? Colonel Briggs is played by Charles Napier, who’s been in a million things (including the “Labor Pains” union-busting episode from a while back) but is best known as one of The Good Old Boys in “The Blues Brothers.” He knocks over a few wax dummies and then leaves. Ok, well, nice seeing you. Saunders explains her plight, and Hannibal starts to tell her she just hired the A-Team, but Briggs shows up again and the team has to make an escape in the awesome van.

Saunders heads back to Haleyville, where she and her fire team are bummed out: there’s no way the A-Team will show up and help out with Briggs on the scene. So the firefighters all walk off the job, save for Saunders and a big brick of meat. Then the team walks in. Hannibal explains bullies like Kelsey can only thrive when they “carry a big stick… we know how to handle that.” “Yeah,” says B.A., and demonstrates how they handle it by bending an iron bar over his head.

Face, of course, is a little worried: what exactly does the team know about fighting fires? “We know everything and we know nothing,” says Zen Murdock, and then mentions he has a secret weapon for firefighting. “Fool ain’t got no secret weapon. He’s just crazy,” says B.A. But Murdock insists, and he does, in fact, have something hidden in his leather jacket… “Let’s see if we can put some heat on this fireman Kelsey,” says Hannibal, with a smirk. B.A. tells Face that clearly Hannibal is on the jazz. Hannibal proves this seconds later when a fire alarm goes off and he tells the sheriff “we’ll be right there.” Yeah! Then he hands Face a firefighter suit and says “you’ll look great in rubber.” Double yeah! B.A. insists on driving the fire truck with Face, Saunders and the meat guy, while Hannibal and Murdock follow in the van.

Meanwhile at Jumpsuit Secret Headquarters, Kelsey is incensed that Saunders and her crew are actually responding to the fire. “I thought we shut them down!” So he sends another jumpsuit guy to check it out. Hannibal and Murdock speed ahead of the fire truck to greet Kelsey’s “welcoming committee” with a rifle shot to the tire – could this be the earliest a car has flipped over in an A-Team episode?

B.A. the firefighter
B.A. is the happiest firefighter this side of Busytown.

The rest of the force heads over to the burning house, where Saunders and Meat Guy pull two old people out of the burning house; it’s not clear yet why they didn’t feel the need to evacuate when the fire started. They even have a kid on the second floor for B.A. to rescue! But this just makes B.A. madder: “If those fools had stopped us… that kid would be dead.”

And that’s just one of Kelsey’s problems: the shadowy Vince Rogen is demanding, through a slimy combover assistant, that he finish Saunders off already. Kelsey says he’s trying, but these “lunatics she hired” are shooting at him and that makes it hard. Here’s what else makes it hard: Face and Murdock dropping by Kelsey’s fire station with their hilarious inspection routine. Murdock is sporting a giant mustache and an Irish accent; Face says he’s “Fireman Fred” and his 12 fire safety rules should be posted all over the fire station. Of course, they find plenty of violations and shuffle Kelsey out of his own office, so that Face can plant a timing device inside the desk drawer. It’s essentially the same as the “Corrrrky Duke!” scam they used in Season 2, but I loved Corky Duke so I’m not about to complain.

Hannibal and Saunders: HOT
Dee Dee McCall and Hannibal Smith: That’s hot.

All is quiet in Haleyville now; Kelsey’s people are out of the way, and the only house left in town has already burned down. Saunders likes this, and she apparently likes Hannibal too, because she asks B.A. if he’s married. B.A. gives the greatest answer to any question ever: “Who knows?!?” Soon it’s just the colonel and the chief, and a firehouse full of innuendo. Prime time HEAT, 80’s style!

Back in the barracks, B.A. uncovers Murdock’s secret weapon, Little Squirt: he’s a seltzer bottle dressed like Fireman Fred. And they fight over it, and Murdock ends up squirting B.A. with the contents. And instantly he knows he’s in huge trouble, but the fire bell goes off. It’s one of Kelsey’s tricks, Hannibal explains, and the team heads off to throw down. Actually there is no throwdown; just when the bad guys get ready to shoot, Face activates that remote detonator from earlier and blows up Kelsey’s fire station real good!

Face inside a crate
If Face had a handlebar mustache he’d be a silent film villain.

Face also planted a bug on Kelsey’s phone, it turns out, and Hannibal plays back the Kelsey/slimy Rogen lawyer conversation to Saunders the fire chief. They can’t figure out why a mobster like Rogen, who’s in jail, no less, wants Kelsey to get the Haleyville fire contract, though Hannibal says it’s probably because Rogen goes on trial today. For further details, they drop by the slimy lawyer’s office, pretending to deliver a new safe for his valuables. Face is inside the delivery crate; he cracks the actual safe for info while Hannibal and B.A. head back to the fire station. Problem: Colonel Briggs is back, and he’s taken Saunders as a hostage. Then he starts complimenting himself about how he caught the team, and Murdock swings down on the fire pole and uses Little Squirt to seltzer Briggs into submission to facilitate yet another van escape.

Hannibal’s having fun now that he’s made a fool of another colonel: “we pick up Face, and what could go wrong?” Kelsey, that’s what. He drops by the lawyer’s office and holds Face at gunpoint in his crate, but B.A. crashes through the window with a fire ladder, beats up the Kelsey goons and everything is back to normal. The nefarious plan of the week, Face explains, is for Kelsey and the lawyer to spring Rogen out of jail with an explosion at the courthouse; then Kelsey, having stolen the Haleyville fire contract, can sneak Rogen away during all the chaos. Trouble is, Kelsey didn’t steal the contract, so Rogen is very disappointed, even as Kelsey promises to figure out a plan B.

As plans B go, this one’s got potential – the courthouse is in flames just after Rogen walks in, and Kelsey’s men are already on the scene to hustle him out and onto their fire truck. The team is right behind them, though, and the big final battle is on two moving fire trucks, with Hannibal and Face knocking Kelsey and Rogen cold with the fire hose and a few punches. Briggs, who heard the fire call back at the Haleyville station, is en route to the scene, so the team piles back into the fire truck and takes off; there’s nothing left for Briggs to do but call the sheriff and round up the crooks.

B.A. sprays Murdock
Meet Big Squirt, fool!

We’re back at the fire station, and Hannibal’s got his arms around Saunders for a little more innuendo and a smooch before heading out to avoid Briggs. Murdock is trying to talk his way out of payback from B.A., but the big man finds a fire hose, and yells “Meet Big Squirt, fool!” before spraying the heck out of Fireman Fred and laughing his hinder off.

The first truly outstanding episode of season three! Funny, action-packed, well-written, and everybody had a moment or two in the spotlight. There’s a great moment in the barracks, right before Murdock hits B.A. with seltzer: Face asks Murdock and B.A. to pipe down because he’s trying to listen to a Rubinstein performance of Brahms. Without missing a beat, Murdock says, so fast and offhanded that it’s barely audible, “I prefer Ashkenazy,” before turning his attention back to his decorated seltzer bottle. If that isn’t genius I don’t know what is.

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