If only I hadn’t used up my “Bizarro A-Team” jokes a couple episodes ago!

Sorry, but I don’t yet have the answer that I’d hoped to find, on whether today’s military would have the time and resources to hunt the A-Team full-time. But I do have a subconscious hope of grandeur and fame to come out of this project, according to last night’s dreams. I was riding a commuter train (I think it was in Chicago, though it looked more like the line I used to ride to Boston) and was perusing a brand new biography-for-kids of yours truly. And at first I thought, hey, all right, hitting the big time is pretty cool! The only problem was, the book was pretty dull; biographies-for-kids usually start with a big anecdote to show how adventurous/cool/famous/amazing a person is, and mine was about… riding a train. Then it went on to say how I had a habit of remembering events with details that make them more colorful and interesting, even if those details aren’t terribly accurate. This is true, mind you, but biographies for kids tend to be the least critical nonfiction books on the market, and mine was telling future generations that I had a hard time distinguishing fantasy and reality. So my subconscious thinks I’m becoming more famous and more crazy at the same time? Is this good? Maybe I better ask my close friends Mick Jagger and Morgan Fairchild about this.


Wild Guess Preview: One of the video games in Murdock’s room at the VA hospital is Nintendo’s Wild Gunman, and his mad gaming skillz come in handy when the team is sent back to Hill Valley, 1885, and they have to tussle with none other than Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen! Special guest appearance by ZZ Top.

The Recap: Yee-haw, we’re in the Old West- or, more accurately, we’re at the training grounds for Captain Winnetka’s Wild West Show. A woman named Carrie is practicing some fancy trick shooting on some low-down bottles and playing cards. This represents two famous skirmishes on the plains: the Battle at Rolling Rock and the Battle of the Hoyle Deluxe Edition. Captain Winnetka, who’s played by the man with no eyes in “Cool Hand Luke” but more looks like Cap’n Crunch, says there’s no point in practicing, as they’re going to end up getting shut down before their big European tour. “Nobody can go up against the A-Team,” he says, and that’s 100 percent – wait a second, what did you say? “Why is the A-Team working for a guy like Kyle Mason?” Excuse me?

The Fake A-Team confronts Captain Winnetka and Carrie

Hey, Richard Chamberlain, Ken Kercheval and Ken Norton aren’t the A-Team!

Suddenly a large black van pulls up, and Carrie yells “Dad, it’s the A-Team!” Three guys get out and start shooting everything up – hey, they’re not the A-Team, they’re guys who look sort of like the A-Team. (Dang, if only I hadn’t used up my “Bizarro A-Team” jokes a couple episodes ago.) The Fake Team does have the gimmick down pretty cold, though: Fake Hannibal chomps on a cigar, Fake B.A. throws guys in the air and Fake Face… well, he doesn’t do too much, but two out of three ain’t bad. Plus their van, while black, is not awesome. Winnetka’s people are scared to fight back, seeing as how they only know how to work concessions.

The real team is bearing the brunt of the fake team’s shenanigans, after the newspaper writes up the raid as if the real team had done it themselves. Face takes a lady friend out to a bar run by one of his old war buddies, but the guy tells Face to get lost; even B.A.’s underprivileged kids refuse to play basketball with him because of the article! “Somebody thinks it’s good business to make the A-Team look bad,” Hannibal says. “These suckas are gonna look bad when I get through with ’em,” says B.A., who wants to head to Winnetka’s camp and find said suckas. Hannibal loves the idea; he asks Face to grab Murdock and then they’re “off to points west.” Aren’t they already in Los Angeles? How much more west can they go?

Murdock's room is full of water

Isn’t this essentially how Spencer Tracy spent most of his weekends?

Face is at the VA hospital, telling the desk nurse there’s been a radiation spill in the X-ray room and that some contaminated water has spilled over into Murdock’s room – ha, when we look through Murdock’s door, we see his bed is floating in about three feet of water! Face promises to bring Murdock back from “decontamination” in a few days. Murdock, however, is too distraught to leave right away; he’s read the newspaper article and he’s mad that it only talks about three fugitives.

'Three Fugitives' movie poster

Hey, Nick Nolte, Martin Short and that little girl aren’t the A-Team either!

No, I mean B.A., Face and Hannibal; Murdock says he’s just as much a member of the team as they are. “Am I doing something wrong? It kind of hurts you when you never get your name in the paper!” Face cajoles him to hit the road and finally they’re on their way west.

Colonel Lynch

The more you tighten your grip, Lynch, the more A-Team members will slip through your fingers.

Here’s who else is in the Wild West: Colonel Lynch. That’s right, Colonel Lynch. Not Decker, not Briggs, the original, the first colonel in charge of finding the A-Team. He says he’s gotten one more chance to find the real A-Team, and he knows they won’t pass up a chance to confront these impostors, even if they suspect the military is behind it. “Trap or no trap, they’ll show up to set the record straight…. and when they do, they’re mine.” He’s also got one of his men working undercover at the Wild West show.

Murdock and Hannibal dressed as cowboys and Indians

Not exactly politically correct, but then neither were a lot of Wild West shows.

Captain Winnetka is back on his feet, and he’s just in time to meet “Rufus Cantrell,” a mustachioed gunslinger otherwise known as Hannibal. The colonel is accompanied by Murdock in a Native American outfit (he dubs himself “great troubled warrior Runnin’ Round”; this is not great) and they hit Winnetka up for a job. Lynch watches this scene from his binoculars; when he spots Murdock he says “the Indian’s definitely not one of them,” proving he’s the same old inept Colonel Lynch as always. Face is in clown getup, flirting with Carrie, so they’re all hired. B.A. has found a job, too, but since Face took the rodeo clown gig, B.A.’s mucking horse stalls. Hannibal is worried because B.A. has no disguise, but B.A. says he doesn’t wear disguises, and besides, Murdock’s disguise is obviously phony: “Real Indians don’t look and act like a crazy fool!”

But there’s trouble just down the road a ways: the fake team is driving back to the Wild West fairgrounds and they’ve got an evil plan: they take a big truck and send it, unmanned, down the hill and toward the Wild West tents! Hannibal jumps onto a horse and catches up to the truck; he leaps on board and steers the thing out of the way just in the nick of time. Captain and Carrie Winnetka are mighty impressed: “I didn’t think anyone could stand up to the A-Team!” Carrie says. Hannibal pulls off his mustache and says, “That’s why we’re here… we are the A-Team.” Bad. Ass.

Now Face is doing a lot of damage control: he’s reassuring Murdock that yes, he’s still one of the A-Team no matter what the newspapers say, and he’s promising Carrie that the Wild West show will indeed go on its European tour. But Lynch’s undercover dude is on the scene and he verifies that the entire team is on the scene. Lynch vows that trouble will ensue.

Real Murdock confronts Fake Face
Murdock is furious about the lack of a phony Murdock.

The Fake Team has been told by their evil boss, record producer Kyle Mason, to either buy out the Wild West show or shut it down. So they follow Captain Winnetka to the bank, hoping to grab his payroll. But the awesome van drives up before mayhem can ensue, and besides, this Captain Winnetka is actually Hannibal in disguise! “First,” he says to the impostors, “I’d like you to meet the real A-Team. Second” – and he grabs Fake Hannibal’s cigar out of his mouth – “that is a cheap cigar!” And the real Hannibal, Face and B.A. proceed to knock the crap out of the fake dudes, which only confuses poor Murdock. “Did you see me?” he shouts, until Hannibal explains, “Um, they don’t have a you.” This doesn’t help old Howlin’ Mad’s identity crisis, and he takes it out on Fake Face, yelling “You fools! You didn’t bring your Murdock! What’s the matter, phony Face, couldn’t break him out?” Ha. This is so meta, it’s awesome.

The real team drops the fake team off at Kyle Mason’s recording studio. They also shoot the place up during a recording session; while this unfortunately puts the kibosh on a hot young band called The Cave-Ins, it’s worth it to send a message to Mason: “It is not wise to try to impersonate The A-Team.” Oh, and also, leave the Winnetkas alone. Mason gives the usual crap about how no one threatens him, but he looks like he’s about to wet himself so no one buys it. The team leaves – the real team, that is; the fake team is in mail sacks on the floor.

Hannibal and Winnetka have done a little research on Mason, and they think they’ve got his game down: he wants to use the Wild West show and its European tour as a front for his international drug smuggling. And that’s not all he’s learned: the show’s popcorn guy is Sgt. Wilson, US Army Intelligence and Colonel Lynch’s spy. They make Wilson send a phony message to Lynch, then they tie him up and load him in a trailer. And with that, it’s montage time! The Wild West version of the A-Team song is a thing of beauty, as is the anticipation of knowing that soon, an evil drug operation is going to be foiled by hay bales and cotton candy. “Just like an old-fashioned showdown!” says B.A.

There’s one tiny hang-up here, though: Hannibal had the undercover sergeant tell Lynch to arrive just when Hannibal expected to be done with Mason. But Lynch is already on the scene, so the team ducks into a tent… and then drives off in the awesome van. Lynch’s men give chase, and then the van drives directly onto a ramp that leads to the back of a military truck?!? Lynch is impressed: “No one else could do it, Captain…. but I did.”

Mason is happy – “looks like the military is gonna take out the A-Team for us” – and that leaves Winnetka’s camp undefended. Except Hannibal is there to welcome them when they arrive at camp! “I thought the military had you!” says Mason. “Yeah, so did they,” says Hannibal… and thus begins the shootout, in which the team defeats the drug runners with guns, muscle and a few sideshow tricks. Fake B.A. tries one last time to take down the real thing, but B.A. shakes off his punch and lands a few of his own, to much greater effect, and that settles that. “Remind me to write to Ivy,” Face says, referring to the newspaper columnist, “to get him to print a retraction.” Yeah.

Murdock bids Lynch farewell

It’s the official Farewell Feather for failed Colonels – Briggs got one of these a few episodes ago, too

Lynch is still puffing his chest out about having caught the A-Team- that is, until the van doors open up, and the only ones inside are Captain Winnetka and Carrie. “Howdy!” the Captain says to the Colonel, and the general who was just moments ago congratulating Lynch is now berating him. He orders Winnetka off the base, sends the van into lockdown and orders Lynch to write a report about the whole incident. The soldiers unload the van… hey, doesn’t that guy driving the van look just like B.A.? “It’s them!” cries Lynch, but it’s too late for him, and Hannibal loves it when a plan comes together.

An outstanding episode in most respects: a very creative premise, lots of action, Lynch’s surprise return, and possibly the best ending of any show thus far. Not crazy about any member of the team dressing in a Native costume, gotta say. But the ending was a darn sight better than that biography for kids about me.

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