I had no idea Hannibal got so many of his military tactics from Hanna Barbera.

Anybody remember the video game “You Don’t Know Jack”? No? Well, as part of their irreverent game show format, each new question would be introduced with its own theme song, and the best one was for the fourth question.

“You’re my Question Four, forever more
I love you… my Question Four”

This was followed by a graphic saying “Question 4: The question that cares.” It was magical. Here’s hoping that same magic is here in Season Four. Or at least that I can get that song out of my head at some point during the season. Because you’re my question four, forever more AGH I’M DOING IT AGAIN

Judgement Day, Part 1

Wild Guess Preview: During a mission to save a Popeye’s Chicken franchise from a rough-and-tumble fryolater mechanic, Murdock has an extra case of hush puppies fall on his head and ends up in a coma. While unconscious, he dreams that the A-Team enters the pearly gates on the biblical day of judgment, and God hires them out to fight the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. This works out well, except for the moment when they have to mount giant clouds for a battle in the sky and B.A. refuses to fly.

The Recap: Welcome to a sunny, wood-paneled L.A. courtroom, where I’m feeling uncomfortably close to Corbin Bernsen, and the audience is uncomfortably close to a mob-type guy named Joe Scarlett, who’s on trial. Joe tells his lawyer that the only way he can avoid getting convicted here is for one of his henchmen, Nicky, to “squeeze the judge” like a tube of toothpaste. Um, you could also try letting your lawyer argue the case instead of helping to commit more crimes, too. The lawyer tries to beg off, but Joe, always up for reiteration, reminds the lawyer to have Nicky “turn this guy’s key… and I’m free.” The lawyer relents; he also tells Joe that his brother is coming in from Italy. This gets Joe all worried – “call him, tell him not to bother” – but too late for that, says the lawyer; he’s already on his way. Judge Mordente walks in, and he’s Dana Elcar, who played a (reformed) mobster himself in Season Three.

A blonde lady gets chased by a helicopter
Look out, Airwolf wants our timeslot!

All of this legal jibba-jabba is just bumming everybody out, so they toss in a beach montage to liven things up. A woman rides a jet ski happily until a black helicopter flies up behind her; run for it, it’s the United Nations! Actually it’s Augie, a Hal Linden-ish looking guy, and he grabs the gal off the jet ski and flies her away in the chopter. Back in the courtroom, the judge gets a note that makes him look upset. He closes up court for the day to attend to a “personal matter.” Joe makes a snarky face.

Hannibal and Judge Mordente

Hannibal’s good mood can even withstand Dana Elcar’s dead-on Gordon Jump impression

The judge takes an elevator to a deluxe apartment in the sky-hi-hi… or to an office building, where he has to climb onto the window-washing platform to meet with Hannibal. He tells the colonel that Joe Scarlett’s kidnapped his daughter so that he’ll vacate the jury’s likely guilty verdict. Oh, and now Decker’s on hand, watching Hannibal from the street below; the military’s been tracking the judge in the hopes of finding the A-Team. “Hi guys!” Hannibal yells down, waving, and he sets the washing platform to go up the building. When they get to the roof, Hannibal tells the judge to stay home and wait for Scarlett’s people to make contact; then, as Decker’s men storm the rooftop, he parachutes off the top of the building, with some “Chariots of Fire” style synth music in the background. And the awesome van is right there to pick him up. Man, nice intro.

Hannibal turns into Augie

George Peppard stars as George Hamilton in “Robert Wagner Grows a Mustache”

The judge is supposed to meet Scarlett’s men that night to get proof his daughter’s alive, so he heads back to Casa Mordente. Sure enough, Augie shows up, and now that we get a good look at him it sure seems like he’s actually George Peppard with makeup and a funny voice! Murdock answers the door, posing as a spastic butler; after Augie tells the judge his daughter’s OK, Howlin’ Mad sneaks up behind him, asking “May I take your socks?” as he and B.A. subdue the guy. Hannibal’s got his makeup kit out; he’s going to pose as Augie to find out more, which is easy because he is Augie . (The George Peppard “Parent Trap” would’ve been boffo box office.) Augie can’t believe how well Hannibal got his look down: “you’re me?” he asks. “You never looked as good,” comes the reply. Snap. On himself.

Augie-Hannibal drives off with fellow thug Nicky to a mobile home park, where they meet up with a European lady called Marta. Hannibal visits the judge’s daughter and whispers that he’s working on a rescue, and then he walks back into the kitchen, where Nicky and Marta are throwing food at each other. Seriously. Marta runs off, and then Nicky pulls a gun on Hannibal because he thinks Augie’s fooling around with Marta on the side. Augie-Hannibal says no, he wouldn’t do that to Nicky. “If you’re lying, you’re dying,” Nicky says, earning his Unstable Paranoid Henchmen badge from the Thug Scouts.

This conversation isn’t going anywhere, so Augie-Hannibal takes a walk… where he finds Marta, the European lady, and she gives him a big kiss. “I think Nicky knows,” he explains, but Marta says she doesn’t care. “Tonight I give him the kiss of death!” She adds that she’s secretly switched Nicky’s stash of money with Folger’s crystals… no, actually she moved the money to her account and wants to move to Europe and spend it.

The rest of the team is driving the real Augie around in the awesome van; Murdock’s reading to him from Peter Pan, only some of the pages are missing. Face: “B.A., have you been eating Murdock’s books again?” B.A. shakes his head no. Augie can’t take it anymore and jumps out the side door to the street; the team stops to grab him, but there are police nearby and so they have to take off. Now the real Augie is loose, and as Face says, “we have no way to warn the colonel.” Actually they do, because the colonel calls them from a second lady’s trailer and arranges a rescue. Trouble is, Decker and his men have a tap on the judge’s phone, and since Hannibal gave the team letter-perfect directions to his location, they’re on the way too.

The real Augie is back, and he shows up at the second lady’s trailer. She’s confused; isn’t he already making a phone call in her trailer? He jumps into the trailer and it’s Augie vs. Augie action! Hannibal wins, I think, but when he dumps Augie off in the woods, Marta is there with a shotgun and so she, Nicky and Real Augie quiz Hannibal about what’s going on. Hannibal recognizes these folks aren’t terribly bright, and so he tells Nicky that Augie and Marta were fooling around behind his back, and then he adds about how Marta’s been stealing Nicky’s money. Nicky calls an audible on his plan of whacking Hannibal: “Nobody whacks nobody til I find out what’s going on here,” he says.

Hannibal runs like Groucho Marx

Hannibal can stay a week or two, he can stay the summer through, but he is telling you, he must be going

Face has scammed the perfect vehicle for a trailer park rescue: a giant retro RV, which he and the others have tripped out with armor plating and such. They drop by and start shooting at the guards, which gives Hannibal a chance to run for it; because he’s trying to keep his head down amidst the gunfire, he runs like Groucho Marx walks! Then Decker’s men show up, and now it’s a three-way gun battle between the team, the MP’s and the mobsters. In a trailer park. I love this. Nicky uses the confusion to hustle the judge’s daughter away in a helicopter. Face wraps up the battle by blowing up the last few RV’s and a few MP cars to boot; he even knocks the top off the team’s RV in one of the explosions. Now that everyone’s been slow roasted, the team makes its getaway.

Murdock answers a fake phone as B.A. puts a lawyer under a faucet
It’s for you… it’s the president

So, remember that lawyer from the beginning, Joe Scarlett’s lawyer? He’s having dinner at a fancy restaurant, when he gets word that he’s got a phone call. “Which phone?” he says, as we see Murdock stick a pay phone on a wall. The messenger is Face, and he sits down with the lawyer’s girl and drinks the guy’s champagne, while B.A. drags the lawyer into the kitchen (he tells the guy “It’s ME calling!”) and asks him about the judge’s daughter. The lawyer swears he doesn’t know a thing, but finally he fesses up something about Joe Scarlett’s brother from Italy. Murdock fetches Face: “Italy, my friend! Italy!” B.A.: “And we ain’t flying!”

Well, they got there somehow, or at least ordered an array of stock footage, because we get scenes of the Coliseum, the countryside, villas, etc. And then the team is there, and Hannibal says “this is a front door job,” to which Face groans because that’s exactly what they did at the trailer park. B.A. wakes up, and Murdock walks over to assist him, but not before miming his words: “YOU GUYS PUT ME ON A PLANE. YOU DEAD! YOU HEAR ME? DEAD!” Oh man was that awesome. B.A. even figures out Hannibal’s plan: “We’re going through the front door again, right?” Hannibal: “I think he’s getting to know me.” They all hop into an old pickup truck and prepare to move out.

Old peddler Hannibal
Caps For Sale: A tale of a crack commando unit, some monkeys and their monkey business

The judge’s daughter is at an old compound nearby with an American, I mean, Old World Italian who wants-a to make sure that-a his-a-brother gets-a free from-a the judge. The daughter wants to be free too, and she tries to run for it, but she’s thwarted by the fact that she’s not wearing pants. Scarlett’s brother drives off in a limo just as the team drops by in a horse-drawn cart. Hannibal is disguised as an old peddler; the rest of the team is in false-bottomed barrels, which they use to walk around while the guard’s aren’t looking. I had no idea Hannibal got so many of his military tactics from Hanna Barbera. Barrel Mode Murdock grabs the daughter and punches out the guard before heading out. A second, much larger guard comes out and pounds on everybody, but in the end he’s no match for B.A., naturally. Brother Scarlett drives back in his limo (why exactly did he get in the car anyway?) and starts shooting up his own house as the team heads off in their getaway truck. To be continued…

Excellent, excellent start to the fourth season. The pacing was so much stronger than the last two hour special, and while this is not going to win any awards for portrayal of Italian-Americans, the characters are at least believable and entertaining. And Hannibal playing Augie the thug? Beautiful. Can’t wait for part 2.

Previous episode: Season 3, Episode 25 – Incident at Crystal Lake | Next episode: Season 4, Episode 2 – Judgement Day, Part 2