Not sure wrecking the offices of your favorite charity is a wise strategy.
Twice in the last few months I’ve heard from young people who know about the A-Team, and I mean the TV series. And they not only know about it, they’ve actually watched it and liked it. The dad in one family told me his boys liked how Hannibal was smart, Face was cool, B.A. was tough and Murdock was, as they put it, “crazy-smart.” In the other case, two tween sisters told me they not only liked the show but had a favorite episode! (I’ll hold off on telling you which one, as it comes up later in this season).
This is very exciting, of course. Like me, these young folks are being exposed to the team at a young age, and this will help them to grow up appreciating the finer things in life. It will inspire them to come up with plans, scams and missions of their own. Most importantly, they’ll eventually want to learn more about the show and when they do internet searches they’ll find this project. Score for me!
Wild Guess Preview: The team avoids Decker with a quick trip to the UK, but then end up in the middle of a music scene war in Manchester. That’s right, Morrissey and Johnny Marr hire the team to stop some slam-dancing punks from ruining Smiths concerts. The team even ends up contributing a song idea: Murdock is going on and on about something and B.A. sighs to himself about how “bigmouth strikes again.”
Our mission is to raise awareness for Kiwanis’ Peanut Day, guys
The Recap: DON’T BLINK because there’s a short but important scene where an old guy in a grey suit gets out of prison and gets a ride from three dudes in black suits and a limo. That couldn’t be suspicious or anything… eh, who cares, Hulk Hogan is in the ring! He’s taking on Big John Studd in a big match in San Diego, and as “Mean” Gene Okerlund tells us, there are some special guests sitting in “the Hulkster’s special seats.” It’s the team, naturally; B.A. even gets involved by restraining Studd’s manager, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan! Hannibal is disguised as a peanut vendor; he tells Face and B.A. that “sitting in the front row is asking for it,” but B.A. says “my buddy needs us!” Hogan mounts a comeback, hits Studd with the big running clothesline, and… the referee stops the match? No pinfall? B.A. climbs in the ring to congratulate the champ. In a post-match interview, the Hulk explains he’s excited, brother, because he’s coming back to L.A. for a match, brother, and he’s donating the money to his favorite brother, I mean, charity, brother.
Hogan shakes the hands that shook the hands of Rick James. Yeah.
The Hulkster finds the team after his match; he and B.A. are friends because one of them saved the other in Vietnam. Which one saved which is, shall we say, disputed. “He didn’t save my life, I saved his life!” Hogan says, as he and B.A. bicker like an old married couple. At least Murdock gets to name-drop Bruno Sammartino and Bobo Brazil!
Hulk’s got a problem, though, and it involves that charity he mentioned, the Venice Boys Center. It’s run by a red-haired lady named Vicki, at least for now; she’s fending off a takeover attempt by the nefarious Mr. Carter. This feller reminds Vicki that her father, who used to run the place, is “six feet under, and unless you want a plot next to him, you’ll take the dough.” There’s a knock at the door; the Carter thugs open, expecting a little kid, but it’s Hulk Hogan, and he throws Carter’s two goons through the front window. Not sure wrecking the offices of your favorite charity is a wise strategy, especially since the place is already behind on its mortgage. Carter ducks out the side door and Hulk and B.A. give chase in the awesome van, at least until a bus gets in the way and the Carters skedaddle. There is much frustrated facial grimacing over this, as you might imagine.
Everybody regroups back at the youth center, where the window is miraculously fixed! What isn’t fixed is Ms. Gordon’s trouble with Carter and his thugs: they’ve set fires, sent building inspectors and set the bank on her so she’ll sell. But the kids need the place, and with Hulk’s donation this weekend, things could be looking up, assuming they can deal with this Sonny Carter. Face says he’s a high-end boat dealer; why would he want land? Hulk suggests they go to his office and beat the answer out of him, but B.A. says that’s not how you solve a case: “We might have to go in there and run a con, trap a bug, do the smooth talking.” He turns to Hannibal for a plan: Hannibal says, go to Sonny’s office and beat the answer out of him. Ha! “That Hannibal, he’s always thinking!” B.A. laughs. Hannibal says he’ll go to City Hall and see what Sonny’s real scene is.
Sonny wants the building because Papa, that mobster who got out of jail at the start of the episode, wants the building. He can’t believe this pitiful little nonprofit is too much for Sonny to handle. Sonny says he can handle it, even though he hasn’t. Besides, he’s got a big operation now, and it’s “80 percent legitimate.” Legitimate? Papa spits on legitimate. He didn’t go to jail for twenty years for his son to come out an honest man. “We need that property, Sonny, no matter what it takes to get it!” he says.
Face does his best impression of Event Center host Sean Mooney
Back in the van, Hulk is teasing B.A. about being afraid to fly. B.A. says everybody’s afraid of something, but after a long bout of questioning (he suggests a pit of snakes, but Hogan says “bring ’em on, daddy”) he can’t figure out what it might be. They decide to board Carter’s boat, which is conveniently hosting a party, and because Hulk Hogan is a household name they’re instantly invited by the lady at the dock. Tailing behind them is Face, who’s pretending to be the host of “Lifestyles of the Extremely Rich.” Murdock is his cameraman.
Sonny is telling all the wealthy guests about his new boat; one of them is a friend of Hulk’s so when the champ comes on board, Hulk thanks him for his donation to the youth center. “You guys ought to hit up some of this crowd,” the old guy says, and all eyes turn to Sonny, who wilts under the pressure and writes a check. Papa is furious when he finds out Sonny gave $25 Gs to the center: “we’re supposed to be getting MY money back!” Face and Murdock are sneaking around below deck, looking for Sonny’s files; Murdock also mentions that he’s “tired of being the blue collar guy on these cons” and wants to expand his repertoire. They notice in the files that the Carters changed their name from Kotero in the late 60s. Hmm.
If I had to choose between fighting the A-Team or fighting the Dynamite Kid, I’d choose the team, because they’d stop beating me after I gave up.
B.A. and Hulk drive to the gym; they’re not there to blast their quads or feel the burn, but because Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat also wants to make a donation to the center. B.A.’s still trying to figure out what Hulk’s afraid of – not sharks or dark closets full of rats, apparently. If he’s afraid of Carter’s guys, then he’s probably scared now, because two of ’em march Hulk and B.A. inside at gunpoint. Hulk pretends he’s looking for the lightswitch, and when he finds it, the thugs also find Ricky Steamboat, Corporal Kirchner and the British Bulldogs. “Surprise!” they yell, and beat the stuffing out of the dudes. “You can tell Mr. Carter that the center is here to stay!” B.A. says. “And thank him for the donation!” Hulk says.
The team heads back to the center, and the pieces of this puzzle are starting to come together. Vicki says her father knew a guy called Kotero, and that this guy went to prison twenty years ago. Murdock remembers the older guy on the boat, who “looked like somebody on Dick Tracy’s ten most wanted list.” Face pops by the local FBI office, and it turns out that a Victor Kotero pulled off one big armored car job in 1958, and they never found the money. Vicki’s father was one of the armored car guards that day; apparently the crooked one, as the other guard got killed. The loot was 15 bars of gold, weighing 10 pounds each and worth over $700K in 1980s money. “This center is sitting on Papa Kotero’s pension fund,” Hulk says.
Hannibal and Face drive down to the dock to greet Victor; Hannibal’s playing an FBI agent who’s related to the G-man who sent Papa to prison years ago. A crooked FBI agent/brother, in fact; he asks for half of their gold. “I’ve been waiting twenty years for you to make me rich,” he says. He proposes they go to the youth center and smuggle the gold out in a government car, then split it afterwards.
“Look, gold is a great way to build value over time. I read about it in the back of this month’s Smithsonian.”
And so it’s gold-digging time! The Koteros are on hand, and so is Murdock, pretending to be a convict on work detail. Papa points them toward the hole and poor Murdock has to dig it; sure enough, there’s a big foot locker down there. They break the lock off and find… a letter: “Right property, wrong spot,” it says. “I moved it.” Argh. And then Decker shows up, along with the FBI agent from whom Face stole an ID! “End of the line, Smith!” he yells out. Papa Victor is confused, so Hannibal clues him in: “My name is Hannibal Smith, and if I were you, I’d all hit the ground now.” Face fires a few machine gun rounds and smashes up Decker’s car, but he also vaults over a fence and right into a nest of more agents. Nowhere to go this time. Double argh.
Papa and Sonny head back to the boat and plan an assault on the big wrestling show tonight; that way Hogan can’t use the money to save the youth center. “At least this A-Team is out of the way,” Papa says. “They won’t see the light of day for twenty years.”
“Soldiers, I need you to watch my invisible dog while I talk to Colonel Decker”
Hulk blames himself for the team getting caught, but Murdock tells him not to worry, that he’ll get them out. And he’s got a military uniform on as part of his plan. He also asks if Murdock knows what he’s doing; Murdock says “Actually, it’s never worked but might as well give it a try.” Good idea, because here comes the opening the team needs: a turf war between Decker and the FBI! Decker says these guys are military fugitives and the FBI guy better turn them over now, lest Decker pull some strings and have him “spend the next ten years chasing stolen cars in Natchez, Mississippi!” No dice, says FBI man. Maybe he’ll listen to General Murdock, who’s got three of Decker’s men accompanying him inside the FBI building to take the A-Team from a nearby conference room. “So this is the A-Team,” Murdock deadpans. “I’m not impressed.” He takes the team out to an Army vehicle and hands them guns, and they make their getaway just as Decker figures out what’s going on.
Everyone is converging on the L.A. Sports Arena, where Hulk is getting pummeled by Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. Mean Gene says “the Hulkster just doesn’t seem like himself tonight.” There’s trouble outside the ring too: the Kotero clan is moving in on the box office money. Face is in there, and tells them “Sorry, fellas, it’s a sellout.” They start shooting and Face starts running. Decker and the FBI guy are on hand, too; they chase Face into the basement, but our good lieutenant outsmarts them and locks them in a storage room.
Hey, Hannibal’s got a few more bags of peanuts!
And things turn around in the ring, too: Hogan clotheslines Valentine as he comes off the top rope, drops the big leg and gets the three count. B.A. runs in and tells Hulk “come on, man, they just hit the box office!” But the Kotero guys are actually on their way to the ring; why would you run toward them? Hulk and B.A. spot them and start the chase down an arena hallway. Murdock is up above on a ledge, and he dives down with a flying tackle; then it’s brute force paving the way to victory, with B.A. and Hogan pounding dudes down and finishing them off. Hannibal appears, and he likes what he sees. “Hey Hulk,” he asks, “is there such a thing as a five man tag team?”
Face, B.A., Vicki and Hulk are at the docks: the team is going to take Kotero’s boat and ride around til things cool down! Vicki says the FBI will be on hand to dig for the gold; between the reward money and Hogan’s donations, the center is going to be in good shape. Face and Vicki check out the boat while Hulk and B.A. chat; Hulk says thanks once again, and then confesses that he is afraid… of his uncontrollable urge to throw people into the water. Then he and B.A. try to throw each other into the water. Why? Because it’s funny, that’s why!
Another A plus. Season four has been a string of knockouts, all in a row. The love-hate relationship with Hogan and B.A. was a nice twist on the usual guest star archetype. The villains were good, Decker was great and the escapes were even better.