I don’t believe my eyes, the A-Team is throwing a party?!?

A most enjoyable Christmas Eve, and a productive one, at that. Sure feels like we can finish this project on time after all; a lot more than it did when I woke up, anyway!

The Theory of Revolution

Wild Guess Preview: Stockwell needs to stamp out some kind of paramilitary group in Central America, which is funding its operations through covert shipments of cheap hamburgers. So the team opens up La Casa Gordita, a revolving restaurant in Curuguay, to draw them out. The thugs fall so hard for Murdock’s Hobo Skillet breakfast that they’re too full to raid the capital anymore. Stockwell is pleased, though he has to come up with $50 million to start a heart health awareness campaign for the much chubbier Curuguayans.

B.A. in a yellow robe and piloting a remote-control plane
The remote control I get, but the robe? And the microphone?!?

The Recap: I don’t believe my eyes, the A-Team is throwing a party?!? “Louie, Louie” is playing on the stereo, Face has a beach volleyball game going, Hannibal’s sipping drinks with ladies in bikinis… Frankie’s got the grill fired up and B.A. is wearing a garish yellow robe and playing with a remote controlled airplane! Then a limo pulls up; Stockwell and Carla get out, along with Murdock, who’s in some kind of Boy Scout uniform and complaining that “the little Bisons” won’t benefit from his wisdom if they keep pulling him away from his work. Stockwell rounds up the team and complains about all the money they’ve been spending, and wasting; apparently the team found the surveillance cameras in their house and tossed them in the trash. The team even rounded up Stockwell’s agents, “Able 6″ and “Able 7″ and rendered them “unable,” as Hannibal puts it. Stockwell gets a little testy here; he draws his gun and shoots B.A.’s plane right out of the sky. “Spoil sport,” says Hannibal.

Guns on a pool table
“Table scratch” takes on a whole new meaning on the A-Team’s pool table

The new mission involves a “two-bit dictator” called Alexander Martien. He runs the small island of San Marcos, and he’s taken three U.S. citizens hostage. “I’ll arrange for a submarine to drop you at San Marcos,” Stockwell says. The sub will leave the island precisely 24 hours later; if the team doesn’t make it back by then, well, no more pool parties. Stockwell says all he can offer in the way of supplies is some Korean armament, which B.A. dismisses: “B.A. Baracus don’t fight with no toys!” “We’ve got some of our own we can use,” Hannibal says, and the teamers reach under their pool table, where they’re keeping like a dozen big guns. Wow.

Frankie doesn't feel so good
The only thing that helps Frankie’s seasickness is dressing up in Han Solo’s clothes.

The sub ride is uneventful, unless you’re Frankie, who’s greener than the Grinch. He vows to “ride the waves no more. From now on we fly or we drive.” Uh oh, B.A. heard that. “If it’s a choice between flying or taking a boat, we’re taking a boat!” They hike north toward the prison, past some stock footage of Latin American villages and toward some of Martien’s soldiers, who are hassling some poor people. It’s all B.A. can do to not rush in there and take all the soldiers out, but Hannibal reminds him they only have 21 hours left to complete their mission and get back to the submarine; “we haven’t got time for cleanup detail.” The soldiers persist, and it’s Frankie who runs over and confronts them, getting a punch in the guy for his efforts. “You have to admit he earned his Bison Badge for bravery on that one,” Murdock says.

The team talks with one of the villagers, a lady called Bonita who has a crush on Frankie. Her parents were taken away by soldiers and her younger sister, Maria, is in bed and quite ill. Since they only have 20 hours left, Hannibal has B.A. stay with the family while they scope out the prison. Fortunately the prison isn’t well-guarded: “It’s gonna be a piece of cake,” Hannibal says. Murdock and Frankie return from their recon trip and they plot out the schedule: they have to have someone in by “13 hundred hours” so they can leave by “15 hundred hours” and be back for the sub rendezvous at “19 hundred hours.” Frankie’s head is spinning: “Why can’t we just say 8:05, like normal people?”

Martien hassles a rebel
Oh no, Martien is threatening one of the Mothers of Invention!

Then Hannibal spots Martien driving up in a limo, and he’s got some kind of Soviet military official with him! “That must’ve slipped Stockwell’s mind,” Frankie says, angrily. But then things get even more complicated: some anti-government rebels storm the prison and start shooting all over the place. “GET THEM AND BRING THEM TO ME!” Martien yells. The soldiers bring back one guy, which isn’t quite “them” but it’s better than nothing. “This one has lost his fear of me,” Martien says. He’s not big on people losing their fear of him, so he shoots the guy.

The team, minus B.A., is back in the woods, looking for a way into the prison, but instead they bump into the guerillas. One of the rebels says they should just kill the team now, but Hannibal says “that would be a big mistake.” Gunfire. B.A. “Yeah. A big mistake!” Bonita and the little brother vouch for the team, saying they’re actually good guys, and things get friendly very quickly. “You may call me Tomas Jefferson,” says the lead soldier (what a name). Hannibal explains that they’re going to get the three Americans out of the prison, but Tomas says “not if it interferes with the revolution.”

But Hannibal’s brain is already figuring out how to have it both ways. First he checks in with Stockwell to ask for more time, what with the whole civil war going on, but Stockwell doesn’t care; nor does he have any interest in the news about the Soviet presence. “Do it my way,” he tells Hannibal. He always says that, though. Hannibal pretends his radio is cutting in and out and says he’ll check in later.

“What you need,” Hannibal tells Tomas Jefferson, “is a couple of decisive victories” to turn the tide against Martien. Tomas says they just don’t have the resources for anything like that, but Hannibal says all they need is the right attitude. And, as B.A. is demonstrating, a homing bug in the bottom of a shoe! It’s Face’s shoe; he’s going into the prison. Murdock gives Face a Bison badge for courage. “Don’t say anything,” Murdock says. “Let’s just share the moment.” Face protests, but Murdock grabs his arm. “SHARE IT!”

Hannibal is plotting strategy with Tomas: a couple rebels will go with Face and Frankie to do the rescue, and if they succeed, they’ll take out a lot of Martien’s weapons, which will help the revolution. Bonita offers to go, because she believes in the revolution. Tomas also asks his second-in-command, Juan, to go; Juan doesn’t like this because the guy Martien killed earlier was his brother, and because he’s the designated whiny character. “I will not be led by foreigners!” he complains. “Fine,” says Face. “You lead.”

They head to the aeropuerto in a disguise: Juan is dressed as some kind of laborer, and Bonita’s riding on some hay bales in his donkey cart. Face is on the side, out of sight. Frankie walks up disguised as some kind of derelict; he tries to make eyes at Bonita but Juan heads him off and they pretend to fight. The soldiers come over to break them up, and that gives Face an opening to sneak into the airport and throw a grenade into a room full of ammo. The building blows up, which is good. But they surround Face and take him prisoner, which is more complicated.


He’s about to blow, look out!

The Soviet guy, Comrade Kerensky, is upset with Martien: “The weapons I gave you in good faith are destroyed by guerrillas which you have said don’t exist!” Martien says there’s only “a small group of malcontents,” but Kerensky thinks Martien will need military assistance to get the island under control again. “NO!” Martien barks. “WE DON’T NEED FOREIGN INTERVENTION!” Then he reminds Kerensky that they have a deal in place: “the MIGs for the boat.” What is the boat? He also says if the Soviets don’t treat him right he might get aid elsewhere, like from the Americans, perhaps, or maybe Madagascar. He storms away, probably to scream some more.

Face is in jail, but that’s where he’s supposed to be, and so he makes contact with the three American tourists. “You’re with The Company?” one asks. Oh, wait, these guys aren’t tourists, they’re with U.S. intelligence and Face realizes that’s why Kerensky’s on San Marcos. “Alexander Kerensky is here?” one of the prisoners says, looking nervous; the Soviets want their high-tech surveillance boat, which we’ll call Knightboat from now on. Face says not to worry, they’ll deal with the boat once they’re all safe on the submarine.

Speaking of high-tech, Face’s boot is radioing back to B.A.’s receiver; once they hit the prison, they’ll be able to find his exact location and rescue the Americans. Hannibal starts laying out the attack on the prison, and then Juan offers his soldiers up to help, a timely turnaround. But first, they have to load the villagers on a bus and put them somewhere safe. Frankie tells Bonita he’s impressed by her bravery; she gives him her necklace as a good luck charm.

Face is not having good luck at the moment; he’s having “getting repeatedly tied up and tortured” luck. But he won’t talk, even to Martien himself, and so he gets dumped back in his cell. Fortunately, Hannibal and B.A. are outside the prison, ready to launch an artillery barrage, but what they don’t realize is that one of Martien’s soldiers has helped himself to Face’s boots (the ones with the homing bug in them) and he’s walking down the hallway to the men’s room. Face groans: “A major part of our escape plan has just gone into the toilet.” B.A. launches a shell and it blows up the lavatory, which makes Martien freak out: “They’re attacking HERE!?!” he yells, as if there were some other place where they might attack. His bright blue uniform and bushy mustache make him look like a younger Cap’n Crunch. Or maybe the old guy from the Stratego box.

Martien, the Stratego guy, and Capn' CrunchBrothers in arms.

Anyway, Face improvises and knocks the other guard into the cell doors, stealing his key in the process. Juan and his guys blow up the front gate, and Frankie shoots some rockets attached to a net, which I assume can be used for climbing. Face and the American prisoners run for it, though Face has to stop and grab his boots and his watch back from the guard. And just in time, too; they have to meet the submarine in about 15 minutes.

Martien is on the move, too. “I want those spies back,” he says. “I don’t care how many people die.” His soldiers pile into Jeeps and drive off, rounding up basically all twelve San Marcos citizens and imprisoning them in a longhouse.

The team finds out about this from Chihuahua, Bonita’s little brother: Martien says he wants his prisoners back or he’ll start killing the villagers. Frankie asks about Bonita, and yes, she’s been taken along with Tomas Jefferson. “We need your help!” the kid says. Hannibal tells Burke, the lead prisoner, to make contact with the submarine; “if we’re not out in three hours,” he says, “call an airstrike and split.”

Frankie and B.A. in bandito outfits
B.A.’s polo shirt/bandito combination is fashion gold.

Martien is marching the prisoners toward a set of gallows. “No one is coming to your rescue,” he tells Tomas Jefferson. “Your American friends have abandoned you. And your pathetic little rebellion will die with you at the end of that rope.” “Pathetic little rebellion”? Who does he think he is, Emperor Palpatine? Martien continues shouting while Bonita, Tomas and some others are set up in the gallows; fortunately Bonita’s hangman is actually Hannibal. The others are sneaking around, too: Frankie’s setting up some explosives or something by some shrubs, while B.A. is sneaking around. Well, sneaking around in San Marcos is hard when you’re a giant mohawked guy wearing a not-too-convincing bandito costume, but nonetheless he finds Knightboat. Face and Juan are nearby with guns, and Murdock is infiltrating the aeropuerto to steal a chopter.

The plan goes beautifully: Murdock gets airborne, and flies right over to interrupt the execution. “I love the smell of revolution in the morning!” he yells. “It smells like hush puppies.” Then he blows up a guard tower. Hannibal starts de-noosing the villagers while Face and Juan start shooting; a wanna-Beatles version of “Revolution” starts up in the background. Frankie and B.A. set off their explosives, which go off at various places at Martien’s mansion. “They’re attacking my PALACE?” he yells. Again, where else would they be attacking?

B.A. radios to Murdock that Knightboat is “in the big maintenance building in the back. Get it, you crazy fool!” Murdock agrees, and Martien lets off another one of his lines: “They’re going for my BOAT!” I’m going to do a little bit of recapping Martien-style. Murdock blows up the BOAT! And then Frankie lets off some EXPLOSIVES that flip over a JEEP! Hannibal smiles and says he loves it when a PLAN comes together!

Murdock and Face howl at the moon
Baying Wolves, First Degree.

And the village is free! Frankie is trying to get Bonita to visit him in the U.S., but she just wants to rock the new San Marcos for a while. She kisses him goodbye. Tomas and Juan are grateful, too; they shake hands with Hannibal and Face and then go off to start running the country or whatever. “What do you suppose Stockwell’s going to say about us knocking this country sideways?” Face asks. Hannibal: “I don’t know, but I’m going to enjoy it.” Murdock is enjoying something, judging by his goofy happy expression. He walks over to Face, kisses him on both cheeks and hands him a medal: “For outstanding dedication to the Bison code of bravery, you are now a Baying Wolf, First Degree.” Face is confused, but gives in to Murdock’s craziness, and they howl at the moon together.

Looks like it’s party time again at A-Team HQ, and looks like it’s time again for Stockwell and Carla to pour water on the fun. Nope: this time B.A. pilots his RC plane right at Stockwell. Which makes Bison troop leader Murdock proud.

Not bad. Not world-changing, but well-told and interesting throughout. I’d always figured Season Five was just not very good, but it’s actually been decent thus far, just different. It reminds me of when the show “Mystery Science Theater 3000″ moved from Comedy Central to the Sci-Fi Channel. The Sci-Fi people told MST they could carry on as usual, but only doing sci-fi films. For the most part this was fine, but after a while you wanted a chance to see something different too. And eventually Sci-Fi listened to reason and relaxed their rules. That’s what the government-backed, all-international A-Team is like. Doing overseas covert ops for the government can certainly be part of the A-Team universe, but after a while you want a change of pace.

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