A-Team Episode 4×14

A-Team Episode 4×14

Abraxas. If you’re going to slap together a bunch of random electronic components and call it a fancy high-tech military laser satellite, this is the way to do it.

“The A-Team is Coming, The A-Team is Coming”

  • Location: Yucca Canyon, CA. The show has long moved past using real locations, alas.
  • Tank: No.
  • Disguises: Stage hand
  • Scam: Admittance to bad guy lair as Gas Co. techs
  • Flight: No
  • Fixation: A few different ones, but none note-worthy
  • Flips: 1*. This one’s complicated–an empty, parked car is struck by a rocket and flips, but I’m not sure that actually counts. However, I’m going to grant an honorary flip to the classic “instant convertible from driving under a truck” gag, so together, I’m counting them as one flip, albeit with an asterisk.
  • Fee: None mentioned, though the word “hire” was used. Still, to prevent WW3, I imagine they would have done this one for free.
  • Quote: “The pen is mightier than the sword but it’s no match for a gun” – Murdock, quoting the official motto of all 80’s action TV.
  • Bonus Quote: “Infinity is like an envelope: you can stretch it across your eyes, put a light behind it, but you can never see the light because it won’t travel fast enough” – Murdock, making just enough sense to be incomprehensible.
  • Who is that?? William Smith (no relation to Hannibal), Dmitri Shastavich. Hint: it’s been a few years, but you saw him here.

For an 80’s show, it’s remarkable how long it took for the Russians to be the bad guys. Of course it’s more complicated than that, but I’m getting ahead of myself. This episode, the title referring to famously misattributed words of Paul Revere (seriously, the Internet says he never actually yelled “The British are coming!”–you wouldn’t argue with the Internet, would you?) opens with a panning shot across a quiet dock at night, where a clandestine meeting is about to take place. Some great, 80’s TV mood music fills the ears, a style familiar to us, though never done the same way twice… I think I feel a Special Feature coming on…

“Alterations to this firearm are UNSAFE AND ILLEGAL”
Good thing these don’t look altered or else someone might get hit by one.

So there are some bad guys picking up some guns from what I suppose are also bad guys. The transaction goes smoothly, which is very different than what we’d see today. In a modern show, the bad guys would kill the weapons dealers because you get to keep your money and no witnesses. But these were simpler times, when bad guys followed the rules like everyone else.

Cut to the ballet, where the transaction also goes smoothly–at least by A-Team standards. Russian ballerina Katrina is smuggled to safety in a bid for asylum, or at least that’s the assumption. They settle in for the night, with Face left in charge of Katrina’s safety. Murdock asks the question we’re all asking, but Face was the right choice because it was all a set-up. It turns out that it took us this long for Russians to be… the clients? Russian terrorists are planning to start World War III by stealing Abraxas, a super anti-missile satellite, so unofficially, the Russian government is hiring the A-Team because obviously they can’t carry out an op on our soil (being the 80’s, the rule does not hold in the other direction). Secret agents, Russians, Star Wars, the A-Team, it’s an 80’s greatest-hits-of-the-cold-war party!

The 24 clock is back! Actually, is it back? I thought I remembered it in Harder than it Looks, but it doesn’t seem to be there. Anyway, bad guy plan commences in 12 seconds.

Next it’s off to the Russian Consolate to swipe some files–Murdock paper airplanes them right out the window (he really can fly anything). Meanwhile, the bad guys are planning their attack. They’re broken into Red team and White team, but I think it’s pretty clear they’re all on the Red team, if you know what I mean.

Our heroes are able to track down the bad guys, and using some borrowed Soviet truth spray, they get the henchman to talk. Murdock is swapped in under cover as the new contact who turns out to be deaf. Probably would have made more sense for B.A. to be in this op since we know he knows sign language.

The bad guys go off to perform their op while our heroes get captured by General Fullbright who’s been following along. A deal is struck: they’ll work together so long as the A-Team promises to surrender afterward. Clearly Fullbright didn’t see A Nice Place to Visit. The bad guys finally put to use those weapons they purchased in act one to use, and stuff starts blowin’ up real good. Eat lead, hippies!

Check out these long-haired, flower-embroidered bell-bottom wearin’ hippies with guns! And their hide-out is a place called The Weekly Worker. Sounds like a Commie rag to me!

The bad guys lose, and right about here is where I say Hannibal gives Fullbright a one-liner that boils down to “we lied” and escapes–only Fullbright is a step ahead. With less than 3:30 left of the ep, our heroes are captured again! Can they make a tank and fit the credits roll into what’s left? Actually, this moment would have been the perfect cliff-hanger ending–there’s a lot of room to do more here. They could have brought back Katrina’s character to maybe play a hand in their escape again, and one of the bad guys could have escaped with the satellite.

Alas, it’s much simpler than that. We get a subtle reminder that Fullbright really is a bad guy–in all honesty, he’s not really that unlikeable, especially compared to Decker. But it’s hubris that gets Fullbright in the end. “Piece of cake” capturing the A-Team, he says. I suppose the russians found them to be a useful asset and so wanted to keep them in play because in the last moment, Dmitri busts them out. Of course, now it looks even more like the A-Team is working for the Russians, but I’m sure that will be dealt with in a future ep. My only complaint here, then, is simply that we’re most of the way through the 4th season and the Russians have yet to actually be the bad guys. I mean, I know the bad guys were Russian, but they weren’t The Russians, you know? Some 80’s action show this turned out to be…

Special Feature: Music of The A-Team

I really wanted to do a segment on music for this show, but I just don’t have the time or expertise to research it. I’ve always appreciated the music of our show–I love that, so far, I’ve yet to recognize a single measure of music that’s been re-used from a prior episode. It’s possible it has and I missed it, but I don’t think so. With this episode, perhaps because it’s been so long since I’ve worked on the project, the music at the top of the episode really stood out to me. It’s such an interesting blend of jazz big band meets 80’s hard rock. There’s a horn section, flutes, trumpets, and piano–all of which are fairly standard for an 80s jazz big band–but also synth strings, electric base, and electric guitar. Before long, shows started moving their music into a texture meant to be tuned out, but that hasn’t struck our show and I doubt it will in the 5th and final season, either. If you take the sound track to Star Trek: The Next Generation, you can see the music shift from something more thematic in the early seasons (season 1 was 1987) to the more subtle textures that blend into the background in the later seasons.

This ep in particular, I noticed the almost cartoon-style music while Murdock is climbing back out of the file room (a “bomp-bomp!” cue strikes as the camera cuts to the Russians), the Air Force song during the paper airplane’s flight, and several other moments I really don’t want to take for granted. So while this hasn’t been the most informative Special Feature, I hope it’ll give you reason to play closer attention to all the work that goes into making the music of our show.

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