Hiring The A-Team: Season 1, Episode 14 – A Nice Place to Visit

Mission Unbearable:

The A-Team finds trouble when it attempts to attend the funeral of a friend and fellow Vietnam Vet.

Review:

This episode served as the finale of the first season – and could have served as its series finale if it wasn’t renewed for a second season.  It was one of the few times that featured all of the members of the A-Team in full garrison uniform.

This episode is a classic cowboy show.  The only thing missing are the good guys and bad guys riding around on horses.  But since this is the 1980s, motorcars function as the horses here.  We already have the cowboys in hats.

In comparison to much of the series, this episode is about as somber as you can get.  There are action moments in the episode, but they seem extremely serious compared to much of the planned jokester-ism that The A-Team is known for.  You still get some of the action show 1-liners, but while the humor of the lines is still there, the lighter humor is still missing.

Action On the Cheap:

We start this episode with the same chase scene from “The Rabbit Who Ate Las Vegas.”  The only difference is that we use post-production ADR to dub in new lines to give the impression that this car chase is somehow “new.”  Using such footage, however, saved time…and used about a full minute of actual screen time.  And the total cost is however much it took to splice the film and add some “action” lines for that segment.

Adding to the A-Team Backstory:

The A-Team with Ray Brenner.

The A-Team with Ray Brenner.

Ray Brenner was, according Baracus, “One of the few people who stood behind them during the trial.”  Also, as Brenner was being interned at the cemetery, each member of the A-Team reminisced about him, recounting his heroism.  It sounds like, under different circumstances, he would have easily been part of the team.  Also, when Colonel Smith goes into Brenner’s trunk, we also get to see that Brenner was heavily decorated, and reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before he left the service.

Civilians vs. The Military, Part Forever:

Much like First Blood and Rambo: First Blood, Part II, The A-Team has taken potshots at civilians who don’t acquiesce to Military Majesty.  But where Stallone’s movies punch hippies and anti-war critics, The A-Team instead isolates said military critics into cowboy hat-wearing villains.

In this episode, it is not enough that the villains were the town bullies.  It is not enough that Brenner was the only one to stand up to them and was killed because of it.  It was not enough that “The Law” condones the behavior of the Villains of the Week.  We had the add that the Villains hate Military Personnel.  In this case, the Watkins Boys forbade ANYONE from going to Mr. Brenner’s funeral.  Because Ray Brenner, you see, was a Vietnam Veteran.  And, because of it, Brenner was hated.  The “Why He Was Hated,” however, is never addressed here – much like any other Peacenik-bashing picture fest.

 

The Oddity of B.A. Baracus:

The A-Team in full (soon-to-be retired) Garrison Uniform.  Note the discrepancy in Baracus' uniform.

The A-Team in full (soon-to-be retired) Garrison Uniform. Note the oddity in Baracus’ uniform.

Bosco Baracus was never given a stated rank in the series premier, but it was clear that he was not going to be an officer, in contrast to the other three military members of the team.  Throughout the season, Baracus has always been referred to as Sergeant in all communications regarding the team.  However, looking at his garrison uniform, his patch indicates that he is a “Specialist 6.”  During the time that these Specialist ranks existed, those who held such ranks were never referred to as anything but Specialist.  Specialists are also not Non-Commissioned Officers (any striped rank Corporal and above).

And yet, throughout the season, no one on the team ever refers to him as Specialist.

Final Note: Because the all specialist ranks (except for Specialist 4) were discontinued in 1985, the A-Team updates Baracus’ garrison uniform in Season 5 to denote that his rank is now Sergeant First Class.

The Ex-Military Connection:

The weeping widow.

The weeping widow.

Ray Brenner and his widow.  She was not military, but carries on her husband’s legacy.

The Corruption Was Started By:

This hat shows up in almost EVERY episode of this series.

This hat shows up in almost EVERY episode of this series.

The Watkins boys.  They own a very corrupt towing company and auto repair shop.  However, they are not above using extortion, assault & battery, and even murder, to maintain their supremacy.  They are even alleged to have killed the sheriff under mysterious circumstances, leaving the deputy at the time to become the new sheriff, who acquiesces to the Watkins brothers.  But with no able-bodied men (save for Brenner before he was killed) that he can deputize without reprisal, he drinks himself silly.

Also, because they are all family, there is no Multination Villain Force.

The System of Law and Order Abets the Corruption By:

Doing nothing.  Often in these “Outsiders Help the Townsfolk” shows, the local law enforcement is either powerless to stop the bad guys, acts unaware of the presence of the bad guys, or is in collusion with the bad guys.

B.A. Baracus Builds in this Episode:

Nothing.  Unless you count putting his van back together after the Watkins family stripped it apart as something.

Templeton Peck scams:

No one.  He does, however, try to pick up the local chef’s waitress daughter.

The US equivalent of a Kanban-musume.  In this action show, she's also a "damsel-in-distress."

The US equivalent of a Kanban-musume. In this action show, she’s also a “damsel-in-distress.”

Amy Allen Helps By:

Giving Melinda Culea something to do just gets harder.  So, let's give her a gun...and nothing else.

Giving Melinda Culea something to do just gets harder. So, let’s give her a gun…and nothing else.

Doing what Action Women do in circumstances like this:  Act like Action Girlfriends and stop the heroes from taking action.  It comes as being both odd and out-of-character for Ms. Allen.  The reason why is because, by this time, she has been traveling with the A-Team around the world for about a year now, yet she sounds like she has been with the group only a few days.  It seems like this episode was supposed to have been released earlier in the season, but held in the coffers for some time until it was finally shown.

Also, as is par for the course, Action Girlfriends Amy Allen and Trish Brenner are next to useless in tangling with the Watkins boys.  They were bailed out by the script.  Amy uses the bolt-action rifle, but the weapon had to be handled in conjunction by Trish.  Trish never bothers to go into her husband’s trunk to pull out even the .45 pistol he stashed there, much less the machine gun.

The Second Amendment Drum Solo:

Hannibal Smith with an M-60 heavy machine gun.  Note that he is also wearing Ray Brenner's beret in this scene.

Hannibal Smith with an M-60 heavy machine gun. Note that he is also wearing Ray Brenner’s beret in this scene.

In the A-Team, there is always the big action piece at the end, where the A-Team squares off against the bad guys in a shootout of some sort.  Here, they use the guns they found in Brenner’s home (his Army issue .45 pistol, a bolt action rifle, an M-60 heavy machine gun with about 100 rounds on a belt, and some grenades) against the Watkins boys, who had procured the M-16 rifles from the A-Team van when they stripped it.  As is the case with 1980s 2nd Amendment Drum Solos, the only things destroyed were cars, buildings, and the dirt.

No one was injured or killed during the expenditure of ammunition or use of high-explosive grenades.

The Assigned Roles for the Drum Solo:

Hannibal mans the Heavy Gun.

Peck uses the Long-Range Accuracy Weapon.

Murdock uses Lobbing Artillery.

Baracus usually drives the Heavy Mobile Armor, then engages in fisticuffs.  However, Murdock drove the heavy armor this episode, but Baracus engages in the fisticuffs at the end.

Mr. T’s Special Attacks:

As with most episodes, he participates in Competitive Thug Tossing.  This time, over yet another vehicle.  He does not, however, use his Concussion Punch this time.

Was Outside Law Enforcement Called During the Drum Solo?

No.

The Townspeople, Upon Hearing the Gunfire:

Do nothing.  They do clap the 2 times that the A-Team handles the Watkins brothers.

The A-Team was Paid:

Nothing.  This was a personal job for all four members of the team.

Final Thoughts:

This episode is one of the few times we were supposed to learn something about The A-Team, the people they call friends, the US Military, and how mistreated they were when they came back from that debacle called Indochina Vietnam.

For these celebrations of All Things Military, any civilians who have actual misgivings about what the US Military stands for must be grouped together with those who wish to the US conquered by the Soviets.  Or, failing that, those persons must be shown to be nothing more than bullies – never mind the fact that US Military could organize an extremely overwhelming show of force at any time – and just about anywhere.  The A-Team opts for Door #2; expressed through the Watkins brothers.  And, remember, Amy Allen was doing a story on “How Small Towns are Remembering Their War Heroes.”

But when you start to question what those War Heroes were sent to do – and what they actually did…In Someone Else’s Front Yard…the conversation gets tricky.

And the A-Team, like almost all of the “Support the Troops” crowd, sidestep as much as they can on this issue.

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