The episode begins with a treat for those paying attention to the credits as we’re promised Denis Franz in a supporting role. Will it be a surly policeman or sleazy enforcer? Let’s find out.
We don’t find out straight away as first there’s a young artist called Speed getting beaten up by two thugs. He’s refusing to create any more paintings for their boss and the boss, Mr Shawn, isn’t pleased. Though they’re careful not to damage Speed’s hands, one of the thugs knocks the artist over and he ends up in a coma.
Over at the beachfront, a mime artist and another painter called Peggy talk about Speed’s condition. Disappointed with the official police response, they decide to hire the A-Team. After meeting Mr Lee (off-screen), they head to a music store where a disguised Hannibal hands them a record to play – it explains their fingerprints are being checked to verify their story.
Passing the test, the two are introduced to the team and head into the gallery district to try and spot the place Speed was working. Peggy recognises some of Speed’s work in the window of one gallery and Face heads inside undercover as a reporter for Fine Art Magazine. After charming the curator Dianne, Face leaves his business card and arranges a date with her.
That evening, Face begins the date with a good smooch, covering for the fact that he’s stealing Dianne’s gallery key. Inside the bathroom, he hands the key to Murdock (dressed as a bathroom attendant) who makes a pressing of it.
Back at the table, Mr Shawn has arrived as a third wheel to the date and to tell Face that he checked him out at Fine Art Magazine – who confirmed he does work for them.
Meanwhile, three extras use the copied key to break into the gallery then turn into the rest of the A-Team once inside. As they look around the gallery, the two thugs from earlier arrive dressed as security guards and let themselves in. The team quickly mask up and ambush the guards, easily beating them before escaping in the van.
At the restaurant, Mr Shawn gets a call from the guard and there’s a tense moment where Face must get the key back into Dianne’s purse before she can realise what happened.
Later, Mr Shawn contacts his partner Brooks and tells him they need a new artist to replace Speed. The team listen in thanks to a big BA planted and come up with a plan to introduce Murdock as an up-and-coming painter. Face meets Mr Shawn and agrees to set up the meeting, after thanking one of his girlfriends who’s been posing as a Fine Art Magazine receptionist for him!
Mr Shawn swiftly moves Murdock into a studio beneath the gallery and tasks him with reproducing a painting as part of his apprenticeship. Despite his $3,000 advance, Murdock isn’t sure he can turn it round in the 24 hours his new boss demands.
After assembling a radio hidden inside his art supplies, Murdock contacts the team and describes the painting to them. Hannibal realises that Shawn is producing forgeries of famous paintings. Thankfully, Peggy copies the painting in time and BA smuggles it to Murdock hidden inside a pizza box.
When it leaves the studio in the hands of the security guards/thugs from the gallery, the rest of the team follow the painting thanks to a hidden tracker. The guards take it into a house, then leave with a similar-looking package – but the tracker inside the painting says it’s still inside the house.
Hannibal guesses that the guards work for a security firm and use their access when fitting alarms to steal valuable paintings, copy them and leave fakes in their place – selling the originals. It’s time for the A-Team to get an alarm installed.
For no useful reason, Face takes BA to his tailor and gets him suited up to pose as a sports star to rent a mansion for a few days. Perhaps BA felt left out of the disguises, but there’s no real reason he had to be in a suit to rent the home. It does give us a rare full house of disguises for the team though.
Hannibal orders an alarm fitting and we finally get our Denis Franz appearance, as the owner of the security firm, Brooks. He soon spots the (fake) painting that Peggy has created, which Hannibal explains is a priceless Renoir that was thought lost.
The next day, Brooks takes Hannibal and BA to lunch to thank them for their business, while his team get busy swapping the artwork for a second fake by Murdock (which was also painted by Peggy!).
Sporting a fine white suit and turtleneck combo, Face tracks the security van to a warehouse and finds the store of stolen paintings. He’s cornered by fierce guard dogs though and caught by Brooks’ men. The men take Face to the restaurant where Brooks realises he’s caught the A-Team and can claim a reward – whether they’re dead or alive.
Of course, Brooks walks away and leaves a single man to take down the A-Team. BA immediately knocks the man out and the team escapes. Someone Brooks hasn’t made it to his car yet so the team steal it and drive over to the gallery to rescue Murdock, who’s been rumbled too.
As is traditional at this point, the team drive Brooks’ car through the front window of the gallery and start shooting the place up. After a short gunfight and punch up, the team take down Mr Shawn and his gang.
The next day, the team reunite with Peggy and celebrate the end of the Shawn / Brooks crime gang with everyone now in jail. Face returns most of the fee they collected for the job, keeping just $3,000 from the $11,000 (plus the $3,000 from Murdock’s advance).
Murdock has caught the painting bug and filled the van with his art supplies. BA’s not happy though and throws every brush out, not realising that Murdock’s already painted a huge smiley face on the rear doors.
Let’s wrap up with a few key questions.
Does Hannibal wear a disguise?
Yes – he’s a music store owner/worker who tests the clients for fingerprints, plus Mr Lee is mentioned. We also get disguises for Face, Murdock and BA.
Does BA get on a plane?
Should someone be dead?
Yes – yet again the team drive a car through the front of a building not knowing where anyone inside is standing.
Beverly Hills Assault (S03, E23) is a charming if forgettable episode of The A-Team, pitting the soldiers of fortune against a ring of art forgers. Murdock heads undercover inside the gang and finds himself having to produce paintings against the clock – or else!
It’s always good when the team are split apart, with one or more relying on the others. The cast does a great job of filling out the art world on both sides – the freewheeling painters and the suited businessmen/crime lords making money from them. It’s just shame the story is a bit saggy and it all ends a bit quick, plus there’s far too little of Denis Franz throughout to make it a true classic.