In which there’s a new Face in town and we join the cult of John Saxon.
With the success of the pilot episode, The A-Team began a run of five glorious seasons of action, montages and plane avoidance techniques. Dirk Benedict joined the cast in episode two, stepping into the role of Lt. Templeton ‘Faceman’ Peck for the rest of the run. Alongside the Benedict, we get the first airing of the incredible theme tune and voice-over.
Say it with me:
“Ten years ago, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum-security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them….maybe you can hire The A-Team.”
Now that’s out of the way, on to the episode. We join the team mid-mission on their way to rescue a young girl from a cult. With their target in a shop, protected by cloaked cult members, Face and Hannibal get into a fight which soon turns against the cult. There’s a solid jump through a window and the girl is bundled into the A-Team van with BA at the wheel. A short chase later and Murdock flies the girl and her waiting father to safety in a helicopter.
Back on the ground though, the rest of the team (Amy included) are captured and driven to cult headquarters. Here, they meet the leader (and by far the best part of the episode) John Freaking Saxon (who’d star in A Nightmare on Elm Street a year later and acted alongside George Peppard in Battle Beyond the Stars a few years before). I didn’t take in the character name so we’re sticking with John F Saxon. He’s wonderfully unhinged in a way you don’t often seen in cults in movies or tv shows – he really believes in his divine cause, it’s not just some scam or front where he’s duping his disciples.
Thrown in a cell to await their fate, the team teach Amy their secret to survival – accepting death means you don’t fear it. Although they try, BA realises it isn’t going to be as easy as a cute phrase and they need to look after her. It’s a tender moment led by BA and Hannibal, lending some early development between the three.
Their punishment is release from the compound. Not so bad maybe? Downside, they have to change into weird shoes (yes, really). Bigger downside, they’ll also be chased down and shot.
Thankfully, the team evade capture by kneeling slightly by a rock, rendering them invisible to the passing jeeps. They soon make their way to a farmhouse to hide out more thoroughly. As luck would have it, the farm includes a barn full of machine parts that are just a montage away from becoming a jeep-mounted flamethrower (amongst other things).
As the cult closes in, the final battle begins with Murdock in support from the air after dropping off his passengers and acquiring some sticks of dynamite. With jeeps flipping all over the place and the compound set on fire the team win the day. John F Saxon remains dedicated to the end, never wavering from his commitment to the lord’s work but now captured with the authorities on their way. Hannibal retrieves his miraculously unburnt boots and we freeze-frame on him silhouetted through a doorway in what looks like a tribute to The Searchers.
Let’s wrap up with a few key questions.
Does Hannibal wear a disguise?
No, we start in the middle of a mission so other than a little acting with Face there’s no disguise this time.
Does BA get on a plane?
No, everything takes place in the same location of a short space of time.
Should someone be dead?
Yes. Once again, several cars flip over and more drastically most of the cult’s compound is set on fire by Hannibal.
Children of Jamestown is a classic episode with all the traditional A-Team elements firmly in place. Hannibal gets to grandstand infront of the villain, BA is sensitive and knocks someone out with one punch, Face finds a girl and Murdock is… Murdock. Amy gets a little time to shine too, still unsure of herself in the new world she blackmailed her way into but willing to try her best.
Best of all is John Saxon, revelling as the big bad guy in all black with shades covering his eyes. He’s just the right amount of pantomime, dominating every scene he’s in with voice alone and leaving you wanting more.
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