In which Face gets a job, Murdock loses his plant and BA searches for his van.
In a busy restaurant carpark, two men steal a flashy motor at professional speed. The valet tries to stop them but gets a punch to the gut for his troubles. The thieves take the stolen wheels to Ken Foree (of Dawn of the Dead, From Beyond and many other things) who’s running a chop shop for Sam Friendly (played by Dennis Franz who was also the annoying police chief in Die Hard 2).
Friendly’s under pressure to complete an important job for a Tony Victor and tells Ken to make sure it’s done right.
The A-Team gets involved when the valet from the opening is accused of stealing cars, as there has been a mini spree lately. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence against him other than plot convenience and the fact he has been to prison for car theft before, but luckily he knows the team – his brother looked after BA once and since he got now BA looks after him.
Tawnia finds some information on the locations of the car thefts and Hannibal is happy to put forward Face’s prized Corvette as bait. After taking Tawnia to six lunches to try and tempt the carjackers, the team think they’ve got lucky. A man slips into the Corvette as soon as Face is out of sight. The team rush in to apprehend him but it turns out he has an identical car and just got in the wrong one. Meanwhile, the real thieves jump into the vacant van and drive it away!
Hannibal and BA give chase in the Corvette but lose the van when one of the tyres is shout out by the escaping thieves. As you can imagine, BA is furious and blames the ‘Vette for being too slow. Murdock’s distraught too as he had left his favourite plant inside the van.
The valet tips the team off on a known stolen car dealer from his past and the team head off to investigate. BA bursts through the door and makes short work of the man, despite being about as big as the Sergeant. BA threatens him, telling him the van and plant better be ok and he soon suggests Sam Friendly as the likely culprit. Murdock’s delighted BA cares about his plant, but he’s warned not to push it.
Over at Friendly’s lot, Face wangles himself a job by selling a car to an old couple. He spends the day selling more cars than anyone else – despite feeling dirty for putting his skills to work in such a way. Phase two of the plan sees Hannibal arrive as a (I think) British concert promotor needing 12 limousines. He asks that his briefcase be stored in Friendly’s office safe while they look around as it contains some valuable cuts of new songs.
The case is a ruse of course, as it records the sound of the locking tumbler. Face later uses the recording to open the safe and photograph some of the documents inside. He’s interrupted by the secretary and lunges into a passionate kiss with her to cover his tracks. She’s more than happy to join in but the two are then interrupted by Friendly who punches Face in the eye for kissing his girl.
Phase three of this ever-more-complicated scheme begins when Hannibal adds a Porsche to his limo order. The team then flag down and steal the car transporter containing the Porsche on its way over. This forces Friendly call Ken Foree and order him to use a recently stolen car in its place. The team listen in on the call, grab Friendly at gunpoint and force him to take them to the chop shop.
Friendly, who’s been mean and grumpy but largely harmless so far, takes it up a notch or ten with a psychopathic threat to “cut your face off and sew it on upside down”. BA, Face and Murdock don’t seem to mind as they accompany Friendly on the trip, with Murdock staying outside as cover.
At the chop shop, the van’s in one piece and we see the important job Friendly needed was a vehicle painted to look exactly like a police patrol car. The bad news for the team is Tony Victor is there to collect his order and he turns the tables on the team with the help of his goons. Hannibal recognises Victor as a mob boss who’s due to be tried soon for tax evasion – just like Al Capone.
Leaving Friendly and Ken Foree to take care of the team while attends a funeral, Victor changes into a police uniform and drives away in the car. Murdock distracts Ken and knocks him out, then rescues the team by climbing onto some cars and point a gun at Friendly.
Hannibal realises that Victor is heading to the funeral of the judge trying his case, where among the police will be the Distract Attorney due to prosecute him. Spotting a hearse in the scrapyard, the team set to work making a few modifications before heading to the funeral.
Just in time, the team ram into Victor’s fake police car at the funeral which begins a chase between Victor, the team and a whole host of cops. The team and Victor exchange gunfire before Murdock rises from the back of the hearse in a coffin and shoots at the chasing car. Victor’s car flips onto its roof and he’s captured with his henchmen by the following police while the hearse gets away.
In the final scene, Tawnia lets us know that Victor will be standing trial as planned. BA is happy to have his van back, but Murdock is having a hard time saying goodbye to his plant which he’s leaving behind in the LA soil. Everyone shares a kind word, even BA who seems to be so pleased to have his pride and joy back that he gives the plant a freeze-frame wink.
Let’s wrap up with a few key questions.
Does Hannibal wear a disguise?
Yes. He’s a comically overdressed British concert promoter Johnny B.
Does BA get on a plane?
Nope. But his van gets stolen, which is far worse for him.
Should someone be dead?
Close, but no. There is a car flip but this time the car has a roof and we’ll assume everyone was wearing a seatbelt.
Chopping Spree has one of the best villain casts of any episode of The A-Team, with a triple bill of Ken Foree, Dennis Franz and Lee Patterson. They make a devious trio of a no-nonsense mechanic, slimy second-hand car salesman and mobster. It’s a sign of where the team have come to that they need to face off against three to make it a close fight.
The plot is another from the ‘unexpected twist’ playbook with the team taking on a mission which leads into another. As with most of those, the ending becomes a little rushed as it’s wrapped up in just a few minutes. There’s plenty to enjoy here though and the team sell it perfectly – BA and Murdock in their shared loss, Face getting some comeuppance for his smooth ways and Hannibal as ever hamming it up in disguise.