In which the A-Team serve up their own take on the great American diner.
The episode opens on some good old American Diner banter, though with fewer customers than the Cup A’ Joe diner has been used to. There’s only one loyal patron left, the others having been scared off by threats from a rival owner, Slater.
Just then, Slater and his gang arrive and pull their guns on the staff and lone customer. When he grabs the owner’s daughter, Joe brings his own firearm from the kitchen and orders them to leave. The men swiftly turn the tables on Joe, beating him up and shooting the kitchen to bits. Slater wants Joe to sell him the diner and won’t take no for an answer.
With Joe in hospital, the customer drives Joe’s wife and daughter out to meet the A-Team in his truck, following directions from Mr Lee. They’re about to give up when they hit some roadworks and are greeted by Hannibal and the boys who make sure no MPs are hiding in the back.
Paying a fee of $10,000 Joe’s daughter hires the A-Team to protect the diner from Slater and find out why he wants it so badly. BA begins fixing up the kitchen while Murdock becomes the new head chef and Face works out a plan to get some new supplies.
Using a loaned truck, painted like one of Slater’s, the team head to Slater’s depot and load up on ingredients for the diner. They’re spotted after a while and BA is forced to drive the truck through the security guard’s cabin to escape.
Daringly, Face heads back to the depot in disguise as an insurance agent to snoop around. He finds plans for a shopping centre, right on the land where the diner stands. He’s kicked out by the boss, who rounds up more goons for another attach on Joe’s.
Back at the Cup A’ Joe diner, the place is full thanks to a promotional free meal for every customer. Face tells Hannibal about the shopping centre, which they agree makes no sense as the location is too far from the interstate exit for passing traffic.
In the kitchen, BA and Murdock squabble until BA boils Murdock’s recipe book. Before the Captain can retaliate, Slater and his men burst in and start a fight. Hannibal joins BA and Murdock in beating the gang, while Face keeps the clientele calm.
Defeated, Slater retreats to his office where he talks to a local official who’s secretly agreed to a new interstate exit for a bribe. Thankfully, Face bugged the office as he not only learns this but also that Slater’s next move is to blow up the diner.
Hannibal sends Face and Joe’s daughter to get an explosive sniffer dog from the nearby army base. The dog works the diner and finds two men with a suspicious package, but it turns out to be a decoy. Spotting the real explosives in a truck, Hannibal leaps into the driver’s seat and desperately tries to get it as far away from the diner as he can. Jumping out just in time, the truck explodes into a fireball.
Though the diner is unharmed, Murdock is unconscious, and Slater’s men have kidnapped Joe’s wife and daughter. Slater plans to force Joe to sign the diner over to him for their safe return.
At the hospital, a fully bandaged Joe signs the contract under duress. Slater then leaves and tells his goons to kill Joe anyway. As they’re about to pull the trigger, Joe turns out to be Hannibal in disguise who quickly holds them both at gunpoint and bundles them into the van.
After a short montage, the team manage to salvage enough of the burned-out truck to mount a ram on the front. They drive it through Slater’s office wall, narrowly missing the men inside. The team scramble out and fight the gang, with BA throwing one through a window, until Slater and his men are defeated.
Later on, Joe is back to work and delighted that Slater, his gang and the corrupt official are all in jail. Face hands Joe’s daughter her change, after covering their expenses, while Murdock tests some of BA’s cooking. Which of course means we freeze frame with Murdock’s ear smoking.
Let’s wrap up with a few key questions.
Does Hannibal wear a disguise?
Yes. He is a road worker while the team checks out their new client and he bandages himself up later to pass a Joe in the hospital.
Does BA get on a plane?
Should someone be dead?
Yes. The team drive a truck through the wall of Slater’s office with no idea where anyone inside is standing.
Cup A’ Joe (S03, E14) is a fun but forgettable episode of The A-Team, with the usual story of a small business being persecuted by a rival. This time it’s the Cup A’ Joe diner and the bad guys are willing to kidnap and commit arson and murder to get what they want.
There’s nothing to set this episode apart from others, though it’s strong enough through sticking to the basics and doing them well. The villain is fine, but no great threat and the corruption story doesn’t go more than a scene. The highlight is BA and Murdock bickering in the kitchen about whose food is better.