In which the team get a licence to drill.
The fun starts with the credits in this episode, as we see Robert Davi (Bond and Goonies villain) is a guest star for the week. We then open on shots of a power plant somewhere in South America where two engineers are clocking out for the day and looking forward to their time off. Before they can use the machine though, they’re stopped by two heavies and set to work in tunnel eight. The men complain that they’re machinists not diggers and the tunnel is closed but have no choice.
Nearby in a sleazy cantina, a woman sings on stage while Robert Davi plays cards and drinks. The woman is Davi’s girlfriend and she comes over to the table as a large explosion rocks the building. Tunnel 8 has collapsed. Unflinching, Dave continues his game.
Over in LA, a cleaning lady walks into a room and is surprised by a group of important-looking suits sat around a table. The head of the group thinks the lady is Hannibal in disguise and thanks her for coming as Mr Lee had promised. The room represents the owners of the San Marco power plant and the village of Rivertown, where 20 workers have died in the last year. They are responsible for providing security at the plant and want the A-Team to take over.
The lady insists she doesn’t know what they’re talking about, which Hannibal proves as he steps out of the corner in disguise as a security guard.
Hannibal meets the rest of the team in the park, bringing burgers for lunch. BA instantly suspects his food is drugged, swapping with each of the team until he comes back to his burger – the last one he thinks they’d drug. Taking a bite, he’s relieved to find no problems – until he takes a swig of milk and falls asleep.
BA wakes up in the cell of the Sheriff’s office in Rivertown, with Face, Murdock and Hannibal already sworn in and in uniform. The make BA take the oath, which means he can’t assault them as fellow officers even though he’s fuming mad.
The team’s first stop is the cantina, where Davi is cheating at cards by using his polished lighter to see their reflections as he deals. Hannibal fires his shotgun into the air to get the bar’s attention and announces that gambling won’t be tolerated. Davi offers to talk, offering a bribe to the new Sheriff but it’s no good and a fight breaks out. Hannibal’s outnumbered but the rest of the team arrive with their guns drawn and take charge of the situation.
Out on patrol later, BA and Murdock see one of Davi’s men breaking into a building at the plant. They give chase, but the man sends a digger hurtling towards BA, which Murdock is only just able to jump into and stop. Inside the building, the team find one of the lockers belonging to a C Monroe left open from the robbery.
Hannibal decides to investigate, sneaking into Davi’s office to find Monroe’s personnel file and sending Face his house to dig around. Inside, Face hears someone else trying to break in through the window and hides behind a rail of clothes. As the crook moves closer, Face aims a punch through the clothes and knocks them out. Peering out of his hiding place, Face finds he’s floored Davi’s girlfriend, Nikki.
Face takes Nikki back to the Sheriff’s office, where she recovers and joins the team’s investigation. We learn that she’s Monroe’s sister and has been getting close to Davi to find out what happened to her brother. She explains her brother should never have been in the tunnel as it was closed and he wasn’t working excavation.
The group begin to pull the clues together when they realise what was missing from Monroe’s locker – his medication. The cave-in was a cover and he’s alive somewhere.
The next scene proves the deductions correct, as Davi visits another tunnel where Monroe’s being forced to build a missile for a local warlord intend on attacking the country’s President.
The team devise a plan to track Davi to find out where he’s keeping Monroe. Interrupting another card game by knocking the table over, Face manages to pickpocket Davi and steal his lighter, which Nikki takes to BA. BA inserts a tiny bug inside it and Nikki manages to put it back into her boyfriend’s pocket.
While Face and Nikki flirt, BA tracks Davi as he heads to the underground hideout. The team mobilise and work their way into the tunnels but are ambushed by Davi who had worked out their plan. With the missile complete, Davi and the warlord leave, pausing only to detonate some explosives and block the exit to the tunnel. The A-Team and a group of workings, including Monroe, are trapped underground.
Thankfully, the tunnels are filled with mining and missile-building machinery so there’s plenty of material for a montage. The team drill their way to daylight and safety, before jumping into a jeep to go and save the President – not before Face scores his first kiss with Nikki.
The team catch up on Davi and the warlord’s small troop, throwing dynamite and shooting at them. There is, of course, a jeep chase which ends in one car rolling over. The army begins to fight back them and pin the A-Team down with their ammunition running low.
Just in time, the workers from the plant catch up and lend their support, overpowering the soldiers. Davi tries to escape, but Hannibal leaps onto his jeep and knocks him out while Face shoots and destroys the missile before it’s fired.
In the aftermath, Hannibal, Face and Murdock change back into their usual outfits and Face has another kiss with Nikki, in front of her visibly uncomfortable brother. BA, however, is still wearing his badge and backs the others into a cell – promising to let them out in two days as punishment for drugging him. Laughing away, he steals the Colonel’s line as he declares that he “loves it when a plan comes together”.
Let’s wrap up with a few key questions.
Does Hannibal wear a disguise?
Yes, he’s a security guard. He also gets to dress up like a Sheriff for most of the episode.
Does BA get on a plane?
Yes, his milk is drugged.
Should someone be dead?
Yes. There are several cave-ins and a lot of bullets and dynamite flying in the final battle.
Sheriffs of Rivertown is one of my favourite episodes of The A-Team for its reversal of the usual formula, vicious villain and the unusual mystery plot. Set in South America, the story manages to get BA on a plane and join the rest of the team in becoming private law enforcement at a power plant that’s had some suspicious deaths.
The team find there’s more than meets the eye when the mine’s kingpin, plaid with menacing charm by future Bond villain Robert Davi joins forces with the local military opposition. Hannibal and the boys need to solve the mystery of the disappearing workers and keep law and order running in Rivertown.
Let me know what you think by joining the conversation on Twitter.