In which a blind tv repairman shows us that not everything we watch is garbage.
In perhaps the most classic of A-Team set ups, this episode begins with a small-time baker being harassed by some goons from a protection racket. Not only do they make a mess and demand money, one of the henchmen hits a shoeshine boy and breaks his stand.
Meanwhile, Hannibal and Murdock are with BA at the airport – that’s right, Bad Attitude has agreed to fly commercial as long as Murdock isn’t the pilot. As he gets second thoughts, Hannibal offers him some “air-sickness” pills and he’s soon being dragged onto the plane. I guess airport security in the 1980s was cool with unconscious passengers being manhandled aboard.
Landing in New York, BA’s told he slept most of the flight but did get a flight attendant’s phone number (which Hannibal plants in his pocket). Face meets the rest of the team in a taxi he’s scammed, figuring it’s the best way to tail someone in the Big Apple.
Amy’s already at the scene with one of the locals, Tracey. The team plan to set up a tv repair shop and wait for the gang to pay them a visit. There are two big snags though. The residents are too scared to go through with the plan and they’ve run out of money to pay the A-Team.
BA sees the bruises on the shoeshine kid’s face and asks what happened. The kid explains and offers them all his earnings – $3.68. BA fixes Hannibal with a stare and tells the boy his luck is in as that just about “covers our fee”. Wisely, Hannibal nods in agreement.
The next day, Hannibal is in place as a blind, German tv repairman (everyone need a gimmick) and the two thugs, who look like a Kojack and Shaft crossover turn up. They demand $1,000, smash a few screens and leave.
BA tails the henchmen to the Sugar Hill Club, where they report the new shop to their boss ‘East Side Charlie’ (yes, really) played by Yaphet Kotto. You might know Kotto from Alien or from a similar role he played in Live and Let Die. Oddly, BA pops into the club pretending to be looking for a fare and winks at Charlie’s girlfriend.
Back at the neighbourhood, BA reports in and Face arrives in a garbage truck. Sadly, it’s empty and the Colonel needs it full. There’s a great moment where Face tells Hannibal he can’t go back out to collect garbage as he has a shift at the taxi firm – he had to get a job there to acquire the car. Luckily, Murdock volunteers himself and BA to sweep the streets of New York for the worst garbage they can find.
Hannibal, back in disguise, and Face visit the Sugar Hill Club and demand the money taken from the residents. When Charlie declines, Hannibal breaks character and pulls a gun on the club, with the garbage truck then smashing through a wall (almost killing four employees) and dumping its load on the floor. The team drive away, leaving Charlie an ultimatum.
The street prepares for battle with a solid montage of welding and dynamiting, with Hannibal overseeing. When Charlie arrives, he’s brought about 20 goons as back up so a gunfight breaks out. We can some top-level carnage as men jump through windows, BA drives the garbage truck into some cars and one car flips over until the gang is defeated.
As their leader tries to escape, Amy detonates a rigged drain cover that also flips his car over onto its roof. He’s soon rounded up to be taken back to his club for a sizable withdrawal and donation to the residents’ association. As a final piece of revenge, BA punches the goon who hit the kid, right in the face.
With victory won, the team depart. Murdock is getting shown around the city by Tracey, disappointing Face. It’s not for long though as his dispatcher at the cab company arrives and turns out to be another lady friend – what a guy! Freeze frame and theme tune.
Let’s wrap up with a few key questions.
Does Hannibal wear a disguise?
Yes. He’s the ironically blind (and for some reason, German) tv repair man.
Does BA get on a plane?
Yes. Almost willingly but ultimately drugged with face air sickness tablets.
Should someone be dead?
Yes. The battle in the street has bullets flying, petrol bombs exploding, Murdock gets hit by a car whilst inside a barrel and two cars flip onto their roofs.
The Out-of-Towners is a perfect example of The A-Team at their best. We get a downtrodden underdog, hired goons who hit a kid and a “blind” man, and a solid main villain. There’s Hannibal on the Jazz, BA afraid to fly, Face having to work for his scam and Murdock’s general erratic behaviour. Amy even gets the last act of the battle and gets to trigger a classic car flip.
If I could improve one thing, it would have been to see more energy from East Side Charlie. Yaphet Kotto can be a commanding presence but he seems a little in the shadows of Hannibal and Co this time out.
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