The A-Team “Cowboy George” (part 1 of 2)
For our second look into the wild world of The A-Team, we jump forward to season 4. By this point, the show was starting to slip in the ratings, and the following fifth season would be its last. Still, the fourth season features some of the most bizarre episodes of the series in terms of guest stars. Rick James guest stars as himself, Hulk Hogan makes two appearances, and the current episode features none other than Boy George himself.
What do you mean, you don’t remember the guy? Okay, I don’t really either, but he was popular because… Well, for some amount of time in the ‘80s he was a very popular music act with his group Culture Club. Hell, what do you want from the guy? You can only coast so far on androgyny as your main personality trait before people get bored and start looking elsewhere. I would imagine the heroin addiction didn’t help much either.
Stunt casting like this is generally not a good sign for a series. I suppose it helps when the show is cheesy to begin with, but suffice to say, when “Cowboy George” aired, the shark was keeping an eye out for a shadow passing overhead, if you know what I mean.
The plot of this episode, what little there is of it, is utterly superfluous in the extreme. The bad guys are barely there, and there’s enough room for Boy George to do three songs. And yet, it still manages to be a fun ride. As for George’s performance, he does what he needs to do and comes off as likable, so I can’t really complain too much.
The opening spiel is still the same as the second season, though there’s a little in-joke thrown in during the credits where Dirk Benedict is at Universal Studios, and he does a double take when a Cylon walks past him. Yes, there was a time when Battlestar Galactica was thought of as just a cheesy series from the late ‘70s that got canceled and inspired a god awful spin-off. Ah, memories.
Our episode proper begins with Face driving Mega Van, trying to give a deeply bored and drowsy Murdock (Face must have woken him up to bust him out of the nuthouse) advice on making money. I guess by this point in the series, they had Face acting as more of a conman than ever before. In this episode, he’s working as an agent for a country music star named “Cowboy George”. And I think you can pretty much guess where our guest star will fit into things.
Murdock asks who Cowboy George is, to which Face asks him if he ever listens to the radio. The reasons for his ignorance are, to be fair, quite valid.
God, I love when shows begin to lose steam. The writers generally will throw in any weird shit they can think of just to do something different, and it makes for some damn fun viewing, to say nothing of great riffing material!
Face assures our nutty friend that the whole Cowboy George gig will net the team $300,000. With that, we’re off to the venue, a small country western dive called “The Floor’em” (like “The Forum”, get it?). Face and Murdock meet with the club owner Chuck, played by L.Q. Jones, previously seen around here as Chuck Norris’ buddy in Lone Wolf McQuade.
As the men talk about how Cowboy George will be playing to a packed house, I have to say this place looks like a low rent version of the Double Deuce. Chuck warns Face that the audience will be mostly rough pipeline workers who’ll get violent if they don’t get to see Cowboy George.
Can you all see where this is leading? Good.
Sure enough, our heroes arrive at the Dry Creek Airport in Dry Creek, Arizona, and rather than Cowboy George, it turns out Face’s buddy booked Boy George. To play at a rundown redneck bar.
We’re on the express train to wackiness, I see.
Murdock remarks they’re “headed for the last roundup”, and it turns out that not only did the booker send them Boy George, he also told the guy he was playing at the Arizona Forum, not the Floor’em. And also, thanks to the contract, Face owes Boy George 1.2 million dollars.
They all head to the bar, and Boy George is distinctly unimpressed. Chuck is understandably pissed off, and when Face tries to blow him off, two goons grab him. Chuck threatens him, and then Murdock shows up with a pistol, warding the bad guys off.
Boy George comes up and says he can’t perform at this bar, calling it a “certified toilet”. Face and Murdock take him outside for a little chat. As they leave, Chuck has a talk with one of his goons, and tells him to alert some guy named Kurt in the nearby town of Twin Rivers as to what’s going on. Also in here, an armored car is mentioned.
Later, Face is on the phone with Hannibal, who’s on a film set. Face is suspicious of Chuck, and then we find Murdock following one of the goons. Murdock tails the man to a warehouse, where he sneaks up a conveniently placed ladder and spies the men prepping heavy duty machine guns mounted on jeeps.
So, we’re a little over twelve minutes in, and so far we’ve had a booking snafu at a redneck bar, and some guys modifying their trucks. Maybe it’s a good thing the show ended after the fifth season.
Back from break, we now find Hannibal and B.A. driving towards Dry Creek. While Hannibal is putting on a fake mustache, B.A. is griping about Face trying to be a country singer’s agent. Hannibal replies they all have their outside interests, what with the day care center [!] that B.A. works with, and Hannibal’s job as an extra in monster movies.
B.A. remarks Hannibal isn’t really an actor, to which we get an amusing line about Boris Karloff. Hannibal holds up a Cowboy George album, revealing pretty blatantly that it’s a photo of George Peppard in makeup with a hat, and it would seem Hannibal’s Disguise of the Week will be Cowboy George himself.
They pull up to a motel in the same huge car with steer horns on the hood that they used in my earlier recap. I’m not sure if they just rent this thing on occasion, or if Face owns it, but either way, I think someone in Hazzard County is yelling about his missing car. I would imagine he’d also be less than pleased to hear it now has a novelty horn that blares “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”.
Regardless, they’re introduced to Boy George, and yes, at one point in time Mr. T and Boy George were actually in the same room at the same time.
And then Murdock is being tormented by that Lennon Sisters song he mentioned earlier. He then manages to fill Hannibal in about the jeeps and machine guns, before going back to hearing the song in his head. And I really have to hand it to Dwight Schultz. By this point he had this character down to a science, and there’s an almost perfect blend of humor and seriousness to the guy in this season.
Hannibal plans to find out just what the hell is going on by posing as Cowboy George, and using Boy George as his opening act to buy time while he’s off investigating things. Then the matter of the contract comes up, and after some back and forth, Boy George says he’ll talk to the band and see if they’ll take half their fee. Which is still $600,000.
An aggressive marketing strategy is formulated, with Murdock planning to get a big audience for the show through the local radio station. And amazingly enough, even though the plot is starting to go somewhere, it’s still pretty inert.
At the bar, Hannibal shows up in character as Cowboy George and meets with Chuck. A mention of the ad campaign takes us to the radio station, where Murdock hovers around and observes the deejay in the booth, while Face haggles with the station manager outside. Evidently, he promised a guest deejay to the guy, and you’d think he would have had somebody a little less unstable than Murdock in the wings if that was the original plan.
Murdock is introduced as “Pecos Bob Steele”, and he goes into a rambling monologue. Face completely derails his train of thought by singing “Three Blind Mice” in his ear. Now completely crazed by the song, Murdock is ready for the airwaves. This should be good.
Murdock enters the deejay booth with a wide grin, and asks the station manager if he has a Lennon Sisters album on hand, and he does. He assures the poor sap everything will go just fine, and Face begs Murdock not to play the album. Murdock tells him to not worry… right before throwing him out of the booth and playing the Lennon Sisters album and gleefully listening to it with an insane look on his face.
Well, they do say the best way to get a song out of your head is to listen to another one. Right?
Elsewhere, B.A. spies on the warehouse where the bad guys are getting ready to do… Well, something nefarious, given the machine guns and ski masks and the armored car mentioned a while back. I’m pretty sure the writers spent more time thinking up funny things for Murdock to do than focusing on the actual story. Not that I’m complaining, because Murdock is easily the most entertaining part of this episode.
Just for the record, we’re about halfway through the episode, and are only just now finding out what the bad guys are up to. And even then it won’t really be clear for another few minutes. I think it’s safe to say the only reason this episode was made was because they were able to get Boy George to do it, and also, someone had the notion that Dwight Schultz could do some funny radio gags.