The A-Team “In Plane Sight” (part 1 of 2)
We continue our look at the single greatest show ever made, which now has a film based on it coming out June 11 in theaters everywhere!
“In Plane Sight”, an episode from season 2, is a solid enough episode, and it’s a good example of why the show became a hit. It also features an appearance by Lance Henriksen, so you know I’m totally onboard with this one.
Our episode proper begins “somewhere over Venezuela”, as a title informs us. A cargo plane makes an emergency landing on what turns out to be a Venezuelan military base. The pilot, a young man whose name isn’t all that important (and after this scene will never appear again) is confronted by two soldiers (the guy in charge is Col. Sanchez, and the other guy is just a guy).
The pilot says his cargo is turquoise gems, but Sanchez smashes open a crate and finds several hidden bags of cocaine.
It seems they don’t take too kindly to drug runners in Venezuela, because the soldiers immediately arrest the pilot, even though he insists he had no idea there was cocaine in those crates.
This guy will turn out to be the cousin of our female lead for the episode, but really, he could have just as easily been her fiancée, her brother, or some guy she necked with at senior prom. That’s how little this guy matters to the overall plot, as we’ll soon see.
Cut to the A-Team in Mega Van™, on their way to meet the family of the pilot, and the aforementioned cousin. Face is worried they’ll get stiffed on the bill, while Hannibal reassures him they’re just going to talk with the man’s family before deciding whether or not to take the case.
As for Murdock? He’s doing a little light reading.
They pull up to a farm, where they’re met by the pilot’s as-yet-unnamed cousin (played by Judy Strangis, who was once Dyna Girl to Deidre Hall’s Electra Woman). The cousin takes the team inside, and introduces them to her aunt and uncle, the parents of Mr. Not Important To The Story. I think I’ll just call him NITTS from now on.
Actually, we do learn his parents are “Mr. and Mrs. Hicks”, so at least we’re making some progress on the name front. After the introductions are made, Mrs. Hicks serves up some chicken soup, and they talk about the trouble NITTS is in.
I have to say, the actress playing Mrs. Hicks is kind of terrible. It’s not so much the general acting, but how she delivers her lines in a halting manner which doesn’t correspond to anything the character is supposed to be feeling. On the other hand, I do dig the line Murdock delivers as he’s given his bowl of soup.
Murdock: Uh, no, ma’am, I’m insane.
Back to the job. The team learns that NITTS and his partner run a shipping company in Long Beach. Mr. Hicks stands up for his son vehemently, saying there’s no way he was intentionally smuggling drugs. Of course, as I said earlier, NITTS doesn’t really factor into the plot in the long run, so all this dialogue is pretty goddamned pointless.
As the scene begins to meander (we’re already a little over ten minutes into the episode), a crash is heard from the kitchen. Since Face hasn’t had jack shit to do yet, he goes to check it out. Turns out Mrs. Hicks is just a bit of a klutz, and they talk for a while, and she bonds with Face over the fact that he’s an orphan. By the way, NITTS’ name is Robby. Not that it matters.
Back in the living room, Hannibal is telling Mr. Hicks that it would be prohibitively expensive to break NITTS out of jail. But it turns out Hicks wants them to find the guy who set up his son. I’m not sure why he thinks this will get the guy out of jail, but it works in the end, so who am I to criticize?
Face reenters, just as Mr. Hicks offers to sell his farm in order to pay the team. Face, feeling sorry for the couple, immediately takes the job on behalf of the rest of the team… for free. Well, basically. How exactly do these guys earn enough to survive? Face must blow through hundreds of dollars a week just on hair spray.
The team heads for the van, and while Hannibal has his doubts about NITTS, the guy’s cousin vouches for him. By the way, we’re now thirteen minutes in with no name for this chick. Any longer, and I’m going to start a telethon for her.
B.A. and Murdock begin to bicker about Murdock’s mental stability, and B.A.’s fear of flying, and I have to say, I’d love to see a production of The Odd Couple with these two.
Then Unnamed Cousin gives them the name of NITTS’ partner, a man named Al Jackson, and the team goes to have a little chat with him. They pull up to a dinky little airstrip with what looks like the same “Venezuelan” mountain range in the background. It’s ‘80s TV, what can you do?
B.A. kicks open the door to the office, and the guys rough up Jackson.
They eventually get a lead on the man behind the operation, who works out of Colombia. The drug running operation, mind you, not the shipping company. At least, I think. Oh, screw it, let’s move on!
Murdock is enlisted to impersonate the pilot for the next drug run, a guy named “Dick Nash”. They leave the office and discuss the plan with Unnamed Cousin, who we learn is named Judy. Finally! Wait… that’s the same name as the actress! Is it possible the script never gave her a name, and they just improvised something on the spot? Actually, I tend to think a lot of A-Team episodes are mostly, if not entirely, improvised.
So, they have to go to South America, and we finally get to my favorite running gag of the series: B.A.’s fear of flying.
Face says they forgot the “special drink” they usually give to B.A. before flying, so he considers getting a two-by-four instead. But then Judy speaks up, saying she can hypnotize B.A. and put him under. But she’ll only do it if she gets to come along, and Hannibal agrees.
So Judy asks to see one of B.A.’s many gold chains. By which I mean, one of Mr. T’s gold chains, because I highly doubt these came from the wardrobe department. I’m pretty sure Mr. T just showed up to the set every day already dressed like this.
Judy hypnotizes B.A. with the necklace, which works like a charm and knocks him out, and with that, we’re off to South America.
Back from break, we find their plane soaring over the same mountain range seen at the start of the episode. Given the budget, I’m sure this is recycled footage, but really, who cares?
Face and Hannibal are complimenting Judy on the hypnotizing job, and they ask her to plant a post-hypnotic suggestion so they can knock B.A. out anytime they want. Judy needs them to pick a trigger word, and she suggests “eclipse”. You see, they need a relatively obscure word, because they don’t want B.A. falling asleep in the middle of a dangerous situation.
Did that sledgehammer of foreshadowing hurt much when it hit you in the head? I hope not. Although, it’s a good thing they didn’t pick the word “fool”, because then B.A. would be blinking in and out of consciousness like a damn narcoleptic.