The A-Team “The Taxicab Wars” (part 2 of 3)
Ironside turns up, and it seems the trouble was caused by the Lone Star guys complaining about him to the transportation commissioner or something. He says that no one drives in his territory unless he says they can. Do things really work this way? Are cab companies generally governed by the same rules as the mob? I wasn’t aware. If that’s the case, I’ll make sure to tip my next cabbie as generously as I can.
Ironside and company depart, but not before blowing up the Lone Star cab real good, using the old “gasoline-soaked rag in the fuel tank” trick. Hey, if it’s good enough for Joe Don Baker, it’s good enough for Michael Ironside and his evil cab company.
And no, I can’t keep a straight face while typing that phrase. “Evil cab company”, Jesus Christ.
As the car blows up, we get the title of the episode (nice touch), and our guest cast is listed. I’m happy to see that not only are Ernie Hudson and Michael Ironside in this episode, Brion James makes an appearance too. Just throw in Robert Z’Dar and Professor Toru Tanaka, and you have one hell of an ‘80s villain all-star team!
The fire department and paramedics are shown rushing to the scene, and we next see Ernie Hudson looking over what’s left of the cab flambé back at Lone Star HQ.
Hudson’s character is named Cal, and his business is now shit out of luck thanks to the loss of this cab, because it leaves them with only two cabs. Also, the name of the first driver is Tom and the other two drivers are Kathy (whose cab was evidently tampered with while this was going on) and Shelley.
They talk about the A-Team, and Shelley says he tried to find them, but only found a guy in a Laundromat who told them they’d be contacted in 48 hours. We also learn the Ironside character is named Crane, and they turned him in for “fixing meters and dealing dope out of his cabs.” Also, the staff he hires is comprised mostly of ex-cons. And yet, the police can’t help at all? Man, I don’t remember this show being quite so dumb. Of course, I haven’t watched it on a regular basis since I was eleven, so that could be a factor.
As they talk, a sleek Corvette pulls up with Face at the wheel, and Hannibal in disguise. Hannibal comes up and does a long routine pretending to be a rich Texan looking to buy the building. He makes a big scene, offering to help them out in exchange for 10% ownership in the company. And yes, this is Hannibal’s normal routine. He appears in an elaborate disguise and strings the good guys along, until finally revealing his true identity. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen: A giant ham with elite military training.
Eventually, Hannibal radios to somebody that “They’re okay,” and the best van in the history of television rolls into the garage. Yes, this was the era where any show worth its salt had to have at least one signature vehicle. The Dukes of Hazzard had the General Lee, Knight Rider had KITT, and The A-Team had a sleek black van with a red stripe driven by Mr. T.
Hannibal introduces the team, and their first course of action is to acquire some cabs that run.
At Love Cabs, Crane is going over business, talking with one of his goons about some new cabs they’ve just purchased. Ryder (Brion James) enters with a huge brute of a guy named Billings (Donald Gibb, aka Ogre from Revenge of the Nerds). Billings is looking for work, and Crane agrees to this, telling him that if he gets arrested he’d better stay quiet. But I’m just giddy right now that they found a way to team up Brion James and Michael Ironside. That’s just brilliant.
Billings and Ryder drive a truck hauling the new cabs down the street, followed by the A-Team’s van. I really need to come up with a nickname for that thing. Hell, I’ll just go with Mega Van. Sure, it doesn’t have flamethrowers, armored plating, or machine guns, but just give B.A. some tools and a few hours and he could probably make all that happen.
Amy is at the wheel, with Hannibal riding shotgun, so I’d imagine it’s not “outlandish car chase sequence” time just yet. In the back, Face is complaining about having to pose as a cab driver. Apparently, working in Tarzana isn’t his idea of a good time. Murdock, on the other hand, is happy, because it seems he used to take his girlfriends there often to look at smoking chimneys.
Well, he is the crazy guy in the group.
Murdock also starts to formulate a new identity, which tended to happen quite often on this show, but it’s never clear how crazy he really is. He was frequently shown in a nuthouse prior to the team getting him out for a mission, but that eventually kind of went away.
At the end of the day, your reaction to Murdock all depends on how much entertainment you derive from watching Dwight Schultz ham it up like a madman. Speaking for myself, I find it pretty damn amusing most of the time.
Face wishes B.A. were there to shut Murdock up, but apparently he has stuff to do, hence Amy driving. Everyone goes into their own little world, with Amy concerned for the team because they’re about to hijack the cabs, and Face wanting to be a dispatcher, and Murdock coming up with his new identity.
As he rambles, the guys get out of the van and run to the truck carrying all the cabs. They sneak into the cabs, and I guess hotwire them, because they’re able to drive them off the rig as easily as you could ever hope for.
During this, Murdock dubs himself Captain Cab. And the weirdness begins. Again.
Ryder radios in about the theft, and all the other Love Cabs are dispatched to deal with the problem. Good thing the drivers are all ex-cons, otherwise this would be really stupid. Oh wait, it still is.
The team drives the stolen cabs to a drive-thru car wash that’s conspicuously closed. B.A. is there to wave them in, and their rather nebulous plan goes into effect. Murdock starts to ramble, and Face has a nice warning for B.A.
If only you knew, Face, if only you knew.
And now, the team is applying a fast drying paint to the cabs via the drive-thru car wash. Don’t ask how they set that up. I have no idea. I would imagine it involved Mr. T going into the car wash and politely asking them to vacate the place for a few hours, but only after breaking a desk in half with his bare hands.
We also get a little of Murdock walking past Hannibal and B.A., and muttering about being a veterinarian with talking puppies. Have I mentioned how bizarre this guy is, even in the context of the show and his character? Because it’ll probably come up quite a bit. I’m not sure how Dwight came up with the way he plays this character, but I’m pretty sure I’m better off not knowing.
Once the paint has dried, they apply Lone Star Cab Company logos to the doors and drive off, passing Billings, who follows.
While this is going on, we get a voiceover from Murdock that’s basically just rambling on about how “Captain Cab has returned to Tarzana.” Sure thing, nutjob, whatever you say.
Later, back at the Lone Star garage, B.A. and Murdock have a little chat that involves Murdock using his normal voice, and then changing to a stuffy voice while referring to himself as “Dr. Vern”, and he has a sock on his hand which he calls “my talking dog, Sockie!” I guess this would be what the vet and talking puppy thing was about, though given how nuts this guy is, who knows?
B.A. has a nice, Mr. T-ish response.
B.A. is upset because they’ll be sharing a cab, and as luck would have it, he’s a bit of a neat freak. The comic relief is broken up as Hannibal and the others enter. Face is still griping, and there’s some more business with the sock puppet, and then they move out. Cal warns that any call could be a setup, to which Hannibal is quite enthusiastic.
You know, now that I think about it, all four of these guys could qualify as nuts. Sure, Murdock talks to a sock on his hand and takes on several identities while the others simply stare and shake their heads, but Hannibal peels out in his cab like Mario Andretti on speed. Add to that Face’s whining, and the fact that B.A. is played by Mr. T, and I think I’ve made my point quite adeptly.