The A-Team “Wheel of Fortune” (part 2 of 2)

B.A. approaches the store and decides to make as big an entrance as he can, driving Mega Van right through the front window display. He shoots up the place a bit, and is taken to a closet where Face is being held.

The A-Team "Wheel of Fortune" (part 2 of 2)

Face greets B.A. with, “I thought that was you at the door!” After B.A. asks where Murdock is, we find him, along with Joshua and Jeremy, as they make their way across a desert landscape. They find a guard shack, and scope out three guys just standing around in military uniforms.

The A-Team "Wheel of Fortune" (part 2 of 2)

Another guy brings some gear out from under a bush, and Joshua exposits that the only way to get out alive is to fly out. Murdock chuckles and remarks, “And to think I could be in Hawaii.” Meanwhile, Joshua gets changed into a military uniform.

Joshua overpowers the guards, and the other three rush in, quickly finding the helicopter. Sorry, folks, nothing overly cool here. It’s just a helicopter. Airwolf could outgun it, Blue Thunder could outpace it, and that funky car from Black Moon Rising easily outclasses it. A shootout ensues, with explosions and tons of bullets fired with nobody getting hit. In other words, par for the course for this show.

The A-Team "Wheel of Fortune" (part 2 of 2)

After one last soldier is dispatched in a kung fu fight with Jeremy, the remaining enemy guys are rounded up by Murdock and Company. Murdock eyes one of the soldier’s radios warily before proceeding with the escape. Once they’re in the air, Murdock compliments the way the chopper handles, and Jeremy takes the opportunity to test the weapon system, blowing up a warehouse.

The A-Team "Wheel of Fortune" (part 2 of 2)

After flying around a bit more, the other shoe finally drops. Murdock realizes that rather than flying around in a foreign country we probably don’t have an extradition treaty with, he’s actually been in the Nevada desert the entire time, and is now approaching Las Vegas. He glares at Joshua, and we go to break.

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Back from commercial, Murdock has been tied to a chair and is being held captive inside a shack in the desert. Our bad guys are planning on using the helicopter to rob a casino, somehow framing Murdock for the crime. It turns out the chopper was captured by the U.S. and Joshua was initially assigned to guard it, hence his knowledge of Murdock’s military history.

They leave Murdock alone and head off in the chopper. You know, because it’s always good to leave your highly trained prisoner alone and unguarded. Sure, we’re not talking Rambo here, but in a minute we’ll see something that would make MacGyver nod appreciatively. Or make a smartass remark, at the very least.

Murdock’s plan is this: He holds two conveniently placed matches in his teeth, and tips his chair over so that he falls right near a conveniently dropped cigar. Lighting the matches with the cigar, he sets fire to some conveniently dropped papers, and burns right through his ropes.

The A-Team "Wheel of Fortune" (part 2 of 2)

He gets free, and right now I have to say it’s a goddamn shame that when people think of this show, it’s Mr. T they automatically go to. We have just seen a level of badass that makes Chuck Norris look like a sniveling little pussy with an excess of body hair.

The A-Team "Wheel of Fortune" (part 2 of 2)

In the casino that the bad guys are planning to rob, a Mr. Stein is meeting with one of his employees as our baddies listen in on a bug. [And the employee is played by Gregory Itzin, who went on to play President Logan on 24. And who could forget his turn as Attorney General John Ashcroft? Apparently, a lot of people. —Albert]

The A-Team "Wheel of Fortune" (part 2 of 2)

It seems the bad guys planted a rumor about a casino heist, and instead they plan to hit the armored car taking the casino’s money to the Federal Reserve building in Los Angeles. I’d love to be more precise, but it’s easier to make out one of Danny Ocean’s schemes than this particular heist.

The A-Team "Wheel of Fortune" (part 2 of 2)

In the desert, Murdock makes his way toward a road. Elsewhere, Mega Van cruises down another road, with Face and B.A. keeping an eye out for their comrade. The guy from the stereo shop is there too, giving them directions, but he never figures into the story in any way again so he’s not even worth mentioning.

It’s a rather confusingly edited scene, as they seem to have used the same stretch of road for both of these things. Granted, it’s the desert, and after a while it all looks the same, but from the way the scene plays out, it looks like Murdock just misses the van as it passes by.

But since it’s a little early for the team to find him, Murdock hooks up with a stranded motorist who actually bears a passing resemblance to Vanna White.

The A-Team "Wheel of Fortune" (part 2 of 2)

The gal’s name is “Jody Joy” (Lydia Cornell, one of Ted Knight’s daughters from Too Close for Comfort), and she’s heading to Vegas to be a chorus girl (which, according to her, is the most exciting thing to ever happen to her). Unfortunately, her car has just broken down.

Murdock sees the fan belt is shot to hell, and he MacGyvers a new fan belt using Jody’s stockings. At this point, I’m waiting for the RPG launcher made from a tube of toothpaste and some belly button lint.

She recognizes him from being on Wheel of Fortune, and now meeting Murdock is the most exciting thing to ever happen to her. Nice to see a girl this easily amused. Meanwhile, the bad guys show up at the shack, only to discover Murdock has escaped. They intuit our hero is heading for a phone, and they split up, with Jeremy flying and the other two in a car. You know, so the stunt team can earn a little extra.

Jody and Murdock find a phone at a diner out in the middle of nowhere. He calls Face in the van (this is back when portable phones were the size of a laptop computer) and gives them his location. Face reports they’ll be there in ten minutes, because they just passed the place.

The A-Team "Wheel of Fortune" (part 2 of 2)

As Murdock gets off the phone at the diner, the bad guys show up. Murdock loses them by hiding in the ladies restroom with Jody. Well, to be accurate, she gets in a stall and he balances himself on the toilet. Hell, it works, so I can’t get too pissy.

The A-Team "Wheel of Fortune" (part 2 of 2)

Jody now has a new entry for the “most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me” list, and they make a break for it. A chase starts up and Murdock is able to disable the bad guys’ car, but they’re stopped by the chopper hovering in the road right in front of them, and we go to break.

The A-Team "Wheel of Fortune" (part 2 of 2)

Just to keep you updated, the preceding chase is now the most exciting thing to ever happen to Jody. Well, at least she’s cute. Oh, why be a smartass, I find her downright irresistible, and I don’t give a damn who knows it!

Back from the break, Face and B.A. show up at the diner. Inspecting the ladies room, they find a hidden message Murdock left on the mirror, which they reveal using the steam generated by running hot water in the sinks, which is another nice trick.

The A-Team "Wheel of Fortune" (part 2 of 2)

Now that Face and B.A. know the target, we can get to the finale. Good thing, too, since we have less than ten minutes to go in the episode.

Murdock and Jody are loaded into the chopper, and for some reason, they go all the way back to the shack to tie them up again. Meanwhile, Face and B.A. head to the casino, and burst into Stein’s office to tell him about the heist. How Face got past casino security with a pistol is beyond me. Maybe the casino staffs the same guys from 3000 Miles to Graceland.

The A-Team "Wheel of Fortune" (part 2 of 2)

Sure enough, Stein calls security on them, and I have to wonder why they felt the need to be armed in order to tell the guy he was about to be robbed. More annoying is that this little development has virtually no bearing on the climax at all, save for an illogical payoff.

The heist begins, with the chopper taking out the cars escorting the armored truck, during which we get our mandatory flipping car stunt. You know, I have to believe the stunt team had it written into their contracts that they got to do this once per episode. It’s the only explanation I can come up with.

Caption contributed by Ed

Some contractual obligations are more spectacular than others.

The bad guys follow this up by using a magnet to lift the armored truck up and fly it away. Apparently, this is a standard feature of the helicopter. They fly off, and for some reason, rather than follow the helicopter, the camera remains focused on a rainbow to the right of the screen. I guess the DP thought it was ironic or something. Hell, maybe he was just bored to death.

The A-Team "Wheel of Fortune" (part 2 of 2)

The chopper lands and the bad guys open the truck, only to find Face and B.A. inside. After a brief shootout, the bad guys are surrounded and arrested. I would venture a guess as to how our heroes went from being arrested by security to being in the van, but then again, the screenwriters sure as hell didn’t care, so why should I?

In the helicopter, Jody frees herself (she apparently used to be a magician’s assistant) and Murdock, after which they embrace and begin to make out.

The A-Team "Wheel of Fortune" (part 2 of 2)

Face approaches, asking if they’re okay, and suddenly this is turning into the end of a James Bond film. After the interruption, Murdock replies that this is the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to him. Coming from a guy who’s seen combat, that’s high praise indeed. They go back to making out, and we go to break.

The A-Team "Wheel of Fortune" (part 2 of 2)

We finish things off with an amusing coda, as Murdock goes back on Wheel of Fortune and wins that truck he wanted.

The A-Team "Wheel of Fortune" (part 2 of 2)

After some banter with Pat Sajak, Murdock meets Face in the green room, and now he’s going to Hawaii with Jody. No doubt she will discover several more “most exciting things” in Hawaii, if what we’ve seen of her so far is any indication. We end on Face’s humorous disappointment as the credits roll.

The A-Team "Wheel of Fortune" (part 2 of 2)

All in all, this is a very middle of the road episode (but still entertaining as hell) and the only reason I can imagine they used the title was so they could have a little bit of stunt casting in the framing sequences.

Either way, it’s a solidly entertaining episode.

Ed Harris

A fan of less than great cinema since childhood, Ed divides his time between writing scripts, working an actual paying job and subjecting himself willingly to some of the worst films society has produced.

Multi-Part Article: The A-Team "Wheel of Fortune"
TV Show: The A-Team

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