About this blog

In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire ... The A-Team.

This was the introduction to one of the great TV series of the eighties. The purpose of this blog is to build up the definitive episode guide to the show across its five seasons which ran from 1983 to 1987. So this isn't too much of a burden, I'm intending to watch a couple of episodes a week and given that there were around 100 episodes made during its run, this will turn into a year-long project!

Monday, 16 August 2010

The Taxi Cab Wars s2ep6

co-starring: Michael Ironside as Miller Crane, Robin Dearden as Kathy, Brion James as Ryder, Greg Monaghan as Shelly, Ernie Hudson as Cal Freeman
Written by Stephen J Cannell
Directed by Gilbert Shilton

The team helps a cab firm who are being forced out of business by a villainous rival.

In many ways, this is the archetypal A-Team episode, a perfect introduction to the series as it contains all the elements you would expect from the show. A Hannibal disguise, the break-in/out of the villain’s lair, the building of an armour-plated combat vehicle, the car flipping. It’s all here and very well-written by show creator Cannell.

The plot is the one that would be used in the most A-Team episodes, the small company being harassed by a larger rival, either for purely commercial reasons, to gain access to the land on which the business resides or for something more obscure. It’s just the commercial angle in this case but Cannell still manages to subvert the usual episode structure, having the team lose rather than win their first confrontation with the rival cab firm, something that makes their ultimate victory all the more sweet.

Apart from a moment in which BA frightens the life out of an elderly English couple, the comedy in this episode comes from Murdock's ”Captain Cab”, a hilarious superhero complete with mask and cape (but no cowl). It’s one of his best delusions, ably assisted by companion Sockie despite threats from BA and "Knockout”. It is a credit to the rest of the cast that they can keep a straight face through it all, particularly Peppard when he has to deliver the classic line, “That sock's telling the truth”.

Villains Ironside and James were two of the greats at playing psychotics at the time and add greatly to the appeal of the episode, as does the fact that it is shot almost entirely on location. Perhaps the compendium of classic elements means the episode does not serve repeated viewing as much as the more distinctive classic episodes but in terms of the standard A-Team plot, this is as good as it gets. 10/10.

Incidentally, this episode marks the first appearance of Face's corvette which practically became a good luck charm for the episodes in which it appeared: The Battle of Bel Air, Chopping Spree, Say It With Bullets, Deadly Maneuvers, Incident at Crystal Lake and Dishpan Man among others.

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