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!

Friday, 18 February 2011

The Road to Hope s3ep5

Co-starring: Elisha Cook as Jim Beam, Warren Berlinger as E. Robert Colton, Christopher Neame as Jack Scarett, Lance LeGault as Colonel Decker
Written by Stephen J Cannell
Directed by David Hemmings

Hannibal poses as a wino to check whether a potential client is a Decker plant and is abducted by a gang.

I was never a particular fan of most of the episodes written by Cannell. They tended to be slower-paced and overly talky affairs, mainly taking place indoors with action scenes thrown in at random intervals. He did come good from time to time though and this is one of his better scripts, delivering an episode that gets out and about and properly integrates the action into the plot.

In season four, there was a deliberate move away from the ‘small business pressurised by larger rival’ story that was used so frequently in season three. Cannell seems to be trying to create a new standard structure here though, as the plot is very similar to season four’s third episode ‘Where is the Monster When You Need Him’. So once again, after the initial scene setting, we have Decker attempting to capture Hannibal, a slow-burn reveal of the story and a capture/battle final third.

To Cannell’s credit, this is a much better episode than ‘Monster’, one that is tightly scripted and consistently holds the attention. Humour plays a big part in its success, almost all of which comes from Murdock. He is convinced he can make himself invisible, something which gives an amusing edge to the opening exposition scene. There’s great dialogue as well, notably when Murdock remarks of their accidental wino rescue “but besides saving the wrong guy, we were magnificent!”

The action set pieces are also something of a cut above, most notably the infiltration of and escape from Colton’s gated estate. Murdock posing as a preacher is familiar from an earlier Cannell episode (The Big Squeeze) but it does lead to some funny moments. Looking on his congregation of homeless winos, Murdock remarks “it makes we wonder where all the female bums are”.

The episode maintains a strong pace throughout and after a classic motivational speech from Murdock, we are treated to a well-directed action finale. It all adds up to another above average entry in season four. 8/10

1 comment:

  1. "I'm gone, right Face?"
    "You always were."

    Great episode for Murdock and the Road to Hope Rangers!

    The taking of the homeless men posed a decent measure of danger and was a darker threat than some other shows. I loved the sound effect when Murdock went invisible, too. Good show for season four.