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!

Thursday, 31 March 2011

The Duke of Whispering Pines s4ep18

Co-starring: Sheila DeWindt as Deborah Duke, Jack Starrett as Wade, Michael Bowen as Rusty, Don Hood as Wells, Gary Grubbs as Sheriff Hopkins, Rick Fitts as Jason Duke
Written by Jayne C Ehrlich
Directed by Sidney Hayes

BA goes to his hometown to visit a former girlfriend whose husband has disappeared.

One of the best entries in an underwhelming season, this is the first episode to be written by a woman since ‘In Plane Sight’ way back in season two. It’s a good script as well, built around an intriguing plot that takes time to unravel but is always interesting as it does.

Although the opening third features only BA and Murdock, it works very well, recalling their previous teaming in the season three classic ‘Breakout’. Murdock gets to tease BA about his relationship with Deborah and also poses as a computer specialist with a heavy cold (assisted by BA who carries the computers and wants to know when they break for lunch).

After a run-in with the local police, BA and Murdock end up in jail and the story then takes a darker turn, culminating in a near-lynching that represents a rare moment of one of the team being in genuine jeopardy. Hannibal and Face then arrive and attempt to make their own progress, leaving Murdock to pursue the villain on a BMX and BA to talk to his old flame.

Credit certainly goes to writer Ehrlich for keeping the story interesting and for coming up with dialogue that doesn’t make BA’s relationship scenes as embarrassing as they have been in the past. Indeed, given how absent BA had been at times this season, this is one of his best episodes as he shoulders large parts of the plot and takes on more of the dialogue than just passing comments.

Although driven by character, the story also features some strong individual set-pieces beyond the usual fistfights, notably a chase sequence with Murdock on the aforementioned BMX. There may be a ‘Diamonds and Dust’ feel to the final third but given that the overall quality is up there with episodes from season two, it really doesn’t matter.

There are a couple of construction montages along the way (well, one construction, one de-construction) but they are very much plot-driven and the final battle is suitably explosive. With the cast all on good form, what this episode goes to prove is that the show wasn’t a lost cause by this point in season four, it was just that the writing wasn’t always as strong as it is here. 9/10

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