On The Jazz
On The Jazz Newsletter: Volume 3 Issue N°6

Date: December 15, 1996
Author: Nicole Pellegrini
Download: otjv03i06.zip

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The totally unofficial A-Team electronic mail newsletter
***** Now in it's THIRD year of publication !! *****

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Administrivia: Nicole Pellegrini
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*Home of the On the Jazz Newsletter Archives**
DATE:   December 15, 1996

Current newsletter + mailing list subscribership: 144
Current newsletter subscribership: 161
Greetings again, and slightly early this issue! But you'll understand why in my upcoming administrvia announcement. This is another REALLY BIG issue, without my even trying too hard. I guess all the new blood in this group has helped pick up the content and news quite a bit.

NEWS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS: Winter Holiday schedule/Dwight Schultz address/Other Dwight news/Web page announcements
BACKCHAT TRANSCRIPT - with Dirk Benedict
STORY TIME - "An A-Team Christmas"

WINTER HOLIDAY SCHEDULE: Please note that I will be AWAY without email contact for the period of time of December 18 - December 29. If you must unsubscribe for any reason during that time period, please "cc" your requests to [email protected]. Be forwarned that due to the holidays there may still be delays in getting your requests processed, and jj has warned me of a potential system shut down at umich during the holidays for a period of time, so in general just EXPEXT DELAYS (I sound like a traffic reporter here...)

With the new year may come some good news on the front for finding an automated listserv site for this mailing list, so stay tuned...
DWIGHT SCHULTZ ADDRESS: Thanks to one of our intrepid subscribers/fX watchers, we now have a mailing address for Dwight Schultz:

Dwight Schultz
c/o Paul Kohner (<-that's his agent, those of you who were curious & skeptical)
9300 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 555
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
So, thanks to Rhonda for her fax that made it on the air, and send your fan mail!
OTHER DWIGHT NEWS: I heard recently from Don Ecker, host of the "UFO's Tonite!" radio show. UT! *will* be making a comeback soon (no doubt with Dwight back as frequent cohost, as Don had assured me earlier), although I don't know yet if it will be on Cable Radio Network again or a new radio syndicator of some kind. (I hope new - otherwise I'm going to be begging one of you jazzers to tape it for me on a weekly basis). Details as soon as I hear. Don will also be hosting a NEW radio program - a tongue-in-cheek look at Conspiracies - and the UFO Magazine web page will be up soon - and "Dwight will be on it," Don says.
WEB PAGE ANNOUNCEMENTS:Some new pages and changes that I haven't had the chance to revise on my page, but I wanted to make everyone aware of:

Yali Friedman announced to me: "I have an A-team quote generator online at http://bardo.clearlight.com/~morph/yali.htm "

Sonja Horstmann also has a new A-Team Web Page at

And Frederic Lavigne announces that the French A-Team web page has moved to

A little bit of insanity to get you all going this issue - those of you on the reflector saw the question posted - "What do YOU all think the H.M. really stands for, besides Howlin' Mad?" - since they never told us on the show.

Below are all the suggestions that came in, along with people's reasons for their names. Now, I want everyone to VOTE on their favorite from the list (send your choice to me.) I'll take votes through till the next newsletter in the New Year and announce our pick.

(1) Howard Merv
Because: Howard is so perfectly normal that no one would think of it to see him and Merv because that is the namesake of the Fastest, kick-*ssest missles ever to nail an armoured support vehicle.

(2) Harvey Mondolin
Because: I like Harvey, because of "Harvey the Wonder Hamster". As for Mandolin, that's a neat-sounding instrument.

(3) Her Majesty's
Because: Given his excellent "fake" British accent, couldn't Murdock have been exposed to British culture because one his parents was British? So the H.M. Could stand for "Her Majesty's" as in "Her Majesty's Ship (HMS)."

(4) Hot Muchacho
Because: He is.

(5) Harpo Marx
Because: His parents loved the Marx brothers.

(6) Harlan Malkavian
Because: I always liked the name Harlan, but it's odd enough that I could see HM not wanting to use it. Malkavians are the looniest clan of Vampires. They are all insane.

(7) Hank/Henry Michael
Because: I think Murdock wants to be different, unfortunately he was stuck with two normal names. To add mystery, he only goes by the initials H.M.

(8) Henry/Harold Murdock
Because: Murdock is one crazy individual, H.M. stands for Henry (or Harold) Murdock. He was born Henry Murdock, but chooses to go by the name H.M. Murdock. Which, said in full, would be Henry Murdock Murdock.

(9) Humphrey Mudge
Because: Back in the 80's when the show was originally on, my best friend and I asked the Ouija board what HM stood for. It said Humprey Mudge.

(10) Herman Melville
Because: Perhaps that cockroach he named was Murdock's namesake.......And Murdock would make a great Melvillian character--think Ahab, or Bartleby the Scrivener (tho' that character reminds me more of Barclay, but I digress...)

(11) Harold Maude
Because: Everyone must know the inherent insanity behind Harold and Maude....

(12) Happy Monster

(13) The obvious - just HM
Because: He introduced himself to assembled baddies in "Bend in the River" with something like, "You can call me H.M., Hmm, or Hmm Mmm." He *was* born in the era of Harry S (and S only) Truman.

(14) Harley Marlboro
Because: Wasn't there a movie a few years back called "Harley Davidson and The Marlboro Man? That's probably how that popped into my mind.

(15) Holmes Morrison
Because: okay A-Team trivia buffs, give me that one!

(16) Horatio MacArthur
Because: With the British Accent however, the H could stand for Horatio as in Horatio Nelson a naval hero....

Thanks so much to Irene for going through all the trouble to type this up! Some notes from Irene first -

"I've deleted out a good deal of the chitchat and stuff that didn't pertain to TAT, and I cleaned up the grammar, because actual transcripts of conversations are just about impossible to read. (Dirk was particularly prone to interrupting himself in mid-sentence.) Notes in <> are stage action, notes in {} are my comments, most of which were directed loudly at the television. That said, here goes:"

NICOLE'S NOTE: I added a few comments of my own in between /'s...

Jeff Probst and Jane Fergus in the Backchat apartment.

Jeff: Okay, kicking off this entire Backchat dedicated to The A-Team, two letters, from Liz Patrick and Susan Cooke /Susan, aren't you on the mailing list? - n/, and they both sort of came to the same conclusion independent of each other so we combined them into one letter and here it is:

First, Liz: 'While watching The A-Team I have noticed that this crack military group that fought our wars doesn't shoot anything but cars, tires, barrels, etc. They do not hit or kill or do anything to anybody except beat them up.'

Now Susan: 'How many other shows can you watch where thousands of rounds of bullets fly but nobody ever gets shot?'

Jeff: Well, it happened with alarming regularity on Family Affair, take a look at this: <meaningless clip from Family Affair.>

<Irrelevant chitchat between Jeff, Jane, and Mattie and Jillian, two other Backchatters.>

Jeff: All right, Ken Asher, of Ann Arbor MI, takes a serious approach to the subject matter that we just talked about. 'Were any stunt people injured or killed during the production of The A-Team?'

Jeff: Well, according to the producer Mr. Cannell, no, nobody was ever injured or hurt. {That's not true, I seem to recall reading in the TV Guide interview that they were sending flowers to a stuntman who'd been hurt falling off a building.-i} /You're right, Irene. That was in the article on filming "Battle of Bel Air." Also, I have read numerous reports of Geroge injuring his back once, quite badly. But will need to look up the specifics before sending off my correction letter to backchat :-) -n/

<Silly Backchat dramatization, putting whiny voice overs into a shot of a car flying through the air and flipping over.>

Debbie from Denver thinks she's seeing things: 'I'm writing to find out if Scott Bakula ever played on The A-Team?'

Jeff: As far as we know, no he didn't, we researched it and researched it. /Hah! I believe that - not. But he's right. -n/ But I think I understand why you might think that. Take a look at what we've put together and see if this doesn't help clear it up. When you take George Peppard and you take Dirk Benedict and you merge the two together, look at that, you get Scott Bakula.

Jeff: It's like on another level, in another life the three of them were probably brothers somewhere, so they share certain tendencies.

<more chitchat.>

Jeff: Robert Nemmons, of South Carolina asks, 'How come The A-Team didn't have more drama?' You know, I read this letter and I thought to myself, More drama? Are you high Robert? Let me read what I wrote down, the dictionary definition "A state, situation or series of events involving interesting or intense conflict of forces. The A-Team meets that- Did you ever meet a group of guys more intense than The A-Team, Jane?

Jane: I can't think of any other show more dramatic.

Jeff: Tell me that the battle between The A-Team and the US government are not interesting conflicting forces. Mr. T himself is the physical embodiment, his whole demeanor is what drama is all-I suppose there's not enough humor on In Living Color for you. I suppose there's not enough nature on Okovango, maybe not enough sports on World-well, maybe you've got a point there, but let's get back to drama. Drama is a conflict smashing itself right on the head. I'll tell you what I know about drama because I don't remember what the question was but I know this about drama, okay? I know how to say it and I know how to spell it and I know what it is, and The A-Team has it. {note: I think Jeff needs to lay off the amphetamines.-i}

Jeff reads a postcard: Carl Smorood, from Morehead, Minnesota. 'Hey, Jeff, this is my second request, did Melinda Culea, regarding her, why did she leave The A- Team, and how long was she on the show? Please answer my question.' She left because she was dissatisfied with the direction her role was taking, /NOT TRUE! Well, at least not completely true, and it totally depends on who's side of the story you believe. They should READ THE FAQ - n/ and she was on the show for exactly one year, do you know what year it was, Jane?

Jane: Umm, 82?

Jeff: Close, 83.

Jeff: Okay, Jane Fergus is in the study with the Most Frequently Asked Questions. /Their MFAQ, or our FAQ? I think they need a copy of our FAQ -n/

<Chit chat.>
Jane: Okay, 'How many episodes of The A-Team were there?' Jeff?

Jeff: 125. /WRONG! - n/

Jane: That was really close! 128 episodes. It was a very good guess though. {I thought it was 94-i}. /98 hours, including 4 2-hour episodes. That letter to Backchat is getting longer...- n/

Our most frequently asked question number two is about The A-Team {no kidding-i}'In the series, why was the government chasing The A-Team?'

Jeff: I know.

Jane: Well, they're our favorite soldiers of fortune and they supposedly robbed the Bank of Hanoi in 1972.

Jeff: But they didn't do it. /Yes they did. - n/

Jane: It was during the Vietnam war, and then they went on the lam, so of course they didn't do it, they were accused of a crime they didn't commit which allows us to continue to root for them. {Actually, they did do it, and they never denied it.-i}

Jeff: Like the Green Hornet, they didn't do it. {Don't know what that has to do with anything-i}

Jane: Very dramatic. The grand finale today, Will you have a guest star on your backchat A-Team salute?' We absolutely will, that's coming up a little bit later, and I'll give you a little hint: we're not going to be talking to him Face to face." We'll be talking to him on the phone. {Subtlety is this woman's middle name.-i}

Jeff: Still to come, as Jane said, we will chat, sort of in person, with one of the members from The A-Team, and up next we devote an entire segment to media phenomenon strongman Mr. T.

<Commercial break>

Jeff: Because this is a special The A-Team edition we're dedicating an entire segment to one of our most favorite The A-Team members: He's got brawn, he's got attitude, and more costume jewelry than both the Gabor sisters put together... it is Mr. T! {It's not costume jewelry, it's all 14 and 18 carat gold-i} And this segment is called T-time." First up, Andrew from Rhode Island has a couple of quick questions:'I would like to know where Mr. T was born and how old he is now.'

<They sing a little song, the gist of which is, Mr. T was born in Chicago 1952, which makes him 45 now.>

Jeff: Ken Asher who provided us a question earlier in the show is back again, this time he wants to know What's Mr. T's real name and where did the dude learn to act?' Do you know what his real name was?

Jane: Lawrence Tereaud.

Jeff: That's right, and where he learned to act was basically on the job. Sylvester Stallone saw him, he was a celebrity bouncer, he brought him in and made him Clubber Lang in Rocky III , and before you know it the rest was history. But, just to be fair, lest you think he was just some guy walking around and Sylvester made him an actor, he had aspirations long before Stallone ever found him. Here's a diploma he has from his entrance into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, so he was...

Jane: I never knew that.

Jeff: Yeah, he never went though. He couldn't get in-metal detector.

Jane: Ah. <laughter>

Jeff: Paul Johnson is an accessory minded fan.'How heavy was Mr. T's jewelry?'

<They go out for a man in the street' kind of thing, soliciting opinions from random passersby. Estimates range from 5 to 450 lbs-the actual weight is 35lbs.>

Janet Bowman of Dodge City Kansas is beginning to doubt her own memory. I'm almost sure that Mr. T released at least one album during the time The A-Team was on the air. Am I nuts?'

Jeff: No you're not, actually, he released two albums, one was called Mr. T's Commandments and the other we have right here, "Mr. T's Be Somebody or Be Somebody's Fool." which is also the official credo of San Quentin I think. We bought this for $20.

<sure enough,there's a $20 sticker on the album. They then play an excerpt from a track called "Treat Your Mother Right", which must be heard to be appreciated.> /I'll agree with that - n/

Jeff: Up next our Mystery Guest joins us.{Not sure why he's a mystery guest, since they've been announcing him all week -i}

Right now, it's time for Backchat Biography. Wanda Colosa contacted us, she wants some in depth information on Col. John "Hannibal" Smith.'Okay, I have a question for your Backchat show. What did George Peppard play in before The A-Team? Like, what kind of movies was George Peppard in?'

Fair question: Let's get this plan together. His movies include The Strange One 1957, Breakfast at Tiffany's from 1961 in which he co-starred with Audrey Hepburn. He also appeared in How the West was Won in 1962 and the Carpetbaggers in 2964. Other movies - the Blue Max, One More Train to Rob and Hell to Victory. On Television, he starred in Banacek, Doctor's Hospital, and of course The A-Team. {And a good bit more, this is a pretty bloody sketchy resume- i}

Jeff: Leslie Codwell provides us with a perfect lead in to our next segment. 'I'll be watching your salute to The A-Team next week, I hope I won't be disappointed. Any chance you'll have Dirk Benedict on, hint hint?'

Jeff: I think we might be, let's see if we have the Faceman on the phone, Dirk, are you there?

Dirk (voice only): I'm here.

Jeff: Where are you calling us from?

Dirk: I'm on the corner of 57th and 5th, Yeah, I'm right down here on 57th and 5th. Geez, you coulda sprung for a taxi and brought me to the studio, I think.

Jane: Come on up.

Jeff: Sorry, bud, it's the money The A-Team is costing us.

Dirk: No, I'm in Montana, it's cold and miserable here, I don't know why anybody would live in Montana, I have no idea, but I'm doing it.
Jeff: That's where you live these days?

Dirk: That's right, I'm snowbound.

Jeff: We're doing this whole show, it's dedicated to The A-Team-
Dirk: And about time.

Jeff: Do you ever look back and wonder what it was about that show that's made it so enduring and so popular?

Dirk: Well, a lot of people have tried to figure that out, many of them tried to do similar shows, and failed, I think it was a bit of an enigma, it just kind of happened. We always felt, and in retrospect I feel more so this way, that it was the chemistry between the four of us. /EXACTLY! -n/ If you have an hour, I could do an hour show on that, because we were all very, very different people and what one would politely say 'eccentric' in our own way, and yet there was this enjoyment of each other's eccentricities. As crazy as the show was in a madcap way, the kind of cartoony things that we did, it was much, much crazier off camera.

Jeff: Yeah, you can sense that you guys really get along, and I think you're right, every time you tune it in, there's still that old gang back together feeling.

Dirk: No, we didn't, we didn't get along! I mean, it was like a family, we'd fight-the fights were real. Sometimes they couldn't roll the cameras there was so much screaming going on, and yelling and - they would just literally, it was hard to get us in front of the camera. Most television shows - this show, remember was on film and was all on-location. We were in no sound stages, no studios-

Jeff: What would you be arguing about?

Dirk: Oh, politics, religion, bowel movements, you name it, anything. You had to get a ticket and get in line to be able to say something because everybody was just a nonstop talker. Mr. T was the worst, when he hit the set in the morning he started talking and he never stopped until he left. So it was a freeforall. T is genuinely one of the funniest human beings I've ever been around. He's very quick and very out there. And Dwight, you know, motor mouth, so it was pretty wild. George was the older guy, he had all this experience, he had a tough time with us sometimes.

Jeff: Do you guys still stay in touch?

Dirk: No, we don't. George of course has left us, he's making movies up in the big studio in the sky, he's probably trying to tell them how to do it better up there.

Jeff: We were just playing a track from Mr. T's Be Somebody album, I don't know if you have that album at home, one of his hot pop albums.

Dirk: No.

Jeff: No? We'll send you the copy we have, it's got a great song on there called Treat Your Mother Right that you might want to check out. But that's for later.

Dirk: Why do you say that? What do you know about me and my mother's relationship? You must have read my second book, or you can read between the lines in all my performances. Okay, so I have a mother problem.

Jeff: We'll talk about that later, because I know you're going to come up here and hang out with us for a little bit, right?

Dirk: Yeah. {his tone indicates, not a chance in hell. -i}

Jeff: One last question, we gotta wrap this up, but we asked Urick this question about Vegas, if he was getting rich, because you hear about all these guys that are making lots of moola. So are you getting rich off the A-Team?

Dirk: No, I'm not, and I never did, and I probably never will, and I won't be in the movie they make, so there's no money there. I have very many very, very rich memories from having done the show, and had a tremendous time doing it. Dwight and I are very close and stay in touch, and T and I also. So it was a wonderful experience. I'm glad you guys are playing it and the response...I'm getting a lot of fan mail, you know. Tell them to send checks, though.

Jeff: I'll do it. Okay, Dirk, we gotta get outta here, so we can play a little more of this Mr. T < with album> and we gotta do our Letter of the Week, it's a big darn deal here on Backchat.

Dirk: Hey, listen, I've been bumped for smaller stuff.

Jeff: Thanks, for coming, hanging out at a pay phone, we'll talk to you later.

Dirk: Thanks for having me.

<Trivia question of the week: What was Mr. T's fear on the show? Answer: Flying with pilot Howling Mad' Murdock.> {Not exactly trivia by my count-i}

Letter of the week:
Jeff: Karen and Lynda, from Tennessee, they give new meaning to the word dedication.' 'We really appreciate your recent daily showing of The A-Team. We truly believe that TV from the 80s is a lost treasure. The A-Team just finished, and we are reminiscing about playing BA Baracus action figures and the black van with the red strip, the one that you pulled backwards and wind up and it shoots forward until it hits the wall or furniture or somebody's toe... Anyway, television today tries to be futuristic but no attempts compare to the level of perfection achieved in the 80s. It was a time when imagination was all that was needed for a good story line and a gunfight or two was not politically incorrect.'

Jeff: Karen and Lynda, thank you for holding steadfast to your favorite era of television and you have awakened in us a need to give, to you, this 6 cent FX pencil. Just one, for the both of you, because as Dirk said, we have no budget. That's all the time we have, thanks to Dirk, Suburu, etc.

The end, and about time.

Nicole adds: if you feel your intelligence has been insulted by the previous transcript, well, the best thing to do would be to send your own letter/email/fax to Backchat, pointing out some of the errors of their ways. HOWEVER - still try to be polite. We DON'T need fX thinking all A-Team fans are a bunch of raving lunatics. I already send them an email politely correcting the mistakes in some of their Trivia answers and pointing them towards the FAQ; we'll see if they ever get around to it...

This issue, something new & special - it's an ON THE JAZZ PREMIERE! The following original story comes just in time for the holidays, so in the spirit of good cheer let's all enjoy...

An A-Team Christmas

by Rhonda Eudaly

"Now, when we get there," Lieutenant Templeton "Faceman" Peck briefed his team mates, "Hannibal and I will go in and make sure the sisters are ready for us. Then we'll signal for you two to come in."

Neither Captain H.M. Murdock nor Sergeant Bosco "B.A." Baracas seemed very happy with the division of labor.

"Come on, guys, we all agreed to do this," Face wheedled. "They're counting on us."

"That was before you told me I had to be an elf, Faceman," Murdock complained. "Look at me. Grown men should not have to dress like this."
"You finally look like what you are," B.A. growled. "A crazy fool."

Murdock glared at B.A. The pilot was dressed in a festive red and green outfit much more suited to a cheesy, low budget Shakespearean production than to a world renowned pilot. He wanted to shake his head, but every time he did so, the tiny bell on the harlequin hat jingled annoyingly. He crossed his legs grumpily, hoping the kelly green tights would split so he could put on a respectable pair of pants. The pointy toe of the red satin shoes bumped Face's leg.

"Besides, Murdock. Not many men have the legs to pull off the tights," Face continued. "You should be flattered."

"He's got a point, Murdock. None of the rest of us have the legs to be an elf," Lieutenant Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith agreed. "Besides, it'll make the kids really happy. And it is Christmas."

"Yeah. We gotta remember this is for the kids," B.A. said, mostly to himself.

The large African-American sergeant was a little better off than Murdock, but not by much. He drove his van in a red Santa suit, minus the white beard and hair and adding about a few dozen layers of gold chain. At the moment, he looked anything but jolly. But it could have been worse. He could've been the elf.

B.A. pulled the van into the parking lot. Face and Hannibal climbed out at the door to the orphanage. Just as they were about to go inside, a large young man nearly ran them down. The young man jumped into a waiting car and raced away.

Hannibal motioned to B.A. "Go! Go!"

B.A. sped out of the parking lot after the car. Murdock eased into the front seat to help B.A. note where the car was going.

Face and Hannibal ran into the orphanage. Chaos reigned. Children and nuns were crying. Others were shouting for order. People were running about or frozen in place. No one noticed Face or Hannibal or their drawn hand guns. Both men saw the nun who was apparently in charge. The older woman was barking order to everyone around her like the many drill instructors the two officers had seen in their lifetime.

"Sister Mary Rose!" Face called out. "What happened?"

"Templeton? Templeton! And Colonel Smith!" The harried nun finally saw them. "I'd forgotten you were coming in all the confusion."
"What . . . what happened, Sister?" Hannibal asked.

"Vandals. Thugs. Thieves," the nun sputtered. "They came in last night and stole all the Christmas presents. We just found out. Oh, the poor children, now they won't have any Christmas."

"Don't worry, Sister Mary Rose," Face tried to soothe the older lady. "We'll get the kids presents back in time for Christmas."

"But tomorrow is Christmas! What can you and your friends do, Templeton?" Sister Mary Rose asked. "I'm afraid it'll take more than a holiday miracle to save this Christmas."

"Then you better start praying, Sister," Hannibal told her. "And leave the rest to us."

Face and Hannibal holstered their weapons and went back to the front entrance. B.A. and Murdock were just parking the van when the other two came out of the building. The four regrouped in the parking lot.
"Sorry, Hannibal. We lost him in a barrio about ten minutes from here," Murdock reported. "Whoever that was, he's gone to ground."

"Then we need to flush 'em out," Hannibal said, pulling out a cigar. "And we gotta do it fast. Face, did you notice any broken windows, signs of forced entry?"

"I wasn't really looking, but no, I don't think so," Face replied.

"You thinkin' it was an inside job?" Murdock asked.

"Yeah. Probably that kid you guys chased down," Hannibal replied. "Come on, let's find out who's missing."

Moments later Sister Mary Rose joined the Team in her office. She fought reacting to Murdock and B.A.'s appearances. They were doing it all for the kids, she told herself, and for Christmas. But the costumes clashed terribly with their serious expressions.

"You were right, Colonel Smith," the nun said, sitting at her desk with a file. "There is one boy missing. Billy Costello. He was new here."

"What can you tell us about this boy, Sister?" Face asked.

"His parents died in a drive by shooting six months ago. No family came forward to take him, and he was too old to foster successfully. It was here or juvenile hall. Why do you ask, Templeton?"

"We think it was an inside job, Sister," Face told her. "Do you have any idea where he might have gone?"

"I can't believe Billy would be involved," Mary Rose protested. "He seemed to like it here. He was studying well. Interacting with the other children. Taking responsibility."

"That could be why he ran," Murdock said to Hannibal.

"I don't think he could do this," the nun protested.

"We're not saying he did, Sister," Hannibal told her. "But he's our only connection to this matter. All we want to do is talk to him. We can't do that if we don't know where he can be found."

Sister Mary Rose thought about that for a minute, then passed the address across the desk to the colonel. Hannibal tucked it into his pocket. The Team stood and filed out of the office.

"So what do you want us to do, Hannibal?" Face asked once they were outside.

"B.A., let's check out this address. I'm betting it's close to where you lost Billy and his friends before. Then we'll find him, and hopefully get the stuff back before they fence it all."

"Now, Hannibal, I don't understand why a bunch of street punks would steal a bunch of toys and clothes from an orphanage, and at Christmas. What's up with that?" Murdock asked, shaking his head. The movement was accompanied by the soft jingle of the bell on his hat.
"Who knows?" Face responded. "There can't be that much worth selling."

"That's one reason we have to find Billy," Hannibal said. "He's our only link to the slime balls who stole the stuff and why."

A short while later the van paused at an intersection. Murdock looked around them. "This is where we lost him before, Colonel."
"That's what I thought," Hannibal said. "This address is only a couple of streets up and to the right. We should probably go in on foot. We don't want to scare the kid off before we find out what we want to know."

B.A. pulled the van off the road and the Team climbed out. They decided to forego the larger automatic weapons on this first visit. If things didn't go exactly as planned, there was always time to come back and deck the halls, if there was a need.

"B.A., you and Murdock go around back," Hannibal directed. "If he is here, we don't want him spooked and bolting out the back. Face and I'll try a gentler approach first. After all it is Christmas."

B.A. and Murdock disappeared behind the house as Face and Hannibal approached the front door. Face knocked on the door, and it was almost immediately opened by an older, sweet looking lady.
"Yes?" she asked pleasantly. "Can I help you?"

"Yes, ma'am," Face began with a bright smile. Hannibal eased back to let the lieutenant work his charm. "Is Billy at home? We'd like to talk to him."

The older woman's expression changed to be a little suspicious. "Is Billy in some sort of trouble?"

Face didn't miss a beat. "Oh, no, ma'am. We're from the Leadership of Tomorrow Scholarship Fund. We've heard of Billy's remarkable turn around academically, and we wanted to meet the lad in person before offering him a full scholarship."

"Well, isn't that nice, but Billy hasn't lived here in over a year. He's over at the orphanage now. He comes by every so often to visit, though."

"Can I ask when he was here last, ma'am?"

The older woman thought for a moment. "Two weeks ago. But we expect him tomorrow for Christmas. I'm making his favorite dinner, you know."

"That's nice, ma'am," Face replied. "Thank you for your time. We won't take up anymore of it. Good bye." Face and Hannibal left the porch. Face looked at the colonel. "I believe her, Hannibal."

"Yeah, let's get B.A. and Murdock. He's not here."

The Team regrouped on the side of the house behind a small group of trees. Murdock scanned the empty lots behind the houses on that side of the street.

"Colonel, check that out," Murdock said continuing to look in the distance. "Warehouses."

Hannibal looked where Murdock indicated. "They look pretty deserted."

"And there's a drainage ditch over there. Looks pretty big. Might make a decent hiding place," Murdock added.

"Good work, Captain," Hannibal said, clapping the elf on the shoulder. "Let's get back to the van."

Only a moment later, B.A. turned to the van along the huge drainage ditch heading toward the warehouses. All four team members kept their eyes peeled for any sign of habitation on the otherwise deserted industrial area. It took only a few moments more to spot a car outside one of the warehouses.

"That's it, Colonel," Murdock reported, pointing. "That's the car B.A. and I chased earlier."

"And Sister Mary Rose thought we'd need to have a Christmas miracle to pull this one off," Hannibal said with a grin. "Looks like she kept her end of the deal. It's time we do the same."

Billy Costello stood inside the warehouse with two other young men in rough clothing. The two sat at a table near a pile of presents. Billy kept shaking his head. "Why did you have to do this?" he kept asking.
"What do you care?" one of the rough young men asked.

"Come on, Rick, they're orphans! They don't have anything. Why take their presents?" Billy demanded. "They haven't done anything to you."

"They're in my territory," Rick replied. "That's all that matters."

"But it's Christmas!"

"'But it's Christmas'," Rick mocked. "And why have you gotten soft so suddenly? You helped start all of this when you went to the orphanage to begin with."

"I thought we decided there was nothing there worth stealing," Billy protested.

"That was before the generosity of the community to help those less fortunate," Rick sneered. The other young man laughed.
Billy paced. "What are you going to do with all this stuff, Rick? It's not worth fencing. It's just a bunch of toys and clothes."

"I'm going to have myself a merry little Christmas. Me and Julio here."

"Think again slime ball," Hannibal growled as he and the Team burst into the room."

Rick and Julio leapt to their feet, drawing their guns. Murdock froze them in their tracks by firing his machine gun into the ceiling. The boys dropped their guns. "I guess we know who's been naughty this year and we don't even have to check twice."

"What is this?" Rick demanded. "Who is this clown?"

Murdock was across the room and poked his finger hard into Rick's chest. "I'm not a clown. I am an elf. Don't you forget it, pal."

Hannibal looked around and let his glance fell on Billy. "You're Billy Costello. Aren't you?"
"Yes," Billy told them. "But I didn't help them."

"Then why are you here?" Face asked.

"I was trying to talk them into taking the stuff back. I never wanted this."

"I'll believe you for now, kid," Hannibal told Billy.

"This stuff belongs to the orphans," B.A. growled. "We're taking it all back to them."

"Hey, this stuff is ours now," Julio protested.

"So young. So stupid," Hannibal replied with a tsking sound. "B.A., enlighten our young friends."

B.A. gripped Julio's shirt and lifted the Latino boy off his feet. The boy's feet flailed helplessly against the air. "Why'd you take the orphans Christmas presents?"

Julio only gagged his answer.
B.A. put the kid down. Face told the larger man, "Santa's supposed to be jolly."

B.A. shrugged and dropped Julio in a pile of quivering clothing. "Do we have a problem, kid?" he demanded, turning his attention to Rick.

"Take the stuff, man!" Rick yelled nervously. "It's not worth this."

Hannibal walked over to Rick and gripped the boy's collar. "You're not going to mess with the orphanage or Billy Costello once we've parted company again. You got that?"

Rick gulped and nodded. "Yes, sir."

Hannibal let him go. "Now, take your friend and go. You won't like it if we run across your path again."

Rick pulled Julio to his feet and the two boys ran from the warehouse.

Hannibal looked at his Team. "Come on, guys. Let's get Billy and the stuff back to the orphanage. It looks like it will be a Merry Christmas after all."

About an hour later, the Team and Billy were once more in Sister Mary Rose's office. The nun listened intently to Billy's story.

"When I first came here, Rick and Julio had been friends of mine. We thought, then, that we might be able to find something worth stealing," Billy told her, looking down at his shoes. "We didn't find anything. And I had no idea they were still thinking about it. So when they stole everything last night . . . I knew who it was, and I went after them. I hoped I could get all that stuff back . . . I'm sorry, Sister Mary Rose."

"Yes, Billy, I see that," the nun replied. "Between your explanation and Colonel Smith's report, I know you had nothing to do with this incident except for helping recovering the lost items. The police have picked up the boys responsible for the theft. Now go join the other children. We'll be along shortly."

"Yes, Sister," Billy said, leaving the room. Sister Mary Rose waited until the door closed behind the boy before she continued. "Thank you all for everything. It's going to be a wonderful Christmas for the children after all. Thank you."

The Team followed the nun out to the orphanage's common room. It rang with the sounds of children laughing. The presents had been returned to under the Christmas tree. Hannibal and Face watched the kids happily mob B.A. and Murdock. None of the children seemed to care they had a non-traditional Santa Claus or a six-foot elf, and the two men seemed to be having a ball with the kids.

"I love Christmas," Hannibal said, leaning on Face's shoulder. "It's almost as nice as when a plan comes together."

"And God bless us every one," Face amended.
<The end>
That's all for this issue - see you all in the New Year, when I'll have reviews of two unaired A-Team scripts, and no doubt much more to tell...

PS - the 5th season of TAT - the season you either love or hate, it seems - is due on fX over the coming holiday period. I'll be interested in seeing some good debates over it when I get back.
Quote of the week:

"Aw Hannibal, its bad enough when Murdock flies this
thing, but at least he knows how to!"
                                (B.A. in "In Plane Sight")
sockii, aka nicole
"Having had a personal life, I found it vastly over-rated."
Proud member of the Narn Bat Squad <Whack!> and the C.o.M.

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