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"The A-Team" is a guilty pleasure for the two generations of viewers
who have embraced the series. It never attempted to be "Masterpiece
Theater", but 'cotton candy for the brain', with the best episodes
replaying the same scenario over and over (Underdog gets mauled by Big
Bad Villain and his Baddies...calls in Our Heroes, who end up defending
the Underdog on a 'deferred payment' plan...Our Heroes Stomp the
Baddies, then get themselves captured...in true "MacGiver"-like
fashion, they use the materials at hand, creating homemade lethal, yet
non-fatal weapons in insanely short order...the Baddies are Crushed,
and Our Heroes split, seconds before the Authorities arrive to arrest
them). What made the series so popular was never the 'ritual' of the
plots, however; if you loved the show, it was because of the chemistry
of the stars. Hannibal, B.A., Face, and Murdock were all likable guys,
and seemed to enjoy every moment together...and fans of the series have
always 'picked up' on that camaraderie.
The brainchild of Stephen Cannell and Frank Lupo, NBC loved the concept of the show, and gave the series a prime 'starting' point, airing the pilot episode after a Super Bowl, guaranteeing great initial ratings. Featuring Tim Dunigan as 'Face' (Dirk Benedict was unavailable for the pilot), the show benefited enormously from Mr. T's presence, as ROCKY 3 had made him an overnight star. Another 'plus' was George Peppard's return to weekly television; his "Banecek" had been a much loved NBC series, until he walked off the show (Cannell, one of the writers of the earlier series, understood the ex-alcoholic Peppard's occasional mood swings, and offered him a large salary and a lot of creative control in the new series, resulting in one of the happier periods in the actor's tragic life).
A major discovery for "The A-Team" was Dwight Schultz, as 'Howling Mad Murdock'. A remarkably versatile actor, Schultz was adept at accents, physical humor, and rapid-fire one-liners, and his exchanges with Mr. T were funny without ever being demeaning. Peppard took a liking to the young actor, as well, and the warmth between the pair could be seen in nearly every episode. With Benedict's arrival (he had been the break-out star of "Battlestar Galactica", and had a large female following), Peppard had all the elements he felt were needed to make "The A-Team" work...which didn't bode well for the one female regular, Melinda Culea, as reporter Amy Allen. Although she gave the show a more balanced slant, and was excellent in her role, Peppard always considered her a 'fifth wheel'...and when Cannell did not renew her contract for the third season, it was generally assumed that George Peppard used his leverage to oust her. A new female character was introduced, played by Marla Heasley, but her character would remain less active, and would have a story 'arc' that would have her leave the series in 1985.
A television show with a single concept, no matter how enjoyable the cast, can't run indefinitely, and by the end of the fourth season, "The A-Team" had pretty well exhausted all the variations the writers could imagine. Entertainment figures (Hulk Hogan, Boy George and the Culture Club, Rick James, Isaac Hayes) appeared in weak efforts to bolster ratings, and NBC pressured Cannell to make major changes to the series.
Bowing to network pressure, the fifth season began by having the A-Team finally captured and court-martialed. Escaping with the aid of new regular Frankie Santana (Eddie Velez), the team soon found themselves 'prisoners' of a secret government agency run by Gen. Hunt Stockwell (Robert Vaughn), who offered them full pardons if they would take on a number of assignments "too risky" for the U.S. intelligence community to handle. The episodes sank to formulaic "Mission Impossible" clones, with George Peppard's authority lost to new boss Vaughn, and the 'blue-collar' charm of the earlier seasons sadly absent. When the series was canceled, while fans mourned, few were surprised.
What has been a surprise is the 'cult' status the series has achieved in the years since it left the air. While George Peppard never lived long enough to see it happen (he died in 1994, from pneumonia), the still-growing popularity of the show has been a source of pride and amazement for Benedict, Schultz, and Mr. T (who nearly died of cancer, but has made a complete recovery), and the show is about to re-emerge as a feature film, with Stephen Cannell producing.
Not bad for a 'single concept' series!
It's just a pity it only ran for 3 years. I was only a kid then but I
imagine it was one of the top rating shows. When I say that The A-Team was
inventive I really mean it.
Every show would have them locked in a barn or warehouse, by a corrupt Sheriff or Mayor, that just happens to be loaded with equipment of some kind. The A-Team then invent some kind of crazy machine that enables them to break out and defeat the bad guys. Not before a montage of them building the machine to a variation of the classic A-Team theme tune.
Every 10th show would be about Deckard and how he wanted to catch the A-Team "for a crime they didn't commit", but he never did. They were just too clever.
The show was always critized for being too farfetch'd. It's true though. A car would be blown up and the passengers would walk out, cough and dust themselves down...totally unharmed. And The A-Teams uncanny ability to fashion a rocket launcher out of a pringles tube and an orange was just too much for some folks. But that's what made it so good.
Nothing defined the eighties so much as the television we watched.
The Young and the Restless. The Dukes of Hazzard. He-Man. The Greatest
American Hero. Airwolf. Knight Rider.
In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they did not commit. They promptly escaped a maximum security stockade into the Los Angeles Underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they exist 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...
With a script any eight year old would love, the four members of the A-Team went off every week to somewhere in America to help someone who couldn't find help anywhere else. They battled impossible odds (with impossible storylines) and managed to stay one step ahead of the law. They were always predictable, heroic, and fun. God bless the eighties, and long live TV Land.
The A-Team was one of three shows - the others being The Cosby Show and
Miami Vice - that rescued NBC in the 1980s, and this mixture of action and
comedy still holds up as an entertaining concoction.
The show succeeds primarily on the personalities of the cast. George Peppard's career was drying up and looked half past dead when he was cast as flamboyant Colonel John H. "Hannibal" Smith; his performances gave his career the boost it otherwise would not have gotten as in the manner of Leslie Nielsen he found his niche in comedic flamboyance after nearly two decades as a straight lead or in a character role.
Dirk Benedict brings Starbuck to Earth (best shown in the show's most overt and best in-joke, the shot of a Cylon centurion guide at Universal Studios walking past Templeton Peck with the intimidating hum of its eye scanner added to the soundtrack) and scores again as the slightly decedent but ultimately sympathetic rogue who is the team's primary scam expert. Peck is something of the dry-witted observor of the crazy happenings to the team during its adventures.
Mr. T had become a household name in Rocky III but it was The A-Team that cemented his persona with his trademark "Shut up, fool!" and general attitude with a heart of gold. Bosco Arnold Baracus was always feuding with the team's pilot, Hector M. Murdoch, committed to a VA psycho ward due to insanity concocted in the Vietnam war - insanity that is just a ruse for Murdoch to better help the team.
It may seem odd to think of Dwight Schultz as a qualified Broadway performer, but his career has been in that vein, and his role of Murdoch made him a true TV star; Schultz gave Murdoch his personality but he also tempered him with believeable torment, best shown in the show's warmest episode "Bounty," co-starring Schultz' reallife wife Wendy Fulton. Murdoch can be funny, but as Wendy helps bring out in this episode, Schultz is also a qualified dramatic performer.
Ultimately fleshing out the show was the Gerard-esque pursuer of the team, Colonel Roderick Decker. Lance LeGault portrayed Decker and made one of TV's best recurring villians. Decker gained sympathy from his determination and it showed in one of the show's weaker episodes, "Incident At Crystal Lake" where he and his executive officer Captain Crane are attacked by four criminals and brutally beaten; no pleasure is derived from seeing Decker and Crane brutalized; if anything the viewer despises this scene precisely because the two Army officers are so humiliated. This sympathy angle is best shown in the show's flashback episode "Curtain Call" where Decker has the team cornered and they offer no resistance to arrest and also in a later episode where Hannibal needs to protect the family of his client from mobsters, and the only way he can is to draw Decker into the fray.
As Crane, future director Carl Franklin displays superb chemistry with LeGault throughout the run of the show, and it was a mystery when, after two episodes of the show's 1985-6 season, Crane was curiously dropped.
This is a show where everything revolves around personality. The plots and production values are deliberately on a budget; it is the personality of the characters that drives the show and makes it work. Hannibal always loves it when a plan comes together, B.A. is always cantankerous and terrified of flying (except, curiously, in one 1986 episode where Peck is rescued and they fly out in a helicopter), Templeton Peck always has a scam running, and Murdoch is always engagingly nuts.
And it all works, each episode, of a pivotal action comedy series of the 1980s.
What constitutes a really really good TV show? I think it has to have good
characters, good stories,action, car chases, villains and it has to be
totally crazy and unafraid to show the impossible.
The A-Team had it all. It is the type of show one can watch over and over again and still enjoy it. I have very fond memories of The A-Team from the 1980's. I get all nostalgic when watching it. Why is it that the TV writers and producers from the 1980's produced such good stuff? Why can nobody write a good show nowadays.
The storyline for the A-Team hardly ever changed. Some underdog such as a farmer or small business owner would be getting hassle from some rich guy who wanted to put them out of business. The underdog would call in the A-Team. The A-Team would thrash the bad guys. The bad guys would get hold of as much weaponry as they could. The A-Team would then get hold of even better weaponry. There would be a good scrap at the end and plenty of gunfire (although neither the good guys or bad guys could hit anyone). The A-Team would beat the baddies and leave them for the police. That was the story for most the episodes. There were deviations from the normal formula (particularly in the last season)at times. In one episode a mercenary called Kyle tries to put the A-Team out of commission. In another episode Howlin' Mad Murdock was wounded whilst the US Army were on the Team's trail.
The really good thing about the A-Team was that it was totally crazy and didn't take itself seriously. There were so many odd things about this series.
For example, the A-Team never seemed to have a permanent house. I guess they lived in that van but I never saw any suitcases or personal belongings in their van.
There were other crazy things. The Team used to bust Murdock out of a psychiatric hospital when they needed him. Perhaps the hospital chiefs should have put a 24 hour guard on his door. The other funny thing was the way the Team always used to put B.A. Baracus to sleep when they needed to fly. They never failed in doing that. In short, the Team could do anything. They could evade the US Army constantly and they could build anything from scrap. The only thing they couldn't do was shoot anyone-they always missed. It was all these crazy things that made the A-Team great.
The characters were brilliant. The late George Peppard was Hannibal who always had a plan and only enjoyed himself when there were bullets flying past him and things getting blown up. Mr T played the grumpy B.A. Baracus whose heart was in the wrong place. He was tough but scared of flying. Dirk Benedict played Faceman who was the ultimate conman. He could play any part and get anything for the team. Dwight Schultz played the mad howlin'Murdock who may have been mad but he could certainly be counted on. Throughout the series the Team were joined by the likes of the beautiful Amy Allen and the slick Frankie Santana. The last season deviated from the normal formula but it was still good.
All in all, it was a great show which brings back great memories whenever I watch it. It was just one of the many shows which made the 80's great. A big pat on the back must go to everyone involved in this wonderful show. I hope the big budget film is good but nothing could ever be better than this show.
Weren't 80's shows the greatest? There are some great shows out there today
but nothing like The Dukes of Hazard, The Incredible Hulk and The A-Team.
What an absolutely fantastic idea to have four Vietnam Vets on the run from
the law and along the way solving crimes and puzzles for people that can
afford them. How many of us can remember the bickering of B.A and Murdock?
Remember how funny it was to watch Hannibal and Murdock trick B.A into
drinking his milk? All of this was done to knock him out so they could fly
somewhere (B.A. was afraid of flying). Hannibal smoking his cigars and then
spewing out cool lines like " I love it when a plan comes together. "
Faceman could infiltrate any establishment, not through brute force but with
his wit and ability to disguise himself. And Murdock was just plain crazy,
or was he? Many people have alluded to the fact no one ever got hurt
either. How many times did Hannibal shoot out someone's tires and the car
would flip over 500 times and then the occupants would get out of the car
just rubbing their neck and grimacing a bit? Classic stuff. I also think
the A-Team was a distant cousin of MacGyver because they could build
anything out of anything. They would be locked in a warehouse by the bad
guys and that warehouse would just happen to have a blow-torch and a bunch
of steel in it. Low and behold, they would build themselves a tank. Sure
this is all incredibly silly but so entertaining.
Some 90's shows are great. Friends and Cheers and Frasier and I'm sure a bunch of others are awesome, but they can not match the sheer innocence and brilliance of shows like the A-Team. Maybe I am biased because I grew up in the 80's but I truly feel that way. The A-Team is one show that I wish would show up in syndication here in Toronto. It was fun, imaginative and damn entertaining. Just like most other entertainment that was born in the 80's.
A true staple of the 80's
10 out of 10
This is something very cool, and the funny part is, if you didn't see it as a child or when it was a prime time series YOU don't like it!! A-team is not even a un political series, nope nothing controversial here, the A-team never kills a bad guy, they don't even wound them!! but the way B.A. Throws a bad guy over a car or when Hannibal says "I love it when a plan comes together" you don't even notice that this is in fact a family show. When I was a but a wee lad, this was the show I loved and heres the loser part, I STILL DO!! there has been many legendary shows of this period, Magnum P.I., Airwolf and Knight Rider, but A-team is in an entirely other league!! God bless George Peppard and his Legendary A-Team ill follow you in to combat anytime.... And i still do!!!
After the Vietnam war a ream of commandos are framed for a crime they didn't
commit. While on the run from the military police they act as hired hands
to help put right wrongs where the police etc have proved
Many TV shows from the 80's are looked fondly upon by those of us who were in our childhood at the time, even if they were really pretty poor e.g. Manimal, Street Hawk etc. However many deserve their place in our hearts and I think the A Team is one such show. The basic plot is always the same the group get involved in a mission and it always ends in some sort of gunfight and the group construct a machine out of odds and sods they find in a shed!
It contains the same elements every week, whether it be Hannibal's disguises, Murdock's bickering or the usual trickery to get BA to get on a plane. However it's all delivered with a certain amount of tongue in cheek. Why even the title music is tongue in cheek, witness `Face" (Benedict) pause when a Cylon from Battlestar Galactica walks past him! How many other shows put the in-jokes so far to the front (Benedict having starred in that show!). This gave it a bit more freedom to be silly as it wasn't even taking itself too seriously.
Add to this a bunch of great catchphrases, running themes and of course a great title theme and you've got a hit my friends. It's hard to imagine anyone else playing their roles. Peppard will always be Hannibal to me ,no matter how many times I see earlier films. Likewise with Benedict and Schultz. Mr T is famous in his own right but I'll always mistakenly call him BA to me that's who he is! The basic 4 always had good interaction and worked very well together. The support cast throws up the odd name LQ Jones, Tia Carrera, Divoff, Hulk hogan, David McCallum, Boy George but really the supporting cast didn't matter when the leads were on form.
Overall this may have been silly but it was great fun. All these years later and I'm approaching my thirties and I still enjoy it when I find it on a rerun somewhere. Somethings are just fun no matter what!
I think "The A-Team" is still a great show from the 80's, it has a lot
of humor and great acting. Stephen J. Cannell and Frank Lupo have a
great imagination when they thought up this idea.
The series is about former soldiers, who were Vietnam veterans,are on the run from the law. They are sought after by the U.S. Army for crimes they didn't commit. The A-Team are wanted for robbing the bank of Hanoi.
The A-Team is led by Col. John "Hannibal" Smith, played so awesome by the late George Peppard (Breakfast At Tiffany's, Battle Beyond The Stars, and Treasure Of The Yankee Zepher). Hannibal is a master of disguise, does stunts for movies on his free time. Hannibal is so fond of quoting whenever his plans go great, Hannibal quotes "I love it when a plan comes together."
Sgt. Bosco "B.A." Baracus, played superbly by Mr. T (Rocky III and D.C. Cab). B.A.'s initials are known by the other members of the team as "Bad Attitude". B.A. has a fear of flying, that is why when the team need to fly somewhere, Hannibal always has to drug him to get him on the plane cause B.A. refuses to fly, no matter what situation they are in. B.A. may seem mean, but he really is a nice person, he gets along with kids really well.
Capt H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock is a member of the team who is not all there.Murdock resided at the V.A. Hospital for the first 4 seasons. Murdock is crazy, likes to talk about his invisible dog named "Billy", a dog that does not exist, he may be nuts but he is a great pilot. Murdock tends to get on B.A. Baracus's nerves from time to time. Murdock is played so well by actor Dwight Schultz (Star Trek:The Next Generation and The Temp).
Lt. Templeton Peck a.k.a. "Face"or "Faceman", played awesome by Dirk Benedict (Battlestar Galactica, Ruckus, and Alaska) is a great con man for the team, he gets the team things they need for anything, he even gets Murdock out of the V.A. Hospital when the team needs him. Face drives a real nice Corvette.
Amy Allen, played by the beautiful Melinda Culea, is a reporter who works with The A-Team from time to time, gets them information. The A-Team met her when Amy hired them to help find her friend being held in Mexico by Guerillas.
Tawnia Baker, played by Marla Heasley, is Amy Allen's replacement on the show for 1 year.
Frankie "Dishpan" Santana, played by Eddie Velez (Repo Man, Rooftops, and Traffic), joined the team in the final season of the show.
The A-Team help people in need, they don't always do it for money, they help people even if the people don't have to money to pay them. The A-Team is always being chased after by the U.S. Army., the Colonels that have tried to catch them are Col. Lynch, played by William Lucking (The River Wild, The Trigger Effect, and Erin Brockovich), Col. Roderick Decker, played by Lance LeGault (Iron Eagle, Mortal Combat:Annihilation), Col. Briggs, played by Charles Napier (Rambo:First Blood Part II, The Grifters, and Austin Powers:The Spy Who Shagged me),Gen. Fullbright, played by Jack Ging(Riptide). The A-Team always outwits them.
The A-Team have gotten away from them but later got captured and tried and sentenced to execution, but is saved by a government agency.Gen. Hunt Stockwell, played by Robert Vaughn (The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Superman III, and Black Moon Rising)is in charge of the agency.
I think "The A-Team" is a well done show, it may seem violent, but the focus is what it is all about, soldiers who help people out, they only shoot when they have to. No one has ever got killed except Gen. Fullbright by Vietnamese soldiers in one episode,and a Mob boss who gets killed, but not by the A-Team in the episode in the first season.
Special guest appearances on the A-Team are Hulk Hogan of WWF fame, Boy George of the 1980's pop group "Culture Club". The late Rick James,who is a R&B singer, well known for is hit single "Superfreak". I give this TV series 2 thumbs up and 10/10 stars.
Some '80s shows that were hits at the time really don't hold up well today,
but some very definitely do. "Moonlighting" was one of them, and so was this
creation of Frank Lupo and Stephen J. Cannell. (Lupo later came to a parting
of the ways with Cannell and inflicted "Werewolf" and "Something Is Out
There" on the world. Blub.)
Like most of the people commenting on "The A-Team," I used to watch it as a kid (well, a teenager really). It had likeable heroes, comedy, action, top music (unlike most TV producers, Cannell billed Mike Post and Pete Carpenter in the main titles with the stars) ... the lot. The plots weren't exactly loaded with endless twists, but that was part of the fun - who else looked forward to the week's DIY montage where the quartet built that week's weapons? (As Hannibal pointed out in one of the novelisations, it's amazing how the bad guys always locked them up with precisely what they needed to escape.)
And contrary to popular belief, our heroes did get hurt from time to time (the clip show episode "Curtain Call" used Murdock being shot as an excuse for his comrades to hold a remembrance of episodes past; in "The Battle Of Bel Air" the helicopter containing the A-Team crashed at the end of the climax, injuring everyone EXCEPT B.A. Baracus); occasionally episodes started with someone actually getting murdered (the man in the exploding car in "Skins," one of the battling convicts in "Pros & Cons"). The show didn't dwell on it, true, but it was there.
This remains Cannell's most successful show as an independent producer, and demonstrates how he's more adaptable than the more critically acceptable Steven Bochco (this is not to put down Bochco, but can you imagine the man with the would-be violinist for a dad coming up with shows as wildly different as "The Greatest American Hero," "Top of the Hill" and "Wiseguy"?). It was fun in the 1980s, and it's fun now. Which is a lot more than can be said for "The Professionals."
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