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The A-Team (TV Series 1983–1987) Poster

(1983–1987)

Trivia

Jump to: Spoilers (7)
According to the remaining cast members, Mr. T and George Peppard did not get along. Peppard was a "proper movie actor," but Mr. T became the real star of the show. Things got even worse when Peppard learned Mr. T was being paid more than he was.
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Mr. T's gold weighed 35-40 lb.
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Three cast members have prior US military experience: George Peppard served in the Marines, Eddie Velez served in the Air Force, and Mr. T was an MP in the Army.
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Most of the episodes were filmed five weeks before they aired.
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Although there are many fistfights and shootouts in the series, the A-Team does not kill anyone, hence the PG rating.
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Producer John Ashley is uncredited as the narrator for the opening sequence.
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Hannibal's cigars were real, from George Peppard's personal stock.
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In the opening credits, Dirk Benedict reacts to a passing metallic "Cylon warrior". Cylons were the nemesis in Benedict's earlier series, "Battlestar Galactica (1978)", in which he played Lieutenant Starbuck.
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According to Stephen J. Cannell, the writers had a running gag in which almost every episode included a horrific car crash, but the people would come out unscathed. They did it to test the limits of realism.
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According to Dirk Benedict, George Peppard refused to talk to Mr. T and would use Benedict as a messenger between them. Peppard would only refer to Mr. T as "the man with the gold".
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NBC executives originally wanted the character of Murdock to be removed from the show because they felt that he was too over-the-top. However, test audiences loved Murdock and gave him the highest ratings. The executives had to relent.
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Despite his insanity and quirky personality, Murdock has an almost genius-level aptitude. He has a vast knowledge of many subjects and keeps up on current events. He's also fluent in Chinese (Mandarin), German, Japanese, Spanish, Vietnamese and basic Russian. He can communicate in Morse Code and has a photographic memory. In fact, dialogue in season 1 suggests that he may not even be as "mentally unstable" as some characters may think he is.
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Hannibal's decorations include the Medal of Honor, Army Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, and the Purple Heart, in addition to numerous campaign medals.
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In order of descending rank Hannibal is a colonel, Murdock a captain, Face a lieutenant and BA a sergeant. Hannibal, Face and BA were all Green Berets, members of the US Army Special Forces. In The A-Team: A Nice Place to Visit (1983) Murdock wears his formal uniform at a funeral and it indicates that he was an army helicopter pilot but not a Green Beret. His uniform does display the Parachutist Badge (Airborne wings) showing that he has undergone paratrooper training.
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In his autobiography, Hulk Hogan wrote that the producers wanted him to make more appearances because he was one of the few people who got along with both George Peppard and Mr. T. He was unable to commit, due to his schedule with the World Wrestling Federation.
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According to Dirk Benedict, Robert Vaughn was added to the cast in the fifth season because he was a longtime friend of George Peppard, and it was believed that he could ease the tensions between Peppard and Mr. T.
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The series was originally conceived by NBC executive Brandon Tartikoff. He was influenced by The Dirty Dozen (1967) and Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981). Murdock was inspired by Bruce Weitz's character, Mick Belker, from Hill Street Blues (1981). Tartikoff was impressed with Mr. T in Rocky III (1982).
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The role of B.A. Baracus was written especially for Mr. T.
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Before being cast as Lieutenant-Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith, George Peppard was informed that if he was fired from the show, it would mean the end of his career. His reputation for being difficult to work with had preceded him; by the early 1980s Hollywood producers had grown weary of him.
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Tim Dunigan portrayed Face in the pilot The A-Team: Mexican Slayride (1983). The role was soon recast with Dirk Benedict playing the part, because Dunigan was deemed "too young and too tall." According to Dunigan, the team was supposed to be made up of Vietnam veterans, and the Vietnam War ended during his sophomore year of high school.
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H.M. Murdock's jacket bears a picture of a tiger. The Flying Tigers were a group of American mercenary pilots in World War II.
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The name A-Team is taken from A-Teams, the nickname for Operational Detachments Alpha in the Vietnam War. Vietnam was the first war in which the US Army Special Forces were used.
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Throughout its broadcasting history, the show was roundly slammed by critics for its comic-strip violence and lack of realism--but it was the viewers, not the critics, who made "The A Team" a huge success.
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According to the pilot The A-Team: Mexican Slayride (1983), B.A.'s real first name is Bosco. The initials B.A. stand for both his real name Bosco Albert and his nickname 'Bad Attitude'.
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Tia Carrere was supposed to join the cast in the fifth season as Tia, the daughter of former A-Team pursuer General Harlan "Bull" Fulbright. However, Carrere was under contract to General Hospital (1963), and couldn't get out of it. The role was soon dropped.
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Exterior shots of the "hospital" where the team goes to spring Murdock are of the main building (pre-1994 earthquake) at the Sepulveda Veterans' Hospital in North Hills, CA. The new, post-earthquake building is used to film Grey's Anatomy (2005).
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When a European tour was organized for the cast to make personal appearances, George Peppard refused to join his fellow cast members.
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According to Bring Back... The A-Team (2006), George Peppard resented Melinda Culea and Marla Heasley, and told them so. Peppard felt that a female character was unnecessary. Ultimately, both were fired.
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The iconic van was a modified 1983 GMC Vandura cargo van (although at times other van makes were used for stunts, mainly the Ford Econoline). The van wore various license plates during the series, among them 2E14859, 2L83000, and S967238. Sometimes the front and rear license plates differed during an episode. Within the story it could be explained that B.A. customised replacement vehicles which explains the general plate changes. However, its clear during certain stunt driving that stockpiled stock shots were cut into episodes. Note the GMC badging correspondingly goes red in certain of these shots too, on the front grille, and the rear door.
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According to "Bring Back...The A-Team" (2006), Dwight Schultz met George Peppard for the first time when the show was beginning production. He respectfully introduced himself, and Peppard's reply was, "Very good. I'm George Peppard, and I'm not a very nice man."
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James Coburn was considered for the role of Lieutenant-Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith.
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In the Italian version, "Face" is called "Sberla" ( "face slap") and BA is known as PE or "Pessimo Elemento" ("terrible element").
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Melinda Culea was fired from the series over creative differences with the producers. Culea wanted to have more lines, and be more involved in the fight scenes.
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Tim Dunigan was originally cast as Face. However, after the pilot episode NBC executives felt that Dunigan looked too young to be believable as a Vietnam War veteran. He was replaced with Dirk Benedict whom the show's creators had originally wanted for the role.
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George Peppard's previous TV experience had been on "Dynasty (1981)," which fired him after one week.
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Marla Heasley's character, Tawnia Baker, was named after Stephen J. Cannell's daughter, Tawnia.
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When Robert Vaughn joined the series as Hunt Stockwell in its fifth and final season, the series was given a new intro sequence and a new version of the theme tune, as well as a new format, becoming similar to Mission: Impossible (1966).
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George Peppard's film career had reached its conclusion by the late 1970s but this series gave him a whole new fan following. He had also not long recovered from alcoholism.
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"Howling Mad" Murdock's real first name is never revealed throughout the series. Dwight Schultz claims that Howling Mad is Murdock's real first name and not just a nickname. They call him Jim in some episodes.
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The pilot The A-Team: Mexican Slayride (1983) aired after Super Bowl XVII (1983).
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Working relations between George Peppard and Mr. T turned sour by about the end of the first season.
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In the Latin American version in Spanish, "Face" is called "Faz", due to his very similar phonetic, B.A. Baracus is "Mario" Baracus, and "Howling Mad" Murdock is "El Loco" Murdock.
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The fifth season saw a considerable departure from the show's original premise. As the A-Team were no longer fugitives from the military, some fans felt that the sense of suspense and excitement had been reduced.
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The most unique aspect of the series is that although there are shootouts, car crashes and explosions galore, no one gets killed. There are, however, more than enough fistfights and brawls to satisfy action fans.
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In the opening season the A-team use standard weapons of the US Army from the Vietnam War era--Colt .45 pistols, M-16 assault rifles, M-60 machine gun, M-79 grenade launchers, Remington 870 pump-action shotguns and Remington 700 sniper rifles. They later replaced the M-16s with folding stock stainless steel Ruger Mini-14 ranch rifles. Face uses a stainless steel Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolver and Hannibal a Smith & Wesson 9mm semiautomatic pistol. They also make occasional use of an Uzi submachine gun and Hannibal carries a Fairburn & Sykes commando dagger on his belt.
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The University of Alabama's marching band ("The Million-Dollar Band") often performs the theme song to this show at their athletic events (the connection being that their teams start with an "A" for "Alabama").
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Reportedly, George Peppard and Mr. T were able to make amends, shortly before Peppard's death in 1994.
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In some episodes, the closing credits and the theme tune was extended. This longer recap selections of shots from the same episode appears to have been used as time-filler padding if the episode ran short. Its more obvious when binge watching the series, where some alternate episodes in the same season then have a very short closing credit sequence.
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With the rank of sergeant, B.A. Baracus was the only enlisted man on the team.
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According to rumors although Robert Vaughn was able to cool the tension between George Peppard and Mr. T, even Vaughn grew a bit tired of Mr T's rather brash personality on the set.
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Hulk Hogan appeared on the show for the first time in 1985, which was when Mr. T was Hogan's tag team partner for the main event at the first "WrestleMania I (1985)."
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George Peppard was made up as all kinds of characters when John "Hannibal" Smith would meet a potential client. Among the disguises were an old fisherman, Chinese laundry owner (more than once), pool shark, hobo, sleazy film producer, Irish storyteller and others.
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Many years after the show ended, Stephen J. Cannell said in an interview that it wasn't the show he intended to create. He had his own idea for a television show when he attended a meeting at Universal Television. Before he could begin his pitch, the executives intervened and told him about their own ideas, and this show was the result.
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For a significant part of its run, this series about four Vietnam veterans was immediately followed by "Riptide (1984)," a show about three Vietnam veterans.
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Season 1 clearly sets up that John "Hannibal" Smith is a jobbing actor, that happens to work at Universal. This also explains his access to make-up, costumes, props, set dressings, etc over the entire series run.
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It's not until the episode The A-Team: Showdown! (1984) that the series finally confirms what until this point in the series run looked to be a massive plot-hole. It's finally officially confirmed that the Military Police, quite bizarrely, have had no idea the entire time, that Murdoch is actually part of the A-Team. When Murdoch realizes the public only think that the A-Team is a trio, he reacts in his own "unique" way. Incredibly, it's not until season 3 episode 25 The A-Team: Incident at Crystal Lake (1985), that Colonel Roderick Decker finally also includes Murdoch as part of the Team. Considering that they escaped the prison in 1972, and these episodes are set 10 to 13 years, that seems a serious lapse of military intelligence oversight.
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George Peppard and Robert Vaughn worked together before and starred in Battle Beyond the Stars (1980), Peppard as Cowboy and Vaughn as Gelt.
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Although Marla Heasley joined the A-Team, she's not in the opening credit.
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In the early 1980s, the UK TV channel ITV (when it was still a regional franchise federation), would perhaps surprisingly schedule the series in their family friendly early Saturday evening slot, generally between 5 and 7pm. The reasoning seemed to be that as no one got killed or injured, it was more a child friendly, "Tom and Jerry" style of violence. Accordingly, the A-Team became very popular with children. Of course, its unclear how much the episodes were trimmed, or even how many episodes were skipped over in their regional variations. Eventually the same slot in the schedule would be occupied by (the original version of) Baywatch (1989), again at the time considered family-friendly, for nearly that show's entire run in the 1990s.

That time 5-7 pm slot was always allocated for US show, as you also had, Knight Rider (1982), Airwolf (1984), T.J. Hooker (1982), Baywatch (1989) on during the summer for the entire 1980s just after the football/soccer season ended (late May) and T.J. Hooker (1982) was the one really edited due to women in their underwear etc, or if they went to a strip club.
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In the Spanish version, "Face" is known as "Fénix" (Phoenix), due to the very similar phonetic between the two words, and B.A. Baracus is known as M.A. Barracus, with two "R", being "M.A." translated as "Mala Actitud" (Bad Attitude, his original nickname).
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Marla Heasley remarked that even though George Peppard resented her being on the show, his treatment of her was harsher than that of Melinda Culea.
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Long before the show was canceled, Mr. T was receiving a lot more fan mail than any other cast member. George Peppard was reportedly unhappy about this.
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Mr. T, was a member of the Military Police, in real life. Intriguingly within the story of some of the episodes, generally where they are usually on a United States Military base, the military uniform he wears as BA, is an MP (Military Police) uniform. He has worn this in a few scenes across the entire series run episodes, so its surely not a coincidence. And its plausible that it may even be Mr T's actual uniform, if not a costume piece from the Universal Pictures and TV costume stock.
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The series plays as a blend of the TV series versions of both The Fugitive (1963), and Mission: Impossible (1966), as helpful fugitives on "missions" to help the vulnerable and downtrodden.
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Considering that the infamous Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) helicopter incident happened less than 2 years before "The A-Team" started, season 1 and the start of season 2 has a surprisingly large number of potentially high risk real-world helicopter and aerial stunts, although clearly they only selected what was actually considered safe, at the time, in the early 1980s. In mid season 2 onwards, they seem to move over to the more conventional relatively safer and controllable, driving and explosion stunts. After an understandable hiatus period, the helicopter stunts wouldn't re-appear in the show until late in season 3, The A-Team: Road Games (1985).
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In the UK, ITV removed the show from its Saturday nght schedule after Michael Robert Ryan opened fire in Hungerford, killing 16, on August 19, 1987.
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Every episode, similar to the TV version of Mission: Impossible (1966), always has "free-style" arrangement versions of the theme music, in the background of the episode. Its unclear if these scores were scored fresh for each episode, or were stockpiled from studio sessions at the start of the series shoot and "mix and matched" in the post-production edit.
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B.A. Baracus' birth name is Bosco. His name is rarely mentioned in a few episodes.
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Filmstudio executive Tony Beetsma met the cast of The A-Team (1983) and Stephen J. Cannell in the Frisian town of Sneek, April 1984, The Netherlands. He and Marla Heasley keep in touch.
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In the Brazilian version Face is called Cara (face or person in Portuguese), Hannibal is called Anibal according to the language whereas BA is pronounced as Bêah. Murdock has not had his name changed.
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In Season 1 episode 13, Murdock is blinded and can not fly jet plane to land safely leaving Hannibal to fly. At the end of the scene when stop plane to land the jet goes into a glass window of the airport. This same scene was used in Airplane the Movie with Robert Hays.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The crime the team didn't commit was bank robbery. Colonel Samuel Morrison, their commanding officer in Vietnam, ordered them to rob the Bank of Hanoi, hoping it would help bring the war to an end. The mission was successful, but when they returned to headquarters, the Viet Cong had burned it to the ground and murdered Colonel Morrison. The fire destroyed all evidence that they were acting under orders.
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There was some talk about an A-Team reunion, a TV movie where the A-Team was given a full pardon, but after George Peppard died in 1994, the idea was dropped.
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During the entire series, only five people died on-screen, this Includes General Harlan "Bull" Fulbright, who was shot in the back by a hostile during an operation working together with the A-Team. The deaths of at least three more characters were left ambiguous.
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In The A-Team: Lease with an Option to Die (1985), B.A.'s mother reveals that his nickname as a child was "Scooter."
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The show was famous for its comedic violence, though gunshot wounds were very rare. However, three team members were shot over the course of the series. Murdock was shot twice, in The A-Team: Curtain Call (1984) and The A-Team: The Sound of Thunder (1986). B.A was shot, off-screen, in The A-Team: Black Day at Bad Rock (1983). Face was shot in The A-Team: Without Reservations (1987). Hannibal wasn't shot, but he was injured by falling crates in The A-Team: Point of No Return (1986).
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The series never reveals Murdock's mental illness. Speculation includes PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and bipolar disorder. Intriguingly, series 1 character dialogue even hints that he possibly may not even be as mentally unwell as he appears to be. Regardless, the series does show the rest of the team's relatively positive acceptance of Murdock's mental health.
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Recently, Dwight Schultz revealed that the day of his infamous meeting with George Peppard, he decided they needed to shoot the show's finale in advance and have the A-Team on a mission where once the plan did not come together, the other members of the A-Team disappeared one by one, and ended on Hannibal like John Wayne's character of Davy Crockett in The Alamo (1960). Nobody he told his idea to wanted to do it.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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