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A-Team

By Tom Keogh

Guilty pleasures don't come more guilty than The A-Team, television's only tongue-in-cheek drama about the exploits of renegade Vietnam vets. The primetime series' 1983 debut season, gathered here on The A-Team: Season One, was intentionally ludicrous, encouraging viewers to enjoy sundry talents of a colorful cast and laugh off storylines perhaps sillier than those on Charlie's Angels.

Co-created by Stephen J. Cannell (Wiseguy) and Frank Lupo (Hunter), The A-Team introduced Lt. Col. John "Hannibal" Smith (George Peppard), the cocksure leader of a band of fugitive American soldiers framed for a crime in Vietnam and now thriving in Los Angeles. Hiring themselves out as soldiers of fortune, Hannibal's crew--including Lt. Templeton "Face" Peck (baby-faced Tim Dunigan in the pilot, Dirk Benedict thereafter), Sgt. Bosco Albert "B.A. (for 'Bad Attitude')" Baracus (Mr. T, outfitted with his trademark gold), and, most comically, Capt. H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock (Dwight Schultz)--assist (mostly) ordinary people having a problem with bad guys. The A-Team ostensibly charges large fees, but much of the time the guys seem to be doing pro bono work for the helpless.

Season One highlights include "Children of Jamestown," starring John Saxon as a Jim Jones-like religious cult leader who captures Hannibal, Face, B.A., and first-season sidekick Amy "Triple A" Allen (Melinda Culea). While the resourceful group invents a super-weapon out of farm equipment, crazy Murdock commandeers a helicopter and dynamite. Also good is "A Small and Deadly War," featuring Dean Stockwell as one of several uncontrolled L.A. cops committing murder-for-hire. "The Out-of-Towners" takes a page from the Death Wish movie series with a story about New York City shop owners harassed by a protection racketeer (Yaphet Kotto). Hannibal and company retaliate with machine guns (no one is ever seen killed in this series) and, more effectively, public humiliation of the villain. The best thing about The A-Team is the relationship between the four offbeat heroes, who may not always like each other (B.A. usually looks as if he'd like to leave Murdock in a shallow grave) but get the job done expertly.

During the series' five year run, each of these eccentrics cultivated their own rabid fan-base as they threw punches, fired thousand of bullets, tossed hand grenades to and fro, and flipped speeding cars--all without killing or even really hurting anyone, which only adds to the show's willful silliness. (A warning for fans of reporter/sidekick Amy Allen, played by Melinda Culea: After being given nothing to do for a dozen or so testosterone-heavy episodes of the second season, Culea either quit or was fired.)

Only during the Awesome80s could this peculiar blend of lefty politics and military fetishism have thrived. Though supposedly mercenaries-for-hire, the A-Team usually finds itself defending the downtrodden and helpless out of sheer cussedness. In the second season they helped abused migrant workers form a union--which, naturally, required transmogrifying farm equipment into a cabbage-shooting cannon. Other underdogs included the disenfranchised heir to an African diamond mine; an independent cab company being squeezed by big business; and a pacifist commune harassed by bigots. The last of these prompted Hannibal to muse ponderously on the unappreciated role of the soldier, who fights so others don't have to--after which Murdock and B.A. began punching each other over a bag of pecans. Self-aware and self-mocking, The A-Team pushed the TV action/adventure genre to laughable extremes.

The A-Team--Season Two Trivia
In this season, Amy is no longer part of the A-Team. There's no explanation as to why.
One episode this season sees the title sequence featuring the Cylon from Battlestar Galatica (as well being in this episode) for the first time. This is an in-joke, as Dirk Benedict played Starbuck in that series.

A-Team on DVD!
A-Team is now available on DVD! Get it at Amazon.com!
Season One, Season Two

 

Share Your Memories!

Do you have a favorite episode of A-Team? What do you remember about the series? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"This was a great show! If only they hadn't effectively ruined season 5 by bringing in "Dishpan Frankie" Santana (Eddie Velez, who is hopefully a nice guy but was partly responsible along with Robert "Gen. Hunt Stockwell" Vaughn for the show's untimely demise. The Team should have stayed an independent entity working on a $10,000-per-job basis. An "A-Team" Movie for the big screen has been in prod. at least since August 1997. Bring it on!"

--Gozer

"At the time there weren't many shows which could rival The A-Team. With its varied characters and over the top story lines the show appealed to a kids of all ages. My favourite episode was when faceman goes to rescue a childhood sweet heart from South America and has to persuade the rest of the gang to go with him."

--Navin Sanchez

"I was in high school and being a kid with no car I liked television. I was fascinated by the military and watched "The A-Team" religiously. I got a kick out of Mr. T's hairdo and that crazy Murdock. The formula was the same; antagonize the bad guys then use an arsenal of home built weaponry to fire several rounds of ordnance without hurting anyone. Hannibal would say, "I love it when a plan comes together" and put the stogie in his mouth."

--kturnerga

"Great adventure show, featuring a superb ensemble cast of very unique characters. I was in college during the A-Team's run on NBC, and I scheduled my classes around it so that I never missed an episode. It had much to offer viewers of all ages; humor, drama, suspense, heroics, plenty of action, and ingenious solutions to problems incurred by the team each week. My favorite episode is the one where Decker, who was the Col. relentlessly pursing the team, was foiled by yet another of Hannibal's 'plans'-just when Decker thought he finally had the team in his clutches. Terrific show that I hope stays in syndication for eons."

--Anonymous

"Right now even 20 years later, I still have fond memories of watching the A-Team. Despite its seeming "violence", gun battles usually ended in no one killed and a later showdown between Hannibal and the "chief hoodlum" of the week. I was in high school at the time and my friends and I always discussed the highlight of each episode including Murdock's lastest craze and the "catch phrases." Last year, my mom sent me episodes recorded from TV Land and throughout these I waited with anticipation until the end for the coda that closed most episodes: Hannibal's "I love it when a plan comes together"."

--Anonymous

"I've watched the A-Team with a passion and much devotion. Each episode excites me with the drama, suspense, humour, action, and more. It always gets interesting with Col. Decker chasing the gang. As a matter of fact, my favourite characters to watch were those of Col. Decker (his no sense of humour), and Hunt Stockwell (his weird way of doing business with the A-Team). Those two characters made the entire 5 packed seasons very interesting. Not to also forget that the four characters of the A-Team were the best and unique of their kinds making each episode very entertaining to watch especially George Peppard's aggression and humour taking care of things. My favourite episodes is "Holiday in the Hills" (when the A-Team are in a plane crash and are stuck in the woods), "Lease with an option to die" (The A-team rescue B.A.'s mother from her apartment lease threats), "Curtain Call" (when Decker has got the A-team pinned in a small county where Murdock was shot), "Cowboy George" ( when Boy George plays incredibly well here as a character!), and the three episodes of Season 5 where the A-Team goes to Trial and are about to be executed."

--Anonymous

"When the show came to Belgium, I must've been 8, it was announced regualary a couple of weeks before the pilot. I immediately got the chivers by seeing just the trailer. But according to our parents the trailer was too violent so we where not allowed to see the pilot. But I was determined. I recall it being brought at a very late hour and on a Sunday. (Ridiculous late seeing that today's runner up to actual children's time are series like "Buffy"!) So at that night I told my father,mom was out,I was very tired and was going to bed early. I knew he always fell asleep on the couch. This night was no exception. While my brothers were already sleeping I came back downstairs,saw my dad was fast asleep, and settled myself behind the couch. However firstI had to, very silently, put on the right channel. (Back then we didn't have a zapper. Where were the remote controls when we kids needed them!!!) I remained silent behind the couch, on the chilly floor, for over more than an hour. Holding my breath and everything when my dad would moan or turn himself over on the couch. And then the show started. Aw, man!It was the pilot of the series. It was the one where they where somekind of commando-unit who had to fight against a jungle-general and his mercenary's. The scenery was a tropical island or so. For a long time they had scenes from this pilot in their intro:The army jeep that,when driving into a bush, exploded and then was catapulted into air. Or Hannibal as b-actor coming out of the water in the lizard suit. Ah,precious memories.

Seeing it now is somewhat ridiculous. The cars always drove into a bush or empty boxes (read: ramp)first before being stroke by dynamite or a bazooka. But at that time the effects where overwhelming. And I was an instant fan. There I was, enjoying a show with the sound nearly muted. I knew I was experiencing Television History.
(It was all we, the lucky few who saw the show, could talk about next they at school. It would become a mania afterwards. ) Eventually my father found out I was hiding. He told me to come out and sent me back to bed. But when I reached the stairs he called me back and still let me see the whole show til it's ending. On a decent sound level this time! Those moments of sheer happiness I will never forget.
Thanks dad."

--Rutger

"The A-Team, a show which lasted through most of the early to mid Awesome80s, was a show I remember not being allowed to watch when I was very little. I must have been eight or under. I was told it was violent adult drama and not suitable for children. Years later, I'm in my early twenties now, the show re-appeared as re-runs in KDOC-TV channel 56.

Being older, I can understand the action drama better. It is not violent at all. In fact, the gunfight scenes never show any blood. It's evidently a male-oriented show (beautiful women, car chases, helicopters, car explosions, guns, ex-Vietnam heroes, exotic locations, adventure and nasty villains. The show is very entertaining, eventhough it's quite dated and old-fashioned. The A Team is lead by the older but somehow attractive, cigar-smoking, highly intelligent and cool Hannibal Smith played by George Peppard, sexy Dirk Benedict, of a "pretty boy" metro, Richard Gere or Brad Pitt type of look as the suave Templeton "Face" Peck and the nutty, creative, crazy clutz Murdock played by Dwight Schultz and the famous Awesome80s icon Mr. T as B. A. Baracus. It's fun to watch the episodes with a lot of adventure in them. The middle season seems to be the best.

There was one episode in which they have a nearly Indiana Jones type of adventure in the South American jungle, one in which they sought pirate treasure and one that remains my favorite- they save an Awesome80s Cindy Lauper style singer from a possible danger to her life. Guest stars on the A-Team were very popular in the Awesome80s including Boy George, Rick James and a tv actress who would later be in the NBC soap opera Passions (Ivy Crane). It's an enjoyable show that along with Magnum P. I. , Miami Vice, MgGyver and Nightrider remained some of the very trendy action dramas that have disappeared completely in the wake of today's less action-based and more detective style dramas of subtlety CSI or NYPD Blue or Alias."

--Jessica

"The only thing that I can think of when someone says the A Team is I PITY THE FOOL! And it still makes me laugh!"

--Bridgette

"I absolutly love this show! My favorite characters were Fave and Murdock. I always loved how Face did his Con Jobs, and Murdock well he was just like me. I like to act like him alot not in public but just to humor my family. He was a kid trapped in an adults body and he just never grew up. I also liked how no matter what Hannibal and Face would come to Murdocks rescue when he pushed BA too far and BA would come after him.

Now I would have to say that all the episodes were my favorite but I really liked episode Cup A' Joe, where Murdock is the cheif in charge. Murdock also has to encourage a Bomb sniffing dog and keep his cooking in order. And then there's where they had to make the special truck to break in and save the girls. Then in the end BA gets cooking lessons from Murdock, but BA surprises Murdock with BA's Chilly and Murdock gets a hot mouth when he trys it. But I always liked to act funny and have multiple accents and all the "Jazz" as Face and BA would say. One of my favorite quotes that Murdock would say would have to be "Use your imagination, or you can borrow mine!" only if you did you would never know where, or who you would get!I liked also how if it flew Murdock could fly it my saying to that is "If it can fly I can crash it!" Murdock could crash and live to tell the tale."

--Lee the plane ace

"I absolutly love this show! My favorite characters were Fave and Murdock. I always loved how Face did his Con Jobs, and Murdock well he was just like me. I like to act like him alot not in public but just to humor my family. He was a kid trapped in an adults body and he just never grew up. I also liked how no matter what Hannibal and Face would come to Murdocks rescue when he pushed BA too far and BA would come after him. Now I would have to say that all the episodes were my favorite but I really liked episode Cup A&' Joe, where Murdock is the cheif in charge. Murdock also has to encourage a Bomb sniffing dog and keep his cooking in order. And then there&'s where they had to make the special truck to break in and save the girls. Then in the end BA gets cooking lessons from Murdock, but BA surprises Murdock with BA&'s Chilly and Murdock gets a hot mouth when he trys it. But I always liked to act funny and have multiple accents and all the "Jazz" as Face and BA would say. One of my favorite quotes that Murdock would say would have to be "Use your imagination, or you can borrow mine!" only if you did you would never know where, or who you would get!I liked also how if it flew Murdock could fly it my saying to that is "If it can fly I can crash it!" Murdock could crash and live to tell the tale."

--Lee the plane ace

 

TV TIDBITS

Aired: January 23, 1983 - June 14, 1987

Cast: George Peppard, Mr. T, Tim Dunigan, Dirk Benedict

Network: ABC

Genre: Adventure

Theme song

Image courtesy of ABC


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