The A-Team

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The A-Team
A-Team-Logo.svg
The A-Team title screen (seasons 1–4)
Format Action/Adventure
Created by Frank Lupo
Stephen J. Cannell
Starring George Peppard
Dirk Benedict
Dwight Schultz
Mr. T
Melinda Culea
Marla Heasley
Eddie Velez
Robert Vaughn
Narrated by John Ashley
Theme music composer Mike Post
Pete Carpenter
Composer(s) Mike Post
Pete Carpenter
Garry Schyman
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 98 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Frank Lupo
Stephen J. Cannell
Producer(s) John Ashley
Tom Blomquist (season 5)
Camera setup Film (1982–1986)
Film (principal photography)/Videotape (post-production) (1986)
Single-camera setup
Running time 48 minutes
Production company(s) Universal Television
Stephen J. Cannell Productions
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
Original run January 23, 1983 (1983-01-23) – March 8, 1987 (1987-03-08)

The A-Team is an American action-adventure television series, running from 1983 to 1987, about a fictional group of ex-United States Army Special Forces personnel who work as soldiers of fortune, while on the run from the Army after being branded as war criminals for a "crime they didn't commit". A feature film based on the series was released by 20th Century Fox in June 2010. A comic book series, A-Team: Shotgun Wedding, began in March 2010.

History[edit]

The A-Team was created by writers and producers Stephen J. Cannell and Frank Lupo at the behest of Brandon Tartikoff, NBC's Entertainment president. Cannell was fired from ABC in the early 1980s, after failing to produce a hit show for the network, and was hired by NBC; his first project was The A-Team. Brandon Tartikoff pitched the series to Cannell as a combination of The Dirty Dozen, Mission Impossible, The Magnificent Seven, Mad Max and Hill Street Blues, with "Mr. T driving the car."[1][2][3][4]

The A-Team was not generally expected to become a hit, although Stephen J. Cannell has said that George Peppard suggested it would be a huge hit "before we ever turned on a camera."[5] The show became very popular; the first regular episode, which aired after Super Bowl XVII on January 30, 1983, reached 26.4% of the television audience, placing fourth in the top 10 Nielsen-rated shows.[6]

The A-Team was always portrayed as acting on the side of good and helping the oppressed. Cannell was known for having a particular skill at capitalizing on momentary cultural trends, such as the helicopters, machine guns, cartoonish violence, and joyful militarism of this series, which are now recognizable as trademarks of popular entertainment in the 1980s as seen in the TV shows Magnum, P.I. and Airwolf as well as the films Rambo: First Blood Part II and The Final Countdown.

The show remains prominent in popular culture for its cartoonish, over-the-top violence (in which people were seldom seriously hurt), formulaic episodes, its characters' ability to form weaponry and vehicles out of old parts, and its distinctive theme tune. The show boosted the career of Mr. T, who portrayed the character of B. A. Baracus, around whom the show was initially conceived.[7][8] Some of the show's catchphrases, such as "I love it when a plan comes together",[9] "Hannibal's on the jazz", and "I ain't gettin' on no plane!" have also made their way onto T-shirts and other merchandise.

The show's name comes from the "A-Teams", the nickname coined for U.S. Special Forces' Operational Detachments Alpha (ODA) during the Vietnam War,[10] although this connection was never referenced on-screen.

In 2003, in research conducted by web-portal Yahoo! amongst 1,000 television viewers, The A-Team was voted as the one "oldie" television show viewers would most like to see revived, beating out other popular televisions series from the 1980s such as The Dukes of Hazzard and Knight Rider.[11]

Plot[edit]

In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.

John Ashley's opening narration.

The A-Team is a naturally episodic show, with few overarching stories, except the characters' continuing motivation to clear their names, with few references to events in past episodes and a recognizable and steady episode structure. In describing the ratings drop that occurred during the show's fourth season, reviewer Gold Burt points to this structure as being a leading cause for the decreased popularity "because the same basic plot had been used over and over again for the past four seasons with the same predictable outcome."[12] Similarly, reporter Adrian Lee called the plots "stunningly simple" in a 2006 article for The Express (UK newspaper), citing such recurring elements "as BA's fear of flying, and outlandish finales when the team fashioned weapons from household items."[13] The show became emblematic of this kind of "fit-for-TV warfare" due to its depiction of high-octane combat scenes, with lethal weapons, wherein the participants (with the notable exception of General Fulbright) are never killed and rarely seriously injured (see also on-screen violence and Principle of Evil Marksmanship).

As the television ratings of The A-Team fell dramatically during the fourth season, the format was changed for the show's final season in 198687 in a bid to win back viewers. After years on the run from the authorities, the A-Team are finally apprehended by the military. General Hunt Stockwell propositions them to work for him, whereupon he will arrange for their pardons upon successful completion of several suicide missions. In order to do so, the A-Team must first escape from their captivity. With the help of a new character, Frankie "Dishpan Man" Santana, the team fake their deaths before the firing squad. The new status of the A-Team, no longer working for themselves, remained for the duration of the fifth season while Eddie Velez and Robert Vaughn received star billing along with the principal cast. The missions the team had to perform in season five were somewhat reminiscent of Mission: Impossible, and based more around political espionage than beating local thugs, also usually taking place in foreign countries. These changes proved unsuccessful with viewers and ratings continued to decline. Only 13 episodes aired in the fifth season. In what was supposed to be the final episode, "The Grey Team" (although "Without Reservations" was broadcast on NBC as the last first-run episode in March 1987), Hannibal, after being misled by Stockwell one time too many, tells him that the team will no longer work for him. At the end, the team discusses what they were going to do if they got their pardon, and it is implied that they would continue doing what they were doing as the A-Team.

Connections to the Vietnam War[edit]

Soldiers exiting a helicopter from the intro of The A-Team

During the Vietnam War, the A-Team were members of the 5th Special Forces Group (see Season 1, Episode 10, "West Coast Turnaround"). In Season 2, Episode 4, "Bad Time on the Border", Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith, portrayed by George Peppard, indicated that the A-Team were "ex-Green Berets." During the Vietnam War, the A-Team's commanding officer, Colonel Morrison, gave them orders to rob the Bank of Hanoi to help bring the war to an end. They succeeded in their mission, but on their return to their base four days after the end of the war, they discovered that Morrison had been killed by the Viet Cong, and that his headquarters had been burned to the ground. This meant that the proof that the A-Team members were acting under orders had been destroyed, and they were arrested. The team was imprisoned at Fort Bragg, from which they quickly escaped before standing trial.

The origin of the A-Team is directly linked to the Vietnam War, during which the team formed. The show's introduction in the first four seasons mentions this, accompanied by images of soldiers coming out of a helicopter in an area resembling a forest or jungle. Besides this, The A-Team would occasionally feature an episode in which the team came across an old ally or enemy from those war days. For example, the first season's ending episode "A Nice Place To Visit" revolved around the team traveling to a small town to honor and avenge a fallen comrade, and in season two's "Water, Water Everywhere", the team came to the aid of three disabled Vietnam veterans.

An article in the New Statesman (UK)[14] published shortly after the premiere of The A-Team in the United Kingdom, also pointed out The A-Team's connection to the Vietnam War, characterizing it as the representation of the idealization of the Vietnam War, and an example of the War slowly becoming accepted and assimilated into American culture.

One of the team's primary antagonists, Col. Roderick Decker (Lance LeGault), had his past linked back to the Vietnam War, in which he and Hannibal had come to fisticuffs in "the DOOM Club" (Da Nang Open Officers' Mess).[15] At other times, members of the team would refer back to a certain tactic used during the War, which would be relevant to the team's present predicament. Often, Hannibal would refer to such a tactic, after which the other members of the team would complain about its failure during the War. This was also used to refer to some of Face's past accomplishments in scamming items for the team, such as in the first season episode "Holiday In The Hills", in which Murdock fondly remembers Face being able to secure a '53 Cadillac while in the Vietnam jungle.

The team's ties to the Vietnam War were referenced again in the fourth season finale, "The Sound of Thunder", in which the team is introduced to Tia (Tia Carrere), a war orphan and daughter of fourth season antagonist General Fulbright. Returning to Vietnam, Fulbright is shot in the back and gives his last words as he dies. The 2006 documentary Bring Back The A-Team joked that the scene lasted seven and a half minutes,[16] but his death actually took a little over a minute. His murderer, a Vietnamese colonel, is killed in retaliation. Tia then returns with the team to the United States (see also: casting). This episode is notable for having one of the show's few truly serious dramatic moments, with each team member privately reminiscing on their war experiences, intercut with news footage from the war with Barry McGuire's Eve of Destruction playing in the background.

The show's ties to the Vietnam War are fully dealt with in the opening arc of the fifth season, dubbed "The Revolution"/"The Court-Martial", in which the team is finally court-martialed for the robbery of the bank of Hanoi. The character of Roderick Decker makes a return on the witness stand, and various newly introduced characters from the A-Team's past also make appearances. The team, after a string of setbacks, decides to plead guilty to the crime and they are sentenced to be executed. They escape this fate and come to work for a General Hunt Stockwell, leading into the remainder of the fifth season.

Episodes[edit]

The show ran for five seasons on the NBC television network, from January 23, 1983 to December 30, 1986 (with one additional, previously unbroadcast episode shown on March 8, 1987), for a total of 98 episodes.

Characters[edit]

The main cast of The A-Team. Clockwise from top: Howling Mad Murdock, B. A. Baracus, John "Hannibal" Smith and Templeton Peck.

The A-Team revolves around the four members of a former commando outfit, now mercenaries. Their leader is Lieutenant Colonel/Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith (George Peppard), whose plans tend to be unorthodox but effective. Lieutenant Templeton Peck (Dirk Benedict; Tim Dunigan appeared as Templeton Peck in the pilot), usually called "Face" or "Faceman", is a smooth-talking con man who serves as the team's appropriator of vehicles and other useful items, as well as the team's second-in-command. The team's pilot is Captain H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock (Dwight Schultz), who has been declared insane and lives in a Veterans Administration mental institution for the show's first four seasons. Finally, there is the team's strong man and mechanic, Sergeant First Class Bosco Albert "B.A.", or "Bad Attitude", Baracus (Lawrence "Mr. T." Tureaud).

It is unclear to which U.S. Army unit the four belonged. A patch on Hannibal's uniform in the season 1 episode "A Nice Place To Visit" indicates they belonged to the 101st Airborne division in Vietnam, but the patch was replaced by the 1st Air Cavalry Division patch in the Season 5 episode "Trial by Fire". In the Season 1 episode "West Coast Turnaround", Hannibal stated they were with the "5th Special Forces Group". Though the name they have adopted comes from the "A-Teams", the nickname coined for Special Forces Operational Detachments Alpha, these detachments usually consisted of twelve members; whether the four were considered a "detachment" all their own or had once had eight compatriots who were killed in action was never revealed.

For its first season and the first half of the second season, the team was assisted by reporter Amy Amanda Allen (Melinda Culea). In the second half of the second season, Allen was replaced by fellow reporter Tawnia Baker (Marla Heasley). The character of Tia (Tia Carrere), a Vietnam war orphan now living in the United States, was meant to join the Team in the fifth season,[17] but she was replaced by Frankie Santana (Eddie Velez), who served as the team's special effects expert. Velez was added to the opening credits of the fifth season after its second episode.

During their adventures, the A-Team was constantly met by opposition from the military police. In the show's first season, the MPs were led by Colonel Francis Lynch (William Lucking), but he was replaced for the second, third, and earlier fourth season by Colonel Roderick Decker (Lance LeGault) and his aide Captain Crane (Carl Franklin). Lynch returned for one episode in the show's third season ("Showdown!") but was not seen after. Decker was also briefly replaced by a Colonel Briggs (Charles Napier) in the third season for one episode ("Fire!") when LeGault was unavailable, but returned shortly after. For the latter portion of the show's fourth season, the team was hunted by General Harlan "Bull" Fulbright (Jack Ging), who would later hire the A-Team to find Tia in the season four finale, during which Fulbright was killed.

The fifth season introduced General Hunt Stockwell (Robert Vaughn) who, while serving as the team's primary antagonist, was also the team's boss and joined them on several missions. He was often assisted by Carla (Judith Ledford, sometimes credited as Judy Ledford).

Character Traits[edit]

John "Hannibal" Smith: Master of Disguise. His most used disguise (although not onscreen) is Mr. Lee, the dry cleaner. This is one of the final parts of the client screening process, as he tells the client where to go in order to make full contact with the A-Team. He dresses most often in a white trenchcoat and black leather gloves. He also is constantly seen smoking a cigar. Hannibal carries either a Browning Hi Power, Colt M1911A1 or a Smith and Wesson Model 39 as a sidearm most often "Mexican Carried" although he uses a holster when on missions. His catchphrase is, "I love it when a plan comes together."

Templeton "Faceman" Peck: Master of the Persuasive Arts. He can get virtually anything he sets his mind to, usually exploiting women by using sympathy. However, he does indeed have much integrity, as stated by Murdock in the episode "Family Reunion:" "He would rip the shirt off his back for you, and then scam one for himself." In another note, Faceman is also the A-Team's accountant. He dresses well, appearing in suits most often. Faceman carries a Colt Lawman MkIII revolver for protection.

Bosco Albert "B.A." (Bad Attitude) Baracus: The muscle for the A-Team, Able to perform amazing feats of strength. He is also the team's mechanic. B.A rather dislikes Murdock, calling him a "crazy fool". He also has a deep fear of flying, and the others usually have to trick and/or knock him out in order to get on a plane. It is very rare that B.A is awake while flying, and even rarer for him actually to consent to it. However, he then goes into a catatonic state. B.A generally wears leopard or tiger print shirts in the early seasons, then later wears a green jumpsuit in the later seasons. He is almost always seen with about 50 pounds of gold necklaces and rings on every finger, and also wears a weightlifting belt. Baracus's hair is always styled in a mohawk-like cut.

H.M "Howling Mad" Murdock: The A-Team's pilot, he can fly any aircraft built with extreme precision. However, due to a helicopter crash in Vietnam, Murdock apparently went insane. He lives in a Veterans Hospital in the mental wing. Whenever the rest of the team requires a pilot, they have to break him out of the hospital, generally using Faceman to do so. In Seasons 1-4, Murdock has a different pet, imaginary friend, or persona each episode. Whenever one of his pets or imaginary friends is killed by an enemy, Murdock snaps and takes revenge (but never kills). Many times, when B.A is mad at Murdock for being crazy, Hannibal will side with Murdock in a sympathetic way. Once he is released in Season 5, Murdock has a different job each episode. Essentially, B.A. and Murdock get on each other's nerves.

Casting[edit]

Although the part of Face was written by Frank Lupo and Stephen J. Cannell with Dirk Benedict in mind, NBC insisted that the part should be played by another actor, instead. Therefore, in the pilot, Face was portrayed by Tim Dunigan, who was later replaced by Dirk Benedict, with the comment that Dunigan was "too tall and too young."[18] According to Dunigan: "I look even younger on camera than I am. So it was difficult to accept me as a veteran of the Vietnam War, which ended when I was a sophomore in high school."[19]

Carrere was intended to join the principal cast of the show in its fifth season after appearing in the season four finale,[17] providing a tie to the team's inception during the war. Unfortunately for this plan, Carrere was under contract to General Hospital, which prevented her from joining The A-Team. Her character was abruptly dropped as a result.

According to Mr. T's account in Bring Back... The A-Team in 2006, the role of B. A. Baracus was written specifically for him. This is corroborated by Stephen J. Cannell's own account of the initial concept proposed by Tartikoff.[1]

James Coburn, who co-starred in The Magnificent Seven, was considered for the role of Hannibal in The A-Team, while George Peppard (Hannibal) was the original consideration for the role of Vin (played by Steve McQueen instead) in The Magnificent Seven.[16] Robert Vaughn, of course, actually appeared in the film.

According to Dirk Benedict, Robert Vaughn was actually added to the cast in season 5 because of his friendship with the notoriously difficult George Peppard. It was hoped that Vaughn would help ease worsening tensions between Peppard and Mr. T.

Notable guest appearances[edit]

Notable guest stars included:

  • Dean Stockwell as Police Officer Collins – SWAT in "A Small & Deadly War".
  • Wendy Fulton as Kelly Stevens in "Bounty". Fulton and Dwight Schultz had married a few years before the episode, and the episode plays on the theme of Kelly and Murdock falling in love.
  • Boy George as himself in "Cowboy George".
  • Isaac Hayes as C.J. Mack in "The Heart Of Rock N' Roll".
  • Hulk Hogan as himself in "Body Slam" and "The Trouble With Harry".
  • Rick James as himself in "The Heart of Rock N' Roll".
  • David McCallum as Ivan Trigorin in "The Say U.N.C.L.E. Affair". McCallum guest stars as a former associate of Robert Vaughn's character General Stockwell. Vaughn and McCallum had co-starred together as friendly American and Russian secret agents in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. This The A-Team episode sent up many aspects of the classic series, such as Stockwell saying "Open Channel D" (an U.N.C.L.E. catchphrase).
  • Joe Namath as T. J. Bryant in "Quarterback Sneak", season 5, episode 4.
  • William "The Refrigerator" Perry as himself in "The Trouble With Harry".
  • Markie Post as Rina in "Hot Styles" and Sister Teresa/Leslie Becktar in "The Only Church in Town".
  • Pat Sajak as himself in "Wheel of Fortune".
  • Vanna White as herself in "Wheel of Fortune".
  • Yaphet Kotto in "The Out of Towners".
  • Shecky Greene as himself roasting Gen. Harlan "Bull" Fulbright, in "Members Only".
  • Della Reese as Mrs. Baracus in "A Lease with an Option to Die".
  • Steven Keats in the episode "Harder than it Looks" before co-starring in All My Children.

Reception[edit]

During the show's first three seasons, The A-Team managed to pull in 17% to 20% of the American households on average. The first regular episode ("Children of Jamestown"), reached 26.4% of the television watching audience, placing fourth in the top 10 rated shows, according to the Nielsen ratings.[6] By March, The A-Team, now on its regular Tuesday timeslot, dropped to the eight spot, but rated a 20.5%.[20] During the sweeps week in May of that year, The A-Team dropped again but remained steady at 18.5%,[21] and rose to 18.8% during the second week of May sweeps.[22] It was the highest ratings NBC had achieved in five years.,[23] During the second season, the ratings continued to soar reaching third place in the twenty highest rated programs, behind Dallas and Simon & Simon, in January (mid-season),[24] while during the third season was only beaten out by four other NBC shows, including The Cosby Show.

The fourth season saw The A-Team experience a dramatic fall, as it started to lose its position while television viewership increased. As such, the ratings, while stable, were relatively less. The season premiere ranked a 17.4% (a 26% audience share on that timeslot) on the Nielsen Rating scale,[25] but after ratings quickly declined. In October, The A-Team had fallen to the 19th and by Super Bowl Night had fallen still to 29th the night on which the show had originally scored its first hit three years before.[26] For the remainder of its fourth season The A-Team managed to hang around the 20th spot, far from original top 10 position it had enjoyed during its first three seasons.

After four years on Tuesday, NBC decided to move The A-Team to a new timeslot on Friday for what would be its final season. Ratings continued to drop, and after seven episodes, The A-Team fell out of the top 50 altogether with a 13.3 Nielsen Rating.[27] In November 1986, NBC cancelled the series, declining to order the last nine episodes of what would've been a 22-episode season.

The show's seasonal rankings and audience were as follows:[28]

  • Season 1, 1983: #10 – audience 16,743,300
  • Season 2, 1983–1984: #4 – audience 20,112,000
  • Season 3, 1984–1985: #6 – audience 18,593,100
  • Season 4, 1985–1986: #30 – audience 14,517,100
  • Season 5, 1986–1987: #53 – audience 9,361,000

In syndication[edit]

The show has achieved cult status through heavy U.S. and international syndication. It has also remained popular overseas, such as in the United Kingdom, where the show has been on-air almost continuously in some form (currently running on the satellite and cable channel Bravo, on the cable network Centric and on Esquire Network every Fridays) since it was first shown in July 1983.

International[edit]

The A-Team has been broadcast all over the world, International response to The A-Team has been varied. In 1984, the main cast members of The A-Team, George Peppard, Mr. T, Dirk Benedict and Dwight Schultz were invited to the Netherlands. George Peppard was the first to receive the invitation and thus thought the invite pertained only to him. When the other cast members were also invited, Peppard declined, leaving only Mr. T, Benedict and Schultz to visit the Netherlands.[29] The immense turn-out for the stars was unpredicted, and they were forced to leave early as a security measure. A video was released with the present actors in which Dwight Schultz apologized and thanked everyone that had attended.[30]

In Australia "The A-Team" was broadcast on Channel Ten. The show was broadcast in New Zealand on TV2. In the UK the program was shown on ITV started on Friday 29 July 1983 on ITV, before switching to Saturday 5.35 slot S2-S5. The series continued to be repeated until 1992 on ITV before moving to satellite channels, The series was later repeated on UK Gold from 1997 through to 2007 and was aired at various times firstly it was aired at weekend teatimes at 5.15pm after The Pink Panther and afterwards it took a break from the channel until September 2001 when it returned at weekend mornings at 6.00am and 11.00am and came onto weekdays at 6.00pm before moving an hour earlier to 5.00pm. Then in 2002 it took a break from the channel again and returned in 2005 at 11.00pm before leaving the channel in 2006. it was also repeated on Bravo from 1997 through to 1999 and was on weeknights at 8.00pm (repeated at 5.00am), It returned to the channel in 2009 at 4.00pm and repeated again at 7.00pm. and it was repeated on Sky One from 1993 to 1994. Although ratings soared during its early seasons, many television critics described the show largely as cartoonish and thereby wrote the series off. Most reviews focused on acting and the formulaic nature of the episodes, most prominently the absence of actual killing in a show about Vietnam War veterans.

They are all Vietnam veterans. The gradual assimilation of Vietnam into acceptable popular mythology, which began solemnly with The Deer Hunter, has reached its culmination with The A-Team: No longer a memory to be hurriedly brushed aside, but heroes of a network adventure show. Their enemy is a comic army officer, Col. Lynch, see Sgt. Bilko, see Beetle Bailey, see M*A*S*H*, whose pursuit of our heroes is doomed to slapstick failure. This is classic right-wing American populism; patriotic, macho, anti-authority, and is unlikely to be understood in Britain, where to be right-wing implies an obsequiousness towards officers and the status quo. But right-wing this series certainly is. The bandits, it turns out, are in league with a group of sinister guerrillas who are trying to destabilise the country. Thanks to the A-Team's hearts and minds policy, the villagers rise up and put them to rout, in a 20-minute series of comic-book battle scenes, over-turning cars and airplane stunt-tricks, in which not a single person is hurt.

Mary Harron, New Statesman[31]

Criticisms[edit]

On-screen violence[edit]

A delayed explosion is timed directly to the lighting of Hannibal's cigar in the episode "Deadly Maneuvers" (season 2). Seemingly unnecessary, arbitrary or over-the-top explosions and events became a series trademark and parts of its appeal in the eyes of the audience.[2][31]

The violence presented in The A-Team is highly sanitized. People do not bleed or bruise when hit (though they might develop a limp or require a sling), nor do the members of the A-Team kill people. The results of violence were only ever presented when it was required for the script. In almost every car crash there is a short take showing the occupants of the vehicle climbing out of the mangled or burning wreck, even in helicopter crashes. However, more of these types of takes were dropped near the end of the fourth season. According to Stephen J. Cannell, this part of the show did become a running joke for the writing staff and they would at times test the limits of realism on purpose.[32]

The show has been described as cartoonish and likened to Tom and Jerry. Dean P. of the Courier-Mail described the violence in the show as "hypocritical" and that "the morality of giving the impression that a hail of bullets does no-one any harm is ignored. After all, Tom and Jerry survived all sorts of mayhem for years with no ill-effects."[33] According to certain estimates, an episode of the A-Team held up to 46 violent acts. Stephen J. Cannell, co-creator of the show responds: "They were determined to make a point, and we were too big a target to resist. Cartoon violence is a scapegoat issue."[2] Originally, The A-Team's status as a hit show remained strong, but it ultimately lost out to more family-oriented shows such as The Cosby Show, Who's the Boss? and Growing Pains.[2] John J. O'Connor of The New York Times wrote in an 1986 article that "...a substantial number of viewers, if the ratings in recent months are to be believed, are clearly fed up with mindless violence of the car-chasing, fist-slugging variety."[34]

Sexism[edit]

During the show's tenure, the show was occasionally criticized for being sexist.[16] These critiques were based on the notion that most female roles on the show were either a lead-in to the episode's plot, the recipient of Face's affections, or both. The only two regular female members of the cast, Melinda Culea (season 1 and the first half of season 2) and Marla Heasley (the latter half of season 2) did not have a very long tenure with the show. Both Culea and Heasley had been brought in by the network and producers to stem these critiques, hoping that a female character would properly balance the otherwise all-male cast.[35] Culea was fired during the second season because of creative differences between her and the show's writers; she wanted more lines and more action scenes.[36] Heasley was brought in to replace Culea as a similar assisting reporter character, but with a more fragile and seductive quality to her.

Ultimately, she was written out of the show at the start of the third season when the network determined that a female cast member was not necessary. While the character of Amy Allen suddenly disappeared between two episodes, Tawnia left the team on-screen, choosing to marry and move out of Los Angeles. The character of Amy Allen was only briefly referred to once in the episode "In Plane Sight", and a couple of times in "The Battle of Bel Air", the same episode that introduced Tawnia Baker, in which she was cited to have taken a correspondence job overseas (in Jakarta, Indonesia).

Marla Heasley's experiences on-set[edit]

Marla Heasley portraying Tawnia Baker in the episode "Say It With Bullets" during Season 2.

As Marla Heasley recounts in Bring Back... The A-Team (May 18, 2006), although sexism was not prevalent on the set per se, there was a sense that a female character was not necessary on the show. George Peppard took her aside and told her "We don't want you on the show. None of the guys want you here. The only reason you're here is because the network and the producers want you. For some reason they think they need a girl." The interview continues with Marla Heasley noting that on her last day of work Peppard took her aside again, saying: "I'm sorry that this is your last day, but remember what I said the very first day, that we didn't want a girl, has nothing to do with you. You were very professional, but no reason to have a girl."

In an interview with the Sunday Mail (AUS), Peppard admitted that he thought that "whenever the studio slips an actress on to the team, she becomes a distraction. She always slows down the action. She's someone who's only there for the glamor shots. Everything stops for the sexy smiles – and I can't see why that's necessary on The A-Team."[37]

Response by Dirk Benedict[edit]

In Bring Back... the A-Team, Dirk Benedict also remarked that, indeed, the show was very male driven:

It was a guy's show. It was male driven. It was written by guys. It was directed by guys. It was acted by guys. It's about what guys do. We talked the way guys talked. We were the boss. We were the God. We smoked when we wanted. We shot guns when we wanted. We kissed the girls and made them cry... when we wanted. It was the last truly masculine show.

The GMC van[edit]

The A-Team van as shown in the episode "Say It With Bullets"

The 1983[38] black and metallic grey GMC Vandura van used by the A-Team, with its characteristic red stripe, black and red turbine mag wheels, and rooftop spoiler, has become an enduring pop culture icon. The GMC Vandura used on the A-Team movie was also on display at the 2010 New York International Auto Show.[39]

Early examples of the van had a red GMC logo on the front grille, and an additional GMC logo on the rear left door. Early in the second season, these logos were blacked out, although GMC continued to supply vans and receive a credit on the closing credits of each episode.

It is a common error that the van is said to be all-black,[citation needed] whereas in fact the section above the red stripe is metallic gray; this error was even continued on most toy models of the van. The angle of the rear spoiler can also be seen to vary on different examples of the van within the series. Additionally, some versions of the van have a sunroof, whereas others, typically those used for stunts (and including the one displayed in the aforementioned Cars of the Stars Motor Museum) do not. This led to continuity errors in some episodes, such as in the third season's "The Bells Of St. Mary's", in a scene where (the double of) Face jumps from a building onto the roof of the van. There is clearly no sunroof. Moments later, in an interior studio shot, Face climbs in through the sunroof. Also, in many stunts where the van would surely be totaled, other makes have been used, such as a black Ford Econoline with red hubcaps painted to simulate the original red turbine mag wheels.

A number of devices were seen in the back of the van in different episodes, including a mini printing press ("Pros and Cons"), an audio surveillance recording device ("A Small And Deadly War"), and Hannibal's disguise kits in various episodes.

Many GMC/Chevrolet Vandura vans, and many of the very similar Bedford CF vans, were styled after the A-Team's van by fans of the show.

Merchandise[edit]

Merchandise from the show has been available over the years, including:

  • Action figures of the characters, as well as their van and car.
  • A cola-flavored popsicle in the shape of Mr. T was on the market at the show's height.
  • A View-Master A-Team gift set, with 3-D viewer and 3 reels containing 21 3-D pictures of the A-Team episode "When You Comin' Back, Range Rider?", was produced by View-Master International.
  • Electric race car track with A-Team vehicle covers instead of normal cars.
  • Train set with various accessories and pieces themed for the A-Team look.
  • Hot Wheels "The A-Team" van.

Comics[edit]

Marvel Comics produced a three-issue A-Team comic book series, which was later reprinted as a trade paperback. Mr. T has appeared in his own comic books, while a Mr. T graphic novel is set for worldwide release in summer 2008, preceded by a Limited Advance Edition launched in February 2008. Similarly, in the United Kingdom, an A-Team comic strip appeared for several years in the 1980s as part of the children's television magazine and comic Look-In, to tie in with the British run of the series. It was preceded, though, by a short run in the final year (1984) of TV Comic, drawn by Jim Eldridge.

Books[edit]

Several novels were based on the series, the first six published in America by Dell and in Britain by Target Books; the last four were only published in Britain. The first six are credited to Charles Heath.

  • The A-Team (adapted from the pilot written by Frank Lupo and Stephen J. Cannell)
  • Small But Deadly Wars (adapted from the episodes "A Small and Deadly War" written by Frank Lupo and "Black Day at Bad Rock" written by Patrick Hasburgh)
  • When You Comin' Back, Range Rider? (adapted from the episode of the same name written by Frank Lupo)
  • Old Scores to Settle (adapted from the episodes "The Only Church in Town" written by Babs Greyhosky and "Recipe for Heavy Bread" written by Stephen J. Cannell, although the novel features the latter episode first)
  • Ten Percent of Trouble (adapted from the episodes "Steel" written by Frank Lupo and "The Maltese Cow" written by Thomas Szollosi and Richard Christian Matheson)
  • Operation Desert Sun: The Untold Story, credited on the cover to Charles Heath but on the title page to Louis Chunovic.
  • Bullets, Bikinis and Bells by Ron Renauld (adapted from the episodes "Bullets and Bikinis" written by Mark Jones and "The Bells of St. Mary's" written by Stephen J. Cannell)
  • Backwoods Menace by Ron Renauld (adapted from the episodes "Timber!" written by Jeff Ray and "Children of Jamestown" written by Stephen J. Cannell)
  • The Bend in the River by David George Deutsch (adapted from the episode of the same name written by Stephen J. Cannell and Frank Lupo)
  • Death Vows by Max Hart (adapted from the episode "Till Death Us Do Part" written by Babs Greyhosky)

Soundtrack[edit]

The original main theme by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter was released on the vinyl LP Mike Post – Television Theme Songs (Elektra Records E1-60028Y, 1982) and again on the Mike Post – Mike Post LP (RCA Records AFL1-5183, 1984), both long out-of-print. The theme, as heard on seasons two through four (including the opening narration and sound effects), was also released on TVT's Television's Greatest Hits: 70s and 80s.

Though no original music other than the theme has been released as of January 2013, in 1984 Silva Screen issued an album of re-recorded material from the series conducted by Daniel Caine (reissued on compact disc in 1999, SILVAD 3509).

  1. Theme From The A-Team (3:13)
  2. Young Hannibal (2:57)
  3. B. A.'s Ride (2:34)
  4. The A-Team In New York City (2:43)
  5. Bandits (2:08)
  6. Taxi Chase (2:13)
  7. The A-Team Escape (1:16)
  8. The A-Team Prepare For War (2:08)
  9. Showtime (3:22)
  10. Move, Sucker (1:04)
  11. Let's Get Busted (1:06)
  12. Murdock's "Face" (3:01)
  13. Helicopters (2:36)
  14. More Bandits (1:22)
  15. Theme From The A-Team (3:27)

Production notes[edit]

Awards[edit]

During its time, The A-Team was nominated for 3 Emmy Awards: In 1983 (Outstanding Film Sound Mixing for a Series) for the pilot episode, in 1984 (Outstanding Film Sound Mixing for a Series) for the episode "When You Comin' Back, Range Rider?" and in 1987 (Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series) for the episode "Firing Line".

Professional wrestlers[edit]

The show featured professional wrestlers such as Hulk Hogan, Professor Toru Tanaka, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, The Dynamite Kid, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, Davey Boy Smith, Big John Studd and Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, in most cases playing themselves. In the episode "Body Slam", which featured Hogan, wrestling interviewer and announcer "Mean" Gene Okerlund also appeared.

Theme song[edit]

The opening theme tune was composed by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter.

Weapons[edit]

In early episodes the team used Colt AR-15 SP1 semi-automatic rifles (with automatic sound effects, simulating the M16), while in later seasons they used the Ruger Mini-14, and on rare occasions, the selective fire AC-556K variant of the Mini-14. Hannibal is also seen using an M60 machine gun in some episodes as well as a Micro-Uzi. Hannibal's sidearms are either a nickel plated Smith and Wesson Model 59, or a stainless steel Smith and Wesson Model 639. Unusually in the episode "Black Day At Bad Rock" he is seen carrying a Browning Hi-Power. Many antagonists and members of the team are seen using 1911s as well. "So many different firearms were used in the 1980s hit “The A-Team” that it’s impossible to list them all. For five seasons, the wrongly accused foursome used rifles, handguns, submachine guns and shotguns to bring justice for the little guy while trying to stay out of jail. And the best part had to be that regardless of the number of explosions or rounds fired, nobody ever got seriously hurt except for the occasional flesh wound of a team member."[40] As a result, the American Rifleman declared The A-Team the Number One Show on Television to regularly feature firearms.[40]

DVD releases [edit]

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has released all five seasons of The A-Team on DVD in Region 1, 2, and 4. In Region 2, a complete series set entitled "The A-Team--The Ultimate Collection" was released on October 8, 2007.[41] A complete series set was released in Region 1 on June 8, 2010.[42] The set includes 25 discs packaged in a replica of the A-Team's signature black van from the show.The complete series set was released in Region 4 on November 3, 2010.

All 5 seasons were re-released in Region 2 with new packaging on June 21, 2010.

DVD Name Ep# Release dates
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
Season One 14 June 8, 2004 September 13, 2004 December 3, 2004
Season Two 22 April 12, 2005 July 4, 2005 July 13, 2005
Season Three 25 January 31, 2006 May 22, 2006
(R2 has different cover art)
July 20, 2006
Season Four 24 April 4, 2006 September 18, 2006 September 19, 2006
Season Five:
The Final Season
13 October 10, 2006 February 12, 2007
(R2 has different cover art)
February 21, 2007
The Complete Series 98 June 8, 2010 October 8, 2007 November 3, 2010

Bring Back... The A-Team (2006)[edit]

On May 18, 2006, Channel 4 in the UK attempted to reunite the surviving cast members of The A-Team for the show Bring Back... in an episode titled "Bring Back...The A-Team".[43] Justin Lee Collins presented the challenge, securing interviews and appearances from Dirk Benedict, Dwight Schultz, Marla Heasley, Jack Ging, series co-creator Stephen Cannell, and Mr. T.

Collins eventually managed to bring together Benedict, Schultz, Heasley, Ging and Cannell, along with William Lucking, Lance LeGault, and George Peppard's son, Christian. Mr. T was unable to make the meeting, which took place in the Friar's Club in Beverly Hills, but he did manage to appear on the show for a brief talk with Collins.

Feature film[edit]

A feature film based on The A-Team was released on June 11, 2010, and was produced by 20th Century Fox.[44] Both Dirk Benedict (Face) and Dwight Schultz (Murdock) made brief cameo appearances in the film (as a prisoner using a sunbed and a psychiatrist overseeing Murdock's shock therapy, respectively); because of timing issues, these scenes were moved to the end of the credits.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

General[edit]

  • Cannell, Stephen J; Lupo, Frank (1983–87), The A-Team (broadcast and DVD) .
  • "The A-Team". 1983. Retrieved 2008-08-14. 
  • "The A-Team" (TV show). TV.com. Retrieved 2008-08-14. 

Specific[edit]

  1. ^ a b Robert Edelstein (2007-01-05). "Stephen J. Cannell: A Novel Approach to Life and Television". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  2. ^ a b c d Joe Neumaier (2001-01-21). "Encore: A Real Kick In the 'A'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  3. ^ Sally Bedell (1983-04-28). "How TV Hit 'The , ' Was Born". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ Stephen J. Cannell on The A-Team Season Five DVD boxset.
  5. ^ Debra Pickett (2006-09-16). "'I'm not into acclaim. I tune it out.'". The Chicago Sun-Times. 
  6. ^ a b "NBC Scores In Ratings With Super Bowl Broadcast". Associated Press. 1983-02-01. 
  7. ^ Bring Back... The A-Team (UK), Mr. T. Broadcast on May 18, 2006.
  8. ^ Burns, Margaret E (2002), "The A-Team", St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture, Gale Group, retrieved August 17, 2007 .
  9. ^ Ranked #96 in TV Land's list of The 100 Greatest TV Quotes and Catchphrases. Retrieved on August 17, 2007
  10. ^ The US Army Special Forces still uses the term ODA for their 12-man direct operations teams. Special Forces – Shooters and thinkers, United States: Army, Oct 26, 2009, retrieved January 5, 2010 .
  11. ^ "'A-Team' is viewers' most-wanted oldie for prime-time revival" by Matthew Beard in Independent, The (London), published on October 23, 2003.
  12. ^ Burt, Gold (October 30, 2006), "Late changes couldn't rescue The A-Team", The Leader-Post (Canada) .
  13. ^ Adrian Lee (2006-03-04). "The Final Mission". The Express. 
  14. ^ "Television: All Our Fantasies". Retrieved August 17, 2007. 
  15. ^ "When You Comin' Back, Range Rider?: Part 1", season 2 episode 5. Broadcast on October 25, 1983.
  16. ^ a b c Bring Back... The A-Team (2006). Broadcast on May 18, 2006.
  17. ^ a b "For NBC, Trouble At 'A-Team,'" The New York Times, May 18, 1986, written by Aljean Harmetz.
  18. ^ Jenny Cullen (1988-12-11). "Sex and politics as coonskin hero returns from the Alamo". Sunday Mail (AUS). 
  19. ^ Jerry Buck (1989-01-04). "Tim Dunigan Plays a Different 'Davy Crockett'". Associated Press. 
  20. ^ "N/A". United Press International. 1983-03-30. 
  21. ^ "ABC Special On Slips Tops Ratings, But CBS Wins Week". Associated Press. 1983-05-03. 
  22. ^ "ABC Wins Its Second Week in the May Sweeps". Associated Press. 1983-05-24. 
  23. ^ "NBC Hits Highest Mark in May Ratings Sweeps in Five Years". Associated Press. 1983-05-27. 
  24. ^ Jerry Buck (1984-01-10). "CBS Wins Ratings But NBC Out of Cellar First Time This Season". Associated Press. 
  25. ^ John Carmody (1985-09-26). "The TV Column". Washington Post. 
  26. ^ "List of Nielsen Ratings". Associated Press. 1986-01-28. 
  27. ^ John Carmody (1986-12-13). "The TV Column". Washington Post. 
  28. ^ John Carmody (1986-11-18). "The TV Column". Washington Post. 
  29. ^ As told by Dirk Benedict in Jensen!, a Dutch talk show, broadcast on May 11, 2007.
  30. ^ Repeated showing on Jensen!, a Dutch talk show, broadcast on May 11, 2007.
  31. ^ a b Mary Harron (July 29, 1983). "volume 106, p. 133". New Statesman (UK). Retrieved 2011-11-25. 
  32. ^ Bring Back... The A-Team (UK), Stephen J. Cannell. Broadcast on May 18, 2006.
  33. ^ Dean, P (January 8, 1985), "No Mercy To Villains: But Do We Want More?", The Courier-Mail/The Sunday Mail (AUS) .
  34. ^ O'Connor, John J (1986-02-16). "TV View; It's Fun And It's Not Violent". The New York Times. Retrieved August 17, 2007. 
  35. ^ Bring Back... The A-Team (UK), Marla Heasley. Broadcast on May 18, 2006.
  36. ^ Bring Back... The A-Team (UK), Dirk Benedict. Broadcast on May 18, 2006.
  37. ^ Wills J. "Women Out For A-Team". Sunday Mail (AUS), May 18, 1986.
  38. ^ "A-Team 1983 GMC Van". 
  39. ^ Frank Filipponio (2010-04-01). "New York 2010: Hero cars invade Gotham". Autoblog.com. Retrieved 2010-04-05. 
  40. ^ a b http://www.americanrifleman.org/GalleryItem.aspx?cid=22&gid=107&id=949 | American Rifleman. Guns on TV...No. 1...The A-Team
  41. ^ "The A-Team — The Ultimate Collection" (DVD). UK: Amazon. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  42. ^ "The A-Team DVD news: Announcement for The A-Team — The Complete Series" (retailer’s product page). TV Shows on DVD. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  43. ^ Bring Back... The A-Team at the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved on August 17, 2007.
  44. ^ "Plan Coming Together for The A-Team", Variety, March 19, 2008

External links[edit]


Preceded by
60 Minutes
1982
Super Bowl lead-out program
The A-Team
1983
Succeeded by
Airwolf
1984