Howling Mad Murdock

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Howling Mad Murdock
The A-Team character
HMMurdock.jpg
H. M. Murdock as he appears in the opening credits
First appearance"Mexican Slayride"
Created byFrank Lupo & Stephen J. Cannell
Portrayed byDwight Schultz (TV series)
Sharlto Copley (film)
TBC (TV series reboot)
Information
NicknameHowling Mad
GenderMale
TitleCaptain
Awards[1]Bronze Star Medal
Air Medal
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Army Commendation Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal

Captain H. M. "Howling Mad" Murdock, played by Dwight Schultz, is a fictional character and one of the four protagonists of the 1980s action-adventure television series The A-Team.[2] The character of Murdock was almost written out of the series before it aired, as the producers found the character too "over the top". The popularity of the character among the test audience convinced the producers to keep the part of Murdock.[3]

Murdock appeared on The A-Team from the series beginning in 1983 until its cancellation in 1987. South African actor Sharlto Copley played the character in the 2010 film, while Schultz appeared in a small cameo as his neurologist.

Character biography[edit]

The A-Team is a group of ex-United States Army Special Forces who were wrongly convicted of a crime during the Vietnam War. They fled to Los Angeles, where, as fugitives, they work as soldiers of fortune, using their military training to fight oppression or injustice. Murdock, along with Hannibal Smith, B. A. Baracus, and Templeton "Faceman" Peck, make up the team. Although Murdock was not convicted of any crime, unlike the other three, he is still a full-fledged member of the team. Considered the best chopper pilot of the Vietnam War and former member of the elite United States Air Force Thunderbirds, Murdock is capable of flying a number of planes.

Murdock served two tours in Vietnam, has three unit citations and a Silver Star, and was wounded twice.[4] Murdock has extensive knowledge of various subjects and keeps up on current events, showing a genius-level aptitude. He speaks several languages, seems to possess a photographic memory, and is also a talented actor. Murdock worked for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on at least two occasions, once in 1969 and once in 1972.

Murdock is almost always seen in a baseball cap, a customized A-2 leather flight jacket with a picture of a tiger and the words "Da Nang 1970" on the back, a pair of khaki pants, and a pair of black Converse sneakers. He also often wears a t-shirt with a comical caption or a picture of cartoon characters like The Jetsons on it. Schultz said in a later interview that he was the one who devised the captions on the shirts, saying it was his "one constant contribution to the show."

Murdock is officially declared insane when the A-Team robs the Bank of Hanoi and is committed to a psychiatric hospital. He is stated as having paranoid anxiety, delusions, and intermittent memory loss. The symptoms of his "insanity" vary from episode to episode. Murdock routinely escapes the Veterans Administration (VA) Psychiatric Hospital to accompany the A-Team on their missions. Murdock is shown playing video games and watching cartoons. He often "channels" a certain character for the duration of a mission or becomes fixated on a particular subject to the point of obsession. He also frequently refers to his invisible dog, "Billy". Despite his purported mental status, Murdock is a competent member of the team.

Murdock, as a Captain, has the second highest military rank in the team, and occasionally takes over leadership. Murdock was permanently discharged from the mental institution in the fifth season, supposedly having regained his sanity, which is consistent with the fact he possibly only pretended to be insane as a cover. Following this event, instead of a different mental fixation every episode, Murdock took a different menial job each week, including stints working as a dog walker and a waiter.

Romantic relationships[edit]

  • Doctor Kelly Stevens (as played by Wendy Fulton, Dwight's actual wife) ("Bounty", season 3 episode 22) - A veterinarian with whom Murdock falls in love while on the run from bounty hunters. Over the course of the episode they flirt.
  • Jody Klineman, aka Jody Joy, played by Lydia Cornell. ("Wheel of Fortune", season 4 episode 13) She picks up Murdock hitchhiking and recognizes him from the Wheel of Fortune. She flirts with him throughout the episode, finally kissing him. Murdock takes her on the trip to Hawaii that he won on Wheel of Fortune.
  • Erica (Mentioned in "Family Reunion", season 5 episode 8. Seen in "The Grey Team", season 5 episode 12) - A young lady who moves into the same apartment building as Murdock, mentioned several times later in the show.

Awards and decorations[edit]

The following are the medals and service awards fictionally worn by Captain Murdock in "A Nice Place to Visit".

Personal decorations
Bronze Star Medal
Air Medal
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Army Commendation Medal
Unit awards
Presidential Unit Citation
Vietnam Presidential Unit Citation
Campaign and service medals
National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
Foreign awards
Vietnam Campaign Medal
Other accoutrements
ArmyAvnBadge.png Army Aviator Badge
1AvnBdeSSI.gif 1st Aviation Brigade Shoulder sleeve insignia

2010 film[edit]

Sharlto Copley as H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock in the 2010 The A-Team film.

The A-Team film keeps many of Murdock's traits and characteristics intact, including his amazing piloting abilities, surprising knowledge of many topics, acting ability and fluency in other languages and accents. Unlike in the TV series, he is not a member of the A-Team from the beginning; he joins the other three during a mission when they need a pilot at the last minute, and he is a patient in a mental hospital released into Hannibal's custody. Like his TV counterpart, the film Murdock also leaves open the possibility that he's eccentric and simply pretending to be insane. Murdock's fixation on pop culture characters is also kept intact, specifically in one scene where he re-enacts Mel Gibson's portrayal of William Wallace in the movie Braveheart. In a post-credits scene, Murdock is shown receiving electroshock therapy, while two doctors (one portrayed by Dwight Shultz, the original Murdock) look on.

Awards and decorations[edit]

The following are the medals and service awards fictionally worn by Captain Murdock in the 2010 movie adaptation.

Personal decorations
Distinguished Flying Cross
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze Star Medal with one oak leaf cluster
Air Medal
Width-44 myrtle green ribbon with width-3 white stripes at the edges and five width-1 stripes down the center; the central white stripes are width-2 apart Army Commendation Medal
Width-44 ribbon with two width-9 ultramarine blue stripes surrounded by two pairs of two width-4 green stripes; all these stripes are separated by width-2 white borders Army Achievement Medal
Unit awards
Presidential Unit Citation
Joint Meritorious Unit Award
Width-44 Old Glory red ribbon surrounded by gold frame. The ribbon has a central width-3 Old Glory red stripe flanked by pairs of stripes that are respectively width-3 white, width-3 ultramarine blue, width one-half white and width-2 ultramarine blue. Valorous Unit Award
Service Awards
Army Good Conduct Medal
Campaign and service medals
National Defense Service Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two bronze service stars
Bronze star
Bronze star
Iraq Campaign Medal with two bronze service stars
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Armed Forces Service Medal
Service and training awards
Army Service Ribbon
Overseas Service Ribbon
Other accoutrements
Combat Infantry Badge.svg Combat Infantryman Badge
ArmyAvnBadge.png Army Aviator Badge
US Army Airborne basic parachutist badge.gif Parachutist Badge
AirAssault.gif Air Assault Badge
United States Army Special Forces CSIB.svg United States Army Special Forces Shoulder sleeve insignia
SpecialForcesTabMetal.jpg Special Forces tab
Ranger Tab.svg Ranger tab

Other appearances[edit]

  • In an episode of Robot Chicken, a bar owner's insurance could only cover the B-Team and Murdock is played by a clearly insane and suicidal actor tied in a straitjacket. In the end of the episode, he is shown to have hanged himself.
  • Dwight Schultz reprises Murdock in a voice acting role for the video game Lego Dimensions in 2016. He is also playable when purchasing the "A-Team Fun Pack".

References[edit]

  1. ^ Murdock's medals are shown in the season 1 episode "A Nice Place To Visit".
  2. ^ "Dwight Schultz: Typecast As Versatile". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
  3. ^ Bring Back... The A-Team (2006), Justin Lee Collins and Dwight Schultz
  4. ^ "Without Reservations", season five, episode thirteen (final episode)

External links[edit]