Howling Mad Murdock
|Howling Mad Murdock|
|The A-Team character|
H. M. Murdock as he appears in the opening credits
|First appearance||"Mexican Slayride"|
|Created by||Frank Lupo & Stephen J. Cannell|
|Portrayed by||Dwight Schultz (TV series)|
Sharlto Copley (film)
TBC (TV series reboot)
|Awards||Bronze Star 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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
- 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
The following are the medals and service awards fictionally worn by Captain Murdock in "A Nice Place to Visit".
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
The following are the medals and service awards fictionally worn by Captain Murdock in the 2010 movie adaptation.
- 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".
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