The A Team TV series

The A Team

1983 - United States

"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."

A group of ex-Vietnam Commandos band together to form an unlikely partnership in order to assist the victims of injustice, whilst on the run themselves for a crime that they did not commit. Each member of the team possessed his own specialist talent, Hannibal Smith (George Peppard - although James Coburn was originally considered for the role) the leader of the group, was a master of disguise, Howling Mad Murdoch (Dwight Shultz) was the pilot sprung from a psychiatric hospital in order to join the team, BA -standing for Bad Attitiude- Baracus (Mr.T -real name Lawrence Tureaud) was a master mechanic, and Faceman (Dirk Benedict) was the procurer of all the teams material needs. Eventually the A-Team became government agents and were joined by special effects expert, Dishpan (Eddie Velez).

The A Team TV series

Until 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).

Building on the concept of a tight-knit team, the series revolves around the A Team's attempts to clear their names while helping those in need. Each episode presents a different story, blending action-packed sequences with a distinct sense of justice, offering viewers a thrilling escape into a world where the underdog always prevails. Viewers eagerly awaited the trademark scene when the A Team would create clever, makeshift weapons and gadgets out of everyday objects to defeat their enemies. From converting a bulldozer into a war machine to assembling an impromptu tank out of a trailer, this resourcefulness became a hallmark of the series.

The A Team TV series

With explosive special effects and stunt work, The A Team enjoyed great success on both sides of the Atlantic with its comic strip style of action-packed adventures, although elsewhere in the world the response to it varied. The biggest criticism was the absence of actual killing in a show about Vietnam War veterans, but this was shown at a time when violence was very much toned down on US television. This decision to show 'watered down' conduct meant the action scenes were dubbed by some critics as 'cartoon violence', something that also affected British shows that were funded, or partly funded by US networks or relied on US sales, as in the case of Return of the Saint.

The A Team TV series toys

However, the huge audience success of the series yielded a vast array of merchandise, including toys (Face's Corvette, an A-Team van by Hot Wheels, as well as helicopters, trucks, and jeeps), video games and snacks released worldwide. In the UK, an A-Team comic strip appeared for several years in the 1980s as part of the children's television magazine Look-In, to tie in with the British run of the series.

In 2010, 20th Century Fox released a feature film based on The A-Team starring Liam Neeson as Hannibal, Bradley Cooper as Faceman, Quinton Jackson as B.A. and Sharlto Copley as Murdock with Jessica Biel as the team's ally. Dirk Benedict and Dwight Schultz made brief cameo appearances in the film. In September 2015, Fox announced the development of a reboot A-Team series, but the idea was later dropped.

The A Team TV series

The A Team remains an American classic that shaped the action genre and captivated audiences through its compelling characters, fast moving adventures, and action sequences. The series remains an enduring symbol of 80s US television, even if it's far from being its finest hour. Its enduring popularity is more likely to stem from the generation of youngsters that grew up watching it or fans of action, comedy, or simply nostalgia for the era it represents.

Published on February 29th, 2024. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.

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