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Classic TV

The A Team

In 1972, a crap commando unit was se… Eh? Yes, crap commando unit, afterall they were caught. Oh, OK then… In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison (see, told you they got caught) by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. Yeh, sure, of course they didn’t do it. Everyone in prison is innocent, we all know that. They just got stiffed by their lawyers. Alright, I’m getting on with it.
These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade (couldn’t have been that secure, hence they escaped) to the Los Angeles underground. It’s a good job they didn’t escape to the London underground. Hiding out on the Northern Line is no life for anyone, I can tell you.
Anyway, today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. And that’s no joke, imagine how much these guys have been paid with the number of reruns of the series.
So, if you have a problem (I have a problem, it’s called Going Off At A Tangent Disorder), and if no-one else can help, and if you can find them (well, that’s not difficult, they’re in the Los Angeles underground. Just jump on a train, and you’re bound to come across them sooner or later), maybe you could hire The A-Team.
Phew, thought I’d never finish that. Anyhoo, hands up who remembers The A-Team. Anyone who hasn’t got their hand up at this point must either have not heard the question, or has a broken arm. The A-Team was as much of growing up in the 80s as anything. Here we have four guys, going around making the world a much better place.
The leader, John “Hannibal” Smith is a bit of a fruitcake in his own right, often described as being “on the jazz”. When he’s not blowing kneecaps off of the bad guys (well, actually he doesn’t do that, but we’ll come onto that later), he’s a budding film actor. Well, he’s usually hidden under 15 layers of latex, but that’s beside the point.
Next we have “Howling Mad” Murdock. If there was ever a fruitcake with extra nuts, then he’s it. He’s the only character that the writers have admitted is insane. And quite right too, it’s the only way to be. He’s the only one of the group who knows how to fly a plane, so that’s pretty much his job description sorted, apart from looking after his imaginary dog, cat, elephant… well, imaginary anything really.
Face is the scammer of the group. Anything that’s needed, he can get his hands on. Not really a difficult task really considering that all he has to do is visit the various warehouses that the A-Team have been held prisoner in and he’ll find everything he possibly needs in there. I wonder if the situation has ever come up where the gang have refused to be held prisoner in a particular building on the grounds that it does not contain a welding torch, 16 miles of tape, several thousand pipes, an engine motor and a few spare tyres.
And finally, we have “Bad Attitude” Baracas, a big black brother who has more jewellery than most countries and has a soft spot for kids. Perhaps that’s why they were sent to prison. Ah, seriously though, I pitty the fool™ who doesn’t just love Mr. T, the actor that played B.A. Baracas.
The A-Teams mission – to help normal people who are having difficulties with nasty mean people, in exchange for oh, let’s say, a whole wad of cash.
They get the job done though. First meeting is with Hannibal in disguise who decided whether or not to take on the mission. Of course, he does take the case, otherwise we’d be left with a very short episode. Next comes the traditional “getting to know your enemy” saga which involves several rounds of sarcasm being fired from all directions. Once that’s over and done with, the magic bullets and bombs come into play.
They are magic though. Think about it. You fire a gun at someone, what happens? Yes, that’s right, the victim usually ends up with an arm being blown off, or in a worst case scenario, ends up dead. Not with these magic bullets though. Simply squeeze the trigger of a magic gun and several rounds of magic bullets are fired off, designed not to hit their target, but anything explosive that happens to be laying around. The result – the bad guys get blown off their feet by the nearby explosion (usually ending up diving over the bonnet of a car). Everybody wins, the A-Team are not up on murder charges, and the bad guys keep their lives and run home crying to mummy (or the director, whoever is nearer).
The A-Team is a legend in it’s own right though. Each of the characters give their own bit to make a show that just oozes with, err, something or other. Oh, I dunno, it was just a class show. That’s all I wanted to say.

All sounds and images, motion or still in this section © Stephen J Cannell

Youtube Intro.


John ‘Hannibal’ Smith – Played by George Peppard

Templeton ‘Face’ Peck – Played by Dirk Benedict

‘Howling Mad’ Murdock – Played by Dwight Shultz

‘Bad Attitude’ Baracas – Played by Mr. T

All sounds and images, motion or still in this section ©Stephen J Cannell


All sounds and images, motion or still in this section © their original authors

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