Reviewed by David Savage
Peppard, Dirk Benedict, Dwight Schultz,
Melinda Culea, Marla Heasley and Mr. T
Running time: 4690 minutes
Release date: 6 April 2020
Number of Discs: 22
“I love it when a plan comes together” – John “Hannibal” Smith
When I was growing up (a long time ago now), there was nothing better than sitting down on a Saturday afternoon watching The A-Team with Hannibal, Face, Murdock and B.A. Baracus. The show ran for five seasons over 3 years (1983-1986). It has now been re-released as a complete 22-disc DVD box set Collector’s Edition with all 97 episodes from Fabulous Films.
“In 1972 (originally said 10 years ago), 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 premise of the show is that four Vietnam soldiers were convicted of a crime they didn’t commit – robbing the Bank of Hanoi. They were ordered to do this by their commanding officer to help bring the war to an end, but after returning to base to find their commander dead and the base destroyed there was no proof they were acting under orders. Arrested and locked up in Fort Bragg, a maximum security stockade, they promptly escaped and disappeared into the LA underground where they became soldiers of fortune. If you could find them and had a case of social injustice you could hire them to put things right.
The A-Team are:
Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith played by George Peppard. Hannibal is the cigar smoking leader, a master of disguise and who has a penchant for acting in the movies. His plans are always unorthodox but generally work and he “loves it when a plan comes together”.
Lieutenant Templeton Peck, aka Face or Faceman played by Dirk Benedict. Face is the handsome smooth-talking con man (master of the persuasive arts), ladies’ man and second in command. His job is to appropriate any items the team may need and handle the money from any jobs.
Captain H. M. “Howling Mad” Murdock played by Dwight Schultz. Murdock is the team’s pilot who can fly any kind of aircraft. He has been declared insane and resides in a Veterans’ Administration mental institution, except when the team break him out or he escapes when needed for jobs.
Sergeant First Class Bosco “B.A.”, or “Bad Attitude”, Baracus played by Mr. T. B.A. is the team’s muscle and mechanic. He dislikes Murdock with a passion as he is a “crazy fool”. With his mohawk haircut, excessive amount of gold chains around his neck and rings on every finger and weight lifting belt he is a very imposing figure (and my favourite character).
The team are also assisted by two female reporters throughout the show – Amy Allen (Melinda Culea) and Tawnia Baker (Marla Heasley).
Each episode sees the team hired, after a vetting process where prospective clients have to meet the mysterious Mr Lee, to take on a dangerous mission. These missions see the team travel the world to places like Borneo, Mexico, Zimbabwe as well as around the United States.
With each episode you are guaranteed car chases resulting in lots of car crashes and cars flying though the air (which everybody generally walks away from unharmed), fist fights, gun fights and constantly being chased by the MPs (Military Police).
Overall, I love the show. I loved it growing up and now, whilst I now see a lot of the flaws in the show, it is nostalgic fun, even with its cartoon violence, unbelievable plots and mannequins used at stunt people! It is pure escapism, and no swearing!
It has lots of sanitised violence – for the most part, no one dies (5 people died throughout the whole five seasons), people rarely bleed although sometimes a sling or cast is needed for minor injuries – as a child I didn’t think of the implications of this, showing that bullets don’t kill, and everyone survives car, helicopter and plane crashes.
Growing up, the blatant sexism within the show was never noticed by me (although I think you could go through lots of 80s TV shows and find something now), but watching it back now the female characters really do seem to be irrelevant with very little parts to play and there for the object of Face’s attention (although Amy Allen (Melinda Culea) went from newspaper reporter to gun-toting member of the team to apparently appease the critics). It was apparently deemed as a show for men – written and directed by men, acted by men and watched by men.
Whilst it now may deemed as a politically incorrect show, it is easy watching and fun.
Taking it for what it is, an 80s TV action show, and the enjoyment I remember from growing up I would still have to rate it 5 stars – maybe that’s just nostalgia, but I love it. If you watched the show in the 80s and enjoyed it, then this Collector’s Edition DVD box with commentary, interviews and behind the scenes featurettes is one to own.