Ten 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.

An action-packed 1980s television show created by Steven J. Cannell. It starred George Peppard as Hannibal, Dirk Benedict as Faceman, Dwight Schultz as Murdock, and Mr. T as B.A. Baracus.

The concept of A-Team actually exists in Green-Berets terminology. The largest infiltration teams are C-Teams, B-Teams are somewhat smaller and A-Teams are the basic smallest unit.

In the world of hip-hop, the A-Team refers to the musical teaming of Aceyalone of Freestyle Fellowship and Abstract Rude of Abstract Tribe Unique. These two have very complementary voices and lyrical styles.

They also recorded a short album thematically centered on the original A-Team (see above.) It is not coincidentally called The A-Team

I will attempt to summarize the main characters of this 1980's TV show.

Hannibal:

Played by George Peppard, he was the colonel who was the leader of the A-Team. He always smoked cigars and wore gloves and a members only jacket.

I believe his character was loosely based on the famous Carthaginian general also named Hannibal due to his constant use of the phrase, "I love it when a plan comes together," and due to his day job as a movie actor when not on a mission with the rest of the team. You see, Hannibal was one of the greatest generals of the ancient world. And one of his most famous triumphs was the Battle of Cannae where, through numerous deceptions, he was able to lure a large Roman army into a battle in which his forces were able to secretly sweep around and encircle the Romans and defeat them. This classic battle was partly an inspiration to Norman Schwartzkopf when planning the Gulf War. I believe the A-Team character's phrase is a reference to this "coming together" and encirclement performed by the ancient general's forces. And I believe the day job as an actor is a vague reference to the ancient general's deceptive tendencies.

B.A. Baracus:

His initials stand for Bad Attitude, supposedly. Played by Mr. T, this character was the A-Team's muscle man. He was also the owner and usual driver of the team's van. He was helluva tough! He usually got paired up in each episode's final fight with the bad guys' largest ruffian for an absurdly dramatic fight. There was usually a lot of one-upsmanship during this fight, with the two big guys breaking 2x4's or chairs over each other, and then being amazed at how ineffective each blow was against one another.

He was also deathly afraid of flying.

Faceman:

Portrayed by Dirk Benedict, he was the conman of the group who was always trying to run some sort of scam on the side. He always tried to dress and look well, and was a little bit prissy for a soldier. He often worked as the team's financier. His full name was Templeton Peck.

Murdoch:

His role was mostly comic relief, but he was also the team's pilot. This of course made him frequently at odds with B.A. Baracus. He was a deranged lunatic who had a new quirky behavior for each episode. Mostly harmless, except he'd often complicate a mission with his insane antics. Played by actor Dwight Shultz.

Colonel Decker:

This was the military police colonel who always chased the A-Team with a small band of soldiers, usually showing up in the wake of each episode's final battle. Played by Lance LeGault.

I loved the A-Team. One episode I saw climaxed with the helicopter containing the bad guys crashing into the side of a cliff. It exploded, and the burning wreckage landed on the beach. Seconds later, the four bad guys staggered out holding their heads and saying things like "Ohhhh, my head...". They were then arrested. The charge was probably something to do with the laws of physics.

Anyway, here is the plot formula for any episode of the A-Team:

Good guys get terrorised by nasty bad guys. Head bad guy usually breaks something, or crushes it under his foot. Cue sinister music stab.

Good guys contact the A-Team. Hannibal gets the message during a break while filming his tv show. He calls the team together.

Damn - Murdock's banged up in the looney bin, and the team needs him for something. Faceman and someone else are sent to bust him out, under strict orders to use some overly elaborate scheme (like posing as doctors or brain specialists) despite the fact that the hospital seems to be one of those zero-security places where you can check yourself in and out. Also despite the fact that the same people check him back in after every adventure, and would presumably have power of attorney or whatever to take him out whenever they pleased, perfectly legally.

The team join up. They have to fly somewhere, but BA won't fly. They give him a drugged cheeseburger/glass of milk and knock him out for the flight, despite his protestations that he ain't goin on no plane, man, and he ain't takin no drugged milk. When they arrive, they convince him they drove there, and that he just slept for the long drive.

The team get to the location, and start sorting out the bad guys. During an over-confident moment, they are captured, and placed in a large warehouse/building. Things look grim.

Just as the situation seems to be hopeless, the gang decide to make one last bid for glory. In an amazing stroke of luck, they discover that the building they are in contains oxyacetylene welding gear, several sheets of bulletproof metal, one or more old cars/farming vehicles, and lots of petrol/gasoline/boomboom liquid (see also the later, weaker seasons of MacGyver). Then follows a montage, which contains at least one shot of BA welding something. The plan is crazy, but so crazy it just might work.

The gang bust out of the building, and cause all sorts of destructive mayhem. Murdock may or may not sing something in German, very loudly and comically. Thousands of bullets are fired, not a single one hitting anybody. The bad guys are caught off guard, and defeated. They may be in a helicopter that crashes, depending on that week's budget. Either way, they end up confused, weakened, and holding their heads in pain.

The team have a last chat with the good guys, before Colonel Decker turns up (and just misses them). Sadly, the team can't stay and live with them, they're wanted criminals, and have to move on. They all say goodbye, then Murdock usually does something crazy. We freeze-frame as BA takes a swing at him/throws him into some water, while everyone laughs.

The End - repeat every week, until even the kids spot the formula. Ah, those were the days...

Atari 2600 Game
Produced by: Atari
Model Number: CX26133
Rarity: P Prototype
Year of Release: 1983
Programmer: Howard Scott Warshaw

Hey Foo! Throw that Super Breakout jibba jabba away and get yoself a real cartridge. I pity the fool who don't play my game. It's A-Team for the Atari 2600! All the butt kicking action of the television show contained on one cartridge.

In this game you control BA Baracus on his mission to save Hannibal from the clutches of some unknown evil. Actually you control Mr. T's disembodied head, with no body to be seen anywhere, although your opponents have bodies oddly enough. On the first screen you are in the center of several vertical rows. You can move left and right, and fire in 4 different directions at your green gangster opponents. On the left of the screen the A-Team Space Shuttle slowly rises, when it gets halfway up you warp to the second screen (yes an A-Team Space Shuttle, apparently the A-Team had their very own space ship that you apparently never got to see on the television show). The second screen is completely open, and it pits you against a single seemingly undefeatable foe that fires bouncing shots at the player. You can move and fire in all directions on this screen, but the bouncing shots and undefeatable enemy are hard to avoid for more than a few seconds.

This may have been the only video game ever made about the A-Team, which is sort of a shame, as the series could really be done some justice with a modern 3-D engine, and a little tongue in cheek humor.

This game is emulated by all the popular Atari 2600 emulators (Z26, Stella, etc), which is your best bet for playing this game, as the actual cartridge is very hard to find.

Collectors Information

This game was originally called Saboteur and it had nothing to with the A-Team at all. Atari decided to cash in on the A-Team craze, so they quickly swapped a few graphics and made Saboteur into a whole new game. But the game was never released because of the video game crash of 1983, the price of the A-Team license was too high to make the game profitable.

The value of this game fluctuates quite a bit. $200 is a good starting point. Always be careful when buying prototype cartridges, as they are very easy to bootleg. A real "A-Team" cartridge will be on a plain black cartridge that says


LOANER CARTRIDGE

A-Team

Return to

Prototype Lab
Consumer Division
Software Dept.

         |||
         |||
        / | \
        ATARI

If it is in any other kind of casing then it is probably a fake made by pulling the label off some old Super Breakout cartridge and burning a new EPROM for it.



First off, I love the A-Team. I watch every episode I can. These days, it comes on TNN every weekday at 11:00 in the morning (I think, PM me if I'm wrong) on Eastern time. The time is subject to change, as it USED to be shown on TV Land at 2:00. Oh well. Anyway, there was more than one year of shows. RalphyK's writeup concerns what I think was the second season, although Murdock sang mostly in the first season. He actually sang almost every episode... but I think my favorite song of his would have to be the "Traaaaaaaash BAAAAGS!" song from the "Pros and Cons" episode, back in the first season.

Anyway, the A-Team went through several different stages. There were 5 seasons. Soooo here's a summary and some interesting information on each season that the show was on.

Season 1: Origins


This was the first season the A-Team showed up. Episode 1 also introduced Melinda Culea as a newspaper reporter. In the first episode, she asked them for help, to save her colleague from Mexican guerrillas. The military officer for this season was Colonel Lynch, a relatively dry and boring person. The last time he appeared in the series was in the finale of the first season.
In the first season, the A-Team was very unstable. They argued a LOT. B.A. Baracus always argued with Murdock, and nobody trusted Hannibal's plans. They'd always refer to old plans of his gone wrong, and would frequently make up their own. In the end, they always used Hannibal's plans, though.
Some memorable episodes include:
"Pros and Cons" where Face dresses up as Dr. Pepper and a prison warden is making his inmates fight each other...)
A Small and Deadly War: Where a renegade SWAT team led by a corrupt policeman commit murder for money...
Till Death Do Us Part: Better known as the episode where Murdock dresses up in a wedding dress. Not a pretty sight.

Season 2: Enter Decker


In my opinion, Season 2 offered very little in the way of entertainment as compared to the other seasons. In fact, there were few episodes I liked that much. Here's the info on Season 2.

First, Amy Allen (the reporter played by Melinda Culea) is gone. She left at the end of the first season to go overseas. She is replaced by Tawnia Baker, a friend of hers, who wants to join the team too. She gets dumped in the 2nd episode of the 3rd season. Oh yeah, and this is where Colonel Decker enters. He shows up in the episode "When You Comin' Back Range Rider?", the 5th episode of the second season. He's another Army MP who carries a grudge against the A-Team.

Memorable episodes? Not many. You might recognize "The Taxicab Wars", an episode where a taxi company owner hires the A-Team to stop the other taxi cab company from taking them out of business by using underhanded tactics.

Season 3: Same Old, Same Old


Well, it was the third season. Despite having a lot of cool episodes, it didn't have any really new plot twists. Tawnia left, after never really joining the team like Amy did. She left in the episode "The Bend in the River". Colonel Decker is still the Team's worst enemy.

Memorable Episodes:
Timber!: In this episode, the Team helps a logger that faces a hostile takeover by a big old Logger's Union.
Fire!: This is an odd episode about fire engines. More importantly, it introduced a new military enemy, Colonel Briggs, who mysteriously vanished at the end of the episode, never to be seen again. R.I.P. Briggs. Nobody knows WHY he left. But he did.
Showdown!: This is the episode where there's a bunch of imposters pretending to be the A-Team. The episode involves a Wild West show that Colonel Lynch (not Decker, who's the usual villain in the 3rd season) hopes the real A-Team can't resist going to. He fails, and vanishes once again.

Season 4: Welcome to the Real World

Season 4 introduced a new development in the A-Team. It went global. The producers brought big-name people in (outlined later) and it went from being "Team Cruises Around in Van" to something more. There were Soviets and more foreign countries than ever before.

Another new thing in Season 4 was a new enemy. Decker had vanished at the end of the 3rd season, but starting on the episode "Mind Games", a new enemy was unveiled: General Fulbright. He knew the Team's Commanding Officer, and also had an Amer-Asian daughter in Vietnam.

Memorable Episodes:
The Heart of Rock 'n' Roll: Special Guests Rick James (Superfreak!) and Isaac Hayes. Isaac Hayes plays an old imprisoned rock star whose life is in danger. Special BONUS: Rick James performs Superfreak. On the A-Team. This is highly entertaining.
Body Slam: B.A. knows Hulk Hogan. Hulk Hogan doesn't like the fact that a mobster is busy trying to close down orphanages. They try and track the guy down, and hilarity ensues.
Mind Games: This is when Face receives a government pardon, but the rest of the Team is still wanted. It turns out to be a trap set by their new nemesis, General Fulbright.
The Doctor is Out: Murdock's psychiatrist is kidnapped, and the team has to go to the jungles of South America to find him and bring him back safely.
Wheel of Fortune: Murdock is a contestant on Wheel of Fortune. Seriously. Not only that, but he wins a truck. Oh yeah, and something about a Soviet gunship...
Cowboy George: Face tries to book a guy named Cowboy George into a Texas bar. He gets BOY GEORGE. I only wish I was kidding. However, in the end, Boy George wins over the tough cowboys and they all start liking his music. Homoeroticism abounds. BONUS: Culture Club performs. An. Entire. Damned. Song.
The Sound of Thunder: General Fulbright hires the A-Team to go and search for his Vietnamese daughter with him. He, however, tells them that they're searching for the one guy who could clear them of all charges. Gen. Fulbright dies at the end of this episode.

Season 5: Military Courts and Stockwell too


This season radically changes the whole A-Team. This season even got its own new intro sequence with a synthesized theme instead of the old "rock guitar" feeling. It starts off with a new enemy: Stockwell. He kidnaps the A-Team and threatens to prosecute them unless they can rescue hostages from a plane in Spain (Episode: Dishpan Man). It's named Dishpan Man because of the new guy, Frankie "Dishpan" Santana, a special effects guy that aids Stockwell. For some reason, Stockwell turns the A-Team in anyway. In episode 2, Trial By Fire, the Team faces a court-martial. The testimony by the Army rapes them, as Murdock enlists Frankie's aid to find evidence that will save the A-Team. In episode 3, Firing Line, the Team is sentenced to death. However, Murdock and Frankie think of a plan to save them. It works... with a little help from General Stockwell. Stockwell has a proposition: the Team will help him with a whole bunch of missions, and after a while, Stockwell will get them all a presidential pardon. This is how the rest of the 5th season goes: Stockwell gives them missions, and they do them.

As a side note, the A-Team is never pardoned as the part of a show. On the last episode, "The Gray Team", they speculate on their future and they talk about how their contract with Stockwell will be up soon. Oh, yeah, and on that episode, Murdock's shirt says "Fini". Due to a mistake, though, the last episode of the A-Team aired actually on March 8th. Murdock's shirt in that episode said "Almost Fini" and as the chronological order doesn't really make sense, it's safe to assume that The Gray Team was meant to be the real last episode.

So that's how the A-Team went. And you know a little bit more about the coolest show on television.

Interesting tidbit:
Only one person was ever killed on the A-Team: General Fulbright. Sure, mobsters fell and stuff, but only Fulbright was ever actually shown as being killed.

"Why are we in a falling tank?!"
"Because the plane exploded!"

Feeling the need for some mindless entertainment, I wanted to watch something that would feature explosions, amusing lines, and preposterous situations. Since I've seen every Bond film, I figured that I might as well check out this one out instead - it's what The A-Team is famous for, right?

Plot? The plot is that three madmen and one raving lunatic happen to be the best at getting results when it comes to high risk missions. Betrayed on a covert operation, they're imprisoned. They break out, they try to clear their names, their plans come together - but they get imprisoned again. They bust out for a second time, credits roll. It's an origin story for the A-Team. B.A.'s fear of flying? Check. Why the hell is someone like Murdoch in the army in the first place? Check. Van? It's there - briefly. Impossible helicopter stunts? Sure. Escaping an exploding plane mid-flight, in a tank? Okay then!

You might be thinking disbelief needs to be suspended. Suspending disbelief isn't enough - you should probably nail it to the ceiling. This film makes a lot of the Bond films look sensible. But it's okay, really. The A-Team is a live action cartoon; the film is a live action cartoon with a huge budget. It's not supposed to be realistic. In fact, the places it doesn't work are when the film tries to get serious or go for character development.

Character development? What's this? We all know the characters, because they've been lampooned on the internet for over a decade now. We don't need character development. We don't want lots of drama. We don't need the last quarter of the film to be serious.

If I wanted serious, I wouldn't be watching this film!

The fact that a premise which is supposed to be fun goes the way of serious business in the final act is disappointing. It feels like the writers were trying to stick to a generic movie structure while their ideas dwindled - the clue is that one of the main characters stands around silently doing nothing during the climax of the film. Which character? The one which provides the humour. The film also focusses on the most boring of the main characters. It's also a shame the female character (character, singular, since the other women are not really characters) doesn't do much beyond chase the A-Team around and provide support when they need it at the end. Of course, my expectations on this front were so low that the film was an improvement.

These points are even more disappointing because the rest of the film works. The main characters are done well enough for what they are, the plot is an interesting excuse for stuff to explode, amusing dialogue gets said... So, do the idiotic action sequences and cartoony main characters make up for the boring, annoying, or serious bits? I certainly found it to be fun. It's an enjoyable film when it's doing the action thing, essentially trying really hard not to be art, but to be entertainment - and succeeding more often than it fails. Which is about enough, really.

"Technically we're not flying."
"I know! We're falling, fool!"

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