Guilty pleasures don't come more guilty than The A-Team,
television's only tongue-in-cheek drama about the exploits of renegade Vietnam vets. The primetime series' 1983 debut season, gathered here was intentionally ludicrous, encouraging viewers to enjoy sundry talents of a colourful cast and laugh off storylines perhaps sillier than those on Charlie's Angels
. Co-created by Stephen J. Cannell (Wiseguy
) and Frank Lupo (Hunter
), The A-Team
introduced Lt. Col. John "Hannibal" Smith (George Peppard), the cocksure leader of a band of fugitive American soldiers framed for a crime in Vietnam and now thriving in Los Angeles. Hiring themselves out as soldiers of fortune, Hannibal's crew--including Lt. Templeton "Face" Peck (baby-faced Tim Dunigan in the pilot, Dirk Benedict thereafter), Sgt. Bosco Albert "B.A. (for 'Bad Attitude')" Baracus (Mr. T, outfitted with his trademark gold), and, most comically, Capt. H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock (Dwight Schultz)--assist (mostly) ordinary people having a problem with bad guys. The A-Team
ostensibly charges large fees, but much of the time the guys seem to be doing pro bono work for the helpless.
Season One highlights include "Children of Jamestown," starring John Saxon as a Jim Jones-like religious cult leader who captures Hannibal, Face, B.A., and first-season sidekick Amy "Triple A" Allen (Melinda Culea). While the resourceful group invents a super-weapon out of farm equipment, crazy Murdock commandeers a helicopter and dynamite. Also good is "A Small and Deadly War," featuring Dean Stockwell as one of several uncontrolled L.A. cops committing murder-for-hire. "The Out-of-Towners" takes a page from the Death Wish movie series with a story about New York City shop owners harassed by a protection racketeer (Yaphet Kotto). Hannibal and company retaliate with machine guns (no one is ever seen killed in this series) and, more effectively, public humiliation of the villain. The best thing about The A-Team is the relationship between the four offbeat heroes, who may not always like each other (B.A. usually looks as if he'd like to leave Murdock in a shallow grave) but get the job done expertly. --Tom Keogh
All 14 episodes from the first season of the 1980s action series featuring the avenging soldiers of fortune. Episodes are: 'Mexican Slayride (Part 1)', 'Mexican Slayride (Part 2)', 'Children of Jamestown', 'Pros and Cons', 'A Small and Deadly War', 'Black Day and Black Rock', 'The Rabbit Who Ate Las Vegas', 'The Out-of-Towners', 'Holiday in the Hills', 'West Coast Turnaround', 'One More Time', 'Til Death Do Us Part', 'The Beast From the Belly of a Boeing' and 'A Nice Place to Visit'.
Television producer Stephen J. Cannell (Hunter, Wiseguy, 21 Jump Street
) scored one of the earliest of his many 1980s hits with The A-Team
. A group of Vietnam veterans falsely accused of a crime during the last days of the conflict, the A-Team was made up of cigar-chomping leader Hannibal (George Peppard), tough guy B.A. Baracus (Mr. T), suave con man Face (Dirk Benedict), and paranoid pilot Murdock (Dwight Schultz). The team survived through employment as soldiers of fortune, humiliating their foes, and standing up for the little guy.