The A-Team: Season 2
In the early eighties actions shows ruled television. Audiences would tune in for adventure, an escape for the tumult that bombarded them nightly on the news. One of the most watched of these series was without a doubt the A-Team. Even today this show remains a favorite, guilty pleasure and cult classic. The basis of the show combined features always popular with the American television viewers; action, beautiful girls, handsome men and vigilantes, while the story lines where far for Masterpiece Theater they where, and remain, fun to watch. Convicted of a crime in Viet Nam that they (naturally) didnít commit The A-Team escapes from military prison and now work as Soldiers of Fortune, helping the helpless. The leader, Col. John "Hannibal" Smith (George Peppard) is a master of disguises. He is fast to don a fat suit, appear as a carnival worker or even as a nun. He is the one that is the master mind behind the various ploys to obtain justice for their clients and he loves it when Ďa plan comes togetherí. Templeton "Face Man" Peck (Dirk Benedict) is the groupís con man. He can talk his way out of almost any situation with a smile and wink. He also serves as the fiscally responsible one of the team, coming up with the estimate of how much the job will cost, not that they would ever turn down a deserving party that was wronged. Face is also the ladiesí man, and it does seem that a disproportionate number of the clients of the A-Team just happen to be beautiful young women. B.A."Bad Attitude" Baracas (Mister T) is the all round rough guy and genius mechanic. He can fix just about anything turning most any means of transportation into a combat ready assault vehicle. Tough as he is BA is afraid to fly and always has to be tricked into unconsciousness for the duration of the flight. The last formal member of the A-Team is Captain H.M. (Howling Mad) Murdock (Dwight Schultz). While not convicted with the rest of the team Murdock was diagnosis as suffering from various psychiatric disorders and is confined to a veteranís mental institution. When needed by his team mates Face is typically the one assigned to talk Murdock out of the padded cell. Lastly there is Amy Allen (Melinda Culea) who may seem out of place with this rag tag group but they need the required pretty, perky girl next door type. She is the one that usually sets up the client with the team, tagging alone for the ride.
As mentioned previously the story lines are pretty typical but this can be overlooked due to the extremely high camp value of the series. The structure of each episode goes like this. A beautiful girl needs help to save her father/uncle/friend (pick one). She finds the A-Team. Everything looks hopeless but they take the job. Hannibal uses his disguises to gather information, Face cons the required equipment, BA punches out everyone in sight, builds an armored truck out of an elevator and Murdock acts crazy. In almost every episode about 10,000 rounds of ammunition is fired between the team and the bad guys yet it is extremely rare for anyone to get as much as a scratch. The same goes for dynamite, they can set off 100 sticks with the only effect being the bad guys flying through the air. This was a series that the stunt man union loved; Iím sure that many a child with a stun man parent went through college because of this series.
The series persists because of the great chemistry between the cast members. Each has his or her own specialty without overlap, like different spices in a stew. George Peppard has earned a reputation on large and small screen as the consummate professional. He can bring a touch of class to any part, even while in an outlandish getup. With is ever present cigar clamped between his teeth his Hannibal directs the action and flings witty insults at his opponents. Dirk Benedict may have been type cast as the devil-may-care lothario but it works for him. He is basically the same character as he played on his other cult classic series, Battlestar Galatica. He is smooth, good looking and debonair, everything a successful con man needs to ply his craft. Benedict is also capable of action when his slick words canít get him out of a situation. This is the series that really defined the career for Mister T. Sure, he was in a Rocky flick but this is how most of us will remember him. As BA he didnít need a bullet proof vest, not that any of the villains could even shoot straight, his plethora of gold chains could deflect a missile. Complaining at every turn his character always comes through. Every action series needs comic relief. For the A-Team in came in the form of the brilliant character of Murdock portrayed by Dwight Schultz. He can go off on a tangent the likes of which where never seen. In one episode in the second season he walks around with a golf ball lamenting the plight of being knocked around. He plays Murdock as a man that embraces his insanity, almost to the point of piety for the sane world. Melinda Culea is mostly window dressing for this testosterone laden series. When there is a bar fight she is the one that stands to the side ready to hit someone on the head with a bottle. Her other function is to see just how short a skirt she could wear. She is never the vixen, that role always goes to the guest star; she is the kid sister tagging along with her older brothers.
This series is the brain child of the fertile mind belonging to Stephen J. Cannell. His resume is a history of popular cult television. He gave the public something they could use to relax and forget the world for an hour. This season of the A-Team did have the earmarks of a Cannell series, self contained episodes with a dangerous thread running through. Here it is the form of the military man hunting down our intrepid heroes.
Universal pays attention to television series such as this. All the season two episodes are there in the order that the released. As a bonus there is even a full episode of Knight Rider, another series in this release set. The video did show a bit of the signs of its age. There is the occasional white speck or other mark but for the most part this is a reasonably clean transfer. The audio is Dolby mono using only the center speaker. You can not claim to collect cult classic television without adding this box set to your shelve.