Synopsis of TV Show
"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."
The above narration, accompanied by the staccato strains of Mike Post and Pete Carpenter's militaristic theme music, ushered a nation full of action fans into the undercover world of The A-Team every week.
Created by Stephen J. Cannell and Frank Lupo, the show focused on a quartet of Vietnam veterans who were imprisoned by their own government after being wrongly suspected of stealing funds appropriated from a raid on the Bank of Hanoi. The four men quickly escaped from the stockade, going underground and pursuing new careers as soldiers of fortune.
The team consisted of:
- Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith, the team's cigar-chomping leader and a master of disguises
-Lieutenant Templeton Arthur "Faceman" Peck, the group's resident pretty-boy, who could use his incredible powers of persuasion to find the group the resources necessary for each mission
- Captain H.M. "Howlin Mad" Murdock, an ace pilot with a questionable level of sanity
- Sergeant B.A. Baracus, an expert mechanic with a colorful appearance whose bad attitude (the source of his nickname) couldn't hide his fear of flying
The four men traveled across the country and also to exotic ports of call as they fought crime and wrong-doing for anyone who could afford their services (and usually even for those who couldn't). At the same time, they were pursued as criminals by the U.S. Army, their main nemesis initially being Col. Lynch, the commander of Fort Bragg military prison. Reporter Amy Allen tagged along on several first-season adventures, and later part-time A-Teamers included Tawnia and Carla, but this was primarily an all-boys' club.
The show was wildly popular with the viewing public from the start, almost single-handedly rescuing then-ailing NBC from its third-place status among the three major networks. Mr. T became a serious celebrity with fans and adults alike, inspiring a Saturday morning cartoon (simply called Mister T) and even a breakfast cereal. It was easy to see why: Not only did he dress the best (mohawk haircut, plenty of gold), he got to drive the killer black A-Team van, and he could whip up a makeshift bazooka out of pipes or a hot air balloon out of prison hair dryers (we kid you not).
The show was often attacked by critics, some condemning it as being the most violent show on television. Despite this persistent criticism, the show rarely ever showed a character being seriously injured. Bullets flew, but the bad guys were usually bad shots and the good guys did most of their work with a well-placed fist. In attacking the show's action angle, the critics failed to notice the element that really charmed the show's massive fan base: its tongue-in-cheek sense of humor.
The "military pursuit" plot thread was de-emphasized as the show continued, only to be resurrected near the end of its run when the A-Team was captured by General Stockwell, who decided to allow the team to pay off their debt to society by becoming government agents. During this time, a new member of the team was added: "Dishpan" Frankie Sanchez, a special-effects expert.
These changes, intended to boost the ratings, backfired with the show's loyal fans because they altered the show's tone from comic to serious. The ratings dipped lower, leading to the show's ultimate demise. However, The A-Team is remembered fondly by fans and is successful in reruns.
Co-creater Stephen Cannell moved on to create other prime time shows, including Hardcastle and McCormick and Wiseguy, another serious cult favorite. There are also frequent, persistent rumors that Cannell will resurrect The A-Team as a feature film.
"I love it when a plan comes together."
Release History of Prime Time Show1/23/83 - 6/14/87 NBC
TV Sub Categoriescomedy
Television StudioUniversal, Stephen J. Cannell Productions
TV CastCol. John "Hannibal" Smith George Peppard
Lt. Templeton "Faceman" Peck Dirk Benedict
Sgt. B.A. Baracus Mr. T
Capt. H.M. "Howlin Mad" Murdock Dwight Schultz
Amy Allen (1983) Melinda Culea
Col. Lynch (1983-84) William Lucking
Col. Roderick Decker (1983-86) Lance LeGault
Tawnia Baker (1984) Maria Heasley
Gen. Hunt Stockwell (1986-87) Robert Vaughn
"Dishpan" Frankie Sanchez (1986-87) Eddie Velez
Carla (1986) Judy Ledford