‘(Ten years ago / In 1972), 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.’
If you grew up in the 80s the chances are you are well versed with the above quote, the infamous intro to hit TV series The A Team. The US show, which ran from 1983 till 1987, was one of the biggest TV sensations of that decade, with its high-octane action drama, fuelled by car chases, shoot-outs and fist fights. The huge popularity of the show also encouraged plenty of spin-off merchandise, including action figures, replica toy vehicles and pyjamas, and turned the cast (in particular Mr T) into global superstars!
The theme of the show, as explained in the opening credits, was based on four former Vietnam soldiers on the run from the US government for ‘a crime they didn’t commit’. While on their plight to clear their name, they acted as vigilantes helping various individuals they met on their travels, to escape the clutches of ‘the bad guys’, often the military police, who were on a quest to bring them to justice.
As a child my three brothers and I played this little game where we would ‘claim’ characters from TV shows. Lol! So when they were on screen, we felt like it was us up there, living vicariously through the characters – I know, it sounds kinda dumb now but at the time it was fun! Lol!
The A Team was no exception. For the record I was Captain H.M (Howling Mad) Murdoch (played by Dwight Schultz), which might go a long way in explaining my present day personality. Murdoch was the team’s pilot who resided in a mental institution for the show’s first four seasons, having been declared mentally insane. However the rest of the team would routinely break him out in each episode so he could help them with their mission.
Lt Templeton ‘Faceman’ Peck, was played by Dirk Benedict. Templeton was better known as ‘Face‘, due to his pretty-boy looks, which were highly instrumental in sweet-talking the ladies for professional and personal purposes. He also served as the Team’s go-to man when it came to acquiring the many vehicles and other useful items needed to carry out missions.
Colonel Hannibal Smith (played by the now deceased veteran actor George Peppard) was the leader of the team and was a really cool character. He usually wore a light beige Mac, and with his white hair and a cigar permanently etched in the corner of this mouth, he was the one who usually came up with the elaborate plan. This factor birthed the most memorable catchphrase from the show ‘I love it when a plan come together‘, which he regularly uttered throughout the series. He was also a master of disguise and used this to test the validity of those who sought the help of the A Team, and to dupe the bad guys.
Last but certainly not least was Sgt. Bosco ‘Bad Attitude (B.A)’ Baracus (played Mr. T, born Laurence Tureaud). B.A was the muscle of the team and a great mechanic, which came in handy when they were locked in a shed, barn, (or cupboard) and needed to build a high tech machine out of pots, plans rubber ducks and any other bit of useless junk they could find (side-eye – yeah right), to bust their way out to beat the baddies. B.A was notorious for his dislike for Murdock, his fear of flying (He had to be drugged for the others to get him on the plane), and his catchphrases, which included ‘I ain’t getting on no plane’ and ‘I pity the fool’.
DID YA KNOW?
- George Peppard originally played the role of Blake Carrington in Dynasty, before he was fired and actor John Forsythe was bought in to replace him.
- Before becoming an actor, Mr T was a body guard for such superstars as Michael Jackson and Muhammad Ali and Diana Ross.
- The Phrase ‘I Pity the Fool’ which B.A used a lot in the show, actually originated from the movie Rocky III, where Mr T played one of Rocky’s opponents James ‘Clubber’ Lang.
- The crime the A Team ‘didn’t commit’ was actually…robbing a Vietnamese bank. However, technically, they did actually commit the crime. BUT only under the orders of their then commanding officer. He told them to rob the Bank of Hanoi in Vietnam, where they were stationed, with the hopes this would bring the war to an end. It worked, but unfortunately for the A Team, when they returned to their base after completing the mission they found their commanding officer has been murdered and his headquarters burned to the ground. With no proof that they had been acting under orders, they were all imprisoned. They managed to escape before the case went to trial, which is why they were on the run.
- A big screen version of the iconic show came out in summer 2010, with BA Baracus now played by UFC fighter Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, Face played by Hangover star Bradley Cooper, Murdock played by South African actor Sharlto Copey and Britain’s Liam Neeson as Hannibal.
- In 2008, Channel 4 broadcast a TV show called Bring Back The A Team, where they attempted to reunite the surviving actors of the iconic series. While being interviewed Mr T confirmed that he and George Peppard did not get along. Apparently Peppard resented the fact that Mr. T became the star of the show. It didn’t help matters when Peppard learned Mr. T was paid more than he was.
THE A TEAM MADE MR T A GLOBAL ICON, LEADING TO HIS OWN CARTOON AND THIS SONG…. HMMMM…