Sunday, May 30, 2010

The A-Team - Iconic 1980s Alpha-Male Action TV Series

Thanks, Wikipedia.

The A-Team is an American action adventure television series about a fictional group of ex-United States Army Special Forces who work as soldiers of fortune while being on the run from the military after being branded as war criminals for a "crime they didn't commit".

The A-Team was created by writers and producers Frank Lupo and Stephen J. Cannell (who also collaborated together on Wiseguy, Riptide and Hunter).

Despite being thought of as mercenaries by the other characters in the show, the A-Team always acted on the side of good and helped the oppressed.

The show ran for five seasons on the NBC television network, from January 23, 1983 to December 30, 1986, for a total of 98 episodes.

It remains known in popular culture for its cartoon-like use of over-the-top violence (in which people were seldom seriously hurt), supposedly formulaic episodes, featuring the ability to form weaponry and vehicles out of old parts, and its distinctive theme tune.

The show also served as the springboard for the acting career of wrestler Mr T (Lawrence Turand, who starred in Rocky 3), who portrayed the character of BA Baracus, around whom the show was initially conceived.

Some of the show's catchphrases such as "I love it when a plan comes together", "Hannibal's on the jazz" and "I ain't gettin' on no plane!" have also made their way onto T-shirts and other merchandise.

Although not directly referenced in the series, the name of the show comes from "A-Teams", the nickname for Operational Detachments Alpha (ODA).

The US Army Special Forces uses the term ODA for their 12-man direct operations teams.

A feature film based on the series is planned for release by 20th Century Fox on June 11, 2010.

The A-Team revolves around the four members of a former commando outfit and current group of mercenaries.

Their leader is Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith (the late George Peppard of The Blue Max and Breakfast At Tiffany's), whose plans tend to be unorthodox but effective.

Lieutenant Templeton "Faceman" Peck (Dirk Benedict who played Starbuck in the original Battlestar Galactica), usually referred to as "Face", is a smooth-talking con-man who serves as the team's appropriator of vehicles and other useful items.

The team's pilot is Captain Howard Matthew "Howling Mad" Murdock (Dwight Schultz), who has been declared "insane" by the US Army.

Finally, there is the team's strong man and mechanic, Sergeant Bosco Albert "Bad Attitude" Baracus (Mr T) also known as BA.

Three female characters, reporters Amanda Allen (Melinda Culea of Glitter, Knots Landing and Joey Lawrence's series Joey/Brotherly Love) and Tawnia Baker (Marla Heasley of Battlestar Galactica and TJ Hooker) and Vietnam War orphan Tia (Tia Carrere) assisted the team in the early seasons.

Later, they were replaced by special effects expert Frankie Santana (Eddie Velez of Cagney And Lacey, Hill Street Blues and White Chicks).

During their adventures, the A-Team was constantly met by opposition from the military police.

In the show's first season they were led by Colonel Lynch (William Lucking), but he was replaced for the second, third and fourth season by Colonel Decker (Lance LeGault) and his aide Captain Crane (Carl Franklin).

For the latter portion of the show's fourth season, the team was hunted by General Harlan "Bull" Fullbright (Jack Ging).

The fifth season introduced General Hunt Stockwell (Robert Vaughn) who, while serving as the team's primary antagonist, was also the team's boss and joined them on several missions.

He was often assisted by Carla (Judith Ledford).

Famous guest stars in the series included Boy George, Hulk Hogan, the late Rick James (Superfreak), David McCallum (British actor best known for The Invisible Man, The Man From UNCLE with Vaughn, and Sapphire And Steel), Pat Sajak and Vanna White (both in Wheel Of Fortune).

During the Vietnam War, the A-Team's commanding officer, Colonel Morrison, gave them orders to rob the Bank of Hanoi to help bring the war to an end.

They succeeded in their mission, but on returning to their base four days after the end of the war, they found their CO murdered by the Viet Cong and his headquarters burned to the ground.

Therefore no proof existed that the A-Team were acting under orders, and they were sent to prison by a military court.

They were sent to Fort Bragg, from which they escaped before they could actually stand trial.

In the final episode, "The Grey Team", Hannibal, after being misled by Stockwell one time too many, tells him that the team will not work for him any more.

At the end, the team discusses what they will do if they get their pardon, and it is implied that they will continue doing what they are doing as the A-Team.

The series always featured a GMC van owned by Baracus as the getaway vehicle for the team and sometimes in episodes a white corvette with a red stripe appeared as Face's vehicle.

In early episodes the team used M16 rifles, while in later episodes they used the Ruger AC-556 rifles.

In the coming film Liam Neeson plays Hannibal, Bradley Cooper of Valentine's Day plays Faceman, South African actor, producer and director Sharlto Copley of District 9 plays Murdock and wrestler Quinton "Rampage" Jackson is BA.

The film is directed by brothers Ridley and Tony Scott.

Instead of being Vietnam War veterans, the team is re-written as Gulf War veterans.

There will be cameos by Schultz (now riding high in Ben 10) and Benedict.