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The A-Team, also known as Mr. T and Three Other Dispensable Guys, was an American television show about a mad, geriatric, cross-dressing Colonel and his three nubile young army buddies who traveled the world, putting right what once went wrong. It was based on the true life story of actor Charles Grodin, who was sent undercover while serving in Vietnam and acquired Viet Cong technology that rendered bullets harmless to anyone within a 100 yard radius. He later smuggled this technology back to The United States and formed a team of part-time mercenaries consisting of himself, Lou Gossett Jr. and Bryan Brown. When not acting, these three men traveled around in a specially converted Winebago, looking for unscrupulous land owners to blackmail.
In 1972, Grodin sold his memoirs to Universal, and Stephen J. Cannell was hired to write a teleplay based on them. Since the mercenary theme pervaded most of Grodin's book, and the rest of the chapters were actually cobbled together from old Russian news scripts, Cannell's treatment involved a team of four veterans who traveled the world protecting the innocent. TV producers needed "somebody like Robert Wagner, only not as expensive." for the lead role, and George Peppard, who was living on the streets outside Universal Studios at the time, was promptly brought in to read for the part of Hannibal.
The A-Team ran for four seasons from 1982 - 1986. A rumored fifth season, where the team was made into the bitches of a fat-headed man from U.N.C.L.E., was not produced.
Every episode of The A-Team was introduced using this quote by a different person, and, on occasion, a dirty foreigner:
"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."
- Col. Hannibal "John" Smith
- Cigar smoking master of disguise and leader of the team. Often dressed up as a woman to confuse his enemies, even when no enemies were present. Nicknamed "Hannibal" because he attempted to attack Rome with elephants mounted on soldiers, and eat the livers of everyone therein. Hannibal often displayed a fondness for safari jackets and shirts which were several sizes too small, and he was roughly 342 years old. The character's leather gloves were worn to disguise the fact that George Peppard's hands had atrophied and were controlled by a specialised team of trained silverfish. After the A-Team was canceled, George Peppard was killed by a falling ape and subsequently re-registered with the Screen Actors Guild as Dead George Peppard, leading to the events depicted in the unrelated show The AAA-Team.
- Lt. Faceman "Templeton" Peck
- Cigar smoking womanizer. Trapped on earth due to a mishap with a Star Fighter in 1966, he participated in the Vietnam war where he joined the unit known as the A-Team. He has only entrusted Murdock with his strange origins. Face attempted to hit on the female protagonist in every episode, and was, without exception, prevented from sealing the deal due to an interruption from either one of his teammates, or one of the villains. The five year long case of blue balls that resulted from this is reflected in his constant whining and pained expressions. The character was originally to be completely CGI-rendered and called Lt. Pacman "Face-off" Tempelton, but a threatened lawsuit from Atari forced the renaming.
- Sgt. "B.A." Barracus
- Non-smoking, aviophobic, mechanical specialist, portrayed with a delicate, heartbreaking depth by Afrika Bambaata. B.A. was able to escape detection by the federal government for more than ten years, despite being the most distinctive looking person on the entire fucking planet. Spent a suspicious amount of time wrestling with homeless urchins at local youth centres, because being a nationwide fugitive, a war criminal, and a violent-tempered pugilist draped in enough gold to buy a small country are apparently prime qualifications in a job which involves caring for vulnerable minors. Has a tattoo reading "Mr. J" on his upper arm, which, stupidly enough, is neither the name of the character, or the man who portrayed him. Years later his Godson and namesake, Baracus "Barack" Obama represented the Daley Crime Family in the U.S. Senate.
- Capt. H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock
- Pilot and general madman. Murdock's personality consisted of a different obsession each episode, all of which existed so that Dwight Schultz could peddle his stand up routine to an ungrateful bunch of television executives. Following the show's cancellation, Murdock was abducted by aliens, and through a complex series of unsurprising mishaps ended up on the Starship Enterprise, where he pretended to be a hapless engineer, who ended up stalking Deana Troi. Currently voices every single supporting character known to videogaming man.
- Completing the quartet of five, Michael Knight, a man who does not exist (Although, clearly, he must have existed to be involved in the show). Canonically, Knight appeared only in the pilot episode, where he played a character called Tim Dunigan, drove the team's van and often talked to it. Nobody knew why, as it never said anything back. In the German broadcast of the show, Knight was the main character, and many episodes revolved around his exploits as a pop-singing lifeguard. Allegations that these broadcasts contained footage from Baywatch, pop concerts and Knight's own home videos, which were simply patched into existing episodes without any thought for continuity have been strongly denied by German pundits.
- The A-Team Van
- A Black and Grey GMC van with a red stripe and a spoiler warning (Warning: The previous van may contain spoilers). The van possesses several engineering quirks which were inserted into the show at the request of Lou Gossett Jr.: According to scientists who counted the number of times B.A. Baracus changed gear while accelerating from 0 to 70 miles/hour, the van seems to have at least 22 forward gears. It has SAS-issue tires, which smoke and peep while accelerating, regardless of the surface traversed, even on grass. Also, due to the stabilization issues caused by the massive rear interior of the van which was seen to contain a wardrobe, make-up chair, printing press, art studio, husky kennel and writer's retreat, B.A. Baracus is seen continuously correcting the van from left to right, even while driving on a straight roadway. The van also seems to have some difficulties cornering, as the driver (especially when he is involved in a pursuit) has to turn the steering wheel roughly 1080 degrees if he wants to make a standard right turn. The Van has gone on record in recent years to expose the racism inherent in the television industry at the time of The A-Team's production: In response, Universal has refuted claims that it "refused to hire another black van to perform stunts and jumps", and simply 'blacked up' a white Bedford van in place of this. After completing work for The A-Team, the van went on to marry KITT from Knight Rider and have one child, the helicopter from Airwolf.
There was also a female character in some of the early episodes. However, George Peppard, who was stringently, confirmedly heterosexual, had her removed from the show, stating to producers "You can't tame me, with no bitch named Amy". Reports state that he later "went out like Berkley".
The general plot outline of The A-Team was the same for every show. This was done as a general money saving device so as to not hire writers. It has often been speculated that the producers often used the same script as well, crossing out the various names of one city and replacing them with another or crossing out the name of one bad guy and replacing him in another. So what might be "Senator Branagan oppresses migrant workers in Los Angeles" one week, might become "CEO Mendoza forcing out ghetto renters in New York" the next. This being a good economic way of using the exact same script without actually having to hire a single scriptwriter. Mendoza was such a popular villain name that it was often not changed at all from script to script. So what would be "Senator Mendoza" one week, would be evil "Land Developer Mendoza" the next, played by the same actor (Tom Wopat) wearing a variety of different sideburns.
The general plot used in every script of the A-Team (meaning the only script of The A-Team) is as follows:
0:00-3:00 minute mark - The innocent civilians and evil antagonists of the series are introduced, and helpfully provide the audience with a summary of their situation to date by telling each other things that they should all already know. The villains will at this point rough up the innocents, and usually damage their boat/store/crops/etc. just to prove how truly, one-dimensionally fiendish they are.
3:00-9:00 minute mark - Hannibal dons a laughable disguise which makes him look like a 300-year-old drag queen. Everyone pretends to be fooled by this gambit and act 'surprised' when he reveals his true identity, mainly to avoid hurting his feelings. Hannibal then tells the prospective clients that They have "just hired the A-Team!". Offscreen hand relief follows.
10:00-12:00 minute mark (optional) - In order to get the team together and travel to the actual mission location, one of two things will now happen. In one scenario, Face will need to put on a doctor's coat and help Murdock escape from his internment in the mental hospital. Despite showing up in the same thinly veiled disguise every week, and notwithstanding the fact that Murdock has escaped from the hospital roughly 76,000 times, Face will have no problem walking out with Murdock in tow.
In the other scenario, Hannibal will have to drug B.A. in order to get him aboard a plane. This is accomplished by slipping him a barbituate of some kind. Despite being near an airport/landing strip, and despite being fully aware that his C.O. will try and drug him, B.A will drink a handy glass of milk or a hamburger offered to him by Hannibal. In later episodes, drug addiction and brain damage from the repeated, near-lethal doses employed by Hannibal had destroyed B.A.'s personal life. After spending two weeks in a drug-induced coma in the final episode, B.A. repelled against Hannibal and rejoined The Fabulous Freebirds for one last match at Madison Square Garden, retaking his "Bamm Bamm" nickname. His team lost and B.A. was chokeslammed into a pauper's grave at the conclusion of said match.
16:00-25:00 minute mark - The A-Team shows up at the doorstep, house, or place of business of the antagonists. The lead villain and his men are taken completely by surprise, and their personal property is riddled with bullets. Hannibal warns off the lead villain, then dispenses a few inoffensive sounding personal insults and some tautly-stretched metaphors. Despite having easily overpowered and outwitted their opponents, the A-Team will invariably leave them free to continue their evil plans at this point, for absolutely no fucking reason, other than there being 35 minutes left to fill.
26:00-35:00 minute mark - Being evil, the villains shockingly ignore Hannibal's warnings. They take The A-Team by surprise, because just like real Green Berets, The A-Team don't plan for every eventuality.
36:00-44:00 minute mark - Despite being cunning enough to actually capture the A-Team, the evil villain defies all the laws of modern evil and does not actually choose to kill the A-Team on the spot. Instead, the villain thinks it best to lock the A-Team up somewhere out of the way, for absolutely no fucking reason, other than there being 15 minutes left to fill.
45:00-48:00 minute mark - Regardless of where they have been imprisoned, there will be a mass of well maintained scrap metal, a myriad of tools, several oxyacetylene hand torches and a disused vehicle to hand. At this point, The team go to work transforming these ingredients into a fully armoured command vehicle with a mounted weapon of some kind. Despite the fact that the end result would clearly take several days of dedicated work to complete, The A-Team complete the entire project in a five-minute flurry of close up hand fetishism.
49:00-55:00 minute mark - Using the newly constructed vehicle, The team break out of their makeshift prison at exactly the same time the villains finally show up to kill them. A firefight ensues in which the antagonist's automatic weapons prove to be no match for the non-lethal, yet oddly dissuasive weapon Hannibal's men have produced. At some point during this sequence, a protaganist's vehicle will flip over, instantly killing the stuntmen inside, who had signed 'snuff' contracts with notorious sadist Stephen J. Cannell (Unedited footage of the various stuntmen's final moments were collated and released on an underground DVD following Cannell's latest stunt "Diana's Trial in the Tunnel" in August 1997). Soon a flimsy excuse is made for all guns to be discarded and The A-Team and their adversaries engage in fisticuffs. The A-Team quickly overpower them due to the fact that the villains simply run at B.A., allowing him to hurl them overhead and the fact that Face and Murdock can climb on top of large objects to dive onto their enemies, as long as they are off-screen until the moment they are ready to leap and have a camera positioned at ground level beneath them. Despite resembling a sixteen hundred year-old Michelin Man, Hannibal proves to be a remarkably adept hand-to-hand fighter, taking the down the lead villain himself.
56:00-59:00 minute mark - More exposition follows, with Hannibal explaining to another character exactly what happened following the big showdown, even though they would already be fully aware. The villains are usually said to be locked up awaiting trial. After The A-Team have left the area, the villains get out on bail, or are freed due to a total lack of evidence (Being beaten up by The A-Team is sadly, not evidence enough) and promptly hunt down and kill the A-Team's now defenceless clients. This is rarely shown on-screen.
56:00-59:00 minute mark (optional) - Having gone to great time and expense to thwart the villains, The A-Team have earned their reward. However, being something of an altruistic prick, Hannibal refuses even the paltry sum negotiated by Face earlier in the show.
edit Fun Facts
- Every episode of the A-Team is littered with references to illegal and deviant behaviour. For example, B.A.'s usual comment when Hannibal did something crazy was to say "He's on The Jazz, man!" - which of course is a blatant reference to Cannabis (Jazz Cigarettes), Cocaine (Jazz Salt) and pornography (Jazz mags).
- The show inspired such spin-offs as the pirate themed "Aye-Team", the optician-based "Eye-Team" and the "Hay-Team", about a team of crack agricultural workers hiding in the Los Angeles underground, who helped protect innocent Vietnam veterans against Hippies.
- The British remake, set in West Yorkshire and named the "Aye-Up-Team" was not successful, due to the script writers misunderstanding the term 'crack commando unit' and writing the show to include the fact that all central characters were addicted to crack cocaine and hiding in burrows and holes in the earth ("Down t'pits"), as opposed to operating in the intended criminal underground.
- There was a ten minute deleted scene from the seventh episode where B.A. and Face run over a meth lab with a bulldozer.
edit The A-Team Movie
In December 2006, Fox announced a full-length motion picture of The A-Team. Insiders say it will be an action-packed political thriller/romantic comedy, complete with flying asparagus and the cast of Star Wars.
Controversy regarding the impending remake emerged as a result of some stylistic changes incompatible with Fox's usual despotic stance. The opening monologue for the update reads as follows:
"In 1972, a crack commando unit was released from a media blackout by a military court for a crime they not only committed, but masterminded, sanctioned and fully enjoyed. These men promptly failed to cover it up, but posted it all over youtube and the version with the infamous school scene was sent to some "troofers" in a last ditch attempt to lose any last shreds of credibility. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as Political Advisers. If you have a problem, and you really need to kill a whole bunch of brown people, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire... "THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF" or "THE J.C.O.S-TEAM"
Mr T. viewed the trailer and said, 'I didn't like it very much'. A spokesman for the film company involved is reported as saying that this furiously outspoken tirade is right up there with the time that somebody else once expressed something other than fanatical enthusiasm for an upcoming movie. He went on to say that it could create a schism within the country in a way not seen since the Civil War, adding 'God help us all'.
edit See also
|All-American Role Models and Rejects|
|Adam West | Aunt Jemima | Billy Mays | Blue Beetle | Bob Knight | Bob Saget | Bruce Campbell | Burger King | Cheese Jesus | Christopher Walken | Chuck Norris | Clint Eastwood | Count Chocula | Dolph Lundgren | Eric Cartman | George Carlin | Green Hornet | Hanson | Joe Camel | Kanye West | Knight Rider | MacGyver | Mr. T | Pedobear | Pillsbury Doughboy | Qin Shi Huang | Rick Astley | Ronald McDonald | Sean Connery | Sarah Palin | Sloth | Trix Rabbit | Uncle Ben | Vanilla Ice | William Hung | Willy Wonka | Wonder Woman | Yogi Bear | Your Mom|