Monday, 31 August 2015

TV Series Review: The A Team

Until recently our bedtime viewing has been The A Team, chosen by Mr Click, and following on quite nicely from The Dukes of Hazzard and Starsky and Hutch what with the car chases and crashes and explosions.

The A Team ran during the eighties for five seasons, featuring a group of four Vietnam vets on the run from the law who want to lock them up for a crime they never committed. In the first couple of series they're occasionally joined by a female companion, though this concept was eventually abandoned leaving the four guys to deal with the case of the week by themselves. Even though they're considered to be wanted criminals, they don't let that stop them from helping out other people who are in trouble, and each episode sees them going out of their way to help the poor people who are being persecuted, bullied or otherwise abused.

They're led by Hannibal, who can usually be seen chomping on a cigar and frequently acts as a large lizard in B-movies. The rest of the team is made up of Face, a conman; Murdock, the only one of the team not on the run but only because he's been committed to an institution which he has to break out of before embarking on any A Team venture; and B.A. Baracus, who is basically there to drive them around and act as the muscle. The unofficial fifth member of the team is the incredibly distinctive black van with a red stripe that they drive around in. Personally if I was on the run I'd maybe try and drive something a little more low-key.

The final series also added a couple of extra characters; Frankie who worked on films and was able to help them out with special effect, like explosions, and General Stockwell, who became their new boss and gave them a number of assignments.

The episodes were fairly formulaic. Someone would be having a problem, so we'd see their shop being vandalised by local hoodlums or the poor townspeople being hounded for money or some unfortunate person getting involved in something too big for them to handle. They would go through some rigmarole to find the A Team (because they couldn't advertise openly otherwise they would be tracked down). The A Team would show up, put together some hare-brained scheme, usually involving a montage of things being welded together as they create a weapon or armoured vehicle out of whatever they have to hand at that moment. Then they would triumph and whatever fee they were charging for their services would be waived for some reason.

It was predictable, but it was also quite a lot of fun because they seemed to get that it was all a bit silly. There are really ridiculous things, like how they have to keep breaking Murdock out of the veterans' hospital or getting B.A. on a plane when he has a crippling phobia of flying. It's daft, but it kind of works.

The way that it plays out is pretty much as a live action cartoon. I could probably count on one hand the number of times you saw anyone actually being injured or appearing to die. Honestly, through all the car crashes, explosions and gun fire you always see them walking away at the end. Even when the car has flipped and rolled half a dozen times after exploding, you'll still see the occupants getting up and walking away. It keeps it from becoming too serious.

The last series did see a little bit of a change. The fourth series seemed like the very end and then it came back with a way more serious three-part episode which looked like it was the end for the A Team. Except it wasn't, and Robert Vaughn showed up (in fact, so did David McCallum in a bizarre sort of Man From U.N.C.L.E. reunion episode). By the time I was really getting into the way of things in the fifth series, it ended which was almost a shame, and yet at the same time I think they'd done everything they could with the show.

I do have to give a special mention to my most memorable episode; Cowboy George, in which the A Team have booked Cowboy George to play for a cowboy bar. Except there's a mix up and Boy George gets off the plane. Cue Boy George playing to a room full of bemused cowboys, much to their disgust, until he wins them all over to the point where they're all cheering and singing along. It really is television gold.

Now we're onto my choice for the bedtime viewing; M*A*S*H. Something which Mr Click is really enjoying seeing for the first time and I'm enjoying seeing episodes that I've not seen for years and years. We're getting through it really quickly because we're both enjoying it so much.

It's a pretty long series though, so it might be a while before I get a review up of that.


  1. The best show ever as a kid, though even then I think I knew this was extremely silly and naff! Not sure I could watch it now. I actually tried a few eps back when the film was released in cinemas and found it great for nostalgic value but not as entertaining as I recalled. Helping the weak in the community was perhaps better represented in The Equalizer, which I still enjoy watching.

    I'm always keen to hear what you're watching! Loved M*A*S*H too but that's another I haven't really seen since childhood in the late 80s/early 90s. Brilliantly the BBC took off the laugh tracks on each episode and because of that I've never been able to sit through it on any other channel. The canned laughter just takes me out of the show.

    Currently my bedtime viewing has been The Bill, alternating with London's Burning. I've worked my way through the first 3 series of The Bill, back when they were hour long eps, and loved them. I'm onto the first season of half hourly eps and they're good but they don't stand up to the longer format I've just enjoyed. I've just finished S4 of London's Burning and have S5 set to go, but will probably call it a day after that series as I think it started to get a bit silly/formulaic.

    1. I think I actually commented at one point that it was like a slapstick version of The Equalizer (that was one of the programmes John and I watched when we were first going out, though we've only actually got the first series so far).

      The DVDs of M*A*S*H we're watching at the moment have the laugh track, but I think later in the series there's the option to watch it without. I've kind of tuned it out now.

      I remember I used to love watching The Bill when I was little. I obviously didn't understand the storylines or anything, but I really liked the music of the opening. London's Burning is one I don't think I've ever watched. I'm not sure what we'll be going on to once we finish with M*A*S*H but I know we're planning on getting through the Inspector Morse episodes at some point in the new year.

  2. Never watched The A Team. Wasn't my kind of thing. But I did love The Dukes of Hazzard. (I blame me being a kid at the time.) M*A*S*H? Yeah, that was on for something like 11 seasons. Have you seen the movie?

    1. We really enjoyed The Dukes of Hazzard, I'd rank it higher than The A Team because although it was kind of formulaic as well, it was always very funny.

      And you're right. I think M*A*S*H ran for about four times as long as the actual Korean War. We're two series in so far (I think) and I'm really enjoying it. I think there's even a few episodes I've not seen before. I've not seen the movie (or read the book it was based on) but Mr Click got me a super duper box set and it's included in that so when we get to the end of the series we'll watch it. :-)

    2. I can recommend the movie, I really like Donald Sutherland as Hawkeye. You're right it was way longer than the war itself, but obviously drew more parallels with the Vietnam conflict that was happening at the time.

      I can recommend London's Burning too, especially if you like The Bill and Casualty. You can pick up the 2 hour pilot movie that started it all relatively cheaply on amazon etc as a taster I guess

  3. I used to love this series back when it was on tv.

    1. It was good fun to watch. I enjoyed it a lot more than I was expecting to.


Let me know what you think. :-)