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
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
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
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
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.