Timeless Tuesday: The 35th anniversary of NBC’s ‘The A-Team’

In 1972, a crack commando unit was sentenced to prison 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, then maybe you can find … “THE A-TEAM”

On January 23, 1983, “The A-Team” blasted their way into television with George Peppard as Col. John ‘Hannibal’ Smith, the cigar-chomping leader who loves it when a plan comes together … who loves being on the jazz; Dirk Benedict as debonair ladies’ man Lt. Templeton ‘Faceman’ Peck; Dwight Schultz as crazy pilot Capt. Howling Mad ‘H.M.’ Murdock, and let’s never forget Mr. T as Sgt. Bosco ‘B.A’ Baracus, the gold-wearing mechanic/driver/enforcer with the mohawk and bad attitude … but with the heart of gold.

Wanted by the military, the A-Team became urban folk legends: freelance Lone Rangers and modern-day Robin Hoods for the helpless and oppressed, mercenaries for justice against organized crime, crooked businessmen, greedy politicians, and so forth.

Created by Stephen J. Cannell, “The A-Team” is an action-comedy that has been described as “The Magnificent Seven” meets “The Dirty Dozen”.  A Top 10 hit in its first three seasons, the show suffered a ratings drop in its fourth season.  The show underwent a dramatic change in its final season with the addition of the late Robert Vaughn as the shadowy and manipulative Gen. Hunt Stockwell, who blackmailed the team into working for him exchange for them getting full pardons.  The new format didn’t worked, and “The A-Team” was canceled in 1987 after five seasons and 98 episodes.

The legend of “The A-Team” continues to grow, though, thanks to reruns in syndication as well as a 2010 big-screen adaptation with Liam Neeson as Hannibal, Bradley Cooper as Face, Sharlto Copley as Murdock, and Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson as B.A..  More than that, the show has inspired and influenced several such as USA Network’s “Burn Notice” (2007-13) and CBS’ “Person of Interest” (2011-16): helping desperate people with desperate problems, stopping bad things from happening to good people, championing the little guy.

When it comes to “The A-Team”, there is no Plan B!

 

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