SECTION I: THE BASICS
- WHAT IS "THE A-TEAM"? "The A-Team" is an action/adventure/comedy series which ran on the NBC network from 1983 to 1987. In total there were 90 one-hour episodes and 4 two-hour episodes produced, for a total of 98 hours. It was considered at one time to be the most violent TV-show on the air, yet in it's trademark fashion people never (or rather, rarely) were hurt by all the gunfire, explosions, fights, etc. Many critics missed the point that the show was intended to be a parody of the action/adventure genre at the start (although it turned more serious later on).
- WHAT WAS THE BASIC STORY BEHIND THE SHOW? WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE MAIN CHARACTERS? To quote the show's opening narration: "(Ten years ago)/(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." *(In the first-season episodes the narration started "Ten years ago..." and in all other seasons it started "In 1972.") The A-Team consisted of the following four men: (LIEUTENANT) COLONEL JOHN "HANNIBAL" SMITH (played by George Peppard) The leader of the A-Team. Rank seemed to fluctuate between Lt. Colonel and full Colonel. Considered a maverick because of his reckless style and fondness for "classic half-pincer movements" and "through the front door" attacks. Service medals we know he earned during 'Nam and also the Korean War include bronze & silver stars, Korea Service, National Defense, Joint Service Commendation, the Soldier's Medal, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign medal with bar, Distinguished Service, US Army Commendation, Armed Forces Expedition, and the Congressional Medal of Honor. Little is known about his family background, whether he had any siblings, and whether or not "John Smith" is his real birth name or not. While on the run from the military, he supplemented his income by appearing in monster movies (always behind layers of latex and makeup). Most famous role is that of "The Aquamaniac." Loved cigars, and was often heard to say, "I love it when a plan comes together!" LIEUTENANT TEMPLETON ARTHUR "FACEMAN" PECK (played by Dirk Benedict) Has the most complicated (and conflicting) bios of all the Team members. Birth date (according to "Trial by Fire") is supposedly December 7, 1950. However, this seems highly unlikely so I don't put much weight in that fact. Social Security #522-70-5444. He was orphaned when he was approximately four years old. He is mentioned as living at two different orphanages: Sacred Heart (run by Father Magill, mentioned in early AT episodes) and Angel's Guardian (mentioned in "Beneath the Surface"). The AT books mention two other names (St. Mary's and St. Bartholomew's), but I don't take the novels as cannon and it seems the author probably just made that up. Peck may have been transferred from Sacred Heart to Angel's Guardian when he was in his early teens. He went to college where he met Leslie Bektall, who ended up leaving him and leaving school in fact to become a nun ("The Only Church in Town"). That would be in 1968, according to the fact that he states in the episode it happened fifteen years ago. He then begins his career in the Army. Now, TAT was supposedly part of the Fifth Special Forces Group. Generally these Special Forces groups are trained at Fort Bragg and have on average three years of military service behind them...therefore it seems we may have to assume that he either showed exceptional abilities and advanced much quicker than usual through the system or he conned his way into Special Forces (wouldn't be surprising). We don't know much of anything about exactly when and how he ended up on TAT, although BA points out once that if Hannibal hadn't put Face into his unit in 'Nam (and thereby under his protective custody) he'd most likely be in jail already. So we can assume he was acting as a con man from early in life. In the 5th season episode "Family Reunion," we also learn that Face's father was actually a man named "A.J. Bancroft," a man who was a wanted criminal for being involved in some sort of government conspiracy years before. His original birthname according to A.J. was "Richard." It also turned out he had a half-sister named Ellen. SERGEANT BOSCO "BAD ATTITUDE (B.A.)" BARACUS (played by Mr. T) Originally from Chicago. (Mother played by Della Reese in the episode "Lease With an Option to Die.") Nickname when he was younger was "Scooter." Played football in high school. Has tendency to punch out officers, generally considered a trouble-maker in 'Nam. A mechanical genius with the ability to do just about anything with a propane torch and some spare parts. Seems to love nothing in life as much as his precious black-and-red van. Hates to fly, especially when Murdock is the pilot, and generally needs to be drugged/knocked over the head, etc. in order to get on a plane. Loves milk and little kids, and appears to spend most of his time while not with the Team helping out at a youth center in one of the poorer sections of L.A. CAPTAIN H. M. "HOWLIN' MAD" MURDOCK (played by Dwight Schultz) Not much is known on the background of Murdock, the Team's certifiably crazy pilot. No, his real first name was never revealed on the show, although one person has pointed out and speculates that he might be named after Holland M. "Howling Mad" Smith, Marine General in the Pacific during World War II. Murdock's mother died when he was five. Murdock was a member of the Thunderbirds before 'Nam. During 'Nam he worked for the CIA on several missions at least ("Once in '67, then again in '69" - "Wheel of Fortune"). Resided at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Westwood, California. Not wanted by the military police for the bank job because of his presumed insanity. Always suspected of keeping in contact with the Team but the MP's were never able to prove anything (often, Murdock's having to hide whenever the MP's were around would come in handy when the guys needed a quick rescue). Psychiatrist was Dr. Alan M. Richter. "Released" from the Hospital shortly after the Team's trial and escape from the firing line, although there is a strong possibility he just escaped for good. Has an "invisible" dog named Billy. ----- As stated in the show's introduction, TAT was a Special Forces commando unit during Vietnam. Their Commanding Officer was one Colonel Samuel/Steve Morrison (called Steve in "The Sound of Thunder" and Samuel in the 5th season Trial episodes.) Supposedly, Morrison gave the Team orders to rob the Bank of Hanoi in an effort to help bring the war to an end. They succeeded, but Morrison's headquarter was destroyed that same night in an artillery barrage (along with Morrison, presumably) and no proof therefore remained that they were acting under orders. Smith, Baracus and Peck were sent to Fort Bragg, where they quickly escaped and began working as soldiers of fortune while on the run. They tended to always take on the cause of the underdog: small businessmen & women being forced out of business by greedy developers/mafia-types. Often (especially in later 3rd and 4th season episodes), they tended to stumble into trouble situations more than being directly hired. Although their fees were generally quite high, it was more often than not the case that the Team took on jobs for free or expenses only, or ended up agreeing to a 10% cut on the profits of a business's future earnings. No wonder they all were busy with other jobs when not on a mission! ---- The Team also had several associates during their years on the run: AMY AMANDA ("TRIPLE A") ALLEN (played by Melinda Culea) Amy, a reporter for the Los Angeles Courier, hired the A-Team in the first episode to find her reporter friend Al Massey in Mexico. She ended up, in effect, "blackmailing" the Team into taking her on as a member by stating that she would write an expose on them if they didn't. In 1984 (during the 2nd season) she left the Team to become foreign corespondent. TAWNIA BAKER (played by Marla Heasley) Was apparently a friend of Amy's at the paper, she contacted them after Amy left, determined to work her way onto the Team as well. Apparently Amy told her quite a bit about the Team beforehand. She ended up leaving the Team (although they never took her as seriously as a Team member as they did Amy) in the episode "The Bend in the River," after the Team locates her rich archaeologist fiance and she gets married. FRANKIE "DISHPAN" SANTANA (played by Eddie Velez) A special effects wiz who initially worked against the Team for Stockwell, setting them up so that he could get them under his control. Ended up assisting Murdock in helping the guys escape the firing squad and thereby became a wanted man himself. Little is known about his background/family except that his father is apparently in a nursing home, and originally worked for Stockwell only because he threatened to cut off the money that was keeping him in the home.
- WHO WERE THE MILITARY POLICE (MP) "BAD GUYS"? COLONEL LYNCH (played by William Lucking) Was in charge of Fort Bragg when TAT first escaped in '72 and has been searching for them ever since (at least until the episode "The Only Church in Town" - the last time he is mentioned being in pursuit of the Team, although his last on-screen appearance until later on would be the 1st season finale "A Nice Place to Visit.") COLONEL RODERICK DECKER (played by Lance LeGault) First appeared in the second season episode "When You Comin' Back Range Rider?" Supposedly carried a grudge against the Team - especially Smith - since Vietnam. Would be the primary MP "Bad Guy" until the episode "Mind Games" in the 4th season, although Colonel Lynch was given a second chance in the 3rd season episode "Showdown!" and Colonel Briggs was introduced in the 3rd season episode "Fire!" CAPTAIN CRANE (played by Carl Franklin) Colonel Decker's ever-present, trusty side-kick. COLONEL BRIGGS (played by Charles Napier) Only appeared in one episode, "Fire!" before mysteriously disappearing as mysteriously as he was introduced. No idea about what happened there, unless the producers were just trying out someone new and realized after only one episode that the character didn't work. GENERAL HARLAN "BULL" FULBRIGHT (played by Jack Ging) Would be the primary bad guy for the fourth season, starting with "Mind Games." Claimed to have been good friends with Samuel/Steve Morrison, the Team's CO ("Sound of Thunder"). Had an Amer-asian daughter in Vietnam, named Tia, that he did not know about until he hired the Team to track her down ("Sound of Thunder" again.) He was killed during this mission, after saving his daughter, and not before changing his mind about the Team's guilt. GENERAL HUNT STOCKWELL (played by Robert Vaughn) A bit of a mystery man, Stockwell in effect "tricked" the Team into working for him - after setting them up to go on trial for the Hanoi bank job and Morrison's Murder - in exchange for a pardon. He wasn't exactly government or CIA, claiming to work "inside" the system. In one episode ("The Say UNCLE Affair") it was revealed he had a past associate named Ivan (played, of course, by David McCallum), showing that his history in shady business went way back. In a side note, there is an actual John STOCKWELL, who (as of 1987 at least) was the highest-ranking CIA official ever to leave the agency and go public. He wrote a book on his experiences called "In Search of Enemies." I have no idea if there is any connection between this man and the character Hunt Stockwell, but I thought it was worth mentioning. CARLA (Last name unknown) (played by Judith Ledford) Stockwell's ever-present associate and assistant. What their relationship is and anything more than her first name remains a mystery to this day. Generally not given much to do beyond saying, "Here are the files, sir."
- WHAT ARE THE TITLES OF ALL THE A-TEAM EPISODES, AND IN WHAT ORDER DID THEY ORIGINALLY AIR? This is a condensed version of the A-Team episode guide. For further information including plot summaries, guest cast, writers and directors, please see the more detailed episode guide available at http://homepage.seas.upenn.edu/~pellegri/guide.html. Note: episodes in which Amy appeared are marked with a *, and episodes with Tawnia are marked with a ^. -------------------------------------- SEASON ONE - 13 EPISODES -------------------------------------- 01/23/83 Mexican Slayride (2 hours) 01/30/83 Children of Jamestown* 02/08/83 Pros and Cons* 02/15/83 A Small And Deadly War* 02/22/83 Black Day At Bad Rock* 03/01/83 The Rabbit Who Ate Las Vegas* 03/15/83 Holiday in the Hills* 03/22/83 The Out Of Towners* 04/05/83 West Coast Turnaround* 04/12/83 One More Time* 04/19/83 Till Death Do Us Part* 05/03/83 The Beast from the Belly of a Boeing* 05/10/83 A Nice Place to Visit* --------------------------------------- SEASON TWO - 22 EPISODES --------------------------------------- 09/20/83 Diamonds N' Dust* 09/27/83 Recipe For Heavy Bread* 10/11/83 The Only Church In Town* 10/18/83 Bad Day On The Border* 10/25/83 When You Coming Back, Range Rider?* (2 hours) 11/01/83 The Taxicab Wars* 11/08/83 Labor Pains* 11/15/83 There's Always A Catch* 11/22/83 Water, Water Everywhere* 11/29/83 Steel 12/06/83 The White Ballot* 12/13/83 The Maltese Cow 01/03/84 In Plane Sight 01/10/84 The Battle Of Bel-Air^ 01/24/84 Say It With Bullets^ 01/31/84 Pure-Dee Poison^ 02/07/84 It's A Desert Out There^ 02/14/84 Chopping Spree^ 02/21/84 Harder Than It Looks 02/28/84 Deadly Maneuvers^ 05/08/84 Semi-Friendly Persuasion 05/15/84 Curtain Call^ ------------------------------------------ SEASON THREE - 24 EPISODES ------------------------------------------ 09/18/84 Bullets And Bikinis 09/25/84 The Bend In The River^ (2 hours) 10/02/84 Fire 10/16/84 Timber! 10/23/84 Double Heat 10/30/84 Trouble On Wheels 11/13/84 The Island 11/20/84 Showdown! 11/27/84 Sheriffs Of Rivertown 12/04/84 The Bells of St. Mary's 12/11/84 Hot Styles 12/18/84 Breakout! 01/08/85 Cup A' Joe 01/15/85 The Big Squeeze 01/22/85 Champ! 01/29/85 Skins 02/05/85 Road Games 02/12/85 Moving Targets 02/26/85 Knights Of The Road 03/05/85 Waste 'Em 04/02/85 Bounty 04/09/85 Beverly Hills Assault 05/07/85 Trouble Brewing 05/14/85 Incident At Crystal Lake ---------------------------------------- SEASON FOUR - 22 EPISODES ----------------------------------------- 09/24/85 Judgment Day (2 hours) 10/01/85 Where Is The Monster When You Need Him? 10/15/85 Blood, Sweat & Cheers [postponed until 11/19/85] 10/22/85 Lease With An Option To Die 10/29/85 The Road To Hope 11/05/85 The Heart Of Rock 'N' Roll 11/12/85 Body Slam 11/26/85 Mind Games 12/03/85 There Goes The Neighborhood 12/10/85 The Doctor Is Out 12/17/85 Uncle Buckle-Up 01/14/86 Wheel of Fortune 01/21/86 The A-Team is Coming, The A-Team is Coming 01/28/86 Members Only 02/11/86 Cowboy George 02/18/86 Waiting for Insane Wayne 02/25/86 The Duke Of Whispering Pines 03/04/86 Beneath the Surface 03/11/86 Mission of Peace 03/25/86 The Trouble With Harry 05/06/86 A Little Town With an Accent 05/13/86 The Sound of Thunder --------------------------------------- SEASON FIVE - 13 EPISODES --------------------------------------- 09/26/86 Dishpan Man 10/03/86 Trial by Fire 10/10/86 Firing Line 10/17/86 Quarterback Sneak 10/24/86 The Theory of Revolution 10/31/86 The Say Uncle Affair 11/07/86 Alive at Five 11/14/86 Family Reunion 11/18/86 Point of No Return 11/28/86 The Crystal Skull 12/12/86 The Spy Who Mugged Me 12/30/86 The Gray Team 03/08/87 Without Reservations
- DIDN'T "THE A-TEAM" PREMIERE AFTER THE SUPER BOWL? Actually, the two hour pilot episode aired as an NBC Sunday Night Movie, on January 23, 1983. The first regular 1 hour episode, "Children of Jamestown," aired following the Super Bowl on January 30, 1983. With the next episode, "Pros and Cons," it would move to it's Tuesday night, 8 pm EST time-slot, where it would remain until the 5th-season where it moved to Friday nights at 8 pm.
- HOW POPULAR WAS "THE A-TEAM" WHEN IT FIRST AIRED? Very. It was the show that almost single-handedly brought NBC out of its third place slump in the ratings and was one of the networks biggest successes ever. In its very first season ('82-'83), or half-season, as it was, it finished 10th overall. It was the network's only Top Ten show for the season, and a rerun of "The Out-of-Towners" made it to Number 2 for the week. In it's second season it moved up to Number 4 in the overall ratings, with eight episodes reaching Number 1 for the week. It still held strong in the ratings for it's third season, finishing in 6th place overall, with one Number One high for the episode "Bounty" (which featured Dwight Schultz's wife, Wendy Fulton). However, the 4th season saw a dramatic drop in the ratings, down to 30th place, having a high of 16th with the episode "Body Slam." Despite drastic efforts to increase the ratings in the 5th season, it finished a dismal 61st place for the half-season of episodes that aired.
- DID "THE A-TEAM" EVER WIN ANY AWARDS OR NOMINATIONS? Yes, a few. 1983: Emmy Nomination for "Outstanding Film Sound Mixing for a Series" for "Fast Eddie" Mahler (production mixer), James R. Cook, John Norman, and Robert Harman, rerecording mixers for the pilot episode. 1984: People's Choice Awards for "Favorite New Show," "Favorite New Male Star" for Mr. T, and nomination for "Favorite New Drama." 1985: Stuntman Award for "Best Action Sequence by a Coordinator" for Craig R. Baxley for the episode "The Bend in the River." 1985:MPSE Award for "Best Sound Editing for an Hour" for sound mixer "Fast Eddie" Mahler, sound effects coordinator Dick Wahrman for the episode "The Doctor is Out." 1986: Stuntman Award for "TV Highwork" for Michael Leicha for episode "Judgment Day."