The A-Team: Face, Hannibal, Murdock and B.A. (Image Â© NBC Universal)
“I’m not nuts, I’m condiments. I’ve been promoted!” – Captain HM ‘Howling Mad’ Murdock
The iconic A-Team. Hannibal, Face, Murdock and B.A. Baracus. Maybe you remember them, maybe you don’t but the recent re-make released in theaters will freshen some memories and enlighten the rest. The original series ran from 1982 – 1986, 94 episodes of pure adventure and fun in the early 80’s. While the rest of the world was embracing hot pants, pastel sport coats and keytar-infused music, the A-Team kept us grounded with good old fashioned butt-kicking action.
Here’s why this show rocked: these guys, former military, acted nothing like military personnel. I suppose this is why they ended up in prison. Aside from that, the show was constant action and one liners, which is all you really need for a successful TV program aimed at males.
The disguises, although pretty lame – were great. Face was in some situations that you knew right off the bat that any person with half an IQ point would know he was up to something, yet all of the bad guys never caught on until it was too late. Hannibal was always chewing on a cigar, B.A. was refusing to go in a plane (he had to be drugged) and Murdock was off his rocker.
No episode left you wondering what was on next! It was ten times better than Miami Vice, and 1000 times better than Hunter. Somehow they always had a cache of automatic weapons and supplies, B.A.’s van, no matter how much damage it took, was always in pristine condition at the beginning of the hour. That van was sweet, it made ‘Kit’ from Knight Rider look like a tricycle. Of course, it wasn’t exactly inconspicuous. It kind of screamed ‘mercenary mobile!’ That’s probably why they had to find a place to hide it every episode, before they smashed through a gate with it.
It wasn’t just the gunfire and fistfights that kept us interested, it was the Do-it-yourself attitude of the team, as well as the constant moral dilemma of vigilantism. We may not have thought of it that way, but it was there. Here was a team of ex-pats, running for their freedom, helping the innocent along the way through means sometimes just as violent as their foes. While they never killed anyone, they did beat the crud out of a lot of overall wearing yokels, firing the occasional AK-47 along the way.
In the world of the A-Team, a world filled with a constant dirt road that always led to some small town with a big problem, the vigilantism they exhibited endeared them as heroes to the local populace. This is the positive side to the vigilante lifestyle. The heroism, the exalted crew of rag-tag super heroes being hoisted on the venerable shoulders of the oppressed. This is what our children see as they watch the show now, as we saw it when we watched it then. As parents though, we see the other side of vigilantism. We see, in our minds eye, the town after the A-Team leaves.
There is a downside to not killing off the enemy of the people, when the hero leaves the enemy returns. That’s never explored in the original A-Team, though apparently that has been cleared up in the new film (I haven’t seen it, but I’ve heard bodies pile up.) So what do we say when our kids turn to us and ask us why the A-Team just left them behind like that? We say, “because they are still on the run from the military.” They say, “the military? I thought they were the good guys.”
Suddenly you are in a theological discussion with a nine year old about the universal theories of right vs. wrong. Do two wrongs make a right? Well of course they do, when the A-Team does it – it’s not a wrong. It’s a right. Just because the methodology is similar (force vs. force) doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Being wrong comes from intent. The intent of the A-Team isn’t to terrorize, bully or extort the inhabitants of a small country-western town. Their intent is to save that town. Plus, they had a particular way of doing things, an inherent ingenuity and inventiveness that certainly differentiated them from their less intelligent counterparts.
Basically, they were a do-it-yourself team of con-men. From the trickery of the face-man (Face), to the straight up con-man (Hannibal) to the brute force of B.A. and the loony ramblings and Rain-man like genius of Murdock. The A-Team, when presented with a challenge, came out as a team and worked together to come up with a solution to the problem, improvising along the way. As Hannibal liked to say, “I love it when a plan comes together.”
They always seemed to be trapped in a situation that provided all the tools needed to create some sort of machine, battering ram or armored vehicle that the situation demanded. Over on another channel, MacGuyver had to make do with what he had, usually tools that showed his ingenuity and engineering creativity. The A-Team was often locked in a room stocked with blowtorches, welding equipment and all the appropriate hardware. So they had the tools at hand.
The A-Team was less about the ingenuity and more about the build. Similar to a show like Monster Garage, the goal being to build something that would either help them escape their situation or to further their plan along. This angle went fairly overlooked for many years, most likely until we got a second chance to look at the show. Suddenly, all I remember is them having a blowtorch handy, or Murdock tinkering in an engine to soup up a vehicle.
While a show focused on violence and vigilantism is not normally one for the kids, the A-Team proved that with a D.I.Y. attitude and some good old fashioned cigar chomping confidence even a show about knocking over mafioso road houses can be an educational experience.
Pity the fool who got in the way of the A-Team.
See original here:
The Original A-Team: DIY Vigilantes
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