Judge Cynthia Boris's plans never come together. She can't even remember everything on her grocery list.
Our reviews of The A-Team: Season One (published August 16th, 2004), The A-Team: Season Two (published May 25th, 2005), The A-Team: Season Four (published April 26th, 2006), The A-Team (Blu-Ray) (published December 23rd, 2010), and The A-Team: The Complete Series (published June 8th, 2010) are also available.
"I love it when a plan comes together!"
Bullets fly, cars flip, explosions go off by the minute—yet no one ever seems to get hurt. It's the '80s version of action on TV. Tame by today's standards, The A-Team had the critics (and parents) crying foul over its cavalier attitude toward violence, but that didn't keep the viewers away. A bone fide hit series from prolific series creator Stephen J. Cannell, The A-Team made international stars out of its four leads. The phenomena is still honored at fan conventions the world over. If you need help—and if you can find them—maybe you can hire The A-Team: Season Three.
Facts of the Case
For those of you born after the era of pink T-shirts on men, here's the
rundown. Near the end of the Vietnam War, an elite squad of soldiers (an
"A-Team") was sent on a secret mission to rob the Bank of Hanoi. (They
had a "yen" for a little cash.) The team consisted of:
The team was shuttled in and out by their favorite chopper pilot, Capt. H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock (Dwight Schultz, Star Trek: The Next Generation) and then promptly betrayed by their commanding officer. The original three were sentenced to spend the rest of their days in a military prison for pulling off a supposedly unsanctioned stunt, but they promptly escaped into the "Los Angeles underground."
Years have passed, the boys are still wanted, and H.M. Murdock is now a resident of mental ward of the local VA hospital. But that doesn't slow them down. Making a living as soldiers of fortune, they spend their days as hired guns helping the underdog triumph over the big, the bad, and the uglies of this world. And they do it with an amazing amount of panache!
I am a huge The A-Team fan. I've seen every episode four dozen times. I can quote it, explain it, and list off all the important landmarks in five seasons of the series. I am not alone in this aberration. There are thousands of fans along with thousands of others who will never understand the allure of the show. Frankly, I'm not sure I can explain it to you.
On the surface, The A-Team appears to be a macho, male-audience-oriented action show, but I'm here to tell you that those boys have a female fan following that puts the male numbers to shame. It's the ultimate buddy show with lots of fun, snarking, faux danger, and cute guys. (Come on, even Mr. T. has a sort of teddy bear appeal!) At the height of the series, the cast was invited to visit a certain royal family in Europe, and were met at the airport by an excited mob of fans who tore their clothing and Mr. T's earring off their bodies. They were compared in the newspaper to the other "fab four" (remember The Beetles?) and twenty years later, the actors are still asked to preside over fan conventions in The Netherlands, Germany, and the UK.
The A-Team was hot stuff, and in 1984 they were hitting their peak!
So let's take a look at this installment of the series. Universal has done a nice job again with the packaging. I like the complimentary colors to the first two installments (orange to the red and green of seasons one and two), and the use of the series logo and photos on the slipcase and inner snap cases. The episodes are listed on the back of each snap case with a succinct blurb. The opening navigation screen makes great use of series clips and music, and it's clear and easy to follow.
On the downside are no extras and double-sided discs. I've seen complaints about episodes with glitches. I didn't experience any problems, but the issues with these double-sided discs are well documented…so why bother? Color on some of the episodes is washed out but not so much that it annoyed me. If seeing the shows complete and uncut is the trade off, I'm happy to live with a little less red in the stripe on the van.
Now to the episodes. Be warned, there's a lot of bad here. See my rebuttal now or just read on.
Disc One: Side One
• "The Bend in the River: I and II"
Disc One: Side Two
• "Trouble on Wheels"
• "The Island"
Disc Two: Side One
• "The Bells of St. Mary"
• "Hot Styles"
Disc Two: Side Two
• "The Big Squeeze"
Disc Three: Side One
• "Moving Targets"
• "Knights of the Road"
• "Waste 'em"
Disc Three: Side Two
• "Beverly Hills Assault"
• "Trouble Brewing"
• "Incident at Crystal Lake"
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Sadly, the third season is one of the series' worst. I suspect this has to do with two issues. One is the usual third season slump. The writers had already used up their best material, the intensive shooting schedule was wearing the crew thin, and after two hit seasons, the expectations were out of this world. Two, the cast. By Season Three, Mr. T. had firmly ensconced himself as a breakout star, not so much as an actor but as a pop culture icon. In 1984, Mr. T. became a rap star with his inspirational album for children, Mr. T.'s Commandments and he even had his own cereal!
By 1985, he was aligned with Hulk Hogan and WrestleMania and his weekly paycheck became far more than anything his TV brethren were taking home. While younger stars Benedict and Schultz took their co-star's extra fame in stride, George Peppard was not a happy camper. He was the experienced one. The movie star. The man who led The A-Team—and he was not about to be pushed aside by a monosyllabic Mohawk decked with gold chains. Peppard began making his own schedule, his own rules. Dirk Benedict often speaks of having to play go-between, literally passing messages from Peppard to T. and back again even though they were standing within yards of each other.
The second-to-last episode of this season is called "Trouble Brewing"; they couldn't have written a more appropriate title for what was on the horizon of Season Four.
I don't know how to explain it, but there is a certain joy about this admittedly off-beat, often silly series. Maybe you had to be there then to get it. It certainly doesn't compare to the breath-stealing action of 24 or the grittiness of The Shield, but if you can cast off any comparisons to modern TV, you're quite likely to enjoy the antics. My advice, though: If you've never seen the show, don't start with this boxed set. Get yourself to Season One and enjoy the wild ride and witty banter with Hannibal, Face, BA, and Murdock, aka The A-Team.
I hereby find The A-Team: Season Three guilty of just about every crime you can think of, from carrying a concealed weapon, to assault and battery, to disturbing the peace and creating a public nuisance. But since they're only doing it for the greater good, the court suspends the sentence and releases them to fight another day.
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