Tag Archives: The A Team

The Eh! I never knew that Team

You might have sat there 20 years ago or so with your crisp sandwiches nestling on your knee and seen everything flipping jeep, every uninjured bad guy and every wrong righted on those rose tinted Saturday evenings and now smugly sit back and think, yeah, I know all there is to know about The A-Team. Well, as BA might say, you don’t know nothing sucka!

An unfamiliar ‘Face’

Ah, the rather wonderfully named Dirk Benedict, who we all already loved from the original Battlestar Galactica, hence the wonderful Cylon in-joke that he double takes at during each title sequence.  Benedict is as synonymous with the show and as recognisable and iconic as the other members of The A-Team, but he wasn’t the first person to play the character of Templeton ‘Faceman’ Peck.

In the shows feature length pilot episode, those oh so familiar exploding jeeps in the titles were pretty much from that, the role of Face was played by that household name, Tim Dunigan. Exactly. He didn’t disappear into total obscurity though as he still keeps busy having appeared in everything from Cheers to Diagnosis Murder and Beverly Hills 90120. He also played the whole of Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, which was the first TV series to integrate live action, CGI and digital effects. Nifty, although he clearly didn’t seem to have that special an effect on The A-Team Producers as they thought he looked too young to be a Vietnam Vet

To be honest, he was more Hair than Face and looked more like David Copperfield the magician meets, er, David Copperfield, the unfunny one from the early 80s sketch show with Lenny Henry and Tracey Ullman, Three of a Kind and Coppers and Co. Looking too young to be a Vet wasn’t the problem, it was more about believing that he’d be able to get a helmet over his barnet in the first place.

 The Cowboy Way

Popstars, they turn up in the damnest of places. The Pet Shop Boys hit Ramsay Street, Kylie hitched a ride with the good Doctor, Adam Ant tried his luck against The Equaliser and Gerry O’Dowd hooked up with The A-Team.  O’Dowd is of course better known to you and I and Boy George! It surely can’t have escaped the programme makers that his most famous song was ‘Do you really want to hurt me?’ Something which could, of course, have been something of an alternative A Team theme!

The season four episode, tellingly it only lasted one further curtailed season, entitled ‘Cowboy George’ was just plain odd and most of the audience probably wished they had been knocked out like BA is prior to flying. George even gets to kick a door down at the end and bond with the big gold-chained fella, bless. There mustn’t have been a dry eye in the house, although they were all probably from tears of laughter.

Change from the old routine

Whether it was because the old routine was flagging or they fancied giving the series one last gap, there were several noticeable changes in series five of the show, including a revamped, grittier title sequence, certainly the first section which looks as hard ass as something like The Unit and a new rendition of the theme tune, as well as a new member of the team, a special effects expert, most useful in an F/X Murder By Illusion style way.

Perhaps the biggest single change though was that The A-Team were no longer working for themselves, they were now working for Napoleon Solo, well Robert Vaughn anyway, who played the rather shadowy Hunt Stockwell, you know he is shadowy by his untrustworthy sounding name. He was basically their version of Michael Coldsmith Briggs III, you know the one in the white suit and eye patch, from Airwolf or Devon from Knight Rider, it gave them someone to rub up against the wrong side of, luckily they didn’t bring Boy George back then!

Gotcha!

For several years we had come to know and love the gruff voiced man at the beginning of each episode tell us that The A-Team escaped from maximum security stockade, which in my mind would have been one of the coolest things ever to see.

Turns out that Jim’ll fixed it for me in season five as the Team all got caught, court marshalled and sentenced to death by firing squad, save for Murdock, see what I mean about grittier! We even see them all lined up and blind-folded!! And all this took part over a fantastic three part season opener that was full of some brilliantly tense moments where The Team seemingly don’t all make it. It really is thrilling stuff and perhaps the best A-Team episodes ever made.

Bullet Time

Mary Whitehouse still roamed the earth back in the 80s and she could still be guaranteed to moan endlessly about the violence in cartoons and then The A-Team has all these bullets and explosions and no one dies or gets hurt and people still ruddy moan, there really is no pleasing some people. But hang on there, as previously mentioned by series five the rule book had been pretty much thrown out of the window and in its final ever episode a character from the programme is shot and killed. It’s no episode of 24 and it’s not as if he’s been shot to pieces but for The A-Team this was life-changing stuff, it was also perhaps somewhat symbolic as it also signalled the death of the series.

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Clash of the Titles

So long Lost, FlashForward fizzled out and time’s been called on 24, great shows that will be long remembered, but for me there was always one thing missing, and much of TV these days, a title sequence.

These were the things that used to make a show truly great, not only would you be humming the theme tune (or if you were like me, recording onto a Dixons tape recorder directly from the TV), but it would generally feature the best bits of the series (that you would always be looking out for in the show), or even if it was a terrible episode you always had the joy of the title sequence.

The Incredible Hulk

There’s that great hurried piano, Bill Bixby in that rotating chair and a fantastically serious voiceover establishing the premise. For all the shots of Lou Ferrigno bursting though things the three things that stick in your mind are the moment where David Banner’s eye goes green, where Banner warns “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry” and the split screen moment at the end where The Hulk and Banner’s face share the screen at the same moment, after he has visited his own grave in a rather fetching jacket.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOXpKUu6pUg&feature=PlayList&p=D3C68DE1FD1BA409&playnext_from=PL&playnext=1&index=10

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century

After Battlestar Galactica had its space rug pulled from under it, Glen A Larson returned with more space tom foolery. Again, we have Mr Voiceover man doing a marvellous job as we see Buck (Gil Gerrard) blasting into space on the final manned space shuttle flight in 1987 before he is frozen in time and awakes in the 25th Century (2491 to be precise). The stand out moment for me was when Buck spins away from the camera through a time tunnel of sorts, something which could have been quite at home in the Quantum Leap titles.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBcaTXNLYQw

The A-Team

One of the finest uses of voiceover magic. Of course, due to sustained Saturday tea time viewing we all know the drill, that in 1972 a crack-commando was sent to a maximum security stockade for a crime they did not commit… For me the standout moments were always those bullets searing into The A Team logo and generally just seeing cars and bodies fly through the air. Perhaps my favourite moment, and certainly my first post-modern one, before I even knew what the word meant, was Dirk Benedict’s double take as he sees a Cylon pass him by from Battlestar Galactica, he being the original Starbuck in that programme of course.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIfuaUTH9Y4

Danger Mouse

Cripes, as Penfold might exclaim, a rousing score and fantastic lyrics that we all sang along to every week…and most of us probably made the bomb exploding noise at the end as well. Witty, eccentric and totally British, this was spot on and strangely bonkers kids TV and is hard to believe that this is from the same folk who brought us Cockleshell Bay!

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-h25RmS9-Y

The Return of the Saint

For me the music on the title sequence on this show was just something else, and I loved the way that the stick figure emblem of The Saint was the hero of the piece, jumping off bridges, smashing through windows with chairs, getting involved a in some fisticuffs and even getting the girl at the end. It was perfectly tongue in cheek, not to mention probably the only way they could go with the titles after Roger Moore had become so synonymous with the role, but of course was now globetrotting with his Walther PPK. Love it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USoH1iDvK_8

The Equaliser

The dark and moody streets of 80s New York were perfectly captured. Memorable moments include the lone woman on the underground station, the woman stuck in the lift with a man and that poor bloke trying to dial 911 when a car screeches behind him. Interestingly, unlike most of US TV at the time, the titles weren’t made from elements that were set to appear in the series but were specially filmed, complete with Woodward stood next to his jag in billowing dry ice that would put Top of the Pops to shame. The Stewart Copeland score is still awesome (even though it sounds exactly like the music he produced for both Wall Street and See No Evil, Hear No Evil) and yes, is even my Dad’s mobile ringtone, seriously, which we always hear when anyone gives him a (Robert) McCall.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uB1NiNKwueE

Blake’s 7

Sometimes the simple ideas are the best, and this programmes titles with that great music and not a lot of money thrown at it was an understated brilliance.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnautWFuEnQ

Thunderbirds

We all counted down with Mr Voiceover Man and spotting our favourite Thunderbird vehicle, mine was Thunderbird 2 for the record. .Embarrassing fact: when near the end, where a power plant is destroyed by explosions, filmed in supermarionation, is emblazed across the screen. I used to think that this is where the programme was filmed when I was little.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7u9HV_8Sh1U

Magnum P.I.

Mike Post and Pete Carpenter were the Dons of 80’s American TV titles scoring and Magnum P.I. is one of the best, even though it wasn’t the original score and somehow has found its way onto some make-up ad – huh? Images wise, you’ve got to love him wheel spinning that Ferrari off the grass, those brilliant helicopter shots and everybody, just everybody who has ever watched it has tried that over the shoulder double eyebrow raise in the mirror that cropped up at the end. Hawaiian shirts and moustaches have never looked so great.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CquMO3vJvo

The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest

Little Jonny Quest, think an American Tin Tin, got a revamp in the mid 90s which saw a fantastically bombastic intro and title score and is just pure exhilaration that starts with a sweeping radar and unleashes scenes of mayhem and adventure that really set you up for what is to come. The title score is amazing and would look at home on any live action TV show or even feature film.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFccIOABuRE