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Published:February 20th, 2008 14:47 EST
25th Anniversary of The A-Team

25th Anniversary of The A-Team

By Garrett Godwin

In 1972, a crack commando team were tried and sentenced to a military prison for a crime they didn't commit.  However, they escaped and been wanted by the government ever since. These men survived in the Los Angeles underground as soldiers-of-fortunes, but if you had a problem that no one else can handle, and if you can find them, then maybe it is time to hire The A-Team. It was 25 years ago that Stephen J. Cannell shot this series to the top of Nielsen ratings since its debut on NBC as a mid-season replacement in 1983.

The A-Team consists of four members:

Col. John "Hannibal" Smith (George Peppard): The cigar-smoking, master-of-disguise leader, who's always "on the jazz".  Ready for danger, adventure, and excitement, he always has a plan.

Lt. Templeton "Faceman" Peck (Dirk Benedict): The smooth-talking, conman/ladies' man.

Capt. H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock (Dwight Schultz): The eccentric and insane (or is he?) pilot. 

Sgt. Bosco "B.A." Baracus (Mr. T): The muscle, enforcer, and driver of the Team van.

Though working as mercenaries, The A-Team works as good-guy outlaws as well as modern-day Robin Hoods, helping the oppressed and downtrodden against crooked businessman and organized crime figures while staying one step ahead of the Army.

For four seasons, the Team was relentlessly chased by Col. Lynch (William Lucking), Col. Decker (Lance LeGault), and Gen. Fulbright (Jack Ging).  By the fifth and final season, they were caught by retired Gen. Stockwell (Robert Vaughn), who blackmailed them into working for him in order to earn their pardons.

The series were inspired by The Dirty Dozen, in which the Team were an elite military unit; Mad Max, in which there were car chases and explosions, and The Magnificent Seven, in which the Team were gunfighters hired to protect the people and their town against a gang of outlaws.

Critics attacked The A-Team for excessive violence.  However, despite machine guns and explosions, nobody ever got shot or hurt throughout the series' run from 1983 to 1987.  Viewers loved it because the plot was simple every week:

Someone's being harassed or threatened; the A-Team gets called in to help.  It is up to them to find up what the bad guys are up to and stop them.  At the climax, the bad guys may get the upper hand, but our heroes never charge in without a plan from Hannibal.  They set out to build weapons of just about anything they can get their hands on.  When it is time, the Team goes to work, defeat the bad guys, and save the day.  However, in most episodes, while helping their clients, the Army closes in on them and captures them.  But Murdock rescues them at the last minute, and the A-Team rides once more to save the day once again.

20 years later after the show ended, the series' popularity continues to grow thanks to reruns in syndication, and it has become a part of pop culture. 

So, watch out, sucker, for all five seasons of The A-Team, available on DVD.

"I love it when a plan comes together"
Hannibal Smith