The First Season
For those who are not familiar with the series, the A-Team was a small elite military unit in the Vietnam War. They were accused of a crime they didn't commit. Of course, they were convicted of the crime and imprisoned in a maximum security jail. The A-Team being comprised of jacks-of-all-trades, the prison couldn't hold them. Now on the run, the A-Team led by Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith (George Peppard), a man who has a plan for everything, travels across the United States helping folks in need. The rest of the crew is made up of Captain "Howling Mad" Murdock (Dwight Schultz), a committed and literally lunatic pilot who can fly anything, Lieutenant Templeton "Faceman" Peck (Dirk Benedict), an expert conman who can get anything anywhere, and 1-800-COLLECT's Mr. T (Laurence Tureaud) as Sgt. Bosco "Bad Attitude" Baracus, a mechanical genius who wears more gold in weight than I can lift.
There are several aspects about the first season of The A-Team that doesn't bode well for its entertainment factor. The biggest is the show's writing, which seems to be far from excellent. Perhaps it is the growing twenty-year gap from the time the show initially aired that creates this feeling, but in the end, there just isn't a huge distinction from episode to episode. Each episode in season one follows the same overall plot, with the A-Team saving some poor unfortunate souls from some tyrant, while outrunning the military police. There are also many other aspects of the show that continue with the high similarity of each episode, some of which can be entertaining, at least for a while. For instance in most of the episodes, the A-Team has to contrive some ridiculously and highly unrealistic scheme to break Murdock from a mental ward. At first, it can be pretty entertaining to see Schultz's performance as he tunes in with the other A-Team members, but after a while, it starts to get dull. Following the same concept, whenever the A-Team has a mission that requires air travel, Hannibal has to think of some way to drug Mr. T's big bad character, as he is afraid of flying, especially when Howling Mad Murdock is piloting. This can actually be a little funny, but it feels extremely too unrealistic to watch someone like Mr. T repeatedly fall for some pretty dumb explanations about how he passed out and magically appeared hundreds of miles away from where he was originally.
In addition to the highly repetitiveness of the show, the corniness factor is way too high. This mainly comes from the dialogue, which may have fit well in the eighties, but now feels a little awkward. One common phrase you'll here is "it's all about the jazz", which is something that is used very little nowadays. For those that don't know, the phrase refers to enjoying something because of the rush it provides. Another issue that falls under the corniness factor is the unrealism of the show. You can expect to see a great number of explosions and gunshots in each episode. Of course, good or bad, nobody ever gets shot or blown up. Adding to the unrealism of the show, there are too many instances during the climax of every episode that everything just falls into place. For instance, imagine how convenient it was for the A-Team that the bad guys in "One More Time" kept barrels of gasoline near their sentries. The bottom line is that this is one really corny and unrealistic show.
Needless to say, once you get past how corny and unrealistic the show is with respect to its cliched dialogue, repetitive storylines, and the extremely too convenient, you can really start to enjoy watching The A-Team. Yes, watching The A-Team requires you put on a special pretend hat and allow things that wouldn't normally occur, in what we call the real world, to happen. But then again, what television show doesn't require a little viewer creativity?
While there are many aspects of The A-Team that do not render it as one of America's best television series, there are some characteristics that do make it an enjoyable experience. One of the biggest attractions of the show comes in four flavors, Hannibal, Faceman, Howling Mad, and Bad Attitude. Yes, that's right; it's the show's four main characters that make each episode enjoyable--at least to a certain degree. It's the interaction and their crazy personalities that meld together to formulate something entertaining. In each episode, they function together to deviate from the show's repetitiveness. For instance, Howling Mad Murdock is a rather unstable character. At times he appears completely normal and others times, he's portrayed as a complete lunatic. It's comical to watch him interact with the other characters, befuddling and angering Mr. T's character. Of course, Murdock is sometimes portrayed in a manner that leaves you wondering if he really is crazy or just faking it. It's even great to see Hannibal's surprisingly optimistic attitude, as no matter how bad things get, it will always work out. Mr. T as B.A. provides a loveable character for people who enjoy a bad ass, who under all that gold is really just a big teddy bear. Last, but not least, my favorite character, Faceman. Face provides the cool suave character who can con his way in or out of any situation. It's these four characters that make the show exciting. Take any one of them away and you're headed downhill.
In the past, the show was impressive and entertaining, but that was years ago. While there are still some attractive qualities to the show, current television provides a much better look into action entertainment by providing a greater variety in content. While not entirely limited to, the target audience of The A-Team should most likely be restricted for the fans and not the masses.
1. Mexican Slayride (1)
2. Mexican Slayride (2)
3. Children of Jamestown
4. Pros and Cons
5. A Small and Deadly War
6. Black Day at Bad Rock
7. The Rabbit Who Ate Las Vegas
8. The Out-of-Towners
9. Holiday in the Hills
10. West Coast Turnaround
11. One More Time
12. Till Death Do Us Part
13. The Beast From the Belly of a Boeing
14. A Nice Place to Visit
The first season DVD release of The A-Team is presented in its original television aspect 1.33:1 ratio full frame color, which isn't saying much. In comparison to most current television series, the picture quality is substantially lower. Each episode seems to be plagued with rather poor picture quality. However, this isn't the same poor quality you'll see in the Saved By the Bell DVD releases, which is due to video compression, but rather the poor quality is due to the original equipment that the show was filmed with and the non-digital medium it was stored on. In final words, don't expect to see a boost in picture quality when compared to broadcast/cable airings of The A-Team.
The audio in this DVD release is presented in an English Dolby Digital Mono audio track. The audio track isn't extremely impressive. It remains to be subtly flat throughout each episode. In most television shows, this isn't a huge issue as they are mostly comprised of spoken dialogue. However in this case, The A-Team contains a great deal of sound effects that are presented in gunshots, explosions, etc., which are unfortunately not detailed very well by the supplied mono track. Subtitles are presented in the English, French, and Spanish languages.
Sadly, the fans of The A-Team will have to look elsewhere for supplemental entertainment. The first season DVD release is presented without any special features of any kind.
Maybe it's the nostalgia talking, as the first season of the The A-Team was far from tremendous, but I enjoyed having the chance to get reacquainted with The A-Team. Overall, the show is far too corny and unrealistic to match some of modern prime time television, but it seems to fit the DVD viewing experience nicely. A-Team fans of all ages will be fairly happy to see this small band of brothers save all kinds of people from a variety of troubles.