The A-Team was a series that centered around the adventures of four
ex-Army men accused of having committed a crime during the Vietnam War. The
A-Team, composed of Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith (George Peppard),
Captain H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock (Dwight Schultz), Lieutenant
Templeton "Faceman" Peck (Dirk Benedict), and Sergeant B.A. Baracus
(Mr. T), traveled the United States on the run from the military
police. The premise of the series was fairly simple- The A-Team took jobs
for people who were being attacked, harassed, or threatened by an assortment
of villains and bad guys, usually in the United States but on occasion
across the globe. When no one else could do the job, those in need made
efforts to contact the A-Team, who would fight, shoot (though I can't recall
ever seeing anyone get killed), and certainly blow up a plethora of
vehicles and buildings in order to get the job done.
"In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a
crime they didn't commit. They promptly escaped from a maximum security
stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the
government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if
no-one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire.... the
Hold the phone, folks. With The A-Team- Season Five, The Final Season
all of that changes. Those long familiar words are no longer broadcast at
the beginning of each episode, and with good reason. When the ratings for
season four fell dramatically, the show changed their format in the
1986-1987 season in an attempt to regain its audience. The result? After
years on the lam from authorities, the A-Team is finally apprehended and
given a choice between prison- effectively execution- or working with a
covert government operation led by one General Hunt Stockwell (Robert
Vaughn) taking on secret op missions, with the carrot of a full pardon
dangled in front of them somewhere down the road.
Here is a synopsis of the Season Five episodes-
Dishpan Man (Part 1 of 3)- In this rousing season premiere, The
A-Team takes heroics to new heights when they attempt to rescue the
passengers of a hijacked airplane but end up wearing handcuffs.
Trial By Fire (Part 2 of 3)- The story continues as Hannibal, Face and
B.A, facing a military trial for murder, must choose between proving their
own innocence and protecting Murdock from bogus charges.
Firing Line (Part 3 of 3)- The conclusion to the three part story;
Murdock and soon to be team member Frankie race against the clock in search
of an escape plan for their friends who are awaiting execution.
Quarterback Sneak- Liberty is the name of the game when The A-Team
arranges an exhibition football match in East Berlin as a ruse to help a
biochemist and his wife escape to freedom.
The Theory Of Revolution- Hannibal disappears while tracking stolen
plutonium, and in their race to find him, Face, B.A., and Murdock battle a
The Say U.N.C.L.E. Affair- Fear takes flight when General Stockwell
orders the confiscation of a Russian jet and then disappears. Of note here
is guest star David McCallum, Vaughn's old co-star from their 60's "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." series.
Alive At Five- It's a tough job for The A-Team when a beautiful
undercover reporter learns of a plot to murder the future president of the
National Brotherhood of Labor Unions.
Family Reunion- The A-Team receives orders to reunite a daughter withe her father, a fugitive criminal who has recently completed a controversial memoir.
Point Of No Return- General Stockwell sends the team to the tiny island
of San Marcos, where they try to assist American intelligence agents who
have been taken prisoner by a ruthless dictator.
The Crystal Skull- Appearances can be deceiving when the A-Team winds
up on an island where the natives declare Murdock a god and corrupt monks
are exploiting diamond miners.
The Spy Who Mugged Me- Murdock goes undercover as a secret agent in
an assignment to locate a cold-blooded terrorist and stop an assassination
The Grey Team- The A-Team takes on the KGB, who are in pursuit of a
young girl who has hidden top secret documents about the Strategic Defense
initiative- also known as Star Wars.
Without Reservations- Murdock learns that the restaurant business can
be murder when his job waiting tables leads to the discovery of an
Season Five- The Final Season gets off to a rather rousing start; in
a period where two and three episode television plotlines were becoming
common, the show used that method with which to more or less revamp the
vehicle, doing so in several prominent ways. The boys are at long last
captured- though in a rather mundane way considering all their happowing
escapes in episodes past- by the mysterious General Stockwell, and finally
brought to trial for that "crime they didn't commit" we had been hearing
about in the opening of each show for the prior four seasons. Suddenly the
fellas weren't running from the law anymore; they were working for the
government rather than being hunted down by it. On more than one occasion
the show rather amusingly brings up media applications in regards to the
A-Team; in a show-within-a-show manner, we see reporters howling about the
fact that "the famous A-Team" has been apprehended. The boys are urban
legends, renowned celebrities, even in their fictional world. Its actually a
grim beginning/ending that plays out here, one in which the squad is
"executed" then hustled off to a rather posh resort that is to serve as
their prison (Watergate convictions, anyone?) with babes, cookouts, and
volleyball on the lawn until overseer and commander in chief Stockwell comes
barreling in to give them hot potato mission after mission the government
can't be openly involved in. The A-Team has become Bond-ian, folks. Is it
any wonder we have The Man From U.N.C.L.E. playing CEO? Bringing in Robert
Vaughn was inspired casting, and in my opinion a bit of a coup for the
The series also introduced a new "member", one Frankie Santana (Eddie
Velez), who at the outset was working with Stockwell under considerable
duress. Frankie's role with the squad is to be the demolitions/explosives
expert, thought why the A-Team, renowned for blowing stuff up across the
world week after week would need such an addition is beyond me. He's a bit
of a jack of all trades character-wise. A little nutty at times ala'
Murdock, with the good looks to get the girls that indomitable pretty boy
Face doesn't scoop up, my guess is that the main reason for adding him to
the cast was an attempt to widen their ethnic audience, taking a shot at appealing to
potential Latino/Spanish viewers. While I've read some disparaging things
about the inclusion of Santana from A-Team fans ( and in fact was myself a
bit plussed at his inclusion in the days the show was running prime time) he
kind of grows on you. I don't have a problem with Frankie- he's a bit of an
everyman who suddenly finds himself among the elite, renowned A-Team and
holds his own rather well.
The problem is, another member seems to do more
harm than good; Frankie takes a good amount of air time away from the other
members, and there are only so many minutes to go around each week; I
presume this is in part to give the audience a feel for his character, as we
had already had four seasons to get acquainted with the rest of the boys, but
having built an audience with them did we necessarily need to see them take
a bit of a backseat to the rookie? The cast also seems somehow homogenized
in comparison to seasons past- Murdock isn't quite so outlandish and crazy,
Face doesn't project as being so suave and charming as he was, and B.A.
isn't the seething, scowling brute force we saw in seasons of yore. Only
Hannibal comes across as being the arrogant, crafty old commander he had
always been, but that may be because Peppard (who's sadly looking
particularly paunchy in these final episodes) insisted on a good deal of
on-screen exposure each week. Word always was that Peppard was a hard actor
to work with, but that doesn't seem to be the cause of the A-Team's
Ultimately, the producers went to the trouble of renovating everything to
give The A-Team a new life, but the writing couldn't sustain it. After
four seasons, the writers simply don't seem to know where else to go once
they've gotten past that uber-opening 3 part revamping. While the weekly
bits of banter between the team and Vaughn are well worth watching, the
missions aren't as much fun as they used to be. The series was already
notorious for several familiar bits being used again and again, and even
plotlines that gave the viewer a feeling of deja vu on more than one
occasion, but here there seemed to be too many additional flaws working
against the show to breeze by that, regardless of the reimagining the series
had been afforded.The result is, the show is still fun, but this old wine in a new bottle has stopped aging well- the concoction comes across as flat rather than sparkling.
At 13 episodes clocking at at 10 hours and 22 minutes, the set is comprised
of three single-sided discs in slim cases and housed in a cardboard sleeve.
Aspect ratio here is 1.33:1 full frame. All things considered, the picture
quality is pretty darn good. I see little in the way of dirt or print
damage, colors are well rendered and sharpness, while not razor sharp, is
The only audio track here is English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono; it's an
unexciting track, but there is sufficient dynamics to keep the viewer
"Rumors of Soldiers of Fortune" interview featurette with creator Stephen
J. Cannell- series creator Cannell shares stories about creating the
series and iconic characters, behind-the-scenes- moments and working with the
This is the A-Team's final go-round, folks. That there were only 13 episodes
produced indicates that the show was in a grave state by the time season
five began filming. Many longtime fans didn't care for the concept of The
A-Team working for the government, but I'm one of the viewers who thought it
was in the shows best interest to evolve. Unfortunately, it couldn't find
it's footing having done so. Still, being a fan of both the show and the
fact that Cannell and company took a stab making the series fresh up to the end,
I recommend it.